Shine Retrofits Types of FluorescentsFluorescent lighting technology has come a long way since its inception, and today, it offers a wide range of options to cater to various lighting needs.

Among the most popular choices are T5, T8, and T12 fluorescent lights. Each type has its own unique characteristics, making it suitable for specific applications.

In this guide, we'll dive into the world of these fluorescent lights, comparing and contrasting their sizes, applications, and energy efficiency to help you make informed lighting choices.

T5 Fluorescent Lights

Size: T5 fluorescent lights are known for their slender and tubular design. They typically have a diameter of 5/8 inches, which is smaller compared to other fluorescent tubes.

Applications: T5 fluorescent lights are versatile and find application in various settings. Their compact design makes them an excellent choice for environments where space is limited.

Common applications include:

  • Office spaces
  • Retail environments
  • Educational institutions
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Industrial and warehouse settings
  • Specialized applications like aquarium lighting

Energy Efficiency: T5 fluorescent lights are highly energy-efficient. They produce more lumens per watt compared to older T12 models, which means you get more light output for the same amount of energy consumed. This efficiency translates into lower energy bills and reduced environmental impact.

T8 Fluorescent Lights

Size: T8 fluorescent lights are also tubular but slightly larger than T5 bulbs, with a diameter of 1 inch.

Applications: T8 fluorescent lights are among the most commonly used fluorescent tubes. They are versatile and suitable for a wide range of applications, making them a popular choice for:

  • General office lighting
  • Retail and commercial spaces
  • Schools and universities
  • Warehouses and manufacturing facilities
  • Hospitals and healthcare settings
  • Residential lighting

Energy Efficiency: T8 fluorescent lights are energy-efficient, offering improved efficiency compared to older T12 models. While not as efficient as T5 lamps, T8s still provide substantial energy savings and are widely adopted for general lighting needs.

T12 Fluorescent Lights

Size: T12 fluorescent lights are the largest among the three types, with a diameter of 1.5 inches.

Applications: T12 fluorescent lights have been widely used in the past but are gradually being phased out due to their lower energy efficiency compared to T5 and T8 lamps.

However, they can still be found in certain applications, such as:

  • Older residential buildings
  • Some industrial and commercial settings
  • Areas where retrofitting is challenging or costly

Energy Efficiency: T12 fluorescent lights are the least energy-efficient among the three types. They consume more energy to produce the same amount of light as T5 and T8 lamps. This inefficiency has led to their reduced popularity in recent years.

Comparing and Contrasting


  • T5: Smallest diameter (5/8 inches)
  • T8: Medium diameter (1 inch)
  • T12: Largest diameter (1.5 inches)


  • T5: Versatile, suitable for various settings, including limited-space environments.
  • T8: Versatile and commonly used in a wide range of applications.
  • T12: Gradually being replaced but still found in some older or specialized applications.

Energy Efficiency

  • T5: Highly energy-efficient, offering significant energy savings.
  • T8: Energy-efficient, providing moderate energy savings.
  • T12: Less energy-efficient compared to T5 and T8, resulting in higher energy consumption.

The choice between T5, T8, and T12 fluorescent lights depends on your specific lighting needs and considerations. T5 lights are the most energy-efficient and ideal for spaces where energy savings are a priority, while T8 lights strike a balance between efficiency and brightness, making them suitable for general lighting.

T12 lights, while less efficient, may still be found in certain settings. Understanding the differences between these types will help you make informed decisions when it comes to illuminating your space efficiently.

Learn more about different types of lighting options, or shop now for fluorescent lighting products.