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A plan to kill off fluorescent lighting

Posting in Energy
If you've worked in an office or factory then you're familiar with linear fluorescent tubes—the ubiquitous commercial lighting source that's prone to flicker, buzz and chatter, much to the chagrin of workers everywhere.

Despite some of its flaws, fluorescent lighting has dominated the commercial lighting industry. On Monday, Cree unveiled a light-emitting diode (LED) T8 lamp, a new product that it hopes will disrupt fluorescent lighting's foothold in the industry. 

The commercial lighting sector is ripe for some energy efficiency upgrades. Nearly half of the total annual electricity use of U.S. lighting is consumed by the commercial sector, which is dominated by linear fluorescent area lighting. There are 2.3 billion fluorescent sockets in the U.S., which consume 42 percent of all lighting electricity, Cree says. About 1.3 billion of those sockets are T8, according to Cree.

North Carolina-based Cree says its T8 LED lamp consumes 30 percent less energy than the fluorescent equivalent. And while other LED replacements are available in the market today, Cree insists that its product has better quality light and is more than 90 percent compatible with existing fluorescent ballasts. The Cree bulb has about a 90 on the color rendering index. A 100 CRI score is the closest a bulb can get to natural light. 

Cree's mission is to get everyone to switch to LED lighting. The company introduced an LED for under $10 last year and in 2012 it began producing a line of LED streetlights in a bid to coax more local municipalities to adopt the technology. 

In February, the company moved beyond the bulb and into the commercial lighting controls market with a self-programming wireless platform called SmartCast. The platform reduces energy consumption by more than 70 percent (when using Cree LEDS) at half the cost of traditional lighting controls, the company says. 

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— By on May 5, 2014, 9:18 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure