Striplights and tubes are a mostly linear light source (occasionally circular), and a classic form of fluorescent lighting. Incandescent and LED technologies are also used, though it should be noted that modern fluorescent tubes are extremely energy-efficient and provide fierce competition for LED alternatives. LED tubes and striplights do offer other advantages, including instantaneous full-power (fluorescent always needs a warm-up period), no mercury content, reliable low-temperature performance, and shock/vibration resistance.
The three main sizes of linear tube are T12, T8, and T5, which are named by their size in 1/8th inch increments. Thus a T5 tube measures 5/8ths of an inch in diameter, for instance.
Of these three tubes, fluorescent T12 tubes were phased out of production by EU legislation for their inefficiency. But T8 fluorescent tubes are extremely energy-efficient and T5 even more so. They are a popular choice of lighting in many schools, hospitals, and public buildings, and they emit an extremely widespread light.
The flickering and humming that are sometimes associated with striplight and tube fittings has been remedied in recent times by the use of high-frequency control gear, which starts the lamp and regulates its current. Standard ‘switch start’ control gear operates at a mains frequency of 50Hz, whereas modern luminaires with electronic high-frequency control gear run at 25-40 KHz. The latter are advisable in constantly occupied working environments. These choices are made when you come to buy or replace the fitting itself, rather than the lamps.
Striplights are a smaller form of linear light, often used in shaving lights or picture lights. They are available in incandescent form as well as fluorescent or LED. Other forms of tube include circular tubes for either ceiling lights or fly-killers. Specialist fluorescent tubes are often used for pest control, because their U.V output attracts insects.
Another form of specialist lighting is the S.A.D tube, which emits a cooler, daylight-coloured white light and radiates a continuous spectrum. These tubes have an extremely high CRI score for colour rendering, and are useful in a preventative or supporting role for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as well as being a good choice for other colour-critical applications.
The more common T8 or T5 tubes can be found in fittings in schools, libraries, hospitals, shops, factories, and offices, to name but a few. Less efficient and phased-out T12 tubes are being replaced by these two sizes of tube – often the T8 as the T5 is not directly compatible with T12 light fittings.
As mentioned, smaller striplights are used in shaver lights, mirror lights, and picture lights. Circular tubes are used in ceiling and architectural lights, and the Miniature or Mini T5 lamp is used in torches and lanterns.
G5; G13; GX13; G10q; SCC-S15