I Need an Obscure Commercial Light Bulb
June 11, 2021 3:56 PM   Subscribe

A fluorescent bulb for a freezer case is now discontinued. How can I either find it still being sold somewhere or choose the correct alternative?

I have been tasked with finding a replacement light for a freezer case that uses GE F60T10-CW 125W 1500 mA Cool White fluorescent bulbs. These are discontinued now, and I have been unable to find any other 60 inch bulbs in the T10 shape. Where they are available online, they are very expensive or sold in large quantities. Is there a specialty light bulb retailer I should know about that might have them, or an appropriate substitute, more affordably?

The freezer in question is fairly old (~20 years) but will remain in use. What should be our long-term plan? Will we need an electrician to re-wire it? Is there some kind of adapter we could install ourselves?
posted by Comet Bug to Technology (13 answers total)
Best answer: This company offers "drop in" replacement lamps for several older style fixtures designed for fluorescents, including 60 inch cooler lamps.
I'd call them and ask about your specific need.
posted by Glomar response at 4:18 PM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

On the West Coast (and perhaps plenty of other places, too) there's a chain called Batteries+Bulbs that will probably carry something like this, or be able to help you figure out workarounds.
posted by knucklebones at 4:34 PM on June 11, 2021

Do you have only one freezer that takes this lamp?

There are re-lamping kits that use LED's. You'll need an electrician familiar with commercial fridges.

Another consideration, call around local commercial refrigeration shops and see if they will sell any of their stock.
posted by nickggully at 6:12 PM on June 11, 2021

This place appears to have them in stock. It’s Canada, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:55 PM on June 11, 2021

I buy most of my weird light bulbs from 1000bulbs.com. I have found their customer service to be pretty good, so if you can't find it on their site, they might help you if you contact them.
posted by primethyme at 8:34 PM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What should be our long-term plan?

Replace the fluorescent tubes with LEDs sourced from an outfit like the one Glomar response linked above.

LEDs will use less energy than fluorescent tubes for the same light output, so much so that over their service life they will easily cost less in purchase price plus energy consumption than the fluoro they're replacing. That service life will also be very long in this application, because what kills LEDs is heat and you have a whole freezer keeping them cool. Plus, they will also be dumping less heat into the cooled space than the fluoro they replace would, so your freezer mechanism will be working a bit less hard, reducing its energy consumption and increasing its service life as well. It's win-win-win.
posted by flabdablet at 9:32 PM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

T10 seems difficult to find LED replacements for as well. If you don't turn something up, it might be worth looking at whether you can change the fittings to T8 or T12. It could be a pretty straightforward job.
posted by automatronic at 3:42 AM on June 12, 2021

Best answer: Oh - actually you can use T8 bulbs in a T10 fitting! They're narrower but have the same pin arrangement at the end - see here.
posted by automatronic at 3:53 AM on June 12, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Automatronic has it - the pins and length matter more than the width. To decipher: T means tubular and the number divided by 8 is the diameter of the lamp in inches. Your perfect replacement is 1.25” diameter.

Standard fluorescents used to be all T12 and more efficient T8 tubes were made to fit. Usually going smaller by 50%will work fine, the ballast will drive the thinner tube just fine. There’s a small chance the ballast will not like the new tube and could cause problems and it operating at high voltage, so not ideal.

Going to LED is even better, as most LED retrofit tubes have a power converter that takes the high voltage alternating current from the ballast and steps it down to low voltage direct current to power the LED chips. LED power converters can accept a wide range of input voltages.

I would give this t8 60” lamp a try from Amazon.
posted by sol at 2:12 PM on June 12, 2021

For those keeping score, the vendor of the lamp linked by sol is the same as the one I mentioned here. They have good SEO game.
posted by Glomar response at 3:10 PM on June 12, 2021

Best answer: I don't think the suggestions above about trying to use a standard 5' T8 tube in place of the specified F60T10 are correct. I think the poster's GE F60T10-CW fluorescent tubes use a recessed double contact (R17d) base, not the bi-pin base that is standard on common T8 fluorescent tubes. If the bulbs that need to be replaced do in fact use a R17d base, I think the best solution is to replace them with 5' LED tubes with a R17d base (maybe these or these at Amazon). Switching to LED will require that the fluorescent ballasts be removed or bypassed.
posted by RichardP at 8:17 PM on June 12, 2021 [1 favorite]

... alternatively, an eBay vendor is selling old-stock, new in box, F60T10/CW fluorescent tubes for $600 each.
posted by RichardP at 8:28 PM on June 12, 2021

Best answer: I read that last eBay listing as being 8pcs, so $75 per tube. And there doesn't seem to be any indication that it's new old stock of the original GE part. I think they're just claiming it's a suitable replacement for that type.

I had missed that the original part had a R17d rather than G13 base - the OP only mentioned it was a T10 tube size.

However - it looks like there's adaptors to put a G13 bulb in a R17d fitting, so that plus a 5ft T8 LED tube may be the way forward.
posted by automatronic at 2:18 AM on June 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

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