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The latest leg of the EU's lightbulb phase-out spells the death knell toll for halogen spotlights. Project Manager Stewart Muir (pictured) explains the ins and outs of the change – and what's on the horizon for lighting in the UK.
He said: “Publically, this one has been very quiet, compared with the incandescent bulb phase out in 2012. I think people are much more used to energy efficient lighting alternatives such as LEDs and have now had some time to actually experience the benefits they offer.”
“LEDs are by far the best option for directional bulbs. The technology is just superior in efficiency, lifetime, performance and versatility - the difference can be illustrated by the fact that a 50 Watt halogen spotlight can be replaced with a five Watt LED.
“Halogens typically last about two years – far shorter than LEDs. When people come to change their halogens next they will find there's so many more LEDs available than there were before, and they'll be surprised at the cost too.”
Analysis of LEDs available has driven home the changes that have come about in recent years. Stewart explained:
“We’ve seen the price of LEDs come down significantly in the last few years, while the amount of lumens per watt continues to increase – both ahead of projections.”
For a full break down of the comparative running costs of halogens and LEDs, coolproducts.eu have done some great number-crunching.
While people may be getting used to lighting changes driven by Europe, there are still members of the public – and media commentators – who are not fully embracing the idea. Stewart said:
“It's important to remember that these phase-outs aren't arbitrary – they are built on evidence-based analysis of the cost and carbon savings possible from better products. The European Commission had until the end of September last year to demonstrate that LEDs were a viable and superior alternative to halogen spotlights in terms of performance, compatibility and importantly, affordability. This was the conclusion when subject to independent studies.”
So what should consumers look for when shopping for LEDs? First and foremost, take a look at what bulbs are featured in Topten UK – which includes just those at the top of the A+ rating band. The costs, again, may come as a pleasant surprise.
Stewart said: “You can get a Topten 50W halogen replacement from a reputable manufacturer for under five pounds now.”
But outside of the listings, how can consumers be sure they're going to get the light they're looking for?
“Testing lighting can be problematic, especially where longevity is concerned. Most LEDs claim at least 15-20 years lifetime, but if you were to fully verify this in the lab, the product would be off the market before you’d finished testing. However, most problems with lighting are often discovered earlier in a bulb’s life. The Lighting Industry Association (LIA), in partnership with EST have developed a testing scheme, awarding an 'LIA Verified' mark which you can look out for that shows the bulb has been through robust tests.”
In 2018, non-directional halogens will be phased out as the market for LED GLS bulbs continues to develop. There's even the outside chance of an unlikely comeback of an old – but previously inefficient – household favourite.
The clever folk at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently developed a type of incandescent light bulb that showed a high level of efficiency – so perhaps there will be a potential comeback to satisfy those forever nostalgic for the glow of tungsten filament. But the end may well be nigh soon for the often unfairly-maligned CFLs.
“CFLs are so much better than they were 10 years ago, but LEDs have developed much more quickly than expected. Now, given the price of LEDs, there's probably not much point in buying a CFL. Given all the things they can do now, and the high levels of light they deliver for very little energy, it's an exciting time for LEDs.”
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The Guardian's article on the halogen phase-out did include concerns raised about the potential impact of Brexit on the UK lighting market, with sources cited mooted a potential flood of poor-quality LEDs. Stewart said:
“Energy labelling and Ecodesign have been shown to be highly effective instruments for raising the bar of products, not just in terms of efficiency, but also in quality. In the short term, there will be no real change on this – during the ‘Article 50’ period ecodesign and energy labelling still apply as they’re written into UK law.”
“The UK now could look to change things if it desired – but where trade is concerned, it makes huge sense to be in sync with other sets of product standards.”
Products exported to the EU will still have to be labelled and demonstrate they meet ecodesign standards, and Stewart added:
“If the emphasis is on cutting ‘red-tape’, having multiple sets of standards would create a huge amount of extra work. There is a strong case for remaining in sync with EU policy on this ahead of going it alone, or adopting the standards of another region that manufacturers and suppliers aren’t already set up to work within.”
“Now is not the time to be going backwards in an area that has already delivered so many tangible benefits by allowing poor products and inferior technologies to stick around on the market – this would not be in keeping with the high ambition the UK has shown with its carbon budgets from the 2009 Climate Change Act.”