1st of September 2010 marked the last day of 75W incandescent light bulbs within the European Union. This is the second phase-out rule in a series of energy saving regulations made by the EU in 2008, within which they intend to get rid of all conventional incandescent light bulbs (invented by Edison) and inefficient halogen lights until 2016. This series of phase-outs, phrased and criticised at the same time by many, eventually open a market to a widening range of energy saving lights. Since the ruling basically sets a minimum standard for energy efficiency and functionality, there will be plenty of halogens remaining on the market class A and B are not planned to be banned within this regulation.
The entire range of regulations is under the heading of Eco-Design Directive, aiming to save at least 10-15% of household electricity accumulating on a national level, as well as reducing carbon-dioxide emission.
Here is the list of regulations and their deadlines in the EU:
1 September 2009
100W or above incandescent light bulbs
Non-clear (frosted / pearl) lamps must be minimum A-class
1 September 2010
75W clear incandescent lamps
1 September 2011
60W clear incandescent lamps
1 September 2012
All remaining clear incandescent lamps (40W and 25W)
1 September 2016
Phase out of C-class retrofit halogen lamps
The price issue
Among the many, there are two major arguments against the regulation. The first one is evidently about the price of the new energy-solving solutions. Simply put, there is a huge price difference between traditional incandescent and energy-saving lights; though, this affects you radically only if you wish to replace all your lights at once.
Although all energy-saving lights require a certain amount of investment, depending on the light you choose they relatively quickly pay it back to you by the money saved on your lighting bill. Opponents of the regulation usually argue that even the cheapest energy-saving light costs four times as much as an incandescent, but usually even more. Like mentioned before, the energy saved with these lights return the investments quickly, but on the long run especially with LED lights, the energy saving bulbs return the investment with the length of their lifespan too. Even the lowest quality LED light has the lifespan of 30 000 hours, while an incandescent has only 1000 at its best.
The health issue
The other, less evident, but also serious issue is the health problems caused by CFL lights to those sensitive to its flickering output. Fluorescent forms of energy-saving lighting are often criticized for causing migraines, eye problems and skin rashes, but they are also harmful for those suffering from epilepsy or autism. These people can strongly be affected by the massive change to this type of lightings in households, as well as public places like schools, shops, hospitals and streets. Due to these changes, the cost of healthcare may well go up both within the household and the national budget. Among the energy-saving lighting solutions, it is definitely the CFL which has regularly the lowest price at the moment (LEDs are even more expensive, but for good reasons I will mention later); therefore it is very likely that most shops and institutions nowadays particularly struggling with their budgets will decide on CFL solutions rather than LEDs.
Further opposing argument often mentioned is about the dimmability of energy-saving lights, which are not compatible with all dimming systems, and even if they work with it, dimmable lights have sky-high prices. Also, the usual issue with CFL lighting is its rate of environment-friendliness. For it consumes much less energy, but includes highly poisonous substances, which get out in the air whenever the tube is broken though in a little amount.
The regulation, announced in 2008 had harsh criticism for the above mentioned reasons, and resulted in the panic-buying of phased-out light bulbs in most countries.
However, during the past two years, energy-saving solutions went through such a rapid change, that for a roughly similar price, most incandescent or CFL solutions can be replaced with LEDs, for the price of a better quality fluorescent. In most cases, LED solutions are still available at a generally higher price than fluorescents, but its lifetime is usually three times longer the least, and its rate of energy saving can be even 40% higher.
With LEDs, all health problems are excluded, their lights do not flicker, they light up instantly, they are dimmable roughly to the rate that CFLs are, and they are completely environment friendly with no poisonous substances included.
Also, other energy saving solutions appeared on the market, like the improved incandescent, which is a combination of the previous incandescent and contemporary laser technology, resulting in a very intensive light output with less heat production and energy consumption. (The technology was experimented at the University of Rochester, where an ultra-intense beam of light laser is used to create nano- and micro-scale structures on the surface of a regular tungsten filament). These light bulbs will also be able to change their colours, however their lifespan and rate of saving energy
With the ban of conventional incandescent lights, new solutions of energy saving lights are expected to appear and evolve in a similarly rapid pace as it did during the past two years. Here, at LEDcentre we witnessed how fast LED technology developed, moving towards greater brightness, longer lifespan (some super technology LEDs have the lifespan of 80 000 hours), and full compatibility with dimming systems. Since cheap forms of lighting are still available, customers are not forced to change their entire range of lighting at once. Start changing them one by one, and you will have no problems when all incandescent bulbs are eventually banned.