Incandescent Light Bulb Ban

A directive that aimed to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs across the European Union was passed on September 1st 2009. The ban was phased in over a three-year period, first targeting 100W filament bulbs. They were followed by 60W incandescent bulbs being phased out two years later, and finally, in 2012, the removal of the 40W light bulbs and any other incandescent bulbs still in use.


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The news was met with a mixture of praise and criticism (LEDLights was on the side that praised), but the ban could not be effected fully as, despite the legislation, there was a loophole which, up until this month, remained open and allowed companies to continue to sell incandescent bulbs. At the end of February 2016, however, this loophole will reach a dead end and companies will be forced to join the LED revolution. Keep in mind that LEDs aren't as complicated as they may seem. Regardless of what type of bulb you're looking for, even LED Spotlights, we have the guides and products to help you acquire what you need.

Let’s backtrack a little and think about why the ban was introduced and furthermore, why so many people did not support it. On one side of the equation some people considered the ban to be an effort on the part of the EU to get rid of inefficient technology. For the record, 90% of the power generated by incandescent bulbs is lost to heat. On the other hand, for those who didn’t support the ban, it was an erroneous move that did not include more affordable alternatives. Many of these consumers were still attached to the warm, filament glow produced by incandescent light bulbs. While looking for bulbs, especially GU10 LEDs, its important that while you may lose a little warmth, it is easy to get used to and the cost savings more than make up for it.

This sentiment was upheld even though the UK government had motivated the decision by stating that the United Kingdom would receive a net benefit of £108-million between 2012 and 2010. The media questioned the logic and the public remained divided as it does when we start to challenge the things we used to do, or the way we used to do them.

And, while the expectation was for the removal of inefficient lighting technology, there was a class of incandescent bulb that had been excluded from the ban. This was to soften the blow of the ban to industrial and trade sectors of the economy. Contrary to popular belief, LEDs are not at fault for most of the claimed light pollution around the world. Instead, it is the misuse of the technology that has led to such claims and the defensive stance against them.

So what were these Bulbs?

Rough Service Light Bulbs

Known as special purpose or rough service bulbs, these light bulbs looked, cost and functioned the same as the incandescent bulbs being phased out. But, when it was sold under the “rough service” name, the bulb was legal and completely suitable for use in the home.

By September 2015, however, three years after the ban should have been completed, the EU started making plans to change this. While special purpose bulbs are still allowed, changes to the 2009 ruling will be passed on 27 February 2016, articulating how these bulbs are defined. As time goes on, it is becoming more and more evident that the future of LEDs is going to bring us to near-zero energy consumption as well!

A rough service or special purpose bulb is currently defined as longer than 60mm and only resistant to vibrations or shocks but once the new legislation is introduced this will change. These bulbs will no longer be allowed to be used, once the new definitions are introduced. The exception to rule will be bulbs that are used in traffic lights and for image capturing technology.

How does this change things for consumers and companies? It might be worth knowing at this point, that halogen bulbs are being phased out by 2018 as well, so does this mean it’s lights out for us?


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Those flying the LED flag don’t seem to think so. LEDLights General Manager has welcomed the transition stating:

LEDLights advances in LED technology will ensure that the ban does not impact the market as significantly as the 2009 ban. Today there are more effective alternatives available, enabling consumers to get great prices and better technology. And, let’s not forget that switching to LEDs passes monthly electricity savings onto consumers so, in the long term, the ban will work in everyone’s best interests, as well as that of the environment.

The price point is well worth looking into as, in 2009, a 5W GU10 LED could have cost as much as £30 but today you can pick them up for as little as £5. For consumers, this initial high cost was a major barrier to entry, but in 2016 the cost is no longer an issue. And, also important for consumers is the issue of quality.

When they were first introduced LED bulbs got a bad rap because of the harsh light they emitted, and for the fact that they didn’t switch on instantly. For people who were used to the light generated by incandescent bulbs, LEDs were just too different but today it’s pretty difficult to tell the bulbs apart because the advances in technology ensure that LEDs just keep getting better.

Similarity between LED and incandescent bulbs

In 2009, when the ban was first introduced, the average consumer had never encountered anything different to a halogen or incandescent bulb. By today’s standards, LEDs are pretty well known and both the consumer and environmental benefits have been celebrated for many years. 2016’s legislation will take effect on a more prepared market, which has more technological options available to replace the banned bulbs with.

The closure of the incandescent light bulb loophole presents even greater benefits, for the earth and carbon emissions, and for consumers’ pockets. With LightRabbit’s LED bulbs saving as much as 90% of electricity for lighting, and averaging a life span of 20 to 30 years per bulb it just makes sense to make the switch. If you take into account your savings on light bulb replacements and time spent maintaining your lighting, the price of an LED is very well positioned. Not only that, when you factor in monthly savings, that LED will pay for itself in the first six months of owning it.

If every household and business made the switch to energy efficient LED lighting, we’d save up to 90% of our total electricity expenditure on lighting. LEDLights has made it easy for companies and consumers to do this by offering the highest quality LED technology at the lowest prices on the market. That means, light bulbs that perform to your expectations and that fit in line with your budget expectations. What are you waiting for? Start shopping on and make the switch today.


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