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It’s the final switch off for incandescent light bulbs

Saturday 1 September was a day I’m sure many of you were hoping wouldn’t come. Yes, it was the day that the final incandescent light bulbs, 40 and 25 watt, were banned from sale.

Due to an EU directive, retailers will no longer be able to sell incandescent light bulbs of any form. Bans on 60W and 100W have been and gone, as I’m sure you know, but now 40W and 25W bulbs have joined them too.

It’s said that by 2020 the ban will save 39 terawatt-hours of electricity across the EU each and every year. The UK government has even said that it will save the country £108m between 2010 and 2020.

However, I know many Convo commenters aren’t happy with the switch off.

Poor performance of energy saving bulbs?

Apart from the annoyance of being forced by the EU into ditching your incandescent bulbs, many of you haven’t been impressed by the performance of energy saving light bulbs. Your complaints with the most common energy saving bulb (CFLs) range from the amount of time they take to warm up, to being difficult to dispose of responsibly.

However, Peter Hunt, chief exec of the Lighting Industry Association, has said the ‘phase-out has been very smooth’ and added:

‘Concerns about poor performance of replacement bulbs have been proved wrong. The new LED replacements for halogen downlighters that have come on to the market over the past year work just as well, for example. Price is still a barrier, but that’s coming down almost daily as volume increases.’

Are LEDs the answer?

Ah yes, LEDs. These are said to be game changers – the energy saving bulbs that will answer all our calls. They’re said to be much more durable than other energy savers (lasting as long as 25 years), will reach full brightness instantly and some will work with dimmer switches. Of course, they can cost quite a bit more than your old incandescents or CFLs, but the price is coming down. And since they are even cheaper to run than CFLs, they should pay you back over the years.

If we have a look at the Philips MyVision 5W LED, although it will cost you a pretty hefty £12 to buy, it will only cost you 73p to leave on for 1,000 hours. Compare that to the cost of its 40W incandescent equivalent and you’d be looking at £5.80 for the same amount of time. So, presuming you have this one light turned on for 1,000 hours per year, you’d make back that £12 in under three years.

Still, it would be nice to see the price of LED bulbs dropping sooner rather than later – if they were cheaper would you happily give up your old bulbs?

No way around the ban

Some have mentioned that you can get around the ban by going to specialist lighting and hardware stores. However, Peter Hunt told the Guardian:

‘The law is clear: they should not be sold for household use. It says so on the packaging. Any retailer is risking a visit from government inspectors if they continue to sell them.’

So it’s best to steer clear of that then! Though maybe you’ve been stockpiling incandescent light bulbs? Or have you taken to energy saving bulbs like a duck to water?

Are you sad to see the end of incandescent light bulbs?

Yes - I don't think energy saving bulbs are up to the job (56%, 604 Votes)

No - I'm happy to move to energy saving bulbs (44%, 472 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,090

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I remain happy with CFLs, having been using them to save energy long before the phase out of incandescent lamps started. I am looking forward to high brightness LED lamps becoming available at an affordable price.

I regret that the government has still done little to help promote the advantages of energy saving lamps, and the manufacturers of lamp fittings should be ashamed of themselves for not providing fixtures intended for use with them. They should have started doing this twenty years ago.


High-brightness LED’s are the answer for some of the applications in our house but it’ll be a long time before we shall be able to convert to them such is the long life of the existing CFL’s combined with the short duration of their use each day. We have quite a number of incandescent lamps that have not had to be replaced in over seven years and will probably last another three/four at the present rate; we also have quite of stock of replacement incandescents and will probably use them in the low-use fittings.

Given the purchase price of low-energy lamps it is a pity there is not more consistency in performance between the multitude of types available as mistakes in buying a poor lamp are expensive. I wish that all lamps from each manufacturer had roughly similar performance characteristics across the range but they don’t: I would prefer to stick to one brand and know what I was getting – handy when trying to match output across a number of light sources in a room. It would also be helpful if .greater prominence in the labelling and packaging were given to the lumens [light output] rather than the wattage [power input].


I think you will find that most lamps now have the brightness shown in lumens. That should have been done years ago. It is the only way of making meaningful comparisons between lamps of different efficiencies.

Maybe I’m one of the first to stockpile CFLs. I bought six or eight when they were 10p each in a couple of shops, a couple of years ago.


Nope – I bought them by the dozen when I switched over well over two years ago. Still have dozens/.

wildberry says:
3 September 2012

Interestingly, Der Spiegel has recently (31 August) published an article on this very subject. Titled “Light-Bulb Ban Casts Shadow over EU Democracy”, it explores the origin and pursuit of this directive and its implications. As a stridently pro-EU publication, its conclusions are unexpected and therefore well worth reading. An English language version can be found at http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eu-light-bulb-ban-illuminates-power-struggle-in-brussels-a-852931.html.

After reading it, those who have swallowed reports from some, ahem, ‘interested parties’ (Mr Peter Hunt, for example) may wish to reflect on the enormous profits that are going to be made by these same parties, and on the likelihood that their conclusions may be neither totally subjective nor totally unsullied by ulterior motives.

When one reads about “game changers – the energy saving bulbs that will answer all our calls” perhaps one should be reaching for one’s metaphorical revolver . . .


Note the use of the words ‘said to be’ 🙂 Have a read of our light bulb reviews, if you’re a member, to see how LEDs performed in our independent lab tests.


Halogen bulbs in the standard GLS package are available for £2-£3 which will fulfil many peoples requirements for a traditional looking lamp.

I’m looking for a LED bulb for my outside PIR bulkheads – Compact Flusorescent dont like the cold – but trying to find one which emits light “sideways” rather than as a beam through the top is difficult mainly ‘cos this information isn’t provided.


It is disappointing that supermarket shelves are now full of halogen bulbs that can be used as direct replacement of old fashioned bulbs, plus all those halogen bulbs that were available before. Halogen bulbs are a bit more efficient and last up to twice as long, but they are incandescent lamps and use much more power than CFLs and LED lamps.

In the past our kitchens might have been lit by one or two highly efficient fluorescent tubes and now it is common to have a myriad of halogen downlighters that use much more power.

I believe that the EU was planning to phase out halogen lamps after old fashioned bulbs have gone but there seems little indication of this.

With halogen lamps it is easy to make very elaborate light fittings with many bulbs and the potential to use LEDs for decorative lighting is immense. Are we really trying to save energy? I begin to wonder.