/ Home & Energy

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/.

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 . . .

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.

At present the market is for CFL & LED lamps as replacements (often poor) for the GLS and candle shapes of incandescent lamps.
Hopefully sometime light fittings of all types actually designed to make full use of the new technologies will start appearing .
This has happened to some extent with lamps designed to make use of the flat shape of “2D” bulbs which are available in a variety of powers up to I believe 42watts and the T4 ultraslim fluorescent tubes often used under kitchen cupboards


In your introduction you say that LED lamps work with dimmer switches. It depends on the lamp, and some come with a warning that they are unsuitable for use with dimmers. It’s one of the many useful things I have learned on Which? Conversation. 🙂

The “ban” has got to be one of the least effective “bans” there has ever been since there are so many loopholes in it and ways around it as to make it a complete joke. Not least being the availability to purchase GLS bulbs in any quantity you like from a plethora of on0line suppliers inside and outside the UK.

CFL lamps are very variable in quality and performance (as Wavechange and I in particular, plus many others, have discussed ad-nauseam on earlier related convo’s), which is a great shame because back in the ’70’s and ’80’s the Thorn 2D lamps and the Phillip’s “Jam jar” CFL’s were quite fantastic and fairly priced too.

LED lamps are, as yet, too few in number, and too costly, to provide a sensible alternative and also, as rarrar has pointed out, the vast majority are highly directional and so of limited use in many fittings.

Lighting manufacturers are still making and selling the vast majority of fittings in a way that requires some sort of tungsten bulb to operate.

In short, the phase out of tungsten lamps is far from complete, far from smooth (I wonder which planet Peter Hunt lives on?! Maybe the same one as Michael Gove when he is telling us that the exams this summer were fair and accurate?!?!) and has been shambolically disorganised……rather like that other supposed energy-saving scam, SmartMeters! What is the common factor between these two?? Oh yes, driven by politicians rather that scientists!

Ah well. At the current rate of progress the tungsten bulbs I have in service have so far lasted on average 12 to 14 years each, and even though I have not intentionally stockpiled I seem to have enough left to last about another 25 years at the same rate. I also have some 1980’s “Jam Jar” cfl’s in service which show no sign of ‘going’ yet and a couple more of them in stock which I found in a closing down sale recently, and also about half a dozen other CFL’s, which are Crompton brand and, so far,m these have been the most reliable and long-lasting I’ve found. I reckon that means that I’ll probably never need to buy another light bulb of any kind until I’m in my late 60’s (if I live that long) and he money I’ll save by not buying any new bulbs will far outweigh any possible “waste” of electricity in the meantime!

Happy days!

As Dave has said, there has already been a great deal of conversation about CFLs in earlier Conversations. Mine have always proved very reliable and I put this down to using them in well ventilated lampshades, which helps to avoid overheating the electronics in the cap of the lamp. You may find that some lamps are not recommended for use in enclosed fixtures.

I’ve no trouble with most CFL’s (some in the past have had poor start-up times and brightness/colouration) and I always find it amazing that light fittings which are incompatible with CFL’s are still being sold in some places (especially closed fittings). For some older light fixtures the use of halogen bulbs is inevitable, but for now it’s better to be saving some energy than non at all. Hopefully LED technology will develop beyond the capabilities of CFL’s for a larger number of bulb types – since the technology has the greater potential w.r.t. compact and efficient lighting.

lighthouse says:
4 September 2012

Energy saving is not the only reason to choose a light bulb you want to use!

whatever the Household savings usually lauded, it is Society savings that might be relevant to legislators, not “what light bulb Johnny uses in his bedroom”!
As it happens, the society savings are next-to-nothing, for a variety of reasons.

1. Small Society Savings
Cambridge university Network, Scientific Alliance:

” The total reduction in EU energy use 0.54 x 0.8 x 0.76% = 0.33%
This figure is almost certainly an overestimate…
Which begs the question: is it really worth it?
The problem is that legislators are unable to tackle the big issues of
energy use effectively, so go for the soft target of a high profile
domestic use of energy …this is gesture politics.”

Cambridge University Network under Sir Alec Broers, Chairman of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, the Scientific Alliance newsletter, involving physics dept professors etc
Similar figures from other EU sources, and for that matter the US Dept of Energy, grid electricity data breakdown (they use 4 categories), again as linked.

I have been using CFLs for more than 20 years and it has saved me a lot of money.

I very rarely have to balance on a stepladder to replace a lamp.

I no longer have to replace lampholders damaged by heat.


Whilst I agree with you that when it comes to overall energy efficiency and therefore reduction in use of fossil fuel produced energy the “legislators” (our own Government and the EU) arn’t really very good at it. They’re relying on private enterprize and the market (including profit orientated energy suppliers) to sort it out. Talk about asking turkeys to vote for Christmas?

And it’s true that universal use of low energy lighting will only reduce overall energy usage by a small amount, if only because lighting only makes up a small percentage of overall energy consumed. Most domestic energy consumption is of course used for space and water heating and it is in those areas where much more needs to be done to improve things.

However you cannot get away from the fact that replacing a 60w incandacent with a 15w CFL is a 75% saving both in energy and in the cost to produce the same light.
How can you say that’s not worth it? Of course it is.
Yes it is still a small percentage of overall energy usage but to me that only confirms how poorly the “legislators” are doing in other areas. It also highlights how much energy and money savings potential there must be in these other areas.
Personally I’d like to see council tax level reductions for improved energy efficiency. Perhaps also stamp duty reductions too. Some real incentive to offset the costs to become more energy efficient.
Making at least some saving by using cheap low energy lighting, although perhaps not worthy of the high profile it seems to get, is surely worth doing.
Not a phrase I really like to use but “every little helps”.

lighthouse says:
4 September 2012


2. Same coal often burned regardless what light bulb you use:

A further aspect re the supposed “massive savings’ is that surplus coal is often used anyway after 7pm when most lighting used, even in newer cycling plants, due to the issues of powering down at night from the higher daytime usage. In effect, the same coal is often burned regardless of whether your bulb is on or off – and coal is the main CO2 culprit. (DEFRA, APTECH referenced, same Tonn.ie link as above)

Just another among all the deception arguments used to ban patent expired cheap products to favor lobbying patent holding global corporations, singing hand-in-hand with well-meaning green groups about “saving the planet”.
And yes, the lobbying activities and the admitted profitability enhancement are also referenced and linked.

It is still possible to get incandescent lamps for “commercial use”. I have used CFL for years – but still have some bulkhead fittings are too small for CFL (the CFL glass envelope is too large) – so use incandescent 25W/15W from the local trade supply – they have said they are exempt,

Replacement bulbs containing a halogen capsule would probably fit and be the best option for bulkhead lights in occasional use.

Using CFLs in a bulkhead fitting (if they will fit) may condemn them to a short life as a result of overheating. For lights in frequent use a fitting with one or two conventional fluorescent tubes would be a more economical alternative.

Patrick’s point is, I don’t doubt, correct, but policing sales of incandescent lamps would be all but impossible and cost so much as to be unrealistic and politically unpalatable.

Possibly more to the point, unless I have completely misunderstood, coloured and special shaped incandescent lamps are exempt from the bans (whatever wattage) for “commercial” reasons, and coloured lamps give far less light than pearl or clear lamps so use far more power for the required light.

Now, I’m only guessing, but I’d say that any savings made by forcing the public to use CFL’s or LEDS at home will be infinitesimal compared to the energy still used by these coloured and shaped lamps in commercial use, which rather tends to support ‘lighthouse’s’ first point above.

CFL’s in bulkheads often won’t fit and in they will, as wavechange says, they often fail early due to a combination of heat and the angle in which they are used.

All of which points back to the same two things that many of us have been saying for years now:

CFL’s have been made to poorer (cheaper) standards to make them acceptable to the public purse – hence difficulties that were not present with the earliest cfl’s (wavechange has frequently, eloquently, explained precisely why and how this is) – and the phase out of incadescents has been and continues to be a shambles which has been and is badly managed. Correct these two issues and the situation would be a world different, for the better.

I find the light give out by CFL’s makes reading very difficult for me especially for fonts smaller than 14 – there is no ‘real’ light in them. LED’s may well be the answer but the price is not.

As we get older many people find it more difficult to read in any form of artificial light. Try using a reading lamp close to the page.

Old-fashioned reflector lamps are still available and are ideal for reading lamps. High brightness LED lamps are still very expensive but smaller versions – which would be suitable for a reading lamp – are much cheaper and you can choose a either a warm white colour or the brighter bluish-white colour.

When I was on holiday last year I visited a fair number of pubs and was disappointed by the number still using incandescent lighting. This summer I noticed that most of the pubs I visited had switched to low energy lighting, both CFL and low power LED, though the inefficient halogen reflector lamps are still much in evidence in some establishments.

I know that pubs are allowed to use old fashioned lamps but at a time when many are struggling to compete with supermarkets selling cheap alcohol, I am surprised that some persist in wasting money. My local is lit for more than 12 hours a day by a large collection of inefficient 15 and 25 watt incandescent bulbs and I have been told that it is the most expensive pub in the area.

Good to know you’re still preaching the gospel, wavechange!

But I was sorry to hear of your disappointment regarding those Luddite pub-owners you came across last year. However, your innovative and wholly admirable drive to combine pub-crawls with research into the effects of non-PC lighting systems does raise serious questions.

Did you have time between your examination of the CFLs, low power LEDs, and inefficient halogen reflectors to take any additional notes while you were conducting your investigations? Do you, for example, happen to remember what the beer was like? Any good guest beers? Average S.G. ratings? CAMRA membership and so on? Also, did you notice any interesting differences between the pub-owners’ attitudes towards amateur lighting sleuths and towards their regulars?

Your later revelation that you “very rarely have to balance on a stepladder to replace a lamp” suggests that your weakness for ad hoc pub inspections is not affected by any concern about the destabilising effect of alcohol. There remains, however, some concern about your ability to assess accurately the statistics you seek whilst, at the same time, busily sinking pints (or litres).

Or perhaps you confined your intake to Babycham, dilute tonic wine, and cheese and onion crisps?

We, your loyal readers, have a right to know!

I find I can see everything a lot more clearly after a spell in a good pub, with or without low energy lamps.

Your comments are rather irrelevant, wildberry, but I will answer briefly.

I did not inspect any pub that sold only keg beers. I might not be a CAMRA member and I did not drink enough to fail a breath test (even though I was not driving), but there are limits. No Greene King beer was drunk but I did try a good selection from smaller breweries during my holidays. Most of the pubs were managed or run by tenants, who may have less choice in their lighting than what beer they serve. My local pub is certainly owned but has been spoiled by replacement of Taylor’s Landlord with Bland GK beer. There are often dark corners where the owner has not kept up with replacing his old fashioned bulbs when they fail.

I was on my annual holiday with university friends from the 70s. One was totally opposed to CFLs until two years ago, but now he has seen the light. 🙂

John wrote: I find I can see everything a lot more clearly after a spell in a good pub, with or without low energy lamps.

We might need some more light relief if the tired old arguments resurface. 🙂

I suspect that the issue with pubs might be that the breweries, already finding pubs unprofitable, are unwilling (or possibly even unable) to make the initial cash outlay required to buy the CFL and LED lamps and – in many cases – to change all the light fittings to take the cfls.

I’m no economist but I think this is the “commercial viability” which is referred to in the expemptions to the incandescent ban, presumably because companies, like breweries, have influence over politicians.

The pub companies that own many pubs are big enough to have some influence over government, but they seem to have been fairly unsuccessful in trying to influence governments past and present over other issues. I have no idea of whether they have campaigned over lighting because it is not something that greatly affects most pub users.

Tiz good news – next on the list has to be non-rechargeable batteries!

If we are to phase out non-rechargeable batteries then perhaps we can learn from how the replacement of old fashioned lightbulbs should have been handled.

For example:

– the government should have pushed manufacturers of light fixtures to start designing suitable products twenty years ago. What is needed is high quality electronics in the fixture and the lamp being the only part that needs to be replaced. This would avoid waste electronics and premature lamp failure.

– encouragement of the public to use low energy lighting to save electricity, maybe starting around ten years ago.

– more honest marking of the brightness of CFLs, so that users are not disappointed with the light output or time taken to reach full brightness.

– perhaps a subsidy on efficient lighting funded by a tax on less efficient lamps. That could still be done to promote sales of CFLs and LED lamps in preference to halogen lamps.

I have been an enthusiast for rechargeable batteries since the 70s. I’ve even got them in my seven smoke detectors, where they are not supposed to be used, but they work fine.


I have several pieces of electronic kit that do not work with re-chargeable batteries at all – the terminal voltage is too low to switch then on.


You are not alone, but this is Wavechange’s point: manufacturers should have been “encouraged” (co-erced or bribed if you prefer!) to produce appliances which work with the slightly lower voltage of rechargeables years ago.

Had this happened then, when members of the public tried rechargeables in them, they would work fine and not put the public off rechargeables.

It’s exactly the same as what Wavechage says about CFL lamps: if manufacturers, government and even the likes of Which? had been upfront and honest about the real equivalent wattages from 20+ years back, people would not have gone out buying 11w cfl’s believing them to be equivalent to 60W incandescents, got them home, plugged in and found that they were not bright enough.

I fail to understand why government, manufacturers and test organisations feel the need to lie or mislead over these issues: by doing so they just create ill-feeling and make the public resistant to change. The only explanation I can conjecture is that the savings are not very impressive when the real equivalencies are used and so incorrect ones are used to make savings look more attractive. Personally I feel that this is counter productive.

It’s the same with Boilers – on recent convo’s someone has posted that British Gas finally told him in words of one syllable that his new “more efficient” boiler would use just as much, if not more, gas than his old one, despite the advertising hype saying that there would be savings.

Now I come to think of it a further example is in Which’s latest magazine, with savings over the 8 year projected life of washers and driers amounting to only a few pounds – if that was expressed in savings per year, week or wash / dry it would be so small that no one would ever be tempted to buy a machine that was supposed to save energy.

AND YET …. the technology exists (and has done for decades) to make appliances that work on rechargeable batteries, CFL lamps that last a long time, work in cold conditions, work in enclosed fittings and give as much light as old tungsten lamps, boilers which really do use much less gas, washers and driers that really do use less power …….. but they cost a bit extra and that public is unwilling to pay.
Perhaps being Green really is a ‘luxury’ if you want to do it right?

[stands back and puts on tin helmet!]


You are right about the problem of using rechargeable batteries in some battery-operated gadgets. It is down to bad design and if something does not work with rechargeables then you will not be able to use all the power available from a non-rechargeable battery.

There seems to be a lot of luck about whether gadgets will work with rechargeables. For example, I have found that various well known brands of cordless mice (thankfully not mine) that will not work on rechargeables but I have used four generations of Apple cordless mice that work very well indeed. So they should, at the price Apple charges.

I would like to see all battery-operated goods designed to work with rechargeables, except perhaps items where a non-rechargeable battery can be expected to last at least five years (e.g. remote controls and clocks). One of the drawbacks of NiMH rechargeable batteries is that the cell voltage remains constant around 1.2 volts, making it difficult to provide a battery condition indicator.

Children’s toys are frequently marked as unsuitable for use with rechargeable batteries. I assume that this is a safety consideration because of the greater risk of overheating if a rechargeable battery is short-circuited (low quality products that tend to be thrown around). I know several people who have had great success and saved a lot of money by using rechargeables for their kids’ toys.

If we are going to discuss batteries further we really need to do this in the right place as suggested by Patrick. 🙂

Sadly, CFLs suffered from what I regard as poor/dishonest marketing (though the marketing people would probably disagree). Most were promoted as saving 80% of the energy used by an old fashioned bulb. Some of the more recent ones will do this when they are new and when they have reached full brightness. It would have been better to claim a 70 or 60% saving. That is still very worthwhile and if we buy a lamp that is brighter than expected, that should encourage the customer to make further purchases.

Thanks, as always, for your comments, Dave.


It was not bad design of the equipment – but maybe you forget that rechargeable batteries at the time were nowhere as good as they are now – they lost charge quickly and as such not suitable for many electronic devices.

Dave D

The rechargeables of years ago (when the devices I posted about were made) were just not good enough – they lost charge too quickly in the quiescent state- So the manufacturers designed for the most suitable battery at hand – the non -rechargeable type . Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

CFLs are a different thing – they were sold purely to reduce consumption of electricity – and they do – The wattage was a misguided attempt to “inform” the consumer on it’s equivalent to the incandescent lamp.


I have been using rechargeable batteries since 1970, before they were in shops, and I know quite a lot about self-discharge and other characteristics. However, your comment referred to terminal voltage and so did my response.

If one brand of a product will work on rechargeables and another will not, one of these products is badly designed in my view. Let’s end this discussion, which is off-topic.


Interesting I was doing electronic research in the early 1960s – so I know quite a lot too (got a degree in it) we were using or trying to use them in our developmental research portable military equipment. My response was about the reason for not using rechargeables – it was nor bad design of the equipment but lack of suitable rechargeables.

Here is the Conversation if you wish to discuss this further: https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/why-dont-we-phase-out-disposable-batteries/

I didn’t realsie that this new thread had appeared and so I posted the comment that follows in the older area. Had I known I would have posted here a while ago.

I have just installed four dimmable LED bulbs to replace the four halogen bulbs which were a very bad experiment. As I wrote elsewhere, they cost much more than either CFLs or incandescants and are far more expensive to run than the former and only half as expensive as the latter. When the purchase price is factored in they are far more expensive that either. The do have the advantage over CFLs of instant starting and they can be dimmed – but these extras are surely not worth paying so much for.

The LEDs I bought were E27s, which fit into a normal bayonet or ES holder and will accept any shade that a flourescent will. They do look a little strange – but then so did CFLs when we first came across them. They are rated at 8 watt and this light output is said to be equivalent to a 60 watt incandescant. They have a life expectancy in excess of 25,000 hours – so should outlast two to three CFLs and 25 Incandescants.

So how are they? My first impressions a very good. They light up immediately with a very white light and, if anything, are brighter than I expected. They dim quite well down to about half-light but then go very dim. Whether that is the dimmer I am using or just these particular bulbs I can’t say – but 50% dimming is good enough for me.

The obvious disadvantage is purchase cost. At around £15 each they are a significant investment but the savings over only a year will cover that investment and from then on it will be savings all the way. They are rather heavier than I expected as well – certainly more than a 60 watt incandescant – but most fitments have a pretty good safety margin – mine are certainly taking the loading. The instructions also warn against the heat generated – but to me it seems no more than a cfl and far less than an incandescant.

So I will be replacing my CFLs over the years – although with the stock I have and the time they last that might be a tidy while.

It’s not the first time I’ve been accused (quite correctly) of irrelevance, Wavechange. In fact I happen to believe that there may sometimes be a bit too much relevance in this world.

And, come to that, I have often credited you with having a not altogether dissimilar Weltanschauung from my own. Your dismay at the imposition of “Bland GK” together with your benign reference to the dark corners where the errant landlord has neglected to replace his bust bulbs reinforces my suspicion. But my joy is shattered as you go and spoil it all by commending (or pretending to commend) a chum who has succumbed to the false spirit of the age.

“Seen the light”, indeed!

As I am in an amiable mood, however, I choose to interpret that as a ‘sting in the tail’, inserted just to tease.

I would like to suggest that all future Which? reports give priority to quoting light output in lumens and the colour temperature, whatever kind of lamp is being described. Now that old fashioned bulbs have gone, quoting power consumption in watts is useful as a reminder how inefficient halogen bulbs are, but not of much relevance to comparative light output.

I have not bought any LED lamps myself (still too expensive) but some bought by friends have had no indication of light output – only the power consumption in watts. I presume that this is done to conceal how little light cheap LED lamps actually produce.

I fully agree with you Wavechange. Getting replacement lamps to match the “tone” [colour temperature] of other bulbs in the same room is an expensive game of trial and error even if you can get the light output more or less to match. I am fed up with having to replace all three lamps in a central light fitting in order to stop it drawing attention to itself with a glary bulb or a dull one. This was hardly a problem with incandescents. However, as you say, it is not incorrigible if the output and tone were stated prominently on the packaging and if Which? emphasised the importance of this in its testing. Knowing whether a lamp consumes 8 Watts or 11 Watts is no longer important – anything less than 20 Watts is a massive energy saving in most cases.

I’m going to get accused of Which? -bashing here, and I apologise in advance to Patrick and his colleagues.

Which? don’t often mention factors which seem glaringly (pardon the pun) obvious in reports.

I believe this to be for two reasons – but I’m open to being corrected –

1) Which? members and testers are, I believe, predominantly middle-class and predominantly based in the (relatively) affluent South-East. This means that they tend to shop at comparatively costly places and buy relatively costly brands. This has been especially apparent in CFL and LED lamp tests over the last two years or so when it has been pointed out by many convo participants that most or even all of the brands of lamp tested are unheard of north of Watford and when the shops selling lamps on test were chains not found in many parts of the UK.

2) the factors which are of greatest interest to the majority of review readers don’t lend themselves easily to producing a convincing test report which will come out in favour of the products on test (for example, as John Ward correctly states, colour rendering is important to users, but it has no measurable effect upon efficiency, energy consumption., life span, etc., so it’s not really worth Which? bothering about in tests.

I know that there will be some Which? members (like me) who are not middle class, not well off and not from the South East, and I apologise for the generalisation in point 1. I also know that there will be some (maybe many) Which? staff who push their colleagues to refer to the important factors in reviews an I acknowledge their efforts, but wish that they were more successful.

That’s rather prejudiced, Dave. Just because the Which? team can write English that does not make them middle class. 🙂

I believe that colour temperature is really quite important to consumers and even if this does not affect the amount of electricity used, there is a marked effect on light output.. Whether it is a CFL or an LED lamp, higher colour temperature lamps emit a lot more light. Traditionally, most people have preferred 2700K lamps, which equates to the colour temperature of good old incandescent bulbs. Many are now very happy with the higher colour temperature of halogen bulbs and I have seen an increasing demand for CFLs of around 6000k. You know much more about the availability of CFLs than I do, but I’ve seen the hight colour temperature CFLs mainly in offices and public buildings.

A recent e-mail from the Which? Connect team contained some dreadful howlers but I expect that’s because they’re stuck in a gloomy room somewhere in the basement and starved of light while someone does an experiment there to see how much can be saved by using the lowest level of low-energy lamps.

The team were probably just going through a bad spell. 🙂

It would be interesting to know what lighting levels people are happy with in the home, and whether this is affected by colour temperature.

I have seen, on the Which? website or in the magazine, a photo of CFLs under test without any form of shade. That will provide more cooling than in most typical applications. My hypothesis is that premature failure is linked to overheating of electronic components in the lamp cap. I would be very grateful if this could be looked at. I have mentioned this before but would not expect your experts to read all my rambling comments.

I recall that in the last tests, lamps were switched on and off 30,000 times. That might be appropriate for testing car indicators but it seems a bit over the top for household lighting.

The explanation about not testing cheap lamps makes sense and is obvious when you have pointed it out. It’s something that Dave might have worked out, but I hadn’t and I guess there are many members who have been wondering why Which? has focused on more expensive types.

I look forward to the next report on low energy lighting, whatever that covers.

Thank you Patrick for your input on the output. I am hoping that the manufacture of lamps will settle down so that testing can more easily compare like with like. We have grown up with a family of lighting performance for the standard incandescent types [40/60/75/100W :: Clear or Pearl plus a Warm or Soft Tone option sometimes]. In concentrating on a small range of input values the manufacturers are overlooking consumers’ needs for consistency of output. Some of this is attributable to high purchase prices relative to the incandescent bulbs – to achieve a more competitive shelf price some manufacturers are compromising performance and disguising this in the packaging by emphasising the Wattage figure and making the Lumens number far less prominent. For instance, some 7W CFL’s are superior to another manufacturer’s 8W versions at the same price; the customer thinks they will get better value from the 8W lamp [the increased energy consumption on an already-low level being negligible] but might end up being disappointed with its performance. The performance of supermarket own-label lamps is particularly unpredictable and the output value is often far from obvious [and can differ between lamps of the same Wattage if sourced from different producers].

Joe Wilson says:
7 September 2012

Broadly supportive as long as the halogen equivalents are still available – some CFB’s just aren’t bright enough for working from in a home environment without office style reflectors and decor.

I do wonder whether this one size fits all EU legislation really makes sense though. In northern europe a lot of the ‘wasted’ energy went as heat so although energy from light bulbs will be saved – energy spent heating homes will increase – especially during cold summers!

I’m sure much bigger savings could be made through building gas fired power stations near large conurbations which are 50+ miles from the nearest power station – vast amounts of energy are lost in the grid supplying these communities far greater than the savings from light bulb heat.

The heating issue has been discussed many times. The heat is not usually in a place that is of benefit. If you sit under a reflector reading lamp all the time, the heating effect will be useful.

It’s an interesting suggestion about where to site power stations. I had not realised that losses at grid voltage were a major factor. Shall we toss to see whether it is your backyard or mine we build it?

D.M. Clark says:
7 September 2012

Take to long to maximise brightness. Seem to be getting more expensive rather than otherwise. Two or three years ago you could get a 100w equivalent energy efficient bulb for 79p in Kwik-save. I can’t find them at anything like this price now!