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Are you still using halogen bulbs?

While we’ve already seen the EU phase out energy guzzling traditional incandescent bulbs, the time is now coming for a decision on the end of not-so-eco halogens. The question is, when?

The Member States of the EU will vote on whether to go ahead with the proposed 2016 ban of all bulbs with an energy classification of C or lower, which will effectively ban halogen bulbs, or delay the phase-out until 2018.

The reasons for the debate are simple enough. There are concerns over the price and quality of the bulbs that would remain on sale.

In a show of the European Commission’s willingness to compromise and remain flexible on eco-regulations the proposed delay was suggested by the Commission themselves.

Energy saving light bulbs

The aim of the long-running programme is to ensure all bulbs available in the EU have at least an energy efficiency class B rating. That means halogen bulbs wouldn’t be up to scratch, only using about 10% less energy than an old-style bulb. This would leave the market with only CFLs, using 60%-80% less energy than incandescents, and LEDs, using 90% less.

While the next stage of the programme will undoubtedly save huge amounts of energy for Europe, it may raise a few concerns if your house is lit with halogen bulbs.

In our survey of more than 1,000 Which? members, half told us they still have halogen bulbs and more than two in five have halogen spotlights. However, Chris from our previous light bulb Convo was pleased when he made the switch:

I replaced 14 halogen bulbs (50W GU10) a year ago with the LED equivalent. They have always been perfectly reliable and just as bright as the halogen originals […] Any lamps that I buy from now on will definitely be LED.’

What would be left on the market?

How will the halogen phase-out affect you? While you can get a Best Buy LED for less than £5, it’s still a large jump from the cost of a halogen bulb. Although, it’s worth noting a LED’s lifespan will stretch far beyond that of any halogen so there’s still be money to be saved.

Then there are the issues of compatibility. LED and CFL bulb technology still isn’t up there with that of halogens in some key areas. You may find issues with compatibility with existing circuits and dimmer switches. And the warm up time of some CFL bulbs mean you may spend the first few minutes in the dark, even though you switched the lights on. Plus the colour rendering of LED bulbs can still leave a little to be desired.

Do you think the EU commission should hold off until 2018? Or is bulb technology ready for a 2016 ban of halogen bulbs? If you use halogen bulbs, are you now going to invest to get them replaced?

Mr Tayto says:
30 January 2015

Thanks for shining a light on the issue, Alex

Clare says:
30 January 2015

an illuminating post, thanks alex


I have had a great deal of success with CFLs over the years. The secret of success seems to be to make sure that they are used in well ventilated fixtures or shades to avoid overheating, which can shorten their life. Over the years, I have paid between £20 and 10p for well known brands of CFLs.

The only halogen lamps I have is a bathroom fixture with multiple halogen bulbs. I avoided using a CFL because it would have overheated in an enclosed bathroom fixture. The lamps are not on for long and I have a few spare halogen bulbs for future use.

Although I was an early adopter of CFLs, the reliability, the comments about poor reliability on Which? Conversation and elsewhere has put me off. It’s not just cheap brands that are failing prematurely and causing radio interference. What I would like to see is LED lighting fixtures in which the control electronics are kept separate to avoid either overheating and failing. That works very well in offices, public buildings and street lighting.

I was aware of the impending phase-out of halogen lighting to save energy and have seen higher power lamps disappear from the shelves. It’s time to discuss this topic, so thanks to Alex for starting off the discussion.


Thanks Wavechange. It’s good to have a well thought-out and lengthy comment 😉 And I agree with you on LED lighting fixtures. Mine have always seemed to burn out prematurely, presumably due to over-heating.


That was the second attempt, Alex. When I posted the first one the Conversation had gone – as bad as a failed bulb. 🙁


Hi Wavechange, sorry that was our fault. We had to temporarily take down the Convo to tweak a couple of things. You’re so fast that you commented just before we took it down. We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Trent Simmons says:
6 February 2017

Hi Alex: I like that image for this article and was wondering if you could tell me who owns the copyright? I’d like to use something like that for a project I’m working on. Thanks


Hi Trent, you can purchase the license for the image here: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-illustration/question-mark-bulb-series-74947663

bishbut says:
21 August 2017

I have used LED lamps for a long time usually £1 lamps from Poundland no failures yet but cheap enough to replace if they do .You can break the outside glass and the lamp still works I do not recommend you do .I have small LEDs in my enclosed bathroom lights .no problems with them either