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Why was the ban on energy-guzzling light bulbs delayed?

Are LED light bulbs now good enough and cheap enough to justify banning the less eco-friendly halogen bulbs? The answer, seems to be no. Or at least, not yet.

I’m no fan of halogens. The ones in my house blow so often that it seems I’m forever replacing them, so I recently asked for a quote from an electrician for LEDs. I was pleased by the quality and variety of light they gave, but disappointed by the cost.

You can buy a Best Buy LED bulb for £5, but that’s still quite a lot more than a halogen bulb. And we’ve tested some that cost up to £40. So if you’re going to buy LEDs, go for a Best Buy.

It is concern over the cost, compatibility and quality of LEDs that has led the EU member states  to delay the proposed ban on some types of halogens from 2016 to 2018, so clearly there are some questions that LED technology has yet to fully answer.

It’s mainly pear-shaped halogen bulbs that will be affected – the type you’d find in a lamp shade or in a light fitting in the middle of a room. There are no plans at present to ban spotlights or halogen lamps used in desk lamps and floodlights.

Should we get rid of halogen bulbs?

Halogens use much more energy than newer LED and CFL energy-saving lamps. They use only 10% less energy than an old-style incandescent bulb, while LEDs use up to 90% less.

But many of us still have halogens in our home. According to our survey last year, half of Which? members still use halogen bulbs, with more than two in five using halogen spotlights.

Is it right to delay the ban?

The industry says it needs more time to develop LEDs with features that people want, such as standard dimming, multi-directional light beams, and good colour rendering, at an affordable price. Delaying the ban until 2018 should give more time for some of these issues to be sorted out.

Do you think LED light bulbs are now good enough for halogens to be banned? Are you going to replace your halogen bulbs with LEDs?

Comments

An update for you: Ikea has announced that it will sell only LED bulbs by September. The first major retailer to stock only LED bulbs, Ikea says that the decision is based on helping customers live more sustainably, without sacrificing style.

http://www.which.co.uk/news/2015/08/ikea-to-sell-only-led-light-bulbs-413603/

I wonder whether they will give proper guaranteed life and freedom from interference (radio) from LEDs? I have a mixture of LEDs, halogen and CFLs for appropriate lighting in appropriate places for good reasons and I’ll be sustaining that policy.

I have rebuilt my house with all lighting LED because of what I read were the energy saving qualities of this
system of electronics. The kitchen lights which are used 10 times longer than the other areas have 15% failures after 6 months and 30% after 1 year.

How in 2015, with all the consumer safeguards we are told or read are in place to protect the public, can such products get to the market place and stay there with without redress. These are issues that the government of the day should get to grips with, rather than mess around with issues that are of little interest or benefit to the wider public.

Has anyone seen those Dubai LED lamps on youtube? Just go on youtube and look up bigclivedotcom. He examines some LED bulbs which are made by philips to a far better specification than those here in the UK and elsewhere, as they were made to a standard ordered by the king of Dubai so that they’re more efficient and run cooler so that they last far longer and don’t keep blowing like ours do which are poorly made mainly in china, try finding any light bulbs now made anywhere else, and which run far too hot so they burn out far too quick so they’re a con, just like the other con with “low energy” light bulbs where the real wattage is actually much higher than they claim, and I can prove that and I already have done once. And of course the Dubai lamps are not available outside of either Dubai or the UAE. I don’t know if there’s any way of importing them yourself online, and even if you could there would most likely be big shipping charges. And you’d need adaptors but they’re widely available here.

Here is a link to one of the videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klaJqofCsu4&t=0s

It’s amazing what can be achieved by making efficiency and longevity the priority over the normal commercial aim to achieve more sales.

Philips have launched an equivalent range in the EU from 1 September.

https://www.lighting.philips.co.uk/consumer/p/led-bulb/8719514343788

Can’t find any in the UK yet. Probably floating off Felixstowe docks somewhere waiting for customs clearance. All part of the Brexit dividend.

I doubt the Dubai appraisal. The market there is miniscule so any shrewd ruler would be looking to capitalise by licensing a wonder lamp into the world wide market. Cocker’s contribution seems to affirm that.

The technology appears “normal” – under-running led chips increases their efficacy, a higher colour temperature and poor colour rendering also increases efficacy, at the expense of light quality.

If these lamps are as good as claimed I would expect others to replicate the approach.

I would rather be positive about a product that should last much longer and use significantly less power.

The colour rendering index is dependent on the choice of phosphors used to convert blue light to the required colour and not simply a consequence of having more efficient lamps.

Thanks for the link, Cocker. I cannot find any UK sources but if you do, please let us know where Dubai them.

The phosphor used determines the efficacy directly – by the spectrum it emits. Colour rendering depends upon a good continuous spectrum. A good colour appearance can hide significant spectral spikes that damage colour rendering.

I was simply stating a view, not being negative, that I doubt what appears to be such a good lamp would be exclusive to Dubai, as it would not be in the manufacturer’s commercial interests. If this lamp is as good as it seems then I applaud the manufacturer’s development (I wonder how much HH contributed to the technology?).

If they have doubled the efficacy of their LED lamps I’m a little surprised it has not been better publicised.

As I said, Cocker’s example of similar EU versions being available seems to confirm that.
https://www.lighting.philips.co.uk/consumer/ultra-efficient
https://www.signify.com/global/our-company/news/press-releases/2021/20210830-signify-introduces-philips-leds-first-most-energy-efficient-a-class-bulbs

It may well be based on this work (article pre 2015) https://www.philips.com/consumerfiles/newscenter/main/design/resources/pdf/Inside-Innovation-Backgrounder-Lumens-per-Watt.pdf

Just part of a range of white Leds from a major manufacturer. https://lumileds.com/products/mid-power-leds/luxeon-3030-he/

I’m waiting for these lamps to appear in the UK. Any manufacturer could produce LED lamps that do not over-run their LED chips and overheat their drivers – but that would reduce sales.

From the Philips website: “Long life bulb – Lasts up to 45 years
With a lifetime of up to 45,000 hours, you can reduce the hassle of frequently replacing your light bulbs and enjoy a perfect lighting solution for over 45 years.” Perhaps they could offer a decent guarantee.

I’ve search by EAN 8719514343788 (60W 3000K). No sign of where “Dubai” them (groan). Maybe look out for them on camelcamelcamel ?

I think there may be low uptake initially – Edison screw only. But Which? should be in there testing them already for GA.

Sadly the UK has been invaded by screw-in lamps with ES and SES bases, although most of my fixtures still use bayonet-cap ones. I agree that it would be interesting to have a report from Which?

The ‘Big Clive’ YouTube site may be eccentric but does provide some interesting insights into current design of small electronic products.

You can usually change lampholders to E27.
Testing and evaluating many products requires expertise and, often, specialist knowledge. When Which? do test LED bulbs, for example, I would want to know efficacy (achieved light output and power consumption) and life, for example, as well as safety, to make a considered decision. This usually requires testing a significant number. They should, in doing this, also test the temperature rise of components in the worst orientation of the lamp used in practice and assess against the maximum working temperature of components used. Do they? Otherwise the results will be less meaningful.

What I am getting round to is suggesting that Which? might well need to cooperate with other (more knowledgeable) organisations when evaluating products to ensure that consumers get really useful information.

It would be interesting in this particular interest if Philips were asked to contribute on the seemingly big step forward made in domestic LED bulbs. We rarely hear from manufacturers; maybe they are not asked?

I don’t believe that it is practical to test the operating temperature of components in situ when they are buried in the cap of a lamp. If Philips or other manufacturer claims an operating life of many thousands of hours, this should be backed up by an appropriate guarantee, otherwise it is little more than marketing.

It has nothing to do with a guarantee. It is to check whether components operate within their limits and is standard practice when testing products. There are techniques to achieve this, for example using test points. This is where partly my comment about using knowledgeable people with the necessary expertise was aimed.

Testing products properly is not always a simple process. And initial performance is not sufficient in a sustainable climate. I want to know how long a product (type) is likely to last. As I have suggested before, this includes examining a product’s design, build, quality of components and assembly.

Until that happens, perhaps we should focus on the manufacturer’s guarantee period – something that consumers can relate to.

In my small study there is a large frosted globe type tinted lightbulb which has been in situ for almost as long I have (about 30 years,) and it still works! There is no monogram visible on its base, so I have no way of finding out it’s origin unless I remove it, which I am reluctant to do in case it dies on me.

Guarantees are a separate issue from product life. We should ensure product evaluation assesses likely life otherwise consumers will not have the information they need to make a considered buying decision. Reputable manufacturers will assess this as part of the design process.

I am all for long guarantees/warranties. I think it unlikely, though, that I would get a free guarantee on my dishwasher for 15 years even though it might well be designed to last that long.

Guarantees/warranties will always be paid for by the customer, whether as a part of the purchase price or bought separately. I would expect the products from those manufacturers who make better products that last longer to cost somewhat less, as a proportion of their price, for a long warranty ( given that poorer products are probably replaced one or two times before a decent one gives up the ghost).

I think we should push for what we want – better longer lived products, than choosing to be “compensated” by a warranty when a product fails too soon. Sustainability – longer life and economic repairability – should be the aim.

Beryl, an incandescent (filament) lamp can last almost indefinitely if the filament is run at a lower temperature than the norm (which is 1-2000h). However, the penalty is a very substantial reduction in light output. So it is very inefficient in terms of power in to light out. As you normally buy a light bulb to get the amount of light you need you want the right balance between electricity consumption and life – the two cost elements – and the amount of light it gives, the “product” you are actually buying.

Thanks Malcolm, the said lightbulb hangs from the ceiling fixture and is rarely used. A small table lamp is used for close up work as and when required.

You can still buy “rough service” incandescent light bulbs – there are still some stocks available, although the loophole that allowed these bulbs to be manufactured or imported was closed in 2016.

These bulbs were used in environments with high levels of vibration: trains, ferries, heavy industries, etc. In addition to additional filament supports, the temperature was down-rated, reducing the amount of light output by about 20%. Used in a domestic environment, these bulbs would last for up to 5000 hours.

Of course, some scammers advertised and sold these to gullable householders at inflated prices, as “ever-lasting” light bulbs.

You might be interested to read about the “Phoebus cartel” (Wikipedia), which included Philips and other well-known manufacturers, who fined manufacturers for making light bulbs that lasted more than 1,000 hours. One could argue that it was a conspiracy designed to keep consumers in the dark.

The cartel didn’t end as the result of a Which? campaign; WW2 sort them out.

Or read more here: https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-great-lightbulb-conspiracy

I’m sure that is (or should be) compulsory reading for all Which? staff!

Being a right meanie, I brought the 200W lamp from the loft in our previous house to our new one six years ago and put it in the loft here. It’s probably coming up to twenty years now but is rarely illuminated. I replaced it with a spare 60W lamp at our former abode. I needed to put some things up in the loft last week and the old lamp gave an excellent light for the few minutes I needed it on. Should last for ever.

There have been misconceptions about the principle of this.

A filament lamp has two costs to a domestic user; the purchase cost (a recurring cost when it needs replacing) and the cost of providing the light emitted – the electricity consumption. The less light it emits per watt consumed, the more that light costs the consumer but, of course, the longer the light bulb will last. A balance can be struck between the optimum light output and life to give the best total cost to the consumer. That is what helped strike the filament bulb life. However, longer life lamps that gave less light were available – usually, as Cocker points out, where they were subject to rough use (a glowing filament is fragile) or where access is difficult for example.