EU Lamp Regulation Update

(Updated with amended infographics)

2015 was a sad year for incandescent light lovers in Europe. The EU Commission, rather than celebrating its victories in having forced EU citizens to replace so many of their top quality incandescent lamps with poorer quality CFLs and LEDs (and generated millions of Euros in revenue for lamp manufacturers) is instead hellbent on removing all remaining tungsten lamps, leaving only the synthetic alternatives.

This is the lighting equivalent of banning glass and permitting only plastic, or banning silk and permitting only polyester! It’s beyond absurd. 

Freedom Lightbulb on why lamp regulation makes no sense

The bad news:

1. Special purpose lamps will be more strictly regulated from 25 February 2016 due to a regulation amendment aug 2015 in order to close the last “loopholes” for incandescent-lovers. Decorative & carbon filament lamps that have gotten popular in restaurants etc. can not be called “special purpose” anymore and are thereby no longer included in the exceptions to the regulation. Rough Service lamps appears to be available but restricted (the wording is unclear). Remaining stocks can still be sold but no new lamps can be imported into EU or “placed on the market”. So it’s a good idea to stock up now if you can still find them.

Banned 2 Special Purpose

Commission Regulation Amendment of 25 aug 2015 (legal text)
Save The Bulb about the amendment

2. Incandescent and halogen reflector lamps will be banned from Sep 2016. So, start stockpiling if you appreciate their beauty, dimmability and broad usefulness at home.

Banned 3 Reflector lamps

3. The halogen energy savers phaseout, scheduled for 2016, was postponed until Sep 2018 – rather than to 2020 as the lighting industry requested, or scrapped altogether as some of us have suggested as the promised Energy Class B halogen to replace the Class C halogen no longer exists on the market.

Banned 4 Halogen

Commission article about the halogen ban 2018

The (possibly) good news:

1. Halogen G9 mini-lamps for mains voltage will still be available. They last longer than standard incandescent lamps and can be used in a conversion kit as incandescent replacement, which has the added bonus that the base and bulb E re-usable, and are available in a wide range of models: A-bulb (GLS), pear, candle, flame, golfball, PAR, globe, diamod etc; clear, frosted, tinted, dicroic, decorated etc. The base and bulb of course costs more than the old lightbulbs used to, but once invested in, only the inner bulb needs to be changed so it’s really eco-friendly. It’s also perfectly legal (for now, anyway, but there is the threat of another amendment yet to be voted on, so best stockpile G9 bulbs too).

Paulmann halogen conversion kits (German/international)
Lysman halogen conversion kits (Sweden)

G9 conversion manual

2. Just a few weeks ago it was announced that, by using nanotechnology, scientists at MIT have found a way of recycling the “wasted heat” [which of course is not always wasted…] of an incandescent lightbulb and focusing it back on the filament where it is re-emitted as visible light, making it 3 times more effective now, and in the future potentially even substantially more effective than LEDs. This possibility can mean a comeback for the incandescent bulb, if any manufacturer wants to invest in developing the technology. It certainly has huge market potentials as many of us still prefer those old “golden standard” lightbulbs to the new synthetic copies. This would also satisfy the EU Commission’s ever more stringent energy standards, as well as those of the U.S. and other countries.

New development could lead to more effective light bulbs
Save The Bulb comment on the new bulbs

3. Many online lamp shops in EU have remaining stocks of phased-out incandescent lamps. Markedly more expensive than they used to be, of course, but at least still available until stocks run out. (Importing from outside of EU is illegal.)

Banned 1 Incandescent

Light Impressions Update

Last week I revisited the ‘Average Joe’ family to help them improve their lighting.

I came equipped with an assortment of different lamps from my well-supplied stash, including a few CFLs and LEDs, as those might be appropriate for some luminaires.

On closer inspection, it turned out they had replaced almost all their 60 watt incandescent lamps with 11 watt CFLs, like good and responsible citizens have been encouraged to do by their trusted authorities – despite the fact that you get visibly and measurably less light and poorer quality light from such an ill-advised switch. As described in my earlier post, the result was quite appalling.

Worst of all lamps was the one over the kitchen table, a dim yellowish CFL that made the whole kitchen very gloomy and hard to see in. The lovely elderly couple complained over the dimness but it never occurred to them to use another lamp because they had been told an 11 watt CFL should suffice and had missed that halogen replacements even existed. I put in a clear 53 watt halogen energy saver and it was like switching on the sun in their kitchen! The difference really surprised them. Now they could see!

I did the same in the 2 identical living room wall lamps. First I replaced only one of them to let them see the difference both in brightness and how the colour of their rusty red sofa looked more grey in the CFL corner. Also tried the Philips LED lamp and that too did not make colours as vivid as the halogen lamp.

Living room sofa – Halogen energy saver

The dining table already had a beautiful crystal chandelier with a halogen lamp in the middle so no need to do anything there.

A floor lamp with a dim 11 watt CFL got a 28 watt halogen energy saver. We tried different wattages but the family thought 28 W gave just the right cosy feel, with the light still clear enough to see well.

A table lamp that had a sad 7 watt CFL ball got a 15 watt clear incandescent ball. This corner was more grey and gloomy than it looks in this picture:

Table lamp – CFL

Here the difference in light clarity when it was replaced with an incandescent bulb shows very clearly:

Table lamp – Halogen

Then I replaced two frosted incandescent 15 watt ball bulbs in their window luminaires with clear ones. No reason to waste a frosted bulb behind a shade. This made only a slight difference of course, but I wanted to put the precious last specimens of the now extinct frosted bulbs to better use.

Living room window lamp 1 – Clear incandescent ball

The frosted ball got moved to the entrance window lamp (with the 7W CFL ball as backup for when it burned out) to replace a very unwelcoming blue-white clear 3W LED lamp with glaring little light dots seen through a partly clear glass shade.

Entrance window lamp – Frosted incandescent ball

Remember this rule of thumb, folks:

• Frosted or opaque lampshade where you don’t see the bulb – use a clear lamp.

• Clear lampshade, no shade or open shade where you see the bulb – use a frosted lamp.

The difference from these small changes was more striking in real life than shows in the pictures. Being very much an amateur photographer, I found it difficult to capture it on film as the camera keeps trying to compensate for what was lacking in the dimmer and poorer quality bulbs.

All in all, I added another 163 watts to their lighting use. If all those lamps are on an average of 5 hours a day all year, that would make about €9 per year, but as all lamps were indoors and about half the heat from the incandescent bulbs is estimated to help lower the energy bill, that makes about €4.5 per year. That’s about the price of one glossy magazine or two bottles of coke – to be able to both see well and have a nice ambiance in their own home for a whole year.

So do try for yourself and experiment with different lamps to see what type and wattage looks and feels best. It’s not going to cost you as much as you have been drilled to believe. Just turn the light out when leaving the room and it will cost you even less.

Ban The Ban – Sign The Petition!

EU incandescent ban

Now it has been three years since the first step of the incandescent phase-out was enforced in the European Union. In a few weeks, the last of the regular incandescent bulbs, 25 and 40 W, will be prohibited from production and import into the European Union. Remaining stocks may be sold until they run out. Next year reflector lamps are up for restrictions and 2016 most halogen lamps will be banned.

Was this a good idea?

Evidence is mounting that this was a very poor decision.

But CFLs are so great?

Since the ban, we have had a never ending flow of reports on CFL issues, from dimming problems, slow start-up time, poor performance at cold temperatures, lamps burning out prematurely, starting fires, emitting UV, radio frequencies and causing disturbances on the grid. Plus consumer tests showing much still to be desired when it comes to producing promised brightness etc.

And worst of all: Chinese workers and environment poisoned to produce ‘green’ lamps for us, risk for toxic contamination of your home, poor recycling rates, and recycling plant workers at risk from people throwing CFLs in glass recycling bins.

But incandescent lamps use more mercury than CFLs..? 

No, they don’t. This clever PR lie was invented in 1993 by the EU-funded anti-lightbulb lobby organisation IAEEL and based on a fantasy calculation exercise at a Danish university in 1991, with an imaginary scenario of a CFL containing only 0.69 mg mercury (impossible to attain at that time, and still is), while electricity production from coal was assumed at a whopping 95% (as was the case in Denmark at that time but nowhere close to true for the rest of EU then, and even less so today). 

So poof, the main argument that has gotten environmentalists, politicians, journalists and the general public alike to believe a mercury containing product is the best product for the environment, has no substance at all. 

See my Mercury posts for details and references on mercury issues above.

See also Good Greek Philosophy

But what about LEDs?

LEDs (and OLEDs) are great for TV and computer monitors, for coloured Christmas decoration, signal lights, possibly road illumination, stage lighting, spectacular lighting design (such as could be seen during the last Olympics) and many other creative purposes, just not as replacement bulbs for home illumination. Even industry leaders don’t seem to believe in that concept, as they know of the many challenges and that this is not the area in which LEDs perform best.

Most LED replacement bulbs available to consumers today are a joke when it comes to light colour, output and price. There are a few decent looking ones from top brands, but the prices on those are even more of a joke, and how long they last and give a useful light is still unknown. Many have electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) issues and may cause grid disturbances. Most are not dimmable, and the ones that are do not dim well.

But what about halogen energy savers?

Well, they give the same type of top quality light, can be dimmed nicely and have all the other advantages of incandescent light, plus longer life. But recent consumer tests disappointingly show that they don’t save as much as promised. They also contain bromine or iodine and can be quite glaring unless shaded or frosted.

Unfortunately, frosted bulbs were also banned by the EU in the first stage of the phase-out 2009, due to wanting to force the majority who likes frosted glare-free lamps at home to buy CFLs instead – that was the whole point of the ban. (Not that CFLs are always glare-free, but they can pass for ‘frosted’ by their phosphor coating.)

That the halogen energy saver is still permitted for a few more years was a temporary compromise, as there exists no clear bright point replacement for when such is desired. Its existence on the market – although at first, very hard to find – has been used by the Commission to stifle all the numerous complaints about CFL shortcomings: “But for those applications, you can use a halogen energy saver!” What the commission doesn’t tell the general public is that halogen lamps will also be banned – unless this regulation hysteria is put to a halt by EU citizens!

Time to ban the ban!

Freedom Lightbulb explains How bans are wrongly justified. Quoting from just one of the many excellent points:

CFLs are simply not suitable for all locations and uses: Hot or cold ambience, vibration, dampness, enclosed spaces, recesses, existing dimming circuits, timers, movement sensor switching, use in chandeliers and small and unusual lamps, aesthetical use if clear bulbs are preferred, rare usage when cheaper bulbs are preferred – and so on – apart from light quality differences, particularly noticeable when dimming. Usage in children’s rooms might be restricted on breakage and mercury release issues, see point 10 below.

LEDs offer an alternative choice especially for directional lighting – but otherwise, with several similar location and usage issues to CFLs, as well as having their own light quality issues in spiky emission spectra. LEDs also have even more light output problems than CFLs to achieve bright (75-100W and over) omnidirectional lighting equivalence, and at reasonable cost.

To put it bluntly:
Incandescent technology is optimal in BULB form,
Fluorescent technology is optimal in TUBE form,
LED technology is optimal in SHEET form.
Fluorescent and LED lighting technology advantages are compromised in trying to replace what incandescents can do.

You don’t make savings by regulating what products are on the market – unless they’re toxic, then you remove them for environmental and health reasons. You do it by using the appropriate lamp type and brightness for a particular environment and task, and by tuning it down or switching it off when not used. Lighting designer Kevan Shaw points out the obvious in Ecodesign Regulation Failure? (emphasis added):

As has been shown in previous studies the amount of lighting energy used in households is far more dependent on behavior than the type of lighting equipment used. Ultimately the length of time a light is left switched on has significantly more influence on total energy used than the wattage of the lamp. Another interesting point is that the proportion of electricity used in households for lighting is now being overtaken by that used for Audio Visual and Computers in the home. Despite this no one so far is proposing that plasma large screen tellys are banned in favour of LED types that use a fraction of the electricity!

Also, you can make an incandescent or halogen incandescent both use less electricity and last longer by simply dimming it – something many are already doing! Jim on Light:

Dimmer maker Lutron says that by dimming a halogen lamp by 30% will give you many of the same benefits as using a compact fluorescent lamp.  Lutron also says that a 3,000 hour halogen lamp will last 12,000 hours when dimmed by that 30%.

As Freedom Lightbulb frequently points out: people are not stupid. If there was a better product that truly saves both money and the environment and last as long as promised, we would buy it without being forced. We gladly buy energy-star fridges and washing machines. We have willingly followed energy authorities’ advice on better insulation of our houses; taking a shower instead of a bath; switching appliances off instead of leaving them on stand-by; turning lights off when leaving the room; installing sensors, timers and dimmers. We recycle and try to be as green as we can manage and afford.

All EU authorities need to do is enforce the energy and performance information on the package label, make tests to check that it’s accurate, and leave us all free to make our own informed choices on what we want to spend our hard-earned money on.

The market failure of incandescent replacements is a product failure, and banning the original high quality product in order to force an unwilling public to pay more for a problematic and lower quality replacement is just too absurd for words!

Save the bulb – sign the petition!

Here is a German petition to revoke the ban. It’s not very well written, but please sign anyway – every vote counts:

-> Avaaz petition to repeal the EU ban

Edit: Two more German petitions to sign (thanks to Lighthouse for the links):

Update: The incandescent ban is actually illegal as the replacement lamps have not fulfilled criteria a, b and c in the Ecodesign Directive. Se my updated post New EU Ecodesign Directive

EU Light Regulations Expanded

Updated Aug 20

Translated and condensed from Swedish Energy Agency’s website.

Reflector lamps, LED and halogen

Now LED and reflector lamps will be included in the regulation and energy label reqirements.

On July 13, the Committee for Eco-design agreed on the regulation proposal for reflector lamps, LED lamps and related equipment. If accepted, the new requirements will take effect from September 1, 2013. With this new regulation virtually every light source is covered, as the requirements for omnidirectional, road and office lighting is already in place.

The new requirements are introduced in four stages so that manufacturers, importers, retailers and consumers will have time to convert:

Step 1: September 1, 2013 
Between Steps: March 1, 2014 
Step 2: September 1, 2014 
Step 3: September 1, 2016

The requirements set for reflector lamps such as halogen lamps (230 V and low voltage), discharge lamps and LEDs. Omni-directional LED bulbs, which previously only had the energy efficiency requirements, are now also included, as well as related equipment, i.g. the driver and controllers for lighting.

OLED lights are still excluded because this technique is still regarded as immature, but may be included in future revisions of the regulation. 

The regulation includes both energy efficiency and function. Typical performance criteria are longevity, number of ignition and extinction cycles, start time and color capabilities. In addition there are demands for expanded information about the light that should be on the lamps themselves, packaging, and specific sites. This makes it easier for both common and professional users and clients in the selection of lighting solutions.

It seems then, that the original time table for different lamps, as described in my 2009 ban summary, is being kept by the EU. Meaning that from 2016, all halogen lamps must be Energy Class B, which only the very expensive Philips halogen bulb with infrared coating and integrated transformer achieves. And that lamp is currently nowhere to be seen… (I managed to locate one in a small special lamps shop in Stockholm a couple of years ago and it was nice and bright but didn’t last very long.)

This may mean that all the mini halogen bulbs for low-voltage reflector lamps are also banned from that date! The industry wants to see all halogen lamps gone and replaced by much more profitable CFLs and LEDs, and EU politicians willingly oblige. Some of the more attractive metal halide lamps that have made many shops more brightly and beautifully lit since the 90’s may also be at risk. But no one is really sure exactly which lamps will be removed, even professional lighting designers are being kept in the dark! And possibly for quite appalling reasons:

From PLDA Greenpages (emphasis added):

The current draft legislation for reflector lamps, the final draft of which is dated January 2012, will result in the phasing out of several types of lamps, with mains, low voltage and metal halide reflector lamps most likely to be affected. The signals are clear that there will be significant reductions in the availability of these lamps from September 2013, with further reductions scheduled for 2016.

The concern is that specification of these lamp types could lead to a risk of Professional Indemnity Claims if said lamp types could not be provided for installation after September 2013.  Specification of products which then become unavailable from September 2013 would likely result in claims from clients regarding delays and mis-specification.

The main problem is that there is insufficient data available to determine exactly which lamps will be phased out, the specification of which should be avoided accordingly, as manufacturers and legislators have not, at the current time, provided the necessary information.

Changes in Reflector Lamps Legislation may prove problematic for Lighting Designers

This seems to be quite in line with EC behaviour openly on their website too. For the general public, one graph is provided that makes it seem like halogen energy savers (class C ‘improved incandescent bulbs’) will be permitted indefinitely, while the timeline in the information material for professionals tells another story.

Public timeline from Changes – bulbs and packaging

Professional timeline from Frequently asked questions

Tighter standards & new labels

Looking at this last regulation installment, one thing that strikes me is the stunning amount of regulation and label info needed for CFLs and LEDs to cover all the technical issues they have, in order to produce just a little more light per watt:

(a) Nominal useful luminous flux displayed in a font at least twice as large as any display of the nominal lamp power;

(b) Nominal life time of the lamp in hours (not longer than the rated life time);

(c) Colour temperature, as a value in Kelvins and also expressed graphically or in words;

(d) Number of switching cycles before premature failure;

(e) Warm-up time up to 60% of the full light output (may be indicated as ‘instant full light’ if less than 1 second);

(f) A warning if the lamp cannot be dimmed or can be dimmed only on specific dimmers; in the latter case a list of compatible dimmers shall be also provided on the manufacturer’s website;

(g) If designed for optimum use in non-standard conditions (such as ambient temperature Ta ≠ 25°C or specific thermal management is necessary), information on those conditions;

(h) Lamp dimensions in millimetres (length and largest diameter);

(i) Nominal beam angle in degrees;

(j) If the lamp’s beam angle is ≥90° and its useful luminous flux as defined in point 1.1 of this Annex is to be measured in a 120° cone, a warning that the lamp is not suitable for accent lighting;

(k) If the lamp cap is a standardised type also used with filament lamps, but the lamp’s dimensions are different from the dimensions of the filament lamp(s) that the lamp is meant to replace, a drawing comparing the lamp’s dimensions to the dimensions of the filament lamp(s) it replaces;

(l) An indication that the lamp is of a type listed in the first column of Table 6 may be displayed only if the luminous flux of the lamp in a 90° cone (Φ90°) is not lower than the reference luminous flux indicated in Table 6 for the smallest wattage among the lamps of the type concerned. The reference luminous flux shall be multiplied by the correction factor in Table 7. For LED lamps, it shall be in addition multiplied by the correction factor in Table 8; 

(m) An equivalence claim involving the power of a replaced lamp type may be displayed only if the lamp type is listed in Table 6 and if the luminous flux of the lamp in a 90° cone (Φ90°) is not lower than the corresponding reference luminous flux in Table 6. The reference luminous flux shall be multiplied by EN 22 EN the correction factor in Table 7. For LED lamps, it shall be in addition multiplied by the correction factor in Table 8. The intermediate values of both the luminous flux and the claimed equivalent lamp power (rounded to the nearest 1 W) shall be calculated by linear interpolation between the two adjacent values.

If the lamp contains mercury:

(n) Lamp mercury content as X.X mg;

(o) Indication of which website to consult in case of accidental lamp breakage to find instructions on how to clean up the lamp debris.

So, 16 different parameters to learn and keep in mind, plus websites to consult for safety instructions, just to buy a simple lightbulb!!

When buying an incandescent bulb, all you needed to know was watts and type of base.

All incandesent bulbs switched on immediately; worked with timers, dimmers and sensors; dimmed beautifully; worked just as well in the oven as in the freezer; worked in any position; power factor was perfect; colour rendering was perfect; light colour adjusted itself perfectly along the Planck curve according to brightness; life span was predictable and was not shortened by switching it off within 15 minutes of use. You knew that if you wanted to save energy, you either dimmed the lamp or simply turned it off when not needed.

And when producing it, you stuck a piece of tungsten in a glass bulb, put a metal screw base on it, replaced the air with some inert gas and that was it. Easily done in a local factory.

You did’t have to go mine for toxic metals and phosphors, manufacture various components all over Asia and then ship them to China for assembly, then ship the finished lamps to Europe, then collect them again after use to recycle the toxic elements. Or keep tweaking it for 3o years to get it to only almost resemble incandescent light, almost give as much light as promised, and almost (but often not) last as long as promised, while still having all those issues that the EU Commission now finally sees fit to regulate and require on the label.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s excellent that this info is now required on the label! That’s what national and federal authorities should be there for, to keep the free market in check and make sure it delivers what it promises. These mandatory labels should have been required years ago, but then the Committee either didn’t know about all these issues or chose to ignore them. I only hope these requirements will be forecefully enforced, with regular tests and fines and sales bans on any lamp that doesn’t live up to its label info.

But legislating on product labels and doing quality controls is one thing. Banning safe and popular products is truly taking things to extremes.

Link to EC label guide for consumers: How to read the new information displayed on light bulb packaging

See also Freedom Light Bulbs post about the new labels.

Incandescent Home Lighting

In this post, I thought I’d share what kind of lights I use in my own home.

I use mainly incandescent light, but very little of it. As a principle, I only turn on as much as I need at any given moment. For maximum flexibility, I have many more light points than I generally use, so that there is always the right light for different moods, tasks, seasons and time of day. Here are some of them:

Ceiling spotlights with 3 x 40 W incandescent or halogen replacement reflector lamps. I have one of these in every room (3 sets in my L-shaped kitchen) but I only turn them on when cleaning, so they get used only a few minutes per week. They produce an excellent light for vacuuming, as they project the light down onto the floor.

2014-11-09 02.18.32

Around the living room, placed very low, I have several wall luminaires with 25 watt silver-top incandescent lamps for cosy ambiance without glare.

Over the sofa: a spotlight with flexible arm and 25 watt reflector lamp for reading.

In the Holiday season, I turn on the incandescent light strings I have fastened around the arched doorways.

2014-11-09 02.19.28

I also have a couple of salt lamps (made of real chunks of salt) with 15 watt mini bulbs inside. One in the living room and one in the TV room. Perfect for late at night when you want a dim, cosy and extra warm light in order to not suppress melatonin levels.

On the kitchen walls, I have 4 single spotlights, with 25 or 40 W incandescent or halogen reflector lamps. Some of them I’ve connected to a remote control for quick switch-on. These get used several times a day but only for short periods. (Lamp cables I’ve stapled to the wall with special U-staples designed for the purpose.)

Over the stove, sink and countertop I removed the ugly fluorescent tubes and put in 2 or 3 x 20 watt halogen under-cabinet luminaires. The one over the stove could not be screwed to the metal exhaust fan so I fastened it with self-adhesive velcro strips. These lamps get used only when cooking and washing up.

The bathroom already had 3 x 10 watt halogen downlights, which get nicely doubled by the large mirror. The only thing I miss here is a dimmer, as the light feels too bright late at night…

Edit: …so I bought a coloured LED strip that can be set to red in the evening (see Coloured LED review 2).

Red light (photo: Halogenica)

For safe navigation around the house during dark evening hours, I have window lights with 7 watt incandesent mini-bulbs in the most used rooms. Just enough light to see, and makes the rooms look cosy both from the inside and the outside. Here is the one in the kitchen.

For ambient room lighting in the study, I use a 35 watt halogen desk luminaire with built-in dimmer, adjusting the light level to suit mood, task and time of day.

If I need a brighter light, I turn on the other desk luminaire that takes up to 75 watts if needed. I currently use a clear 42 watt halogen energy saver, which gives a crystal clear, sunny bright white light. The wide shade spreads the light nicely over the whole desk and the construction is very flexible. (Used to have one of those asymmetrical desk luminaires popular in the 90s, but that was not half as useful despite its ridiculously high price.)

By the bed I have a similar but older model with narrower shade, onto which I mounted a dimmer when I rewired it. Not the most attractive contraption, but very practical. Can’t stand bright light right before bedtime so it’s perfect to be able to tune it way down to a soft, warm, almost candle-like light. When I want to read in bed, I just turn the 40 watt frosted incandescent bulb up a bit and adjust the flexible arm to just the right angle.

For safe navigation in the middle of the night I have a 1 watt orange LED nightlight (of the ‘golfball’ model described in my Coloured LED Review post). It has a built-in light sensor and turns itself off during the day.

Outdoors: Around the house I have wall lanterns with 60 watt decorative carbon filament lamps. These only get turned on when I’m outdoors at night, which is not that often.

For porch light I use a 53 watt halogen energy saver.

For driveway security light (connected to a light sensor) I use warm-white LED.

Consumer Tests

Update Aug 9: The Swedish consumer tests in this post have been moved to separate pages, with tables updated and 2012 test info added:

Incandescent (1997, 2004)
Halogen (2010, 2011, 2012)
CFL (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
LED (2011, 2012)

Light Impressions – CFL

Thought I’d share som personal light experiences here. (Click on thumbnails for bigger photos.)

Now that leading manufacturers have finally managed to get their phosphor mix right so as to create a more natural looking light, I don’t so much mind warm-white CFLs and mini-tubes, e.g. in wall lanterns or downlights in various office buildings, hospitals, garages etc., where they create a softer and more varied lightscape than the more uniform lighting from fluorescent tubes.

CFL spotlights, Arlanda, Sweden
(photo: Halogenica)

CFL in recessed downlights SEB bank office, Sweden
(photo: Halogenica)

What I do mind is if they use only CFL, as that tends to feel as inspiring as a cloudy november day… Many retail store lighting designers have learned to combine fluorescent, HID and halogen light for best effect. Linear or compact fluorescent for general lighting, HID (often warm-white Metal Halide) for bright floodlighting, and halogen for sparkly spotlighting of special items. In my opinion, this works well enough in a commercial environment.

One might also assume that more CFLs get safely recycled along with the other mercury-containing FL tubes and HID lamps in the public, commercial and industrial sector, than in private households.

At home, alas, CFLs do not work so well…

Most of my friends and family use very little light, but go for quality instead of quantity. They use incandescent or halogen lamps but only a few low watt or dimmed down lamps at a time, and naturally turn them off when leaving the room. Some have pre-installed fluorescent tubes in the kitchen or bathroom. Some use CFLs here and there. But I’d never seen a whole house lit only by CFLs.

The ‘Environmentalist’ family

Then I was invited to the home of a family of passionate alternativists, the type that lives in an eco village and only buys organic food etc. Wonderful people in every way. Unsurprisingly, they had not waited until the ban to replace all their incandescent bulbs with ‘eco-friendly’ CFLs.

This was the most poorly lit house I have ever visited! And I’m not one who likes bright light anyway (I’m often fine with a 7 watt window lamp for room lighting and a dimmed down 40W bulb for reading) so it wasn’t that. It was the combination of very poor light quality and and the CFLs having passed that best-before-date when the light was still bright enough to compensate somewhat for the poor quality. The effect was as if someone had filled the house with a grey mist. I was struggling to see anything and thought it a shame  to show such a nice home in such an unflattering light.

The scary thing is that if one lives in that poor quality and gradually weakening light every day, one adapts to it and doesn’t notice until someone else points it out (which I did, as politely as I could). But it must surely still be straining to never really see well in one’s own home.

It was an interesting experience as I had only suspected it from the information in manufacturer catalogues and consumer tests but never actually seen first hand how dysmal CFL light gets towards the end – except for in a test bulb at IKEA where it was very obvious to me that the CFL did not give anywhere near as much light as the ‘equivalent’ incandescent they showed for comparison.

“Economic life”

Since this light loss is well known in the lighting industry, lamps used commercially are usually replaced long before they burn out. When life rate is calculated, something called “economic life” is used, which it is never the whole life of each individual lamp. That’s why you don’t so often see in public how weak the light gets with time. This “economic life” is of course nothing private consumers are informed about, only that the lamps last so and so many hours before they burn out (on average, at optimal temperature, if not turned on-and-off too often etc). But if that light is pretty much useless for half or one third of those hours, then it follows that their useful life is markedly shorter and that you have to remember to replace them before they burn out.

Compare visually instead of trusting labels

My suggestion is to always keep one new incandescent bulb of each wattage for reference. When you buy a CFL, e.g. one that claims to give the equivalent output of a 60W bulb, compare them to see that it really does so in the beginning, and then again after some time to see if it still does. Keep doing this now and then. (And dust them off  while you’re at it.) Yes, extra hassle, I know. But everything about them from cradle to grave is extra hassle, that’s part of the deal. If you want hassle-free lamps, try Halogen Energy Savers.

The ‘Average Joe’ family

In May, I was invited to the house of a family who I suspect are fairly representative of most middle class Swedes today. They also had a very nicely designed home. But again I was struck by the poor lighting. They had probably not had their lamps for as long as the Environmentalist family, so one could still see well enough. But the light quality left much to be desired.

Dull light from CFL bulbs in the living room, which really took away from the otherwise cosy design. In the entrance hall a floor lamp with a CFL bulb which gave even dimmer light, accompanied by a sharply glaring cool-white LED of the clear bulb type with little dots in it (not meant for use in open luminaire). In the restrooms were glaring CFLs with a pinkish tint that did not complement the otherwise pretty design. And over the kitchen table was a dim CFL bulb with a yellow tone that made the kitchen even more dull than the rest of the house. The only real light in the house was a tiny halogen spotlight in the kitchen that sparkled and glowed. Compared with the golden white, crystal clear halogen light, the kitchen table CFL looked really bleak and dead.

Public restrooms

Using a public restroom in Sweden after the bulb phase-out is a real lottery as far as lighting goes.

• Some restaurants have installed 12V halogen spotlights, which gives an exclusive impression, even if the cheapest wall materials are used.

Halogen in restaurant restroom
(photo: Halogenica)

• Others use recessed downlights with old type compact fluorescent tubes. That works well enough, but doesn’t give that warm and luxurious feeling of halogen, even with better tiling.

CFL tube in gas station restroom
(photo: Halogenica)

• A growing number of shops, restaurants etc have unfortunately started using CFL bulbs in their restrooms – which is The Number One Application CFLs Should Never Be Used For!

1. because of the poor light quality (where many want to check their looks or touch up their make-up); 2. because the bulbs expire quicker and get dimmer sooner if flicked on and off often; 3. because that single bulb is not where you make energy savings; 4. because most CLFs take way too long to light up. One flicks on the switch – almost nothing happens… a dim yellow-grey mist… (Lighting a match would probably give more light, and quicker.) By the time one is finished, the light might have worked itself up enough so that one can see to wash one’s hands. Barely. This is not acceptable.

I’ll post a photo next time I find another poorly lit restroom. In the mean time, here is a picture from a supermarket, where one can see clearly the difference in brightness between curly tube (to the right) and enclosed bulbs (and this is at their brightest and not enclosed in a sealed luminaire):

CFLs in supermarket
(photo: Halogenica)

One day at my local supermarket, I got fed up with the slow and dim CFL and told them they need a regular incandescent or a halogen in the restroom. Nothing happened for another couple of months… So then I went and found a 53W Halogen Energy Saver  bulb in their lamp stall, took it to one of the staff and said: “Put this in! NOW!!” He complied and now one can see again. 🙂

Feel free to do the same if you’re not happy with the light in public restrooms. 😉


CFLs are rarely used for street lighting as they are not as bright or long lasting as High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps. Here, in a cobbled old part of Södermalm near Mariahissen in Stockholm, I found one exception: warm-white CFLs in downward-facing luminaires with white diffusers. The light colour was good enough but as always with CFLs, it lacked sparkle and life. Some of the luminaires had blackened for some reason, and that did not look good. But overall, they looked better than the horrid old cool-white Mercury Vapor lamps which they replaced.

CFL, Stockholm
(photo: Halogenica)

Another example from the same area. These porch lights had clear glass with a droplet pattern (possibly original from the 1920s). One had a Halogen Energy Saver and the other a fairly new-looking warm-white CFL. The Halogen sparkled and glowed while the CFL looked generally flat (even more so in real life). The indoor lamp in the middle looked like a cool-white CFL in a white globe.

Halogen vs CFL, Stockholm
(photo: Halogenica)

Tip of the day: Never use different types of bulbs together – unless you want to study visible differences in light quality, quantity and colour. 

Q&A about the U.S. Incandescent ban

Q: Is it a ban or not?

A: Yes and no. It is not a ban per se (such as in EU and other countries) but a raising of the efficacy standards to a level which normal incandescent lamps cannot reach. The end result is still the same, as far as the original Edison bulb is concerned.

Q: What lamps are affected? 

A: In this first stage of the gradual ‘phase-out’, starting January 1st, 2012: incandescent bulbs of 100 watts or more.

New edit: After debating whether 75 watts are also prohibited or not – which they officially are not until next year – Freedom Light Bulb discovered that the regulation is even more bizarre than we first thought:

US Regulation Absurdity: Dim 100W bulbs allowed, Bright 100W bulbs banned!

If you want incandescent you can still buy 72 watt tungsten halogen Energy Savers and get as much light as from a 100 watt lamp (see my Halogen Energy Savers review). If you can find them. Amazon sells them, Home Depot only have reflector lamps, Lowe’s have more flodlight reflector models, but they can be hard to find in regular stores (ask for them).

Q: So now 75 and 100 watt bulbs can’t be produced or imported?

A: Yes and no. In the words of Kevan Shaw: “The ban is still effectively in force in law however it cannot be enforced.”

Read the longer explanation of this confusing issue here: The American Ban Collapses

And here: After the Funding Amendment: Clear Explanation of American Light Bulb Regulations

Follow the progress state by state here: Progress Track of US Federal and State Ban Repeal Bills


The inability of DOE to enforce the standards would allow those who do not respect the rule of law to sell inefficient light bulbs in the U.S. without fear of enforcement, creating a competitive disadvantage for compliant manufacturers.

As standard incandescent lamps are no longer as profitable to make or sell, the risk of that happening is probably negligible. If you can find a higher watt bulb anywhere you’re still free to buy it, but people have been hoarding.

Leading manufacturers couldn’t wait to get rid of the bulb, so they started closing their North American bulb factories in 2009 and the last major U.S. bulb plant was closed in September 2010.

And just a few days ago IKEA proudly announced that they will not sell any incandescent lamps (spinning more-$$$-for-IKEA-from-new-$14-LEDs to sound like “IKEA-saving-the-planet”). More retailers may follow, regardless of how the dispute ends.

And California started the phase-out a year early.

So choices and availability for top quality incandescent light are shrinking, while choices for lower quality but somewhat more energy efficient CFL and LED lights have increased to a confusing profusion which can make finding the right lamp rather difficult.

Q: So, whose fault is this anyway? Who came up with the idea? Those pesky treehugging-commie Democrats, or the reactionary out-of-my-cold-dead-hands Republicans? 

A: Well, both. The original light bulb legislation was written by Fred Upton (R-MI) and Jane Harmon (D-CA) says CNS News.

“In 2007, Harman and Upton introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation–which became law as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act–that bans the famously inefficient 100-watt incandescent light bulb by 2012, phases out remaining inefficient light bulbs by 2014, and requires that light bulbs be at least three times as efficient as today’s 100-watt incandescent bulb by 2020,” explained a 2009 press release put out by the two House members.

The bill was passed under the Republican Bush administration and signed by president G.W. Bush in 2007. President Obama and the Democratic party have embraced it. However, Upton later changed his mind, as did many other Republicans (and many didn’t think it was a good idea in the first place). And now this issue has been turned into a symbolic item for both parties to fight each other over.

Hope that cleared it up. 😉

Edit: Good article about the ban: Five Myths About the Federal Incandescent Light Bulb Ban

Northern Light Fair

Yesterday I was at the Northern Light Fair in Stockholm to check out the latest lamps.


I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by most CFLs displayed. Both Osram, Megaman and italian Leuci had CFLs in good incandescent-like colour, looking decently bright too.

One of Osram’s displays. The lamps left and middle are CFLs, and the 5 to the right are decorative incandescent (which looked brighter in real life).


While the LEDs certainly have improved since my last visit to the Light Fair two years ago, there are still huge quality differences between different types of LEDs.

First I checked out the holiday lights; strings, icicles, candelabras etc.

As usual, coloured ones were great, the cool-white horrid, and the warm-white ones of varying quality. Some were pink-white, others ugly yellow, but a few were actually very incandescent-looking, so clearly they are improving. However, only in light colour, not in light output.

In this picture the difference between the somewhat pale LEDs (to the left) and the glowing traditional incandescent strings (to the right) is clearly visible, even though it is clearer in real life.

Strings with many little light points still work as decorative lights, but in the candelabras there wasn’t enough light to radiate outwards, just a dull and gloomy glow inside the little bulbs, clearly not nearly as bright as the incandescent candelabra next to it and not at all giving that warm Christmas feel that you want from an electric candelabra.

In this picture the real incandescent candelabra is the glowing one in the lower left corner. The duller ones that don’t radiate are LED.

Next, I looked at non-decorative LEDs. Again I found great quality variations in the various attempts at producing bright warm-white light. I was not impressed with any of the LED retrofit bulbs from Osram, Megaman and Leuci. Bleak light, colour not quite right, still insisting on the less-than-great idea of putting LEDs in a retrofit bulb etc.

The best LEDs came integrated in luminaires from Norwegian luminaire company Lampkonsulenten. Their high power LEDs were of a completely different quality class and came in white and warm-white light which both looked decently incandescent-like and decently bright and radiating (as far as I was able to tell in this well-lit commercial setting; I’d have to try one at home to see if this impression holds). Compared to these quality LEDs, all others on the fair looked like a joke. But it made me a bit more optimistic regarding the options available for professional lighting designers even if their output is still limited and the quality not quite as high as real incandescent light. But I think they would do well compared with metal halide for example, at least quality-wise.


Both Osram and Leuci had excellent halogen energy savers. The Osram representative said it is technically possible to make halogen lamps much more effective even without the integrated low-voltage transformer (which Philips use for their B-class halogen lamps) but it requires more R&D so they want to be sure there is enough market for it before investing and didn’t seem in a hurry to do so before EU bans C-class lamps in 2016.

So do let them know if you’re interested in even more effective halogen lamps now! If you like real incandescent light, this is the replacement to go for.


On the luminaire side, I found a great variety and much creativity. General trend seems to be softer shapes compared to the cold, hard designs that totally dominated the market just a couple of years ago, fewer black lamp shades (finally!) and much playfulness, e.g. integrating decorative LEDs in the design, using new materials in creative combinations, and making crystal chandeliers that truly look like something from this century.

Just a brief example.

The Bush-Obama Energy Bill

Just a few words about the “new” U.S. Energy Bill (The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007) [1, 2, 3] and how it affects incandescent lamps.

Oddly enough, Americans seem to have made this into a party politics issue and mutual mud-slinging contest, when it was actually initiated under president Bush and only finalised and somewhat amended by the Obama administration.

But nevermind, let’s see if we can sort out what the new lighting rules are:

1. It appears that the original idea was to regulate all types of fluorescent and incandescent lighting at the same time. But doing so too hastily might cause major problems and expenses for businesses – which use the majority of the linear flourescent tubes and reflector lamps produced. Thus regulating the latter two lamp types requires very careful consideration and in-depth analysis first, which takes time (several more years, according to DOE). [4]

2. Incandescent general service lighting is easier to regulate and causes problems mainly for private persons, so the part pertaining to GLS lamps was lifted out of the lighting section in the original bill to be rushed through congress straight away.

Ironic side-note: What a coincidence that this happens to be the same popular light bulb which is so unprofitable to manufacturers that they literally can’t wait to get it off the market! Only a scant few weeks after the “new and improved” Energy Bill, GE announces the closing down of U.S. and Canadian light bulb factories – despite the new GLS standards not taking effect until 2012 [5, 6,] and apparently lobbied for efficiency standards rather than an outright ban (so as to still have the opportunity of selling more profitable high-efficiency incandescent bulbs, assumably made in China). [7]

But there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what the new standards actually are – and small wonder if you look at how the rule is written. [8] (Why not just state required lumen per watt for each wattage class, as is done for the other lamp types?) Luckily for us, EnergyStar attempts to sort it out, in plain English [9]:

“The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (the “Energy Bill”), signed by the President on December 18, 2007 requires all light bulbs use 30% less energy than today’s incandescent bulbs by 2012 to 2014.

“The phase-out will start with 100-watt bulbs in January 2012 and end with 40-watt bulbs in January 2014. By 2020, a Tier 2 would become effective which requires all bulbs to be at least 70% more efficient (effectively equal to today’s CFLs). It’s not entirely correct to say “CFLs will be required” or “incandescents will be phased out” because the standards set by the bill are technology neutral, and by 2012, a next generation of incandescent bulbs could satisfy the 30% increased efficiency.

“There are many types of incandescent bulbs that are exempt from this law: any kind of specialty light (ie. bulb in refrigerator), reflector bulbs, 3-way bulbs, candelabras, globes, shatter resistant, vibration service, rough service, colored bulbs (i.e. “party bulbs”), bug lights, plant lights.

“The law applies to the sale of bulbs, not the use of existing stock of bulbs.”

That sounds straightforward enough, but look what the rule actually says:


Note the unusual max wattages. It so happens that the only lamps which exist in such wattages (29, 43, 53, 72W) are the new incandescent halogen energy savers.

Which indicates that standard incandescent GLS bulbs are already counted out of the equation from the start (no doubt so that manufacturers can sell their halogen replacements at extortion rates to all those who hate CFL and LED light).

But the quirky thing is that the minimum lumen requirements for each wattage class are set just above what the best energy saving mains voltage halogen replacement lamps can produce today… hmmmmm… Checking manufacturer cataloges for actual lumen output, it seems that they don’t quite save the claimed 30% but more like around 20%. So much for “truth in advertising”… WASP Diving Knife

Seems they have done the same thing as with the CFL: replace e.g. a 60W incandescent (which gives 700-800+ lumen) with a 12W CFL, or in this case a 43W halogen, which both give only 630 lm! If you only count the wattage, 60W -30% is 42W, yes, but then it needs to give as many lumens as a 60W bulb too, otherwise it’s just one more case of consumer fraud.

“Oh, it’s such a small difference, the customer will never notice.” (I’ve actually heard manufacturer representatives use that exact phrase when I’ve asked about the light deprication in CFLs.)

So, have lamp manufacturers shot themselves in the foot by claiming their halogen energy savers save 30%, as government experts seem to have taken their word for it and set lumen requirements at that exact level..?

Back to decoding the confusing table:

* 2012 the standard incandescent lamps are out (unless some manufacturer is able to make them more energy efficient – and profitable..).

All you can use is up to max 72W halogen energy saver (which is meant to equal a 100W standard incandescent GLS lamp) – if they can improve it to the full 30% efficacy by then.

* 2013 the 72W halogen goes. Max permitted is an (improved) 53W halogen (= ’75W GLS’).

* 2014 the 53W halogen goes. Max permitted is an (improved) 43W halogen (= ’60W GLS’).

* 2015 the 43W halogen goes. Max permitted is an (improved) 29W halogen (= ’40W GLS’).

What will all those elderly and vision impaired do, who may need bright light of the highest quality (= incandescent light) in order to see?

EnergyStar claiming that the phase-out “will start with the 100W incandescent bulb and end with the 40W” is thus not correct, if one is to follow what the table mandates. Oh dear, if not even EnergyStar can interpret the table correctly, who can one trust? (Although EnergyStar also forwards the PR truth-stretching about CFLs “saving 75% energy” and “lasting 10 years” etc. – despite government & consumer tests + growing customer complaints giving a very different picture – so I guess they’re not exactly an infallible source of information.)

Update 3 Aug: Something is definitely not right here… The only existing incandescent halogen lamp on the market which should pass the new requirements is the expensive and hard-to-find Philips Master Classic IR halogen with integrated transformer which saves 42-45% (if you look at lumen/watt) not 50% as advertised, compared with a standard incandescent. But only the 20W seems to qualify, the 30W misses the max 29W category by 1W and the max 43W category by 130 lumen, despite being the most efficient incandescent-type lamp on the market, and with a life-span of 3000 hours!

And by the way, 72% Don’t Want Feds Changing Their Light Bulbs, but I guess legislators care more about keeping the lighting industry happy than about how their voters feel. Because it sure isn’t going to save the planet, quite the opposite (see my posts about mercury).

Next up for slaugher are reflector lamps (both in Europe and the U.S.).

1. Original Energy Bill, 2007 (point 321 about lighting)
2. Energy Bill, 2009 amended version **snooze-warning on both**
3. Obama Administration Launches New Energy Efficiency Efforts (DOE summary)
4. Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for General Service Fluorescent Lamps and Incandescent Reflector Lamps
5. GE to close Canadian lightbulb factory
6. GE looks to close Niles glass factory and end production of incandescent bulbs
7. How GE’s green lobbying is killing U.S. factory jobs
8. General Service Incandescent Lamp Provisions Contained in EISA 2007
9. Will CFLs be required by 2012?

Thanks to Peter at for most of the links.

Update 6 January, 2012: The first step of the phase-out of standard incandescent 100 Watt bulbs (unless 30% more effective) was meant to take effect last week, but it seems to have gotten delayed.



No lighting blog is complete without a CFL FAQ page. In this case it will consist of my comments to a EU CFL FAQ defending the decision to phase out incandescent light despite the many problems and drawbacks with CFLs.

It is a very long list of concerns and complaints they have seen necessary to address, so I’ll only quote and comment some of the most relevant points here (not necessarily in original order). Surprisingly, EU actually confirms the crucial points I’ve described in this blog (CFL light loss, misleading conversion charts, poor power factor, heat replacement effect etc) but still defends the CFL.

Compact Fluorescent Lamp issues

EU FAQ Question: “III.3. Is it true that compact fluorescent lamps produce less light than incandescents?

EU FAQ Answer: “Compact fluorescent lamps can produce just as much light as incandescent bulbs. Consumers should check the product packaging to buy lamps of the appropriate power and light output. Currently, exaggerated claims are often made on the packaging about the light output of compact fluorescent lamps (e.g. that a 11-12 Watt compact fluorescent lamp would be the equivalent of a 60 Watt incandescent, which is not true).”

My comment: Correct. And this means that CFLs do not save “up to” 80% energy as is often claimed.

“The regulation will introduce restrictions on equivalence claims made on the product packaging, in order to keep the claims reasonable. Until then, for guaranteed satisfaction, a simplified method could be used to compare wattages when selecting the compact fluorescent lamp, by applying a 1:4 ratio (example: the light output of 15W compact fluorescent lamp is slightly more than the light output from a 60W incandescent). Even with this conversion ratio, compact fluorescent lamps are much more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs.”

Correct (just as I’ve been saying, see Conversion Charts). Good to see EU suddenly having realised this (after the ban was voted through on the premises that CFLs save “up to 80%”). After this insight, I expect to henceforth never again see the “save 80%” or “give 5 times more light” in an EU document.

“Nevertheless, it is highly recommended to consider the light output of the lamps instead of their wattage if you want to compare them. It is this quantity (expressed in lumens on all lamps from 2010) that really describes the performance of a lamp, therefore it allows direct comparisons without a need for conversion. For example, a 15 W compact fluorescent lamp typically provides 799 lumens of light and a 60 W incandescent lamp 710 lumens. See also III.9.”

This is good advice and I hope it will become mandatory information on the package so as to make this comparison possible for consumers.

Life Span

“III.4. Is it true that compact fluorescent lamps have a much shorter life time than generally claimed?

“Untrue. There are indeed low quality compact fluorescent lamps that do not reach their normal life time (6000 h), but most respect the claimed values in average domestic use. The regulation introduces requirements on lifetime so that national market surveillance can eliminate free-runners.”

Many of the best CFLs have gotten better in this regard, if the right CFL type is used in the right luminaire so they don’t get overheated etc. But there are still a lot of CFLs out there which, for various reasons, don’t last as long as claimed (see Life Span).

Light Loss

“III.10. Do compact fluorescent lamps lose light as they age?

“It is true that during their long lifetime, compact fluorescent lamps will gradually emit less light than at the beginning (incandescent bulbs lose light too, but because of their short lifetime the loss is less noticeable).”

Manufacturer catalogues do not mention this so I’ve called and asked. Sylvania claim their incandescent bulbs lose no light, Osram says around 5%, Philips Lighting says theirs may lose 5-10% but that they don’t last long enough for this to be noticable.

“At the end of their life, compact fluorescent lamps often lose 30% of their initial light. This is why the regulation requires that when claims are made on the packaging of a compact fluorescent lamp concerning equivalence with an incandescent bulb (see III.3), the light output (and power) required from the compact fluorescent lamp is overstated. This way the user will get initially more light from the compact fluorescent lamp than from the incandescent bulb that is claimed to be equivalent to the compact fluorescent lamp on the packaging.”

I’m assuming this means requiring packages to recommend a 1:4 switch instead of 1:5 (as stated under III.3 above). A good start, but since an 11-12W CFL gave less light than an incandescent to start with, even using a 15W is often not quite enough when light loss is taken into consideration. To stay on the brighter side, a 20W CFL may be more appropriate for the European market = 1:3 switch (see Conversion Charts for more details).

“The regulation also introduces a minimum requirement on light output at the end of life of the lamps. Nevertheless, over its life, the light output of the compact fluorescent lamp may decrease below the light output of the “equivalent” incandescent bulb. Most users should not notice the difference, those who do will have the option of replacing the compact fluorescent lamp earlier than its normal end of life.”

Which makes its practical lifespan shorter than claimed (the industry uses something called “economical life rate” which differs from actual life rate) and thereby also alleged savings.

“III.5. Is it true that compact fluorescent lamps should not be switched on/off frequently because it shortens their lifetime? For example, does it make sense to install them in a toilet which is used for 5 minutes 10 times a day?

“This functionality is also addressed by the regulation, requiring that compact fluorescent lamps should reach the claimed life time while being switched on/off once for every hour of operation. Where frequent on/off switching is likely, dedicated compact fluorescent lamps that can endure up to 1 million switching cycles”

In other words, this is a problem, and if one wishes to conserve energy by not leaving lights on, one has to buy a specially dedicated (and no doubt extra expensive) CFL that can tolerate a million switches?

Osram, for example, says their Dulux Long Life and Facility are designed to withstand frequent on-off-switching, whereas their standard CFLs need to stay switched on for at least 3 hours at a time and should only be switched on a couple of times a day in order to last 6000 hours, otherwise their lifespan may be drastically shortened! (Which might explain why some CFLs last only a fraction of their promised life for some consumers.)

This does not sound very energy saving since the best way of conserving some of those few % energy that lighting uses, is to turn it off when leaving the room (or use an occupancy sensor that does this automatically). Since most people probably buy the cheaper standard CFLs and are either not informed at all of this limitation, or unwilling/unable to pay extra for CFLs that don’t have these restrictions, the practical lifespan of the average CFL can be considered much shorter than advertised, and potential savings will of course dwindle accordingly.

“…or other energy saving light sources insensitive to switching can be used (such as halogen lamps which will also remain available).”

Yes, halogen lamps do not have the many limitations and huge quality variations that CFLs do and would be an excellent alternative in many cases. But most halogen lamps will be phased out too, starting with all frosted halogen lamps in September.

Other CFL Limitations

“III.11. Is it true that compact fluorescent lamps do not work in cold temperatures?

“A standard compact fluorescent lamp will indeed lose a substantial part of its light output in cold temperatures. However, there exist compact fluorescent lamps designed specifically for outdoor use which can withstand cold temperatures without losing performance. Consumers should watch out for this information (required by the regulation for display on the packaging) when purchasing compact fluorescent lamps.”

Another detail consumers need to educate themselves on and watch out for. And pay extra for, of course.

“Improved halogen lamps will also remain available and can operate in any ambient temperature.”

Yes, those few low-voltage halogen lamps that will still be permitted after the phase-out period. This is one more reason halogen lamps should not be regulated. They don’t have the many limitations that CFLs do.

“III.6. Is it true that compact fluorescent lamps cannot be dimmed?

“Untrue, there are compact fluorescent lamps on the market that can be dimmed, and there are dimmers that can dim any compact fluorescent lamp.”

Both of which are much more expensive and may yet be harder to find. Besides, dimming a CFL will not save any energy, only make the light even more grey and dull than it already was. Standard CFLs still can’t be dimmed at all.

“Consumers should carefully read product information concerning dimmability.”

Correct. One more thing consumers have to educate themselves on besides finding out which CFL type a) can’t be used with electronic timers, occupancy detectors or ceiling fans; b) won’t work or give less light at cold temperatures, c) will give less output and die sooner in closed luminaires, d) will give too few lumens compared to the recommended incandescent equivalent; e) will or won’t give the colour temperature desired, besides reading consumer tests to find out which brands and models will be more likely to give as much light as promised and last as long as promised (if used correctly).

This will be a requirement for each of EUs 500 million citizens if they want to get what they think they’re paying for, since the only reliable and good quality options will be phased out.

“Improved halogen lamps will also remain available and provide full dimmability in all circumstances.”

Only clear halogen retrofit bulbs with infrared coating and integrated low-voltage transformers (hardly on the market yet and even more expensive than standard halogen lamps already are) will be permitted after the phase-out period. As all frosted halogen retrofit lamps, including Halogen Energy Savers, will be banned from September, this doesn’t leave consumers a lot of choice when it comes to an incandescent alternative.

“III.7. Do compact fluorescent lamps really take longer to switch on and warm up to full light output than incandescent lamps?

“True. In order to guarantee an acceptable level of service with any compact fluorescent lamp, the regulation introduces minimum requirements on switch-on and warm-up times. Switching on a compact fluorescent lamp shall not take more than 2 seconds, and it should reach 60% of its full light output within one minute.”

60% within a minute? But what if one wants 100% immediately? (Like one gets from those incandescent and halogen lamps now being phased out…)

“However, there are now compact fluorescent lamps on the market that come close to incandescent bulbs for these performance parameters from the point of view of the average consumer. If these are features consumers are concerned about, they should look out for the information on the product packaging, where the manufacturers will be required to display warmup-times.”

Ah, another vital piece of information the consumer will have to search for! And probably pay extra for. And these still won’t reach 100% instantly, since that’s not possible with CFL technology.

“III.9 Is it true that compact fluorescent lamps do not always fit in the luminaires housing incandescent lamps?

“Compact fluorescent lamps exist today in many sizes and shapes to replace incandescent bulbs. Where there is indeed too little room for any compact fluorescent lamp to fit in, improved halogen bulbs could be used to replace incandescent bulbs.”

Which may be too hot or glaring and are not always the most appropriate option even if they give an equivalent high quality light. And low voltage halogen is often somewhat whiter.

Power Factor

“III.16. Compact fluorescent lamps cause losses in the electrical distribution grid due to a poor power factor. Incandescents do not. Is this taken into account when assessing their energy efficiency?

“According to the technical study ordered by the Commission to prepare for the regulation on household lamps ( even if we assume they have a poor power factor, compact fluorescent lamps are overall much more energy efficient than incandescents.”

Translation: “Yes, we have been made aware of this uncomfortable fact, but since CFLs still save something, it doesn’t matter if it’s 50% rather than 80%.”

“Besides, the regulation on household lamps requires a minimum power factor for compact fluorescent lamp lamps.”

So all lamps with below PF 0.85 will be banned from September…? Or just a similar recommendation as for Energy Star: a minimum of 0.5 in order for manufacturers to get the EU energy label by claiming to pass this generous requirement? Which means that such a CFL will use about twice as much energy as is marked with (see Power Factor).

Heat Replacement Effect

“III.17. Incandescent bulbs produce a lot of heat, compact fluorescent lamps much less. When compact fluorescent lamps replace incandescent bulbs in a room, does the increased heating need in the room negate the energy saving through the lower consumption of lighting?

Here we get all the standard counter-arguments (see Heat Replacement Effect) listed together:

“Though it is accepted that incandescent lamps emit heat, incandescent bulbs are not an efficient way to regulate indoor temperature.”

And I repeat that people don’t use lights to regulate indoor temperature but to see what they’re doing.

“The location on the ceiling is inefficient”

Invalid argument since heat circulates and most homes have lights lower down in the room.

“electrical heating itself is inefficient compared to other forms of heating (e.g. gas or heat pumps),

Correct, but see above about people using lamps for seeing, not for heating.

“the heating is unnecessary in the summer period and may even result in increased cooling needs, and not all rooms needing lighting need also heating. Because of all these factors, heat from lighting is considered as energy loss rather than useful energy.”

In the summer it is usually lighter so less artificial light is needed. And studies on the heat replacement effect have taken seasonal variations and other factors into consideration when making their calculations.

“Nevertheless, when it comes to quantifying the improvement potential of the switch from incandescent lamps to compact fluorescent lamps, the UK Market Transformation Programme recommends using correction factors [3], to take into account what they call the “heat replacement effect”. But even these factors remove only 20 to 30% of the estimated savings in energy costs and CO2 emissions, meaning that the balance of savings achieved is still substantial both for the consumer and for the environment.”

Hm, let’s see what the study referred to actually says:

“The magnitude of the heat replacement effect for lights in a typical UK dwelling”

“Comparing cases 2 and 3 shows that for the dwelling simulated in this study, 0.363 MWh/yr of electricity is saved by replacing tungsten lamps with CFLs. Because of this, the annual heat requirement increases by 0.220 MWh/yr. This implies a heat replacement factor of 60.6%. However, an allowance should be made for lighting energy used in external lighting. The factor fin (95%) is therefore applied, leading to a heat replacement factor R of 57.6%.

“In terms of delivered energy savings, assuming a 70% efficient gas heating system provides the extra heat, 100% / 70% = 1.429 times the quantity of missing heat from lights will be required to heat the dwelling to the same level. Using the formula from [1] the delivered energy saving factor is thus 17.7%. In other words, only 17.7% of the gross delivered energy saving will be achieved in practice.

“In terms of fuel costs, replacing tungsten lamps with CFLs reduced electricity consumption by 0.363 MWh/yr and increased space heating consumption by 0.220 MWh/yr. However, since electricity is more expensive than gas (by a factor of about 4 in the UK), the gross cost saving will not be so heavily reduced when including the effect of heat replacement. In this case, 84.4% of the gross cost saving will be achieved.

“Similarly, in terms of carbon savings, because electricity is significantly more carbon intensive than gas in the UK (by a factor of 2.2), the gross carbon saving is not as heavily reduced when converting to a saving net of heat replacement. Simulation cases 2 and 3 suggest 61.4% of the gross carbon saving will be achieved.” [emphases added]

Interesting way of focusing on cost and CO2 and conveniently omitting the part about “only 17.7% of the gross energy saving will be achieved in practice”. (And in this simulation they have of course calculated with maximum claimed/imaginary savings for CFLs, as pro-CFL studies always do.)

“The improved retrofit halogen bulbs that will remain available only provide 25-45% energy savings compared to incandescent bulbs (whereas compact fluorescent lamps save up to 80%), which means they still radiate much of the energy they use as heat rather than light.”

But the above study just confirmed that this same heat helps keep heating bills down in the UK and cooler climate countries. And CFLs still don’t save “up to 80%” – especially not with heat replacement effect taken into consideration!

Light Quality

“III.8. Isn’t the shape of compact fluorescent lamps ugly and do they not produce unpleasant light (also in terms of colour rendering, colour temperature and light spectrum)?

“Consumers usually find modern quality CFLs perfectly suitable for everyday tasks and aesthetically pleasing.”

No they don’t. True that many men don’t seem to notice a difference, but then men often have poorer colour vision than women (but better night vision). Most women I’ve asked or read comments from – and quite a few men too! – do not like fluorescent light or CFLs at all due to the unnatural looking light even from the ‘new and improved’ top brand lamps. (Yes, this is anecdotal but so is the EU claim to the contrary.)

“There may be some substandard compact fluorescent lamps on the market, but those will be removed through the functionality requirements of the regulation.”

But according to recent Swedish consumer tests, over half of the CFLs tested still had a strange colour. And even the most incandescent-mimicking good quality ‘warm-white’ CFL with double envelope still has a pinkish tinge that might be acceptable in a shaded luminaire but looks distinctly fluorescent and sterile in open luminaires where you see the lamp (or part of it). As this type will be the only frosted retrofit lamp available for open and task luminaires after September, I predict a lot of unhappy customers.

The CRI around 80-83 (medium-good colour rendering) for standard lamps has been the same for decades and will not improve since that means adding more expensive rare elements (which have to be mined out of the ground; not exactly improving the environment).

“Improved halogen lamps will also remain available and produce exactly the same light quality as incandescent bulbs.”

Correct about quality, incorrect about availability (see previous comment above).

“Overall, the perception of shape and light quality is quite subjective, however there are parameters that can be measured. On some of these parameters, CFLs are actually doing better than incandescent bulbs and halogens.”

This is a direct lie. Not even manufacturers’ own catalogues or anyone in the lighting business claim such a thing. CRI values (= colour rendering properties) are always highest for incandescent & halogen light, and spectral power distribution charts show why this is so (see Light quality).

“Modern CFLs come in a variety of sizes and shapes approaching that of incandescent bulbs. The outer lamp envelope that hides the small twisted lighting tubes has become commonplace, and makes CFLs resemble frosted (non-transparent) incandescent bulbs in appearance.”

Correct, except the resemblence is only in shape, not in light quality. Though due to the bigger base they don’t always fit in existing luminaires, especially not the candle type CFLs. And the smaller/lower watt CFLs often have poorer performance and durability.

Colour rendering

“In order to ensure proper colour rendering (ability to reproduce the colours of the objects lit) for CFLs, the draft regulation introduces a minimum requirement on this product parameter.”

Which I assume is the same as the current standard of CRI 80-83? Unless the minimum is set at CRI 95-97 (which improves colour rendition but reduces light output by about 30% and makes it many times more expensive due to use of more phosphors), and poorer quality CFLs will be banned, this sentence only means that EU deems medium-quality light in exchange for top-quality incandescent light an acceptable lower standard for EU citizens.

Unfortunately, the lighting industry have created a lighting standard where CRI around 80 is called “good” when in reality it’s only mediocre. Anyone who has bought a fabric or chosen paint or wallpaper under standard fluorescent lighting in a shop, only to later find it a different shade than they thought they bought, will know the importance of perfect colour rendering – like you get from natural daylight and from incandescent light.

Colour temperature

“CFLs can be produced with different colour temperatures (warm/cold) depending on consumer needs, whereas incandescent lamps can only provide warm white light.”

As stated earlier, special incandescent and halogen lamps come in different colours too, and LEDs come in even more colour varieties, so this feature is not unique to CFLs.

“The draft regulation requires the indication of colour temperature on the lamp’s packaging, so consumers should watch out for this information.”

Good. But colour temperature for non-glowing light sources is only an approximation when compared to a blackbody radiating light source such as an incandescent lamp. It may or may not look like real daylight or incandescent light, depending on the quality of the CFL and relative success in mimicking the real thing. All too often it does not look quite like the original.

Light spectrum

“The light spectrum of incandescent bulbs resembles that of natural daylight in that it is a continuous curve with no abrupt changes across the spectrum of colours. On the other hand, natural daylight is as strong at the blue and ultraviolet wavelengths as at the yellow and red wavelengths, whereas light from incandescent bulbs has very little blue component and an extremely high proportion of red and infrared component (therefore their light is very yellow and most of it is emitted as heat).”

Correct. Incandescent light (at wattages normal for indoor use) is like sunlight towards sunset. This warm golden-white light is often preferred for home use and makes people and natural materials look their best. This is why manufacturers have tried to copy it in CFLs (with varying degrees of success) and why people are clearing the shelves to stock up on incandescent lamps. And despite being warm in tone, the incandescent spectrum includes enough blue to make blue colours fully visible – unlike fluorescent light which doesn’t let the eye see all wavelengths due to spikes and gaps in the spectrum.

“Compact fluorescent lamps differ from natural daylight in that they do not have a continuous spectrum. They emit a high amount of light at certain wavelengths and almost nothing at adjacent wavelengths.”

Correct. Which is what often makes a room look strange, dull and unappealing when lit solely by CFL light.

“However, in terms of the proportion of light emitted within the blue and red wavelength ranges, there are compact fluorescent lamps that are able to reproduce daylight more precisely than incandescent bulbs.”

Correct. But ‘full-spectrum’ daylight CFL is a more expensive specialist product, just like there are Solux halogen daylight lamps which have even higher light quality and colour rendering properties. But these special products have little to do with the standard, reasonably affordable, CFL that people can buy in their local supermarket and which we are discussing as replacements for standard incandescent bulbs.

“Q: III.12. Aren’t compact fluorescent lamps much more expensive than incandescent bulbs?

“Compact fluorescent lamps are actually much cheaper than incandescent bulbs if you consider also lamp life time and costs related to electricity consumption while using the lamps.”

The original sales argument repeated once again. Is this a CFL FAQ or a CFL ad?

“During the lifetime of one compact fluorescent lamp you will have used 6-10 incandescent lamps. And the compact fluorescent lamp will consume one fourth / one fifth of the electricity consumed by incandescents, another cost saver.”

I thought the “one fifth” argument was not going to be used anymore since it was already established earlier in this document that no CFL saves that much?

“A six-year-life energy-saving bulb would save about €60 during its lifetime (80W incandescent versus 20W compact fluorescent lamp). This is based on an assumption of 3 continuous burning hours per day, for an energy cost of 0,15 €/kWh.

Double envelope and poorer quality CFLs of course save less since they don’t give as much light in the beginning and lose more as they age. If one has to replace the CFL sooner due to light loss, that too cuts savings. Same if one gets a CFL that gives up sooner than promised, or is used in the wrong luminaire. One may also be charged extra by one’s utility to compensate for poor power factor, and pay extra for the heat loss in cooler climates etc.

So, net savings are often markedly less than promised in these optimistic calculations, especially with a poor quality CFL (it is actually more economic to pay more for a brand CFL, if you don’t mind fluorescent light).

If EU should ban every top quality product on the market because there is a poorer quality product that might save the consumer a few euros per year (if used correctly) there would be very few products left. I wonder what would happen if the same policy was applied to the auto industry? (That might actually save the planet but it would probably not be very practical or popular…)

Total Energy Use

“III.13. More materials and energy are needed to produce a compact fluorescent lamp than an incandescent bulb, and it also results in more waste at the end of life. Does this not outweigh the benefits of its energy efficiency?

“According to the technical study ordered by the Commission to prepare for the regulation on household lamps (, the impact of energy savings during the use of a compact fluorescent lamp clearly outweigh the environmental impact of its production and its end-of-life. Therefore using them rather than incandescent bulbs reduces the overall energy use and the environmental impact of lighting.”

A more exact reference would be desirable. I’m sure they were made by CFL enthusiasts on the premises that CFLs “give 5 x more light”/”save 80% energy”. And that they only cover the assembly, not the mining of rare minerals, turning the oil into plastic, or manufacturing and shipping of all the different parts (e.g. like the ballasts which, even for the same brand and lamp type, are made by many different manufacturers from different parts of the world).


“III.14. Is it true that because of high energy use at start-up, compact fluorescent lamps have to remain switched on for 45 minutes before they bring any energy saving at all?

“No. The energy use of compact fluorescent lamps in the first 2 to 3 seconds of their operation is slightly higher, but after that their power uptake is stabilised. In practice, they provide energy savings right from the moment they are switched on.”

Probably correct, though savings, as we have seen, are not as big as claimed. And many standard CFLs need to be switched-on for at least 15 minutes or more in order to not shorten their life, which makes them unsuitable and uneconomical in places you only visit for a short while, e.g. bathroom, closet etc.

“III.15. Compact fluorescent lamps contain mercury, a hazardous material, incandescent bulbs do not. If more compact fluorescent lamps are used, does it not mean more mercury pollution in the EU?”

“Mercury is present in compact fluorescent lamps in such a small amount that during its lifetime a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) will have saved more mercury emissions from electricity production in coal power plants (compared to the mercury emissions related to the incandescent bulbs’ electricity need) than is contained in the CFL itself.”

The usual flawed PR-argument recycled once more (see Mercury).

“Moreover, CFLs should be recycled according to EU legislation already in place.”

Should be does not mean that all will be.But 5 mg x millions of CFLs still adds up to tons of mercury in landfills if not recycled properly. The fact that dental amalgam and old thermometers contain more mercury does not in any way make CFL mercury less of an environmental hazard, only makes it seem as if EU has some vested interest in downplaying the significance of mercury in CFLs.

“Compact fluorescent lamps have been widely used in European homes in the past decade, they will not be introduced by this regulation.”

But they will be more or less mandated by banning its most popular and affordable competitors. The whole idea of this ban is to boost CFL sales, whether consumers want them or not, isn’t it?

That CFL sales have been permitted for a decade without adequate information and routines for recycling is not exactly a point in favour of the CFL lobby, but a scandal in itself, as who-knows-how-many CFLs have already ended up in landfills?!

“Most office and public buildings, and also most streets have been equipped for the last 50 years with fluorescent and high-intensity discharge lamps containing mercury (often much more than compact fluorescent lamps).”

Correct, but linear FL tubes in offices are used in ceiling luminaires and street HID lamps are placed far above pedestrian level, neither which can be knocked-over or thrown away with household garbage, so there is little health risk to citizens, and businesses & public agencies usually have well-established recycling routines for their burned-out lamps. So the fact that other types of mercury-containing lamps have been used safely in non-residential environments is not as reassuring as it’s meant to sound, and has absolutely nothing to do with home lighting or CFLs (which is what is being discussed here).

“The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (2002/96/EC) provides for the collection and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipments (WEEE), including lighting equipment such as CFLs. The Directive sets out collection requirements for all WEEE, specific treatment requirements and a recycling target for gas discharge lamps (including CFLs). According to the requirements, mercury needs to be removed from the collected lamps through treatment, and their recycling should meet an 80% minimum target. Once consumers learn that they have to take back their burned-out CFLs to collection points just as they do with batteries, the mercury content will be recycled and not released to the environment.”

“Member States have to ensure that users of electrical and electronic equipment are given the necessary information about the requirement not to dispose lamps as unsorted municipal waste and to collect such waste separately, as well as about the return and collection system available to them. After the regulation is adopted, the Commission will remind the Member States of the need to reinforce the recycling of CFLs on their territory.”

I’m sure some member states already have or will be able to put time, money and effort into informing their citizens and establishing good recycling routines, while other member states may have more pressing matters on their agenda and few funds to finance such operations with.

And even with successful information campaigns and easily accessible recycling facilities, states still can’t guarantee that every individual will comply. The only way to ensure no more mercury in landfills is to not allow mercury-containing products on the market if there exists a mercury-free alternative. And we do have such alternatives: incandescent, halogen and LED.

“The Commission also proposed to recast the WEEE Directive on 3 December 2008, so that the collection target for all WEEE is increased and the recycling target for gas discharge lamps is set at the level of 85%. This proposal will now go to co-decision with the Council and the European Parliament.”

Good target but target still doesn’t mean 85% will be recycled (see Recycling).

“From a life-cycle perspective, the proposed regulation is in any case the most eco-efficient solution. Indeed, according to the technical study ordered by the Commission to prepare for the regulation on household lamps (, even in the worst possible case that a CFL goes to the landfill, during its lifetime it will have saved more mercury emissions from electricity production in coal power plants (compared to the mercury emissions related to the incandescent bulbs’ electricity need) than is contained in the CFL itself, so the overall mercury pollution balance will be positive.”

Again assuming that:

a) all energy for light bulbs comes from coal, which is not correct (Eurostat says 29% of EU electricity production 2006 come from coal) and type of energy source may vary greatly between countries and regions;

b) CFLs save 80% energy, which they don’t (more like 50% for the best, and less for the rest);

c) that reducing up to 1.5% of the c. 3% of domestic energy that is used for lighting will reduce emissions from coal fired power plants better than mandating filtering systems for EU power plants that would deal directly with the coal powered part of the remaining 97%. See

“III.21. Compact fluorescent lamps contain mercury, which is a highly toxic substance. Do compact fluorescent lamps represent a danger to health because of that?”

“Mercury is an important component of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) that plays a key role in their energy efficiency and also other parameters such as lifetime and warm-up times. There are up to 5 milligrams (0,005 grams) of mercury contained in a CFL (compared to 0,5 g in dental amalgam filling or several grams in older thermometers). The 5 mg limit is set in the Restriction on Hazardous Substances Directive (2002/95/EC).”

“The mercury content cannot escape from CFLs, except in the event of accidental breakage of the lighting tubes. In that case less than 5 milligrams of mercury could be released.”

Correct. And this is obviously too much, or safety guidelines would be unnecessary:

“The draft Ecodesign regulation requires manufacturers to explain on their websites how consumers should clean debris in case the CFL’s tubes accidentally break, and to include on the packaging of each lamp the link to online explanations. Such an explanation is already available on the website of the European Lamp Companies Federation.”

Good. Though one wonders how many were broken before these recommendations came up. And why the Commission hasn’t issued its own guidelines.

“Buying commonly available CFLs with an outer non-breakable lamp envelope is another way to address the issue of mercury leakage in case of accidental lamp breakage, but the envelope slightly lowers (about 10%) their efficacy.”

This doesn’t eliminate the risk but lowers it (and makes the light less glaring and unattractive).

“Consumers who would particularly worry about mercury can choose alternative technologies such as improved halogen lamps.”

See previous comments about the limited availability of halogen, and non-availability of frosted halogen.

About the incandescent ban

“III.2. By banning incandescent bulbs, are you forcing the use of compact fluorescent lamps? Are they not bad alternatives to incandescent bulbs?

“The best compact fluorescent lamps today can offer lighting functionalities approaching and in some respect surpassing that of incandescent bulbs (e.g. higher variety of colour temperatures).”

There are incandescent lamps too that come in ‘peach’, ‘cream’, ‘daylight’ etc. so this is not unique to CFLs. This sonds more like a desperate attempt at finding something good to say about them.

And this ‘colour variety’ diversion evades the questions, to which the answers are: yes – EU is forcing the use of CFLs, and yes – they are bad alternatives to incandescent bulbs, for all the reasons listed above and below and now confirmed by this very EU FAQ.

“In order to guarantee a minimum quality for compact fluorescent lamps on the market, the regulation also establishes requirements on product functionality (lifetime, warmup times, colour rendering etc.).”

This still won’t make them start immediately or have perfect colour rendering like incandescent and halogen lamps since this is not possible with flourescent light technology.

Nor will retailers be prohibited from importing and selling poor quality CFLs. EU will just give a ‘quality stamp’ to those CFLs that are reasonably decent, meaning very little the regulations is like EnergyStar, which is based merely on manufacturer claims or tested on bulbs chosen by the manufacturer.

“The ENERGY STAR labeling program for residential lighting products merely requires data submission and certification by the product manufacturers. Product samples tested are “self-picked” by the manufacturer. No follow-up testing on actual products purchased from retail is required by ENERGY STAR. In addition, no centralized data review or challenge process exists within the lighting industry relative to the performance of residential ENERGY STAR lighting products.”

U.S. DoE Eergy Star Lighting Verification Program

“Requirements for adequate information provision on the product functionalities will also ensure that consumers can make informed choices. See the other questions in section III for the details.”

Similar but not the same. The main similarity is the frosted outer bulb on CFLs that have a double envelope. But fluorescent light doesn’t radiate and glow like incandescent light does, as it’s a ‘dead’ chemical light.

“but different light from clear (transparent) lamps which are bright point light sources. In order for such lamps to continue to exist, the regulation allows transparent improved (class C according to the lamp energy label) halogen bulbs on the market.”

Correct. They may do to replace some clear bulbs, but are more glaring and may not be a suitable as replacement for frosted bulbs.

“Improved halogen bulbs provide exactly the same type and quality of light as incandescent bulbs or conventional halogens, they come in the same shapes and appearance, and fit into all existing luminaires. They start and provide their full light output as soon as they are switched on, and they are insensitive to frequent switching. These lamps can be useful also for consumers who are looking for alternatives to compact fluorescent lamps for other reasons (sensitivity to light or aesthetic considerations such as need for small lamps in decorative luminaires). Improved halogen bulbs for luminaires using incandescent bulbs are already available on the market, however their use is not yet widespread. Large manufacturers have them in their product portfolio (look for lamps such as ‘HaloLux Classic ES’, ‘EcoClassic30’ or ‘MasterClassic EcoBoost’).”

Correct. But the clear ones will only be permitted for a few more years. And the frosted Halogen Energy Savers will be forced off the market now in September – exactly one year after their market introduction! If this incandescent ban is not revoked, frosted retrofit Halogen Energy Savers must still be permitted indefinitely, or until an even better alternative has been created.

Frosted bulbs don’t give less light than clear bulbs so there is no reason whatsoever to ban frosted other than to force people to buy CFLs against their will. Forcing consumers to buy a mercury-containing product they don’t want – because it is an inferior quality product – is clearly a gross violation of personal freedom!

“I.8. People are likely to stock up incandescent bulbs when they hear about the regulation. Does this not weaken the impact of the measure?

“Communication to consumers about available equivalent alternatives to incandescent bulbs (such as improved halogen bulbs) could help prevent much of the stocking of bulbs. Consumers will realise in the end that the alternatives provide substantial savings and have equivalent light quality to incandescents. They might decide not to use their old energy-wasting bulbs, or to install them only in rarely used places such as cellars. Moreover, the estimate of 15 Mt CO2 savings was calculated for the year 2020, by then any delaying effect of “hamstering” will have disappeared.”

That’s 11 years away! By that time we need to have done some something about the real problems instead of hunting droplets in the energy ocean… like that less than 1% used for home lighting in Europe.

“I.9. Is it not disproportionate to ban incandescent bulbs from the market? Would it not be better to make use of other measures to achieve the switch (such as voluntary restrictions as in the UK, information to the public or taxation)?”

“The draft regulation introducing minimum efficiency requirements (rather than a voluntary approach) is in line with the principle of proportionality. There is clearly a market failure in moving to the alternatives providing the least life cycle cost to the consumers. Since 1998, household lamps have to indicate their energy efficiency on the packaging, thanks to implementing measure 98/11/EC of the Energy Labelling Directive (92/75/EEC).”

Which resulted in the CFL Quality Charter, right? The “Quality Charter” that requires only 660 (initial) lumen from a CFL to replace a 700 lumen standard 60W incandescent lamp, and permit labels that recommend an erroneous 1:5 switch (adressed earlier in III.3)? This is what the European Commission has said about it:

“The CFL Quality Charter is a voluntary scheme. It is opened to lamp manufacturers, CFLs importers and retailers willing to comply with the Charter rules and market in the European Union CFLs that meet the Charter requirements.”

Residential Lighting Consumption and Saving Potential in the Enlarged EU

Yet even such EU-sanctioned exaggerations from manufacturers, utilities and governmental agencies alike, obviously hasn’t impressed consumers enough to replace all their top quality incandescent lamps with inferior quality CFL. Perhaps because they would rather save on something else than ruining their home atmosphere by compromising on something as essential as light quality?

“In spite of the clear indications provided on the packaging and campaigns in many Member States, consumers have failed to direct their choices to the more efficient lamps offering equivalent service, and have been largely sticking to incandescent bulbs. This is due to the fact that the purchase price difference between incandescent bulbs and more efficient alternatives constitutes a psychological barrier, even if the higher initial investment pays off within a year and brings substantial (but much less visible) savings over the life cycle. Another deterring factor has been the sometimes poor quality of the so-called economic lamps placed on the market without being subject to quality requirements. This market failure can only be tackled with mandatory requirements on the efficiency level of all household lamps placed on the market in the EU.”

What? Manufacturers fail to produce a decent enough alternative and it is considered a “market failing” that people don’t like the inferior product and refuse to replace all of their lamps, despite such an unprecedented global PR-campaign from governmental agencies, utilities and environmental organizations, including free giveaways, subsidies, events, commercials, articles, brochures – and most people nowadays really wanting to be green – so this has to be tackled with “mandatory requirements”? Doesn’t that go against the very idea of the free market and consumer choice?

“This also serves the interests of the internal market, as voluntary restrictions or taxes introduced in certain Member States or by some retailer groups in Europe would create barriers to the free movement of goods. They would have different efficiency limits and timing of the restrictions. In addition, for taxation to be an effective deterrant, it should multiply by 10 the price of incandescent bulbs.”

If the EU can legislate about a universal bulb ban, they can just as easily mandate a lower VAT for A-rated energy products and higher for E-rated products. Even a small price increase may inspire those who don’t mind compromising on quality to buy alternative products. Especially when LEDs get affordable enough.

“Still the main point is that efficient lighting as provided for in the draft regulation is a way to save energy, to limit CO2 emissions and to help consumers save money without loss of functionality.”

As we have seen above, the CFL doesn’t save as much as claimed of either and functionality is lost for all those who for various reasons need top quality incandescent light and cannot tolerate CFL light (see Health & Wellbeing).

As this is not in accordance with the draft regulation and the decision seems to have been taken on the false premises that CFLs save “up to” 80% energy and lighting constituting 20% of home energy use when it is only around 3%, this should be enough grounds to revoke the ban and just keep educating people on energy saving measures while subsidising measures that can make a real difference, which is switching to alternative fuels/methods for space heating & cooling, electricity production and transport.