Filament Light Bulb Ban

Over the last few years there has been a new set of European based Directives which have effectively banned the sale of traditional ‘old fashioned’ filament lamps within the UK and soon, even the US. The roll out in the UK, of this EU based Legislation began originally targeted the 100W light bulb, but which has extended to the banning of sales of 60w light bulbs and then 40w and 25w filament lamps, over subsequent years.

The EU Directive, which bans the sale of Filament Lamps within the UK was intended to force the consumer to switch to more ‘greener’ energy saving equivalents, such as Low Energy Fluorescent lamps, and more lately, LED types within the domestic household in readiness for preparing the UK to meet stringent European led, Energy Saving Directives, all of which are being inflicted on us all in the coming years. Unfortunately, it is my opinion (along, it seems with the opinion of many domestic consumers) that the EU Legislation which banned all sales of the old fashioned light bulb has been rushed through with little thought, and with many consumers still being unhappy with the alternatives.

There are many genuine circumstances where low energy fluorescent or LED lighting are not suitable replacements, for example, in time switches, dimmer switches and touch sensitive bedside lamps or dusk to dawn sensors. In addition there is the ‘comfort’ prospective from domestic settings, where consumers simply don’t like the clinical cold colour temperature emitted by compact fluorescent lamps, nor the significantly reduced light output and expense of LED types, which themselves, are also struggling to replicate the warm, homely colour temperature of a gas filled filament lamp.

Of course the main intention in banning the sale of Filament lamps has been to educate the general public into becoming more energy aware, and to essentially force them to save energy on their lighting requirements by removing the ability to continue to buy traditional filament lamps. This is actually pretty laughable when you find that some of the alternatives to the filament lamp which are still freely on sale and whose use is actively encouraged, are actually far more energy hungry and essentially cost more to run than the original lamps which have been banned!.

Case in point, a friend of mine recently had a new fitted kitchen, where they removed the two traditional, perfectly adequate 60w pendant style fittings and he was told that they were unable to fit like for like as it didn’t meet current building regulations. Instead, they proceeded to fit the GU10 recessed halogen type into the new ceiling, with each lamp being rated at 50 Watts and which, of course, are legal and still available for sale.

I added up the six new recessed fittings, each rated at 50 watts, and came to a total of 300 watts. I’m struggling to grasp how fitting 300 watts worth of ‘new’ lighting is a viable and acceptable alternative to the previous 120w (2x 60w) pendants which were already in there, and gave perfectly acceptable levels of lighting over a wide area for many years. How exactly is this energy saving, when it costs more than twice as much to run, and is not doing either my friend nor the planet any favours!.

Of course, he could replace the 50w GU10 halogen lamps with LED versions, however at £12 per lamp this would cost him £72 to replace all six. As a compromise, he decided to replace three of them, with an LED version which he then fitted in every second fitting, thus he would have three 50w lamps and three 5w led lamps spaced alternately. Doing this would still total more than the original 120W he had previously, but it would still reduce the consumption down from the massive 300w.

The lamps were duly replaced, but the results were extremely disappointing and the LED versions remained in place for less than a week. The LED GU10 lamps were just unacceptable, despite being one of the more expensive types available the light output was poor and the colour temperature reminded my friend of being inside a walk in fridge. The lamps caused dark areas and noticeable shadows, both of which would make handling knives and carrying boiling hot pans around dangerous. They simply were not suited to the environment of a kitchen, and the light output was more like a 15w pygmy lamp, than a 50w halogen GU10.

Fortunately, there exists a possible solution or should I say “A workaround” or a “Loophole”. Despite traditional 100w filament lamps being banned from retail and trade counter sale, there currently exists a legal loophole, which still allows the sale of 60w and 100w industrial light bulbs which are branded as Rough Service Light Bulbs. Cosmetically, these look exactly like ordinary filament lamps and give out exactly the same amount of light, and are often made in exactly the same factories and by the same manufacturers as the previous filament lamps.

The only difference with Industrial rough service lamps, is that the filament which illuminates inside the gas filled glass envelope is thicker than previous standard filaments, and there are more supports holding it. This makes the lamp less likely to fail from the shocks and vibration encountered in the industrial environment, but make no difference to how the lamp operates or the amount of light given from the lamp. Being intended for the industrial environment rather than the domestic household, they are immune from the ban and are still available, and the good news is that they can replace the older filament lamps directly, and can also be used in fittings controlled by dimmer switches, time switches, dusk to down sensors and any application which requires the instant start, warm light of the traditional filament lamp

Of course, word about this loophole is spreading and right on cue the green whingers are quick to try and counteract the flood of interest in these alternatives by publicly rubbishing these industrial rough service lamps by saying that they give out less light than traditional filament bulbs and are not suitable for domestic applications. This of course, is complete rubbish and purely sour grapes on their part, and they are simply not happy because we are not crawling around in the darkness with candles, head torches and kerosene lamps!, nor bumping into each other in dark corridors lit by blue tinged LED lamps. Its pretty rich for these groups to criticise the light output of rough service lamps, when the LED lamps which they are trying to force us to use fall well short of giving acceptable and usable levels of light output.

In short, don’t believe a word of it. After all, these are exactly the same people and organisations who have forced my friend to give up his two 60w pendant filament lamps in favour of 300 watts worth of GU10 halogen downlights, all in the interests of energy saving!. If anything, industrial rough service lamps are good quality and reliable and actually far more robust and better constructed than the earlier domestic filament lamps, they have to be, in order to survive a more harsh, industrial environment. The light output is also no less than any other filament lamp, or they wouldn’t be acceptable for machinery or task lighting in factories.

So if you are reluctant to give up the warmth and instant usable light which comes from the humble filament lamp, then rough service lamps are still freely and legally available for you to purchase and use in light fittings which use dimmer switches or living areas and table lamps where a warm, comfortable light is required.

The humble filament lamp has served countless generations of families well for several decades, and we shouldn’t have to give them up just because some overpaid European windbag tells us to, especially when the whole idea has been ill planned, badly thought out and in a lot of cases the alternatives are not suitable or widely accepted.

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