Simon Leggett

Member Article

Ban on halogen lighting to impact businesses

Simon Leggett, managing director of OCG Lighting, examines the impact of the proposed halogen ban on business, and suggests that it signals a misguided approach to energy efficient lighting.

The European Commission is considering draft legislation that proposes a ban on low voltage halogen bulbs from 2013. The proposals fall under the same Ecodesign legislation that led to the controversial phasing out of incandescent bulbs in recent years.

The targeted bulbs, 12V MR16 lamps, are widespread in retail, commercial and residential applications with millions sold in the UK every year. The cost burden to the many businesses that will be forced to replace these bulbs is likely to be significant during already difficult economic times.

Of course all businesses have a role to play in reducing their energy consumption and therefore reducing their carbon footprint. But encouraging business owners to transition to energy efficient alternatives is much more likely to succeed when the cost benefits of investing in technology for the longer term are properly demonstrated and understood.

For me, this latest proposal is a misguided piece of legislation from a government who are unfortunately failing to get a handle on the issue of energy efficient lighting. This policy fails to take into account either overall efficiency or the needs of the end user. What is required is proper education and communication around the value of more efficient, maintenance-free and long-life lighting solutions.

A standard halogen bulb costs around £2.50 whereas energy-saving alternatives such as LEDs can cost up to £25. Businesses will understandably be concerned about the considerable cost implications of complying with regulation by replacing existing bulbs. The fact is that there is a very good financial case for retrofitting with LEDs; they use less than a fifth of the energy consumed by halogens and boast a product lifetime up to 10 times longer. These factors result in significant savings in the longer term, both in terms of energy bills and maintenance costs. Unfortunately, these savings are not yet fully understood by the majority of consumers and until there is more effort from government to shift thinking towards long-terms solutions, product banning is likely to remain deeply unpopular.

Some argue that energy saving alternatives will need to price match standard solutions before we see widespread take up. But it would be a mistake to try to produce LED lamps that are at a similar price point to halogens because the two technologies represent fundamentally different approaches to lighting.

Price matching LED lamps would only result in poor quality light output and premature failure, which in turn would mean low-levels of customer satisfaction and acceptance. Education is needed around these differences to avoid simple point-of-purchase price based decisions.

Government has a key role to play in helping us move away from the concept of lighting as a throwaway, cheap consumable towards viewing it as a long-term solution. Unfortunately, the poor choice to ban single scape-goat products coupled with a lack of wider education on lighting is not the way to achieve this.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Simon Leggett .

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