PLDA comments on the European incandescent lamp ban

Jan. 14, 2009
The Professional Lighting Designer’s Association argues that the decision to ban incandescent lamps in Europe has not been well thought out.
[Comment on this issue via our Blog entry "Europe bans incandescent lamps".]

[The following open letter has been circulated by the PLDA.]

"For the past two years, the Professional Lighting Designer’s Association (PLDA) has been actively raising awareness of the issues resulting from the withdrawal of incandescent lamps from the market. We believe this action is entirely led by a desire to appear to be making progress with Climate Change issues, rather than by a fully thought-through and effective policy.

While we support the use of appropriate energy-saving technology, there is no doubt that the Compact Fluorescent Ballast Integrated “Energy Saving” Lamp is unsuitable in many domestic lighting situations. This class of lamp has been in the market for over 20 years and has taken an increasing market share that we assume is largely due to adoption of the lamp where it is appropriate and successful in use.

The many applications where this lamp type is unsuitable – for example in light fittings on dimmed circuits; areas with frequent switching or short duration requirements for light such as cupboards, toilets and corridors; or exterior applications including enclosed light fittings – are much better served by incandescent lamps.

Many problems with the Compact Fluorescent Ballast Integrated “Energy Saving” Lamp are being ignored. There is no organization for recovery and recycling of these lamps, which contain mercury and other contaminants not found in incandescent lamps.

The ballast power factor is very poor; this may lead to future problems with the electricity supply network and certainly reduces actual energy savings being promoted for these lamps. Energy savings are much less than indicated due to the requirement to increase heating inputs to replace heat previously “wasted” by incandescent lamps.

ARD, a German TV broadcaster, recently sought the opinions of scientists in various fields who pointed out a number of new considerations. These include suppression of melatonin production caused by the emission of blue spectrum light, leading to disturbed sleeping patterns.

They also sought comment from climate change experts who believe that any energy savings from this ban will have no effect on CO2 emissions, due to carbon trading legislation already in place.

Above all, the research into all these effects is incomplete and the decision to ban the incandescent lamp has been taken before the full effects of such a transition are known.

The lamp industry is, belatedly, introducing more efficient incandescent lamps. These provide a clear 30 per cent energy saving with none of the problems associated with the Compact Fluorescent Lamp.

We would urge that these new-generation incandescent lamps be more heavily promoted as they provide a clear energy saving without the manifest problems of the Compact Fluorescent Lamp.”