Europe says goodbye to 60W incandescent lamps

The European phase-out of low-efficiency lamps, which began two years ago, now encompasses clear 60W incandescent lamps.

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Empty shelves loom for 60W lamps
From today, the 60W incandescent lamp will gradually become a thing of the past in Europe. This type of lamp can no longer be manufactured in Europe or imported into the region. However, the lamps can be sold until stocks run out.

The new regulation comes into force as a result of the Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC), which has already outlawed 100W and 75W incandescent lamps (in September 2009 and September 2010, respectively).

Specifically, the regulation coming into force today says that clear (transparent) lamps with a wattage level of 60W or above need to have an energy-label class of C or above (A is the highest, G is the lowest - see photo, below, for examples).

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Lamp labels
This effectively eliminates standard incandescent lamps from the market. However, the class C requirement means that other more-efficient technologies (such as improved incandescent bulbs with halogen technology) can remain on the market. This was felt to be necessary because compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and LED lamps, while being much more efficient, can’t provide the same “type of light” as incandescents.

From September 2012, all clear lamps at all wattage levels will have to achieve at least class C. Also, since September 2009 there has been a requirement that all non-clear (also known as pearl, or frosted) lamps must be class A, which in practice means that non-clear lamps have to be CFLs.

In its current form, the Directive only applies to non-directional lamps, while further legislation will cover directional lamps. This is sure to be one of the issues covered in the upcoming Strategies in Light Europe conference in early October.

More information from the European Commission

The European Commission has a website devoted to energy-saving light bulbs, which contains some useful details, particularly covering the relevant legislation.

A section entitled “Why has the EU acted?” focuses principally on energy savings and on the benefits of CFLs. Another interesting source of information is the “Professional FAQ” document that can be downloaded from the Technical Background section of the website.

This document covers issues such as the alleged intrusion of Brussels into citizens' private lives, the risk of lamp shortages and factory closures, and the effect on lamps that are sold incoporated into luminaires. There is also a question about possible weakening of the measure’s impact caused by people stocking up on conventional incandescent bulbs – which is referred to as “hamstering.”

The EC has also implemented other changes. Since September 2010, lamp packaging should carry better product information to help consumers choose the best solution according to their needs. Lamp producers are obliged to mention the lifetime of the lamp in hours, the number of switching cycles the lamp is designed for, the color temperature, the warm-up time, the size of the lamp and whether the lamp can be dimmed or not.

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