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The Missed Opportunity Of The EU Halogen Ban

On September 01, 2018 – just a week from now – the EU ban on Halogen bulbs in the region will take effect. But you wouldn’t know it judging by the dearth of information about this major change in what EU consumers can legally buy. In fact, various reports show that, more than 60% of EU residents have no idea the ban is imminent. The European Commission and European retailers who sell light bulbs have done a poor job of creating awareness about what exactly this ban is, why it’s happening, and what it means for consumers. Incredulously, googling “EU Halogen Ban” to get the official decree from the European Commission doesn’t yield anything on the first search results page.

This is at best a missed opportunity to really boost understanding of the importance of LEDs and promote adoption and at worse a cause for consumer backlash. The information gap is being filled by tabloids in the UK and political parties opposed to perceived EU overreach, and are pushing a narrative of consumer household spending needlessly doubling because of the “nanny state intervention”.

This slapdash transition obfuscates a good thing—the WHY of the ban -- i.e accelerating the shift to the most energy efficient and cost effective. Switching from halogen to LEDs pays off within a year, reduces electricity cost, and helps the fight against climate change by reducing carbon footprint.

“With energy efficient lighting, household electricity bills could fall by €25 per year. By substituting a halogen lamp with an LED, you could save up to €100 over the product's lifetime of around 20 years. Energy efficient lighting could save enough energy to power 11 million households for one year and avoid the emission of 12 million tonnes of CO2 in Europe.”

After all, Europe actually needs to up its game in using LEDs for general lighting and not just for residential but also for commercial lighting. Globally, Europe is a laggard in adoption of LED lighting. It trails early adopter Asia and quick follower Africa. In 2015, just 1.5% of the installed base of lighting in Europe were LEDs! In comparison, during same period, of the 44 billion light sockets in the world, penetration of LEDs for lamps was 5%. Granted, the data is a few years old. But from our experience, this bears out.

When we started out in 2013 trying to supply a full range of good quality, affordable LED lighting to retailers and distributors globally, there was very little interest across the board, in part because the price points compared to Halogen and CFL bulbs were too high—these were the products our B2B customers and prospects wanted. But by 2015/2016, we were getting requests for LEDs only (no more Halogen or CFL) from B2B customers in Africa. The market was shifting quickly to LEDs. Do this if you can. Take a walk through cafes and hotels and malls in Nairobi or Cape Town. (There's also unfortunately, the dregs of super cheap LED bulbs dumped from China but that’s a separate story). LED lights are pervasive.

In contrast, even in Q4 last year, 2017, the Lighting Tenders we bid for issued by large supermarkets/hypermarkets in Europe had substantial quantities (albeit reduced from previous years) of Halogen bulbs listed. Interesting nugget from 2017: ICA, one of the largest retailers in the Nordics sold 500,00 pieces of Halogen bulbs within just a week compared to a small fraction of LED bulbs they sold in 2017. Now take a walk through high street shops and cafes in major European cities. E.g., Oxford street, London, or Kalverstraat Amsterdam. You’ll see that other than a few who have elected to use LED vintage-style LED filament bulbs for ambience creation, most still use conventional LED lighting or a half-hearted attempt at shifting to LEDs by mixing these with Halogens. One tiny European city stands out – Ghent! Nice surprise to see most cafes, churches, and museums with LED lights!

ghent cathedral

gravensteen Ghent

Osteria delicati and a deli shop Ghent

So, what about the WHAT of the halogen ban? In brief:

  • Full enforcement of the ban on mains voltage halogen directional lamps which were actually banned in 2016 but not enforced. Essentially all “D-class” halogen bulbs. (These standard tungsten halogen lamps have an efficacy of 25lm/w compared to LEDs at 100lm/w and increasing).

  • Mains voltage halogen non-directional lamps cannot be sold in the EU

  • There are exceptions from the ban: low voltage energy class “B” halogen capsules, spots and linear lamps. G9, G4, R7S

  • Retailers can still sell whatever halogen bulbs they have in stock but cannot replenish the stock of banned halogen lamps after September 01, 2018.

Banned standard halogen bulbs A60, Halogen candled (C37)

Above mains voltage halogen directional and non- directional lamps are banned from September 01, 2018

exempt halogen bulbs

Above are exempt. low voltage and linear energy class “B” halogen

What does this practically mean for consumers? Slightly higher initial cost of LED bulbs means consumers should shop at retailers with the best promotional deals and guidance on their replacement bulbs.

For retailers and distributors? We can help with the supplies to replace these halogen bulbs with LEDs and provide marketing support! Contact us.

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