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The Light Bulb Ban - When Did it Take Effect and What Does it Cover?

In September 2018, the final stage of an EU directive banning the import or manufacture of incandescent light bulbs will take effect. This directive was introduced by the European Commission in 2009 to restrict the sale of 'high-energy' light bulbs, in favour of alternative energy-saving technologies, such as LED and CFL.

The ban has been enforced against almost all types of incandescent light bulbs, with the exception of non-directional halogen bulbs (such as standard GLS or candle bulbs). These will be banned in September.

Here's a short timeline of the ban so far:

September 2009

Clear incandescent light bulbs of 100W and above are phased out. Non-clear (frosted or pearl) 100W lamps must have an energy rating of A or better.

September 2010

Clear incandescent light bulbs of 75W and above are phased out. Non-clear (frosted or pearl) 75W lamps must have an energy rating of A or better.

September 2011

Clear incandescent light bulbs of 60W and above are phased out. Non-clear (frosted or pearl) 60W lamps must have an energy rating of A or better.

September 2012

Clear incandescent light bulbs of 40W and above are phased out. Non-clear (frosted or pearl) 40W lamps must have an energy rating of A or better.

February 2016

Amendments to the original directive were introduced, more clearly defining 'rough service' and 'special purpose' bulbs. This closed a loophole that allowed retailers to continue to sell incandescent bulbs that would otherwise have been covered by the ban.

September 2016

Directional halogen lamps (such as PAR and GU10 spotlights) phased out.

September 2018

All remaining non-directional halogen lamps to be phased out.

How are we handling the change?

Responding to demand from our customers, we will endeavour to provide both the best range of energy saving options and also the widest range of incandescent bulbs for as long as possible. We will always aim to provide the most energy efficient solutions for our customers but we recognise that there are many instances where compact fluorescent and LED energy savers are not the most appropriate, so we will continue to provide incandescent lamps until we are unable to do so.

We still have various incandescent and halogen lamps available, and as the directive bans the manufacture and import of these bulbs, rather than their sale, we will continue to sell them through our website until we run out of stock. If you're looking for a product and don't see it listed, please get in touch with our customer services team, and they will do all they can to help you find the right bulbs.

Fluorescent Tubes

The EU regulations also cover Fluorescent Tubes and are designed to stop the manufacture of the least efficient, lowest performance tubes in favour of higher performing products. The most significant effects of this are as follows:-

April 2010

The first tubes to be affected were standard halophosphate tubes, which can no longer be manufactured or imported into the EU. In the vast majority of cases these were replaced by the equivalent triphosphor tube. The triphosphor tubes are longer life, higher efficiency and improved colour rendering compared to their halophosphate versions. LED equivalents of most fluorescent tubes are also now widely available.

April 2012

The old-style T12 (38mm diameter) tubes were withdrawn in 2012. These were inefficient compared with their T8 (26mm) or T5 (16mm) counterparts. Most T12 tubes can simply be replaced by their equivalent length T8 tube.

Finding the right energy saving bulbs

Lighting technology has progressed so rapidly since the EU directive was first introduced that it can sometimes be a little overwhelming when trying to swap from incandescent bulbs to energy savers. There's no getting around it: there is a lot of choice out there.

We want to make it as easy as possible to help you make the change, and we have a bunch of guides and advice to help. Our guide to choosing LED bulbs will help you narrow down the choice to something suitable for your needs, while our article describing the difference between lumens and watts will help untangle a tricky issue when upgrading. There's lots more help available in our library of lighting advice, but if you're still struggling to make the change, please give us a call.