Do you have halogen or fluorescent lighting on your business premises, or lighting fixtures where the bulb cannot be replaced? If so, new government regulations mean you’ll need to replace them with cleaner and more environmentally friendly bulbs. Here we explain the new regulations and why LEDs are the ideal replacements.
Concerns about the amount of CO2 produced by halogen and fluorescent bulbs and of the pollution caused by fluorescent bulbs’ mercury content have led the UK government to take swift action to eradicate them. The phasing out of halogen lightbulbs began in 2018 with the banning of mains voltage halogen non-directional lamps. The sale of low voltage non-directional halogen lamps, even with eco-design requirements was prohibited in September 2021 – however, HL R7 halogens will remain available.
The sale of most fluorescent lighting, including the fluorescent tubes on which many businesses still rely, will be banned in September 2023, with the exception of T5s which will remain available. The only exemptions are for lamps designed for scene-lighting in film, TV and photography studios, or for stage-lighting in theatre and entertainment venues or events.
The new legislation comes as part of the UK’s drive to improve its energy efficiency standards for electrical appliances. By eradicating these types of bulbs, it is hoped that the move will cut CO2 emissions by a further 1.26 million tonnes per annum, a reduction equal to taking 500,000 combustion engine vehicles off the road. It would also help businesses reduce their energy consumption in a time of rapid and substantial price increases.
At the same time, the UK government has also introduced more stringent labelling of the energy efficiency of electrical appliances, including lightbulbs. The old A+, A++ or A+++ ratings are being phased out and replaced with a simple A to G scale, but with stricter criteria for each classification. As a result, very few lightbulbs are now able to be rated as A.
In addition, from September 2021, the UK has also banned the sale of lighting fixtures in which bulbs are fixed. When the bulbs in these fixtures stop working, the whole unit has to be thrown away and this accounts for 100,000 tonnes of electrical waste per annum, much of it unnecessary.
What’s the alternative?
The obvious alternative to all these changes is to replace halogen and fluorescent bulbs with LEDs and to use LED fixtures where bulbs can be replaced. In reality, there is little choice. The government’s primary aim is to move as many businesses as possible to LEDs. This is because they last up to five times longer than other bulbs and reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by 80% while providing the same levels of illumination. Indeed, LEDs are already the predominant type of bulb used in the UK, accounting for two-thirds of all sales.
Aside from reducing a company’s carbon footprint and slashing the cost of lighting, there are several other important benefits to installing LEDs. For example, the longevity of an LED bulb, often upwards of 50,000 hours, means they need replacing far less often than other forms of bulbs. Not only does this further reduce costs; it can significantly lessen the burden on maintenance teams. The benefit to maintenance teams is greatest when it comes to LED emergency lighting, with the latest systems having in-built self-testing features. Instead of monthly testing requiring each light to be put into outage mode, the new fittings indicate problems with the bulb, battery or charger by emitting a pattern of flashing light signals, dramatically cutting the amount of time that testing takes. More advanced systems communicate this information to a centralised computer dashboard, notifying maintenance teams immediately an issue arises, improving the safety of the system as a whole.
Modern LED control systems also enable companies to install intelligent lighting. With the use of daylight and occupancy sensors, for example, lighting can adjust itself to optimal levels throughout the day or turn itself on and off, depending on whether a room is in use. Companies can also program lighting to create different lighting states, deploying them at different times or for different purposes and even creating different lighting zones within open-plan spaces.
The new regulations mean companies will have little option but to replace halogen and fluorescent bulbs with LEDs by 2023. This, of course, may not be the end of the legislation. With the government keen to meet its net-zero targets, there may be more regulations down the line. Until an even more energy-efficient way of lighting is invented, LEDs will be the most effective solution businesses can install.
For more information, visit our Industrial and Commercial Lighting page.