Row looms over delay in halogen lamp ban

A row is brewing among lamp makers over the possible postponement of the ban of halogen lamp formats.

Numerous halogen sources, including low-voltage MR16, G9 and mains GU10, are due to be banned in 2016 as part of the European Commission’s DIM regulations.  

But it’s looking increasingly likely that the scheduled phase-out of the lamps will be delayed until at least 2018 because it’s unlikely that low-cost LED replacements will be ready in time.

It’s almost certain that G9s will be allowed to remain on the market as LED lamp makers have struggled to replicate this format.

The phase-out of MR16 is also problematic because if low-cost, quality LED alternatives are not available, the only substitute are versions with an infrared coating (IRC). This opens up the possibility that the US manufacturer which owns the patent for the IRC process could be gifted a monopoly on the market.

‘The European Commission is terrified of creating black holes [of missing lamp formats] in the market as it will fuel anti-EU sentiment and play well in the Eurosceptic press,’ said one source. ‘The format that everyone gets worked up about is MR16 but the IRC patent issue is a massive spanner in the works.’

Some major manufacturers of LED lamps are unhappy with the growing pressure for a delay in the halogen ban. ‘It looks like the goalposts are being moved,’ said Fred Bass, managing director of Neonlite International, owner of the Megaman brand.  ‘In my view, it’s not sensible to push back the date of the final ban on mains voltage halogen lamps by a further two years and leave these high energy lamps on the market for a more than four years from today.

‘From a technological point of view, LED lighting technology is progressing so rapidly, surely it makes more sense to make decisions on the extension of the halogens phase-out deadline much closer to the ban’s implementation, rather than now?

‘In addition, I feel that the decision to extend the phase out to over four years from now, when the pace of change in LEDs is so fast at this time, will result in the loss of an opportunity to significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.'

But lighting designer Kevan Shaw said the ban was currently 'untenable' because of a lack of suitable replacements. 'Most lighting companies understand why the postponement is necessary,' Shaw told Lux. 'The argument to retain the 2016 date is coming more from civil servants who are concerned about how a delay would be viewed in relation to EcoDesign regulation for other kinds of products.'

UPDATE: Added comments from Kevan Shaw