EU Ban halogen by 2016

•February 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The European Union (EU) have put forward, and unless something drastic happens it will come in to force, legislation which will ban almost all halogen by 2016 some going this September.

There will be a few exceptions, the IRC Halogens previously mentioned in ‘’ is likely to just about scrap in. But in general inefficient lamps, the Halogen, some CFL and even the poor performing LEDs will be sent the way of the tungsten lamps recently removed from the market.

Don’t worry they won’t pop by your house and take them away to a detention centre but they will become more scarce in the shops as current stocks run low (Que Car boot mania for those with spares!).

On a good note a lot of the rubbish imported and sold as ‘Low Energy’ which is clearly just taking advantage of people trying to do the right thing should also be removed from the market place.

Also better labelling will become mandatory you will start to see information on the label which should mean you can check one lamp against another (and against the lamps you were used to). The energy rating labels you see on new fridges and other electrical equipment will be seen on the outside of the packaging. These will be with new categories A+ and A++, anything lower than B grade will sink into the history books.

Look out lamp manufacturers, get your houses in order the EU is on the march, finally!

2012 figures

•February 18, 2013 • 12 Comments

So LED is the new big thing, but what’s everyone really getting worked up about its only a few lamps after all. . . .

Well after someone has kindly compiled all the figures and put them out there in a big report, I have taken the key points and dropped them on here.

LED lighting, which includes LED replacement lamps and luminaires (That’s light fittings with LED’s already in them) count for $3.1 billion and is now the biggest sector pushing automotive into 2nd slot. This shows how the market is moving at a rapid pace (not just in development) as that is a jaw dropping increase over 2011.

The top 3 suppliers into the packaged LED market were;


Samsung LED

Osram opto semiconductors

(With Philips taking joint 5th and Cree coming in at 7th)

Notable shift in production from Taiwan, slipping 4% to 15% to China growing 2% upto 8% by worldwide sales.

Source credited to Strategies Unlimited (Web Site: Also see

IRC at your peril. . .

•January 29, 2013 • 1 Comment

So the EU is set to ban inefficient halogen by 2013. Yes this year! The newspaper reporters say we can still use these IRC (Infra red coated) halogen lamps, excellent, I’ll go get a bunch and swap them in… Just hold on for a short attention span minute.

While being great at making a source of material to wrap up fish and chips in, where exactly did that newspaper reporter become an expert in lighting, oh he didn’t he just re-wrote the article from some source material, it sounded plausible and his editor published it.

If IRC lamps are so great how come you haven’t heard of them yet, because they have a tiny little issue called ‘I also burn at 400 degrees celsius’. Oh did you not hear that, OK again for the hard of reading. . .


But that reporter guy said, yes he said they were more efficient which is true, but and a fairly big ol’ butt it is, these lamps go mostly into downlights. And you say ‘so’. Well downlights although they look fairly basic have evolved over many years to cope with the environment we subject them to, and one of these evolutions is the use of a paint finish to make them blend into our decor.

This paint as far as I am aware is one of the highest heat resistant paints on the market, being able to withstand 250 degree C of heat. (A normal halogen hits about 250 degree C max, and with a little air cooling is much lower by the time it reaches the paintwork.)

A normal downlight, the bit you can see, consists of a bezel (The outside bit) and a lock ring (Inside bit which holds the lamp and lets you change lamps when they blow). Therefore when you subject this to 400 degree C of heat it fairly quickly decides to give up and become a little soft. The bezel and the lock ring then decide to become best buddies and paint bond, making them in the process near impossible to get apart.

What this generally means is that if you put an IRC lamp in your downlight, the next time that lamp blows you’ll need an electrician to replace the lamp, the fitting and your bank manager to replace the cash in your wallet.

Halogen Lamps doomed by EU

•January 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Through calculation it is possible to tell that upto a staggering 40% of a building’s energy is used by its lighting. The EU has, like many nations across the globe, slowly been phasing out the most inefficient lamps. The GLS 100W went way back in 2009,  and to meet the requirements to lower energy consumption some of the most inefficient halogen are next on the list.

Mostly likely all will be phased out by 2016!

By phasing out the least efficient lamps (Incandescent and now halogen) the EU is forcing people to use more energy efficient replacements. So now is the time to read up (Check previous blogs) on LED and other technologies to find just what you can or want to replace them with.

What the EU are actually setting is a minimum performance standard, so poor performing CFL (Fluorescents) and LEDs will also be removed from the EU market (about time). To give you an idea of the current waste, they expect to reduce European energy bills by upto €11bn per year!

Of course there are other ways to reduce lighting bills. When you walk out of a room, turn them off!

Toshiba LED chips

•January 11, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Yup they make LED lamps too.

But more importantly they have been tinkering with some technical stuff particularly with a substance called Gallium-Nitride. What! And Why?

Most LED chips are made on a sapphire or silicon carbide substrate which is expensive. The Gallium-Nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si) technology, licensed from American LED company Bridgelux, mass produced will make the chips cheaper (Although the light output may need improving a little) and further bring down the cost of LED lamps.

No bowing before men in white coats, it is embarrassing to watch!

LEDs don’t produce heat. . .Do they?

•January 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Now unlike conventional tungsten filament lamps, LED lamps are ‘Cool to touch’ this is because they produce very little radiated heat in the Infra Red (IR) spectrum. It is this type of radiation which heats the surroundings of a lamp and makes them hot.

Great news, this is part of the reason LEDs are more efficient than most other sources of light. However, not everything is peachy in LED land. As most of you will know, anyone who owns a computer, that devices with semiconductor chips tend to have fans and heat sinks to remove the heat. Those semiconductors and the Light Emitting Diodes are made of the same stuff and work in a similar way.

Hard working LEDs generate heat within them and if this heat isn’t removed the device degrades quicker (check Tags on right for LED lifespan), and we can pump more electricity into them to work harder if only we could get rid of that heat.

One of the many early questions when LED lamps first hit the market was, why can’t they be the same size as a normal lamp? Well this is where ‘Thermal management’ comes in. See most of the back of the lamp is currently a fairly sizeable lump of aluminium which helps to dissipate the heat, all those intricate shapes and fins were there not to make them look attractive but to keep them cool. And inside it was more of the same, thermal conducting paste, thermal conducting potting compound for the electronics etc etc. All designed to keep the LED and electronics cool.

So what of it?

Placed in some light fittings where air flow is restricted could serious raise the ‘ambient’ temperature the lamps work in and cause it to fail early. Most downlight fittings and other luminaires are designed for air to flow through them but some are not, so beware of placing your expensive lamps into them only to have them stop working earlier than expected.

Two big letters – CE

•January 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

All hail the mighty European union, everything which is good and right in the world is boldly stamped with ‘CE’ and in the ideal world this would be correct.

The CE mark which appears on so many goods across Europe states that the goods in question have conformed to the required standards and has the certification to be shipped into any country of Europe.

Yes you knew it was coming, a large BUT…

Like any police force in a big city the ‘CE’ mark relies on most of the inhabitants being law abiding decent folk. However like lots of big cities it has an element which doesn’t think laws apply to them. The ‘CE’ mark is a self certification, the manufacturer states that they have complied with the regulations set out by the European union.

Most of the bad products are quickly spotted and unveiled but sadly several are ready to step into its place. Before you say, ahh everything from China is badly copied junk shipped out cheaply, this is not the case, and the authorities in Asia are doing their bit to ensure products comply. Most if not all products are engineered to the best possible standards, only a few fail to reach those standards we would accept.

Europe for its part has been slow to put in strict guidelines on lamps (Should come in to force mid to late 2013), from testing to product information on labels. Unlike the US or countries in the Middle East.

That said, never buy a lamp (Or any product for that matter) which doesn’t have the ‘CE’ mark. It shows that the manufacturer believes he has met the requirements of the product even if it later is proven that it hasn’t. After all few people in business want to drive their customers away.

You just watch that. . . .Beam angle

•December 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The more unscrupulous lamp manufacturers out there try a little bafflement to confuse and hide the poor performance of their product but playing with their ‘Beam angle’

Usually the light output is measured with a small hand held light meter (and a small calculation which is dependant on the ceiling height to measured surface). However it is very dependant on where the meter sits in the beam angle as to the result. (For a true measurement an ‘Integrating sphere’ is required, but with these running to £60,000+ for a 2mtr sphere not everyone can afford the outlay)

Lets say that the light meter gives us a measurement of  about 350 lumens at the centre of the beam, the further out towards the edge of the circle of light the less light you will read on the meter. If the lamp has a very small beam angle of say 15 degrees the light will be focused on a relatively small area, and be quite intense. The same lamp spreading its light over a normal 38 degree beam angle would not have the same intensity over the bigger area.

Therefore check the beam angle before you buy, anything around the 35-40 degree beam angle will be similar to your old halogen downlights, if it also gives you 400+ lumens then it might well be the lamp you are look for.


•December 21, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The cost of electricity is measured by multiplying the energy used (In Watts) by how long it is used for (in hours), this is termed Kilowatt-hours or kWh for short. You the consumer is then charged per kWh of electricity you use. Often this is around 12-15 pence per unit but can be more or less depending on how good or bad a deal you have with your energy supplier.

This could be a 1kW electric bar heater on for 1 hour or a 100W lamp on for 10 hours or a 5W lamp on for 200 hours etc etc

Obviously the lower the wattage the longer the ‘device’ can be on for, for your money.


•December 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Like everything in our ‘throw away’ era, LED lamps have a lifespan, this should not get confused with warranty (Sometimes termed Guarantee, although they mean something different, the terms are often mixed up).

With good old light bulbs you knew when they had reached their end of life because they went ‘pink’ (Sound and not colour), then you’d be plunged into darkness only go find the candles for the evening until you could nip to the shops to purchase another. Even with the dreaded fluorescent you’d notice the ends turn darker and then one day it would continue flashing instead of blinking into life. Not so with LED.

LEDs are more like trusty librarians than rock and roll stars, so they just gradually fade away rather than burn out. They suffer what is called ‘Luminous decay’ and the point at which we decide they are no longer as bright as they should be is ‘L70’

L70 is generally accepted to be when the luminous (Light) output drops to 70% of the lamps original brightness. This is not to say that they won’t work after this time only it is likely that the human eye will start to register that things are not as bright as they once were.

This figure is usually measured in hours, so will depend on usage, as to when this will occur in real time. If you only used the light on average 4 hours a day and it had a 35,000 hour ‘L70’ then your lamp would last approx . . .

35000/4 = 8750 days / 365 = 23.9 years

Obviously there are a few other factors like high temperature environments, the quality of the electronic components inside and if you bought the lamp from a guy in the pub called Dodgy Dave or not, but otherwise most of these lamps will out live us.