Lighting ban is misguided

The Government’s strategy to ban sales of traditional tungsten filament light bulbs in favour of compact fluorescent lamps is insufficient and misguided, says the consultancy and testing organisation, BSRIA. BSRIA believes that not enough attention has been paid to lifecycle issues, the waste problem posed by compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and their light performance.
BSRIA believes that a wholesale switch to CFLs will not maintain or improve the quality of electric light in homes nor lead to long-term energy savings. The organisation also calls on Government to issue more informative guidance to householders on the appropriate use of CFLs.
Although CFLs can be more energy efficient than tungsten halogen lamps, OFGEM is not doing enough to persuade the electricity supply industry to change its billing practices so that savings from CFLs become apparent to householders, added BSRIA.

The difference in technical performance between CFLs and conventional light bulbs is poorly understood by customers, says BSRIA: “CFLs are marketed as having no significant difference in the quality of light they provide compared with tungsten filament lamps. This needs to be addressed by the manufacturers, who should provide more user-friendly information,” says BSRIA’s Richard Forster.
BSRIA believes that simply ignoring the differences will not improve customer acceptance of CFLs. “The power of persuasion is needed rather than the imposition of regulation,” said Forster.
“A ban on the manufacturing of GLS tungsten filament lamps may also force other types of lamp to cease production, as it would no longer be viable to manufacture materials such as glass bulbs, drawn tungsten wire and even bayonet lamp-caps.”
CFLs contain environmentally harmful materials in their manufacture, such as lead and mercury. CFLs cannot be part of normal domestic waste. By contrast, no environmentally harmful materials are used in tungsten filament lamps.
The standard for tungsten filament lamps provides specific conditions for life testing, with individual lamps to be not less than 70% of rated life. The standard for CFLs defines average life to be after 50% failures based upon a three-hour switching regime.
“This is typical of commercial premises but not of domestic premises, where lamps may only be switched on for a couple of minutes,” says Richard Forster.

“All CFLs are low-pressure lamps which take time to warm up and emit full light output. Most CFLs will reach over 80% light output in two minutes or less, but the initial light when switching on is not quoted. However, in my own research, only two examples from one manufacturer were found, one lamp reaching 80% after two minutes, and the other reaching 85% after one minute,” said Richard.
“CFLs are therefore not appropriate in domestic situations where instant light is required. Tungsten filament lamps fulfil the requirements better.” While CFLs produce light similar to that of fluorescent tubes used in work and leisure environments, the domestic environment is very different. Domestic tasks such as food preparation, colour discrimination of fabrics and décor will be adversely affected by the colour rendering of CFLs.”

BSRIA believes that the truth of CFLs must be tackled now, with a degree of realism and recognition that the lighting will not be identical and CFLs may not be the best answer in all domestic situations.