The lighting industry is experiencing an environmental revolution

July 2, 2021

In an historic turning point for the lighting industry, the UK government has decided to ban the sale of halogen light bulbs.

From September this year, the sale of low-efficiency, high energy halogen light bulbs will be banned in an attempt to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint in line with its net zero target of 2050.

Many types of halogen light bulbs have been banned for several years, and old-fashioned incandescent bulbs were ousted by the EU a long time ago, and this latest move is the final nail in the coffin for what is, frankly, an outdated technology.

Consequently, the plan will help continue the ever-increasing shift towards low-energy LED lighting systems, which now account for about two-thirds of lights sold in the country, this is set to increase to 85% in the coming decade.  

This shift from halogen to LED is no accident. The benefits of LED lighting compared to its traditional counterparts are plentiful and have been told several times on this site alone, so let’s focus on the real reason why the government has decided that this is halogen’s time to leave.

Before that, however, let’s explore the history of halogen bulbs; how they became popularised; and how the world eventually fell out of love with them.

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The Rise & Fall of the Halogen Light Bulb

The first commercial halogen light bulb was used in the 1950s by the American conglomerate General Electric. They were created with a small amount of halogen gas – where the bulb gets its namesake – such as iodine or bromine, and a tungsten filament which grew brighter as it is heated up; the higher the temperature that the filament reached, the brighter it shone.

As their popularity grew in the coming decades, two variants of halogen lamps emerged: one-sided and two-sided.

One-sided halogens were (and often still are) used commercially in car headlights and film projectors, and domestically in general or desktop lighting due to their strong light and small size. Two-sided halogens were stronger and could shine brightly instantly, and so were helpful for floodlights and film production lighting purposes.

Despite their popularity, they came with a host of problems that, until the rise of LEDs, people simply learned to live with. For example, the high temperatures and pressure found inside a halogen light bulb often caused them to explode as they reached the end of their life.

As discussed in this previous blog post, LED lighting began to grow in popularity from around 2015 as its plethora of benefits illuminated users and businesses what the future of lighting really looked like.

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Halogen lights, especially in commercial use like on film studios, were usually kept behind a protective screen to avoid any fire or medical hazards associated with this very distinct design flaw.

A 1,000-watt halogen light bulb was said to be the cause of a £36.5 million fire that damaged 100 rooms in Windsor Castle in 1992 after it was left on near a set of curtains.

This heating element of the halogen light bulb also meant that they were incredibly inefficient in how much light they gave out compared to the amount of heat. Some figures claim that 95% of the energy emitted by these bulbs is heat energy.

All of this combined with the relatively low lifespan of halogen bulbs – at around 2,000 hours – spelt the end of the halogen bulb once environmentalism and low carbon goals became the world’s goal for a sustainable future.   

Cube Lighting & Design provide industrial lighting and commercial LEDs for businesses across the country, click here to see if you qualify for free LED lighting for your business.

Why LEDs are filling the gap that halogen is leaving in its place

Most notably, its 50,000-hour lifespan compared to halogen’s 2,000 hours is an immediate benefit. This was a benefit for users as they no longer had to worry about replacing their lighting anywhere near as much as they once did and was also beneficial for the planet as less waste was being generated.

LEDs’ durability in different weather conditions and temperatures also makes it a reliable and long-lasting lighting option that nets fewer replacements and therefore less waste in landfill.

Furthermore, LEDS contain no hazardous materials which require specialist removal and disposal. With fewer specialist disposal vehicles driving up and down our roads, fewer emissions are being pumped into our surroundings.

Another clear benefit of LED lighting compared to halogen is its energy efficiency. Due to their high lumen output per watt, LEDs turn most of their energy into light, making them much more efficient than halogen which, as mentioned, can waste almost all their energy on creating heat energy. For business and home owners, this is also an optimal scenario as it means lower electricity bills.

On top of this, LEDs have the unique ability of directional lighting, whereby the light emitted is done so in one direction as opposed to all around. This ensures that no light is wasted, and every lumen is used. This is especially ideal for task lighting during reading, cooking, or other hobbies.

A 6 watt LED bulb can produce the same amount of light that a 40-watt incandescent bulb does, so replacing all your old bulbs with LEDs can significantly reduce the amount of CO2 emitted annually.

As you can see, the banning of halogen light bulbs (and their inevitable replacement with LEDs) is an obvious step in the UK’s journey towards a sustainable, net zero reality. In 2017 alone, buildings in the UK accounted for nearly a fifth of carbon emissions but by replacing every lighting fixture in every UK building with more energy efficient options like LEDs, this percentage will be significantly lower in the future.

To know more about how you can embrace the future of lighting and contribute to the UK’s net zero goals, contact Cube Lighting & Design here to see if you qualify for free LED lighting installation!

Want to keep reading? Check out the latest blog post from Cube here:
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