Saying goodbye to a lamp that shaped our industry

More than 30 years ago, when the fluorescent lamp broke away from the trends and whims of its predecessors, shifting towards warmer colour tones and away from cold tones, it quickly became the universal answer to any lighting question. Although it was originally stubbornly set on providing full lighting power at all times, it was soon available in dimmable versions. With every new technical development, its fan club grew. It was idolised by so many people that more and more countries made it the mandatory form of general lighting.

However, it retained a single flaw – like its ancestors, it contained mercury. This was a burden it was unable to shake off. As a result, despite the adoration of its many fans, it became stigmatised. A new star was rising in the lighting sky: The LED. At the start, LEDs offered an energy efficiency comparable with that of fluorescent lamps. However, LEDs quickly overtook them, continuing to improve their efficiency right up to the present day. This brings us to the latest development. On 1st September 2023, a new law will officially condemn this former star – the T8 fluorescent tube – to the history books.

New standards deal the fatal blow

The introduction of regulation 2019/2020/EU "Ecodesign requirements for light sources" defined higher standards for the efficiency of lamps within the EU. This affects a range of conventional lamps in 2021 and will continue to do so in 2023. For T8 fluorescent lamps (with a diameter of 26 mm) measuring 600, 1200 and 1500 mm long (18, 36 and 58 W), 1st September 2023 will be a day to remember. From this date onwards, they will no longer be allowed to be launched on the market in the EU. At this point, only sales of existing stock will be permitted.

The EU regulation considers both the energy consumption of lamps and their mercury content to be significant environmental factors. Directive 2011/65/EU (Restriction of Hazardous Substances, RoHS) regulates the use of dangerous substances. Currently, a few exceptions still exist regarding the use of mercury. However, it is already possible to foresee the end of other types of lamp.

Effects on the explosion-protected sector

Although the appendix of the EU directive explicitly lists use in explosion-protected areas as an exception, there are still knock-on effects on the industrial sector; since the quantity of fluorescent lamps being produced will decrease significantly, the prices of the few light sources that are still officially available to purchase will skyrocket. This will make the use of LED light fittings as fully-fledged alternatives to fluorescent lamps profitable, as an ROI of less than two years will be feasible, even in difficult circumstances. In the past, light fittings were typically sold without a lamp – they are now competing with light fittings that come fully equipped with all the light sources they require.

It is all the more important to ensure that all previously required light colours are available. While fluorescent lamps with lamp code 840 (colour temperature 4000 K and colour rendering >80) were very popular for indoor lighting, lamps with a higher colour temperature were used for outdoor lighting and in certain geographical regions – lamp code 865 here refers to a colour temperature of 6500 K and colour rendering >80. LED light fittings must fulfil all these requirements.

It seems that there is still some way to go until LEDs will be able to offer all the features of a fluorescent lamp. However, LEDs already have one thing that definitely gives them an edge over fluorescent lamps. They have a future; sadly, fluorescent lamps do not.

Write new comment

No comments found!

These articles might also interest you

Blog Explosionsschutz R. STAHL Ethernet-APL Kooperation

Ethernet-APL: A partnership that benefits the customer

Continue reading
Blog Explosion Protection R. STAHL IHK Award

A gentle breeze instead of an explosive blast

Continue reading
Blog Explosion Protection R. STAHL Ethernet-APL

Into the field with Ethernet.

Continue reading