OPINION
‘Why single out the MR16? We should ban GU10 halogen lamps first’

Edward Lees, product manager at Toshiba Lighting Systems UK, says phasing out GU10 halogen lamps would have a bigger impact than rounding on the uniquely useful MR16

Edward Lees

The MR16 halogen is one of the favourite lamps of lighting designers the world over.

It offers a type of light that no other light source can deliver – perfect colour rendering, lovely sparkle and precise light beam with some spill light that offers credibility between ambient and accent lighting.

However, LEDs can be valid alternatives to halogen in terms of light quality. They will also last longer and use vastly less energy.

The regulation has yet to be finalised and the industry is still discussing the specifics, especially related to lumen based equivalences and functional requirements. However, it’s a shame a more gradual phase-out has not been proposed.

Low quality and short life MR16s should be phased out first and then the lamp type as a whole should be phased out gradually over a number of years to leave only the most efficient and best quality lamps on the market.

Accelerated phase-out plan

The DIM2 regulation has been delayed and we are now trying to make time up by accelerating phase-out plans to meet the original deadline. If we had been on schedule, it would have been a more gradual phase-out. However, I certainly believe that GU10 halogen lamps should have been prioritised in the phase-out over MR16s.

Under the draft DIM2 regulation, GU10 lamps will also be banned, although only in stage two in 2014 – after MR16s. Phasing out of GU10s would have a bigger impact than MR16s, because they currently outsell MR16 lamps by two to one.

Furthermore, they’re even less efficient than MR16s and have a bigger installed base. That means that if you phase it out first, it will have the biggest impact on energy and carbon reduction. They are sold mostly in DIY and grocery stores, so you also have to consider that it will be the consumer, not the professional, who will feel the pinch the most.

The question is not whether MR16s should be banned, but rather if they should be phased out first. And are appropriate alternatives available?

The MR16 lamp is over 30 years old and it is about time new technology replaced it.

There are halogen IRC lamps available as alternatives, but there are concerns about the availability of IRC capsules and lamps that use the technology still have limitedlives.

As we all know, LED developments are moving forward at a furious pace. In my estimation, by 2016, when the regulation leaves only the best technology and quality, LED alternatives will be more cost-competitive, high in light output, better in quality and more efficient, making them the ideal replacement light source.

Standards for LEDs are being put in place to ensure that users get what they need from their lighting. Some of those are already implemented under regulation 244/2009 and DIM2 proposals are no different. This ensures that the LED lamps that are being introduced as more energy-efficient alternatives to the very lamps being phased out do the same job and that the user is not disillusioned ordisappointed.

The regulation is still undergoing consultation and its final version might differ. Once details are agreed, the industry as a whole will have a big role to play in implementing these measures, delivering products that are fit for purpose and, more importantly, in educating users about good lighting.

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