British stores are hoarding halogen bulbs in face of EU ban

halogen bulbs
CC BY 2.0 Wikipedia/ halogen hotties

Little halogen spotlights were all the rage among architects and designers a few years ago; I had them all over my house, little boiling hot spots that would warm my shoes on the second floor. They caused thousands of fires over the years, and I was so happy to replace all the bulbs in my kitchen with LEDs. Not only is the light just almost as good*, but they don't burn out on a regular basis and I am saving a lot of money on electricity.

But as of September 1 the little hotties won't be sold in the UK, so the British retailers are stocking up. According to the Telegraph,

Sources said supermarkets and major hardware stores had stockpiled tens of millions of bulbs to please customers, ensuring they would be able to buy the old-style bulbs for years to come. Stores which typically sell 2 million halogen bulbs a year had bought 10 million over the past few weeks, lighting experts said.

Even the horrid climate denying, pesticide loving James Delingpole acknowledges the deficiencies of halogen bulbs, noting that he seems to be up on a ladder every weekend changing some of them:

The risks include burning your fingers (halogen bulbs get very hot); injuring your neck (because they’re harder to reach as they don’t hang from a piece of flex); and being driven mad with frustration (they are the devil to unscrew and replace).

But of course, hating the EU, he is "incandescent with rage" because of the inconvenience and the cost of replacing so many bulbs, as if the EU also said he had to go change every bulb all at once right now instead of as they burn out. He worries about the effect on poor people who cannot afford to change the bulbs, even though they will run through eight halogens during the life of one LED and they will cost almost nothing to run.

This kind of stuff no longer plays. It was one thing with compact fluorescents that were often really terrible and never lasted as long as promised, but LEDs are so much better and last so much longer, and those little halogen bulbs really were awful. We loved them because one got lots of light without having to think much about a fixture, they were so minimal yet powerful. But I am glad they are gone and I suspect everyone who upgrades to LEDs will be too. I hope those retailers get stuck with their ten million bulbs.

*amended post to reflect a comment, it is true that the light is not quite as good as full spectrum incandescent. But it's close.

Here is a comparison from British LED distributor Wattlite:

infographic© Wattlight

Tags: LEDs | Lighting | United Kingdom


treehugger slideshows