The European Union has long been a world leader in environmentally-friendly initiatives, and so it came as no surprise to anyone when the EU issued a pair of directives ordering that the use of all halogen spotlights and bulbs be phased out before 2018. At the time, most observers expected LED lighting to be the logical retrofit for halogen light applications. The reasons for replacing halogen with LED lighting have progressed well beyond environmental considerations.
Economics and cost will be a predominant motivation for most end users to transition to LED’s. Halogen fixtures consume substantially more electrical energy than LED’s to generate an equivalent output illumination. Halogen fixtures also have an average useful life of two years, compared to five to eight years for LED fixtures. Even without an environmental incentive, LED light usage would likely have surpassed halogen usage within a generation.
This does not suggest that the environmental incentives for phasing out halogen lights are negligible. Operating cost savings that accrue to the user translate into a lower load on power-generation facilities and reduced carbon emissions from those facilities. Moreover, LED fixtures utilize no hazardous materials in their construction. When an LED fixture reaches the end of its useful life, no hazardous material waste permits are required for their disposal, and no dangerous materials are deposited in landfills.
Notwithstanding the seemingly objective rationale behind the European Union’s directives, the push to phase out halogen bulbs has met with considerable resistance among users who are affected by the decision. Many of those users have expressed concerns over the forced transition to a technology that is perceived to be expensive and limited in its ability to generate the kind of illumination that those users prefer. Some of them might also have had adverse experiences with CFL technology that was introduced as an alternative to incandescent lighting. Others are confused over the demands and objectives of each of the two EU directives. All of these objections might have been valid at an earlier time, but next generation LED fixtures and control systems have created lighting systems that generate the same quality of light that was achieved with halogen fixtures. Moreover, as more LED designers and manufacturers have entered the market, the cost of LED lighting systems has come down dramatically. Most organizations that retrofit their lighting systems from halogen to LED fixtures will recover the installation costs in under two years, primarily from utility cost savings.
The resistance to the halogen phase-out in the European Union is instructive for other political structures that are considering whether to adopt similar directives. Regulators and LED lighting manufacturers can likely lay a solid foundation for phasing out halogen lighting with education on improvements in LED technology and with incentives to adopt LED systems. Early adopters will then lead an inevitable retreat from halogen fixtures and into a new lighting world of LED’s.
SpecGrade LED, a domestic designer and manufacturer of LED lighting systems in Columbus, Ohio, welcomes a robust debate over the value of phasing out halogen technology and the adoption of LED lighting systems. We have consultants and affiliates in several locations throughout North America who can answer questions about our LED lighting products for warehouses, loading docks, sports arenas, city streets, and other facilities and applications.
Please see our website for more information or contact our support staff at 888-497-0135 to schedule a consultation.