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Explainer: What's happening to traditional light bulbs?

Solus, the light bulb manufacturer, is to cease production of traditional incandescent bulbs next month. What are they being replaced with, and why?

Image: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive/Press Association Images

SOLUS WILL CEASE production of its ‘traditional’ incandescent light bulbs next month.

But why? We explain the details.

What is happening at Solus?

“From the end of August we will stop manufacturing incandescent light bulbs,” David Reynolds from Solus told TheJournal.ie.

They will be replaced by more energy efficient light bulbs – the halogen bulbs which give 30 per cent more energy efficiency; and the CFL longlife bulbs which have 80 per cent more energy efficiency.

This has been planned for the past four years, when the European Union brought in directives to phase out the production of such bulbs.

Why incandescent light bulbs?

These directives are to pave the way for greener, energy-saving light bulbs, as the incandescent (traditional) bulbs are in fact energy inefficient.  The EU representatives voted for this in 2008, and planned that by this year traditional bulbs would be phased out.

“It wasn’t a complete ban overnight,” explained Reynolds. The EU started phasing out the highest watt bulbs first – from 200 watts down – before progressing to the lower wattage bulbs.

The 60 watt is the best-selling traditional bulb in the country, said Reynolds.

Can I still buy traditional bulbs?

The directives cover the manufacturers and not the the consumers. This means that whatever stocks are left can be sold through stores as the directive is with the manufacturer, not with the retailers.

Reynolds said there “wouldn’t be a huge” amount of 60 watt bulbs left.

What’s been happening over the last while is people are probably stockpiling a little and buying a little more than average.

There may be enough 60 watt traditional bulbs for them to stay on the shelves until September, based on current sales, and the 40 watt bulbs might last for another couple of months beyond that.

What is Solus doing now?

Solus has begun producing the aforementioned halogen and CFL bulbs, which are more energy-efficient and will replace the older bulbs. According to Reynolds, the company feels that consumers will be more honed in on the halogen bulbs.

They are similar in shape and size to traditional light bulbs, but you will pay more – but they offer 30 per cent more efficiency and their longevity is twice as long. So there is a return in investment.

The CFL bulbs might be a slightly less popular option, as they are even more expensive and aren’t compatible with all household fittings such as dimmer switches.

Reynolds said that there “has been ongoing financial investment” in Solus since the introduction of the directive – but not just in manufacturing.

“Even in terms of communication with both retailers and consumers. Consumers have found it very confusing,” he pointed out. Some might not realise that the equivalent to a 60 watt bulb is a 42 watt halogen bulb, so Solus has tried to ensure that consumers are informed of this.

“People at the best of times will find bulb purchases confusing,” he said. “We are trying to make the transaction for consumers as easy as possible.”

Read: Light bulb found in cornerstone still works after 100 years>

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