They’ve had a good run, but it’s time to start making the switch: after 60 years, halogen light bulbs will be replaced with their more efficient counterpart, LEDs.

Some of the LED light bulbs available to the consumer as screw-in replacements for standard incandescent bulbs. Photo by Geoffrey A. Landis.

The ban didn’t come out of the blue — it’s the final stage of a European Union directive (EC 244/2009), which aims to progressively ban less efficient energy light sources, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions across the EU. It started in 2009 with the banning of traditional incandescent light bulbs and will now ultimately expand to include halogen lightbulbs as well.

Simply put, halogen light bulbs cost a bit less than LEDs, but they consume much more energy and have a shorter lifespan. Although there is significant variance between different bulbs, on average, LEDs consume five times less energy than halogen bulbs. In the long run, this will save consumers a lot of money: Philips, one of the largest producers, estimates that consumer savings of up to £112 ($144) a year from the switchover. The EU has a similar estimate:

“Switching from an average halogen lamp to an energy efficient LED will already save approximately 115 Euros (£103) over the LED’s lifetime of up to 20 years, and pay-back its cost within a year,” the EU says.

In terms of emissions, it’s estimated that the shift will prevent a whopping 15 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year — which is the rough equivalent of Portugal’s total emissions, for instance.

Halogen vs LED

Halogen light bulbs work are essentially an incandescent lamp, consisting of a tungsten filament surrounded by a mixture of inert gas and a small amount of a halogen such as iodine or bromine. Thanks to this setup, halogen bulbs can be used at a higher temperature than a standard gas-filled lamp, producing more light than conventional incandescent bulbs.

But even halogen bulbs, which were innovative in their own right, don’t hold a candle Ito LEDs in terms of lifespan and energy consumption. The average lifespan of a halogen light bulb is 2 years, whereas the average LED will last from 15 to 20 years.

For halogen light bulb producers, the lights won’t go out at once, though. Instead, they will gradually dim. Remaining stocks can still be sold, and some lamps (like capsules and low-voltage incandescents) are exempt from the ban, but for the vast majority of halogen bulbs, the ban will commence starting the 1st of September.

Also, consumers don’t need to worry — there is no obligation to change light bulbs immediately, as the law only affects producers, not consumers. Also, according to estimates, stocks will continue to last for quite a while, so if for some reason you prefer halogen bulbs, there’s no need to stockpile them just yet.