The lights are going out on fluorescents – so what should you do?

The UK Government plans to phase out of all types of fluorescent lamps under the Restriction of the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive by 2024.

For decades fluorescent lighting has been fundamental in illuminating installations such as offices, schools and factories. Throughout the years, these luminaires have evolved from the T12 fluorescent batten which incorporated switch start control gear, to the T8, T5 or Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) which are controlled by a high frequency electronic ballast.

The improvement in technology regarding the starting and controlling of fluorescent lamps with electronic gear reduced the consumers electricity bills and reduced the amount of heat energy emitted by the “thicker” T12 style lamp.

However, the last ten years have seen the gradual replacement of the fluorescent luminaire with the more efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) fitting. This will continue to be the case, as the UK Government has followed the European Union’s lead in recent years by implementing the RoHS legislation which has already seized the manufacture of the T12 type lamp and has a directive of stopping the production of the remaining styles of florescent lamps by 2024.

These lamps contain mercury gas, which has been banned in the manufacturing of products. However, an exemption was implemented for the production of the fluorescent lamp. These lamps will still be in circulation and available to purchase until the dates of September 2023 for the T8 and February 2024 for the T5 and CFLs, when the manufacturing of lamps will end.

Although the availability of the lamps may aid maintenance, manufacturers have slowed the production of electronic control gear and inverters as the demand for the LED luminaire has increased.

Specifiers, clients, duty holders and landlords etc should consider the above information when consulting with their electricians regarding the method of illumination that should be used in properties when existing fluorescent lighting is present, considering the problems that may arise for maintenance, in the future.