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Misleading energy claims on lighting products

Dec 18

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18/12/2015 14:13  RssIcon

Tests show that some light bulbs don't perform as stated 

The Guardian has revealed that light bulb manufacturers are misleading consumers about the brightness and energy use of their products.

New research into lab results suggest that companies are exploiting a loophole in European tests, seen by the Guardian show.

Exaggerating energy performance

The research, carried out by the Swedish Consumer Association, showed that Ikea, Philips, GE and Osram are among companies exaggerating energy performance up to 25% higher than that claimed on packaging.
The Swedish tests, conducted between, 2012-2014, found that a 42W Airam halogen lamp consumed 25% more energy than claimed on the label to achieve its declared 630 lumens of brightness.

A GE 70W halogen bulb was 20% duller than its stated 1,200 lumens.  A 28W Philips halogen bulb was found to be 24% less bright than claimed.  Ikea’s 53W and 70W bulbs both underperformed by 16%.

Tolerance loophole

The discrepancy is caused by manufacturers taking advantage of leeways, known as “tolerances” in official testing procedures for bulbs.

The European tests for bulbs allow for a 10% tolerance threshold, meaning a bulb advertised as rated at 600 lumens, a measure of brightness, could in reality be 540 lumens.

A 2-3% tolerance threshold would be fairer and easily doable at little extra cost to consumers, an industry insider told the Guardian.

They added:

“The industry just follows the letter of the regulations, and they’re not in line with today’s technology,” he explained. “The net result is that consumers are being cheated by the system.”

The European commission is aware of the loophole and has been working on proposals to close it since November 2012 but it has yet to be sorted.

The Guardian states that this leaves the tolerance loophole in place for other home appliances such as TVs, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, fridges and air conditioners.

Companies respond to report

When contacted by the Guardian, Ikea offered full refunds or product exchanges to any customers dissatisfied with lightbulbs they had bought from their stores.

“The report refers to halogen bulbs that are no longer sold at Ikea,” a spokesperson for the Swedish firm said. “Since September 2015, we switched our entire lighting range to LED for our customers to live a more sustainable life at home.”

Jo Picardo, a spokesperson for Philips, said that the firm complied with all relevant standards and was committed to accurate labelling.

“Lamp performance can differ per bulb,” she said. “This is the nature of the product and is especially true of halogen bulbs due to the tungsten coil. On average our bulbs meet the specs well within the allowed 10% tolerance range.”

Osram described the issue as “not company-specific but an industry topic”.

Read our shopping guide into energy saving light bulbs


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