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Guide to the Phase-Out of Fluorescent Lighting for FMs

Guide to the Phase-Out of Fluorescent Lighting for FMs
07 March 2023 | Updated 08 March 2023

With legislation making some fluorescent lighting obsolete, Lee Tupman from Whitecroft Lighting walks FM providers through the phase-out, and outlines the available options.

Lee Tupman is the Technical Manager at Whitecroft Lighting. He has over 20 years of experience in product testing and development including commercial lighting.


"Facilities managers could view the phasing out of fluorescent lamps as an opportunity to think about the long-term return on their investment, and consider ongoing energy savings, operational efficiency, and the quality of lighting across their facilities."



T8 and T5s Phase Out


Over the next few years, much of the commercial lighting we see inside and outside buildings will change, driven by new legislation and advances in technology.  

The UK has recently followed the EU’s lead and made significant amounts of fluorescent lighting obsolete – with legislation set to remove further models of fluorescent lighting from the market over the next 18 months. Despite there being millions of fluorescent lights in operation across the UK, it is essentially a 1930s technology that is energy inefficient and can contain hazardous materials, such as mercury. 

So, like it or not, FM providers will be forced to add lighting to their to-do list.

The good news is that replacing fluorescent lighting can offer a quick win, driving up operational and cost efficiencies and pushing down business carbon emissions and future waste.

Two pervasive types of fluorescent lamps to be phased out are the T8 and T5s. These can be found in everything from schools and offices to older warehouses and even hospital operating theatres.


Fluorescent Lighting Affected in the EU and UK


The EU and the UK government have followed reasonably similar paths in phasing out the various types of fluorescent lamps, although the timescales have differed.  

The EU took the lead in phasing out some models through the SLR Ecodesign Regulation (EU) 2019/2020. This included T12 fluorescent lamps, which were phased out in 2021, to be followed in the UK in September 2023 with the phase-out of T8 lamps.

Other fluorescent lamps are being phased out in the EU this year through the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHs) directive 2011/65/EU, which aims to restrict the use of certain substances, including mercury. Models being phased out through the RoHs directive include compact fluorescent non-integrated lamps and the T5 fluorescent lamps, not previously included within the SLR regulations.

In terms of England, Scotland and Wales, the UK government has recently confirmed the timeframe for their own regulations to come into effect. T5 lamps will no longer be placed on these markets from 1st February 2024 - roughly six months later than the EU.

While there are a number of options open to FM providers moving forward, it is important to be aware of the downsides of persisting with existing lamps, even though there is no legal obligation to change them.

Although existing T5 and T8 lamp stock can continue to be used, availability will be limited, and they are expensive to run, particularly with the cost of electricity so high.

There are also future maintenance and contractual responsibility issues, because when fluorescent lamps eventually fail, replacement products and parts may no longer be available. This will mean FM providers across all markets are likely to face the challenge of managing an increasingly redundant lighting technology.

Facilities managers could view the phasing out of fluorescent lamps as an opportunity to think about the long-term return on their investment, and consider ongoing energy savings, operational efficiency, and the quality of lighting across their facilities.

The range of choices open to FM providers is as follows:


Staying Put


The main challenge with continuing to purchase T5 lamps before they are removed from the market is that sourcing lamps and luminaire components will become harder over time.

Most inverter and control gear production has already been phased out, so if the control gear were to fail, the connected T5 fluorescent lamps would no longer be viable.


Replacing Fluorescent Lamps with Retrofit LEDs


A temptation might be to retain the luminaire and replace the fluorescent lamp with an LED equivalent. Although this could be viewed as a viable compromise, it is not without its risks. The use of replacement LED lamps may require adaptation of the internal wiring of the luminaire to ensure correct operation. Considerations such as risk assessments and safety testing should be made, otherwise general and emergency lighting may no longer be safety compliant.

Facilities teams would also need to ensure that any lighting design requirements are still met for both general and emergency lighting. LED replacement lamps alone are also significantly (20-30 per cent) less energy efficient than replacing with a new or remanufactured LED replacement fitting.

Adapted LED lamps will typically have shorter lifetimes and often offer shorter warranties, creating a greater need for replacement and disposal, with associated monetary costs and environmental impact.


Full LED Replacement


Factoring in future availability, safety, and energy efficiency considerations, now is probably the right time to fully replace fluorescent lighting with LEDs. With the cost of energy so high, the electricity savings alone should typically deliver a return on investment, in some cases, in just three years, while improved operational efficiencies will also reduce carbon output.

FM providers should be aware that there can be significant variance in LED luminaire specification, component quality, service, and support. Check the credentials and track record of the company providing the product, and look for suppliers using reputable component manufacturers with third party certification such as ENEC, CB or equivalent.

Good lighting design should always be essential, whatever system you choose. Lighting design makes a vital contribution to creating more productive, aesthetically pleasing and visually comfortable spaces.

Crucially, if designed and implemented alongside an effective controls system, efficient LED lighting should deliver huge energy and carbon savings and take your organisation another step on their journey to net-zero and operational efficiency improvement.

Picture: a photograph of Lee Tupman. Image Credit: Whitecroft Lighting

Article written by Lee Tupman | Published 07 March 2023


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