The European Union has declared war on incandescent lamps. Over the course of a few years, classic household lamps (“light bulbs”) have disappeared little by little. They may no longer be produced or marketed new in the countries of the European Union. The ban was justified by the poor efficiency of these light sources, which is at around ten per cent. Since September, even halogen lamps, which are marginally better, have been threatened with extinction. Retailers are allowed to sell existing stock, but there’ll be no new supplies. Is that a reason to be concerned about the supply of halogen lamps for car headlights?

The clear answer is no. Reports were mostly inaccurate. Not all halogen lamps have seen the end of their days, and certainly not car lamps. For use on wheels, all incandescent lamps may still be produced and sold – so not even just halogen lamps. Car lights are completely exempt from the phase-out of incandescent lamps in the EU. By the way, it’s not only vehicle lights that are an exception. The list also includes some types of small halogen lamps for 230 V line voltage.

A ban would be pointless

So why is the EU so generous when it comes to car lamps? For one, it’s because virtually no energy can be saved with car lights. A fall in consumption can only be proven in purely mathematical terms and therefore in theory. In our heads we still believe that headlights put a heavy load on the generator. But it has to cope with much higher loads. The rear window heater, fans and on-board electronics consume many times more.

Another important reason for the indefinite availability of incandescent lamps for cars is the lack of alternatives. Unlike in homes, they cannot simply be replaced with energy-saving lamps or LED versions with the same bases. In most countries for each lighting function on a car there is only one type of lamp that is allowed and approved. It’s not just about fitting something somehow into the base. Therefore, LED retrofits are not allowed on the outside of the car. Besides, they usually consume exactly the same amount of power as incandescent lamps. If they didn’t they would trigger monitoring circuits such as indicator controls, or a warning signal for a failed lamp. So using them would not result in any energy savings.

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