Ban on MR16 bulbs - what's the problem?

There has been quite a bit of hysteria about the proposed ban of the low voltage MR16 bulbs (or lamps as the industry calls them) from 2013. But as a lighting designer I’m left wondering why!  

Firstly, the draft EU legislation proposes to ban only the least efficient MR16 lamps from September 2013. The better performing versions eg. with ifrared coating (IRC versions) will not be banned until 2016.

These IRC lamps use about 30% less energy than standard lamps by reflecting the waste heat back to the lamp filament. This means the heat remains within the lamp so that less energy is used to maintain the nominal operating temperature.  The cost, at about £3 or £4, is not prohibitive either.

Secondly, the LED retrofit lamp market continues to develop rapidly.  By 2016 I expect this market to be considerably more mature.  There are already a number of LED retrofit lamps available today (although the light output still doesn't match that of the 50w MR16 lamps) and this year alone will see a huge number of new lamps being launched.  At the moment they are considerably more expensive than low voltage versions but these prices will inevitably come down.

The cost of energy is rising and is expected to continue to rise.  If you need to replace 35w or 50w MR16 lamps now, my advice at the moment is to buy IRC lamps with the view to replacing them with LED retrofit lamps in the future.