South Africa moves to ban fluorescent and incandescent light bulb sales

Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel has given final notice for new compulsory specifications that will effectively ban sales of regular fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs for general household use.

The proposed specifications were published for public comment on 1 March 2021, and South Africans had until 30 April 2021 to make submissions.

Patel had said in August last year that he expected the final regulations to be published in the Government Gazette by September.

His department missed that deadline and published the regulations on 24 May 2023.

The new specifications aim to advance the safety, performance, and energy efficiency of lightbulbs sold in South Africa by eliminating inefficient and environmentally damaging lighting products.

Although it doesn’t single out specific technologies like fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, it sets minimum energy-efficiency standards that these lamps can’t currently reach.

The first phase of the new rules kicks in 12 months from publication and sets a minimum luminous efficacy of 90 lumens per watt (lm/W) for regular electric lamps.

Depending on specific lamp characteristics, this minimum efficiency may be reduced by up to 25% — to 67.5 lm/W.

The specifications refer to these as “correction factors”.

Although this could allow some compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to be sold, they would have to be among the more efficient the technology has to offer.

The second phase of the new rules begins three years from publication and sets the minimum efficiency to 105 lm/W.

Correction factors may reduce this to a minimum of 78.75 lm/W.

In January 2022, MyBroadband compared various incandescent, fluorescent, and LED light bulbs commonly available in South Africa, testing their power draw and energy efficiency.

Test results revealed that all the light bulb types aligned with the rated values specified on their packaging.

Nearly all the LED and CFL bulbs tested achieved greater brightness and luminous efficiency than the specifications on their boxes suggested.

The results of our tests are summarized in the table below. It also shows that CFLs and incandescent lamps don’t currently meet South Africa’s new minimum efficiency standards.

Light bulb Efficiency
Bulb Lumens Advertised (lm) Power Draw (W) Lumens Measured (lm) Efficiency (lm/W)
PnP 9W LED 765 9.3 956 103
PnP 5W LED 420 5.1 453 89
OSRAM 14W CFL 810 15.1 1058 70
PnP 18W CFL 990 17.2 1059 62
PnP 14W CFL 750 14.6 803 55
Eurolux 20W CFL 1000 15.8 743 47
Generic 100W Incandescent 1200 94.6 1092 12
Tunsram 40W Spherical Incandescent 400 33.3 234 7

Regarding the correction factors, the compulsory specifications stipulate that they are additive up to a maximum of 25%.

For example, directional lamps have a correction factor of –15%, and colour-tuneable bulbs have a correction factor of –10%.

Directional lamps that are also colour-tuneable would have a total correction factor of –25%.

If they also have another characteristic qualifying them for an additional correction factor, it would not take them over –25%.

Lamps that let end-users change the spectrum and beam angle of the emitted light, thus changing the values for luminous flux, CRI-Ra, or colour temperature, will be evaluated using the reference control settings.

According to the specifications, the reference control settings are the manufacturer’s out-of-box and factory default values.

If the installation procedure foresees an automatic software update during initial installation, or if the user can perform such an update, the resulting change in settings (if any) will be considered.

Lamps that can change their directional or non-directional status will also be evaluated using the reference control settings.

The table of correction factors from the compulsory specifications is reproduced below.

Lamp characteristics Correction factor (C)
Luminous flux Φ (lm) below 400 lm -10%
Directional lamps -15%
Colour-tuneable lamps (CTL) -10%
Connected LED Lamps – rated luminous flux Φ (lm):
60 lm ≤ Φ ≤ 300 lm -15%
300 lm < Φ ≤ 650 lm -10%
650 lm < Φ ≤ 1200 lm -7.5%
1200 lm < Φ ≤ 2000 lm -5.0%
2000 lm < Φ ≤ 3300 lm -2.5%

South Africa’s new compulsory specifications include exceptions for most applications outside general household lighting use. These are:

  • If the primary purpose of the light is not general illumination and the product is prominently marked as such, e.g. UV lights for curing and drying, and lamps for horticulture, medical applications and aquariums;
  • Image capture and image projection;
  • Signalling;
  • Lamps like studio lighting, special effects lighting, and theatre lighting;
  • Lighting with dedicated filtering for photosensitive patients and museum exhibits;
  • Lighting is required only for emergencies;
  • Incandescent and halogen heating lamps to keep ambient temperatures above 120°Cm, with specific characteristics;
  • Reference lamps used for national measurement standards;
  • Light sources for battery-operated products, including but not limited to mobile phones, torches, camping lights, toys, armbands, solar-powered garden lamps, bicycle lights and other non-motorized vehicle lights, etc.; and
  • Halogen light sources with R7s cap and luminous flux ≤ 2,700 lumens or > 12,000 lumens.

Energy efficiency compulsory standards for lamps

Safety compulsory standards for lamps

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South Africa moves to ban fluorescent and incandescent light bulb sales