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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Light bulbs and fixtures - safe or not? An audit by the Trade Inspection Authority

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Light bulbs and fixtures - safe or not? An audit by the Trade Inspection Authority
  • Incorrect product markings are the most frequent reason behind reservations concerning traditional light bulbs and lighting fixtures.
  • The Trade Inspection Authority has controlled 300 different types of products, questioning 35.3% of them.
  • Some of the reservations concerned safety of use.

In Q2 2018, inspectors of the Trade Inspection Authority controlled 300 product types – 258 lighting fixtures (various kinds of lamp shades) and 42 light sources (traditional light bulbs with filaments, currently sold as special-purpose shock-resistant bulbs). They controlled 92 shops, supermarkets and wholesale facilities.

The inspectors had reservations concerning 35.3% of the products (106 models). 88.6% of the reservations were related to improper product marking, e.g. insufficient information required for safe operation of goods, missing manufacturer or importer name, as well as incorrect CE or declaration of conformity markings.

In 25 cases, the inspectors were not satisfied with the quality of the products’ finish. They were raising such issues as, inter alia: incorrect insulation, improper protection against penetration by liquids and moisture, sharp edges that touch the wiring, or missing elements that would prevent the user from direct contact with electricity.

After conducting laboratory tests, the inspectors questioned 4 lighting fixtures. Some of them failed to offer the IP (Ingress Protection) rating declared. The parameter describes the degree of protection that the housing offers against ingress of foreign bodies and water. An insufficient degree of protection creates the risk of a short-circuit or an electric shock. In the remaining cases, the manufacturers used wiring whose type was not correct for outdoor lighting fixtures.

Many economic operators voluntarily eliminated the irregularities identified. Controllers from voivodeship branches of the Trade Inspection Authority issued two decisions temporarily banning specific products from the market. The President of UOKiK initiated 11 proceedings concerning trading products that failed to conform to applicable requirements. In several cases, explanatory proceedings are on-going.

Farewell to traditional light bulbs

The European Union has been gradually withdrawing traditional light bulbs from production since 2009. Their halogen and then LED substitutes are to reduce CO2 emissions and electricity bills alike. LED light sources are more costly, but they should last up to several years. On 1 September 2009, the EU finished production of traditional 100 Watt bulbs. Those with the 75 Watt rating followed suit a year later. In 2011, in turn, 60 Watt bulbs were withdrawn from production. 2012 saw the withdrawal of those with 40 and 25 Watt ratings. The old inventories, however, could still be offered for sale. On 1 September 2018, the European Union banned the production of halogen bulbs. EU regulations permit the sale of this type of light bulbs until their inventories have been used up. Traditional bulbs are still available for purchase, however, as “special-purpose”, “shock-resistant” or “industrial use” products.

Consumers, beware!

  • Verify if the lighting fixture specifies the type of the bulb to be used and its maximum power rating.
  • Read all information about the colour temperature of the light emitted by a given source, as stated on the packaging. Warm light is recommended for rooms used for relaxation purposes. Cold light facilitates concentration and should be used, for instance, in offices.
  • Make sure that the light bulb or the fixture bears the CE marking - this is the manufacturer’s declaration stating that it is safe.
  • The product, its operating manual, warranty card or a different document attached should state the name, model and lot number of the product, as well as details of the manufacturer or importer.
  • Indoor lighting fixtures must not be installed outdoors - buy only those that match your intended use.
  • Before finalizing the purchase, make sure that the product is not damaged, that wiring and switches are installed firmly and that the fixture is stable.
  • When in doubt, contact the Trade Inspection Authority.

Consumer support:

Phone: +48 801 440 220 or +48 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
Email: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer ombudsmen – in your town or district

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office 
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warsaw
Phone: +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
Email: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

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