European Lighting Regulations

Written by david dunning
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Lighting is obviously used in many different environments--in the home, in the workplace and on the highway, to name but a few--and throughout Europe there is extensive legislation relating to all aspects of lighting. Inefficient, incandescent light bulbs, for example, were banned in September 2009 in an effort to enforce energy efficiency standards. This change, alone, is expected to save 11 billion euros a year.

Domestic & Industrial Lighting

According to the International Energy Agency, lighting in Europe accounts for 14% of total electricity consumption across the continent. The European Union (EU) is committed to a strategy--known as "20-20-20"--of reducing energy use and atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions by 20% by 2020 and increasing the amount of energy produced from renewable resources by the same percentage in that time frame. Legislation, such as the EU Eco Design of Energy Using Products Directive and energy efficiency standards developed by CENELEC (Comité Européen de Normalisation Électrotechnique) and other bodies is leading to the phasing out of inefficient lighting, while the Health & Safety Regulations 1992 deal specifically with lighting in the workplace.

Motor Vehicle Lighting

In the United Kingdom, motor vehicle lighting falls under the auspices of the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989 (amended in 1994 and 2005), a mass of legislation defining the type, position and colour of lighting that is permitted on the front, rear and sides of a motor vehicle. It is, for example, illegal to fit a vehicle with a blue warning lamp or beacon, or-- with certain exceptions--a red light of any kind on the front. Failure to comply with the regulations can result in a fixed penalty fine, endorsement of an offender's driving licence and prosecution.

Pedal Cycle Lighting

Pedal cycle lighting in the UK is also covered by the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989, which stipulate the lights and reflectors that must be fitted to a pedal cycle--and maintained in proper working order--if it is ridden on the public highway at night. The Regulations also state that cyclists must switch their lights on during the day if visibility is seriously reduced--by mist, fog or other inclement weather, for example--although they can obviously only do so if lights are already fitted. British Standard BS6102/3 and equivalent European Community (EC) standards have been amended in recent years so that LED ("Light Emitting Diode") pedal cycle lamps are legal for use on European roads.

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