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New EU Regulations Will Have Devastating Consequences on All Stage Lighting

Stage Directions • Industry News • April 17, 2018


The UK’s Association of Lighting Designers (ALD), as part of its Save Stage Lighting Campaign that is warning of the devastating effects the proposed EU 2020 Lighting regulations would have on production lighting, has released a clear, concise guide to those regulations.

The Proposed 2020 EU Lighting Regulations – A Primer collects a great deal of relevant information about the existing regulations (EU1194/2012), the regulations proposed for September 2020 as part of the EU’s Ecodesign Working Plan 2016-2019, and the key differences between them together in one place. It can be found online here:

In particular the Primer makes it clear that the effects of these new regulations will not just be on tungsten lighting, as was supposed early on and still seems to be assumed by many, but rather on practically all specialist lighting fixtures used for show lighting, whether tungsten, arc, or LED. Worse, manufacturers do not expect to be able to make many types of fixtures that do meet the new standards in time, if at all, because of limitations imposed by physics and optical design.

“The deeper you read into these proposed regulations, the more alarming the threat becomes,” comments multiple award-winning lighting designer Paule Constable, a member of the ALD’s Save Stage Lighting campaign. “The new rules are clearly written for domestic and industrial lighting, and while the goal of reduced energy consumption is of course laudable, they show no understanding of the tools we use or the way we work. If implemented as written, the effect will be devastating for show lighting not just in the UK but across Europe, not just for new shows but for existing shows and shows that return in rep, not just for big theatres but for venues and performances of all types, scales and sizes. We thought this was about tungsten; it’s not about tungsten. It’s about an imminent threat to every tool we use. You should know about it, and you should start doing something about it. This Primer will give you the information to let you do both.”

ALD members will receive a paper copy of the Primer with the forthcoming issue of the ALD’s Focus magazine. But everyone, ALD members or not, can read more about the Save Stage Lighting Campaign and immediately download the Primer from the ALD website:

The ALD is also encouraging everyone to read the Call to Arms that trade association PLASA has issued to its members explaining the situation here:

The ALD website also includes information about further action individuals can take, including contacting their MP and MEP to ensure that they are aware of the situation and also calling for the EU to exempt stage and performance lighting equipment from these regulations.


1. New regulations proposed for September 2020 will impose a minimum efficiency of 85 lumens per watt and a maximum standby power of 0.5W on all light sources (lamps or self-contained fixtures) to be sold in the EU.

2. The existing version of these regulations includes an exemption for stage lighting. The new regulations do not (though they do include exemptions for video projection, and suggest an exemption for stage lighting that appears to have mis-understood the light levels/power requirements of most theatrical lighting fixtures).

3. No tungsten fixtures meet this requirement. Many LED-based entertainment fixtures do not meet those requirements. After September 2020 no new stocks of such equipment can be supplied to the market in the EU.

4. Manufacturers suggest that the limits of optical design and LED efficiency mean that they will not be able to create certain types of fixtures that do meet the requirements by September 2020.

5. Nothing in the rules stops you from using existing fixtures. But bulbs can’t be supplied to market and once you can’t get new bulbs, existing fixtures become worthless – effectively scrap. It is unknown how long existing stocks of bulbs will remain available.

6. Replacing your existing fixtures might well mean replacing your entire dimming and control infrastructure.

7. All this for power savings that might be relatively small, given the way entertainment lighting is typically used, and will likely be far outweighed by the scrap created and the energy required to manufacture and distribute new fixtures.

8. Important tools from a lighting designer’s toolkit will be lost within the EU, some forever.

9. This will dramatically affect performance venues and productions of all types and scales, including new and existing (long-running, long-standing rep) productions

10. There are very few precedents for technologies to be banned if they are not unsafe to use.

It is important to keep the discussion going and bring more voices forward discussing how it will affect both the practice of lighting designers and practicalities and costs that venues will face should this go through.

The Save Stage Lighting Campaign can be found:
Twitter:      @SaveLighting

Further information from the ALD:

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