Goodbye switchstart, hello high frequency

Thorn has launched a major energy saving campaign, urging small and medium electrical contractors to change from installing glow-starter switch (magnetic) driven fluorescent fittings to high frequency (HF) electronic versions, which consume about 20% less power and hence reduce CO2 emissions.

The industry-leading campaign, Goodbye Switchstart – Hello High Frequency, aims to raise awareness that HF lighting preserves the environment and saves users money.

Angus Shield, UK marketing director for Thorn, said that HF electronic ballasts have been used in Thorn fluorescent lamp luminaires for some 20 years. “If our customers had switched in the late 1980s, the 440,000 tonnes of CO2 saved would have been equivalent to taking 80,000 cars off the road. More than £100m in energy costs has been wasted. This is why we are stepping up our commitment to cut CO2 emissions and asking contractors to re-examine their purchase decisions. In the past, HF products have been more expensive, but that has suddenly changed. With today’s rocketing energy prices, Thorn reducing the price differential between the two types, and Part L legislation there really is no argument now for not switching.”

The Lighting Industry Federation (Technical Statement 38) has calculated the total costs to the user associated with buying and operating the two lamp control technologies, and found a significant difference. Typically the extra initial cost of the HF solution is paid back within the first year and through life costs of the HF installation are only 80% of the magnetic. 

The energy saving initiative highlights the top seven ranges in the company’s LumExpress contractor offer, including the world’s best selling fluorescent fitting, the Popular Pack. Thorn estimates that if UK contractors replaced their switch start purchases of these lines with the HF equivalent, they would save users £3.3 million in annual energy costs, and about 14,000 tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to the emissions from 2,800 cars.

As part of the campaign, Thorn has found that while most contractors involved in project business have already embraced the dimming and operational capabilities of HF, many smaller contractors are doing little to change buying patterns.

According to Shield this is mainly due to inadequate briefing and too much emphasis on capital cost: “Hence this information programme encourages the smaller contractor to make a difference. And they can. Every luminaire changed is a step in the right direction to protect energy resources and the quality of our environment so they can be enjoyed by future generations. The biggest waste of energy in lighting today is ignorance.”

The awareness raising activities include advertisements, trade counter posters and giveaways, on-pack stickers, email marketing and a HF Switch truck that travels to wholesalers.

Additional benefits of using luminaires with electronic HF control gear include instant start, silent and flicker free operation, extended lamp life and lumen maintenance, downsized air conditioning equipment, automatic shutdown with lamp failure and fewer components, hence less waste.

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