Ring highlights the issue of non compliant bulbs

February 23, 2024
Ring highlights the issue of non compliant bulbs
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Ring has a state of the art lighting laboratory located at its headquarters in Leeds, UK, and while testing a range of bulbs in the industry has found worrying results, including bulbs that are not road legal. 


The laboratory team does not only test Ring and OSRAM’s own products, but also products from other automotive lighting companies, to see how the quality compares and if it meets the legal standards. 

Vehicle bulbs used on the exterior of a vehicle have to comply to ECE Regulation 37 that details exact specifications such as: light output, minimum and maximum levels, so drivers can see safely, and other road users are not dazzled. Filament geometry makes sure the light is directed on the road exactly where it is needed. Voltage, so it is suitable to work in particular vehicles and wattage, so that brightness levels are safe and doesn’t damage wiring. These regulations are in place to ensure that road users are safe. It is illegal to fit light assemblies that carry their own performance approval numbers with bulbs that are not E approved. 

When testing bulbs in the lab, the team use multiple bulbs of the same type from the same brand, to ensure their performance or any issues that occur, are constant, and not just a one off. Included in the testing were bulbs supplied by one company which all exceeded the maximum wattage and lumens levels by a considerable margin, another was more than 26% above maximum lumen output, and the wattage was 49% above maximum. At this level, the bulbs could cause overheating to a vehicle‘s wiring.

In another instance, one of the bulbs was switched on and, after only a few minutes, the chrome end cap showed signs of deterioration. There were also many incidents of bulbs not complying with ECE Regulation 37, non-conformity which makes the bulb not road legal. 

Ring also conducts photometry tests, and from one bulb supplier, all of the bulbs failed because the level was too low – 29.1 lumens versus a minimum limit of 40. For another, four of the ten samples failed photometry on the 5W filament, which was too high. In other instances, bulbs didn’t meet the amber colour requirement, and many had a poor beam pattern, which will directly impact the drivers view of the road.

Managing Director at Ring Automotive, a subsidiary of ams-OSRAM, Andy Gratton, commented,  “We regularly test ranges of halogen and auxiliary bulbs sold in the automotive industry. As a market leading manufacturer, we have a responsibility to the aftermarket to ensure that distributors and technicians are clear and confident that the bulbs they sell, and subsequently fit to consumers vehicles, are safe, compliant and produced to the highest quality standards. These are safety critical products and, as such, regulation compliance is not optional.”

Andy added, “We also need to consider the wider impact this issue has on the independent automotive aftermarket. If motor factors and technicians are selling and/or fitting non-compliant products and are unaware, they risk undermining some of the work done should a road user be penalised for non-compliant lighting in the event of an incident.”

Andy concluded; “Our findings represent a real challenge for the independent automotive aftermarket. Whilst bulbs are low cost relative to other ‘hard parts’, they remain a safety critical component of a vehicle and should be considered as such. There really is no excuse, given the relative cost, for road users to be subjected to a non-compliant product. We remain committed to improving road user safety in the UK and will ensure that the issues identified follow the correct reporting procedure.”
 
Ring Automotive
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