LED Lighting is Here to Stay

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Light emitting diode (LED) lighting has started to gain popularity in the Indian market and soon it may rule the lighting industry. In the present scenario, LED is seen as an expensive option but if things go right and government encourages the LED players, then in the next couple of years, we shall witness tremendous growth in this segment. According to S K Neogi, director, new product development, Phonix Lamps, “India has a lighting market of over US$ 1.5 billion, which is grow­ing 15 per cent a year and LED-based products will have 4-5 per cent of lighting market in the next five years.”

By Atanu Kumar Das

Thursday, March 19, 2009: LED lighting is seen as an expensive option due manufacturing constraints and a majority of products are being imported. Given the greatly reduced power consumption factor of LEDs, widespread use of this technol­ogy has the potential to majorly ease the energy burden of the economy. In light of this fact, the government should provide adequate incentives to manufacturers that facilitates reduction of manufacturing costs, which can, in turn, lead to reduction of prices.

Potential aplenty

Although there is very less usage of LED today, but whoever is using it is quite amazed by its performace. If we look at the global market like US or Europe, LED has become one of the best selling lighting options both for enterprises as well as home segment. In India too, manufacturers and distributors feel as LED has the potential to save energy, it has more life than other lighting products. It will be just a matter of time before people start realising its benefits.

M Dayal, CEO, Filtronics, says, “Customers are also surprised at the performance of LED lighting systems, their energy consumption and, hence, the savings, along with long opera­tional life. However, they are reluctant to invest in these systems due to high initial costs.” Customers in India expect a payback period of about two to three years. With the present costs of LED, it is not possible to recover cost in such a short period. LEDs are an investment oriented application and depending on application, may require at least five to six years in payback period. “Deployed on a largescale, LED has the potential to tremendously reduce pollution, save energy and save financial resources,” he adds.

The main advantage of LED lighting is its power-saving potential. As power price increases by the day, LED lighting makes commercial as well as residen­tial usage viable as it saves maximum power and it is a reliable investment as it is a lasting product. However, govern­ment should start using LED lighting products in government institutions as it will help them save power.” says Niraj Ajmera, CEO, Asian Electronics.

After incandescent and fluorescent lighting, LED is being used in an in­creasing number of applications. The two technologies—semiconductor and lighting—are now gently merging to provide energy-efficient, environ­mental-friendly, customer-friendly and exceptionally long-life lighting solution. LED lighting consumes 50 per cent less energy than traditional sources. It is four times more energy efficient than regular light bulbs because a larger part of the energy is converted into light than is lost as heat. There is no glass or filament as in a light bulb, so LED lighting products have a phenomenally long lifespan.

A major breakthrough

LED lighting also covers the entire colour spectrum of visible light, which enables LED lights to change from one colour or tone to another with just one touch of a control panel. In fact, if we talk about the future of lighting industry, then we can say that the advent of LED lighting is a major breakthrough for the lighting industry. As opposed to traditional light sources such as incandescent bulbs and fluorescent light sources, LED light sources can serve multiple applications, which in turn, will create new opportuni­ties for lighting manufacturers by way of new markets.

LED lighting is also considered to be a major technology for lighting. The mile­stones in efficiency that were supposed to be reached in 2010 have already been surpassed. “With billions of dollars of research going into the removal of defect density in chip fabrication, the efficiencies shot up from 35 lumens-per-watt (LPW) to 150 LPW in the labs and to 100 LPW in commercial market. The theoretical efficiency of 225 LPW looks within the visibilit,” says K C K Arya Gupta, CMD, Kwality Electricals Pvt Ltd.

Long way to go

LED lighting is definitely here to stay as it is more energy efficient, environ­ment-friendly and has long operational life. It has wide applications in general and industrial lighting, street lights and advertising. However, presently, it is in its infancy in India. Systems available in local market fabricated by local manufacturers are available, but the consumer has no way of knowing if due care has been taken in the design of the unit. The challenge is to produce a system which is cost effective with­out any compromise in performance.

“Consumers should go with reputed brands so that they are assured of their money’s worth. A properly fabricated system may cost almost twice or thrice the local market price. Price will also depend on application as general and industrial lighting applications will cost more. We feel that the market will grow in the next five years as people would become more aware of LED lighting and it would hopefully cost less,” adds Dayal.

Whilst LED is allowed to be import­ed at zero customs duty, the auxiliary components required for the complete unit still carry customs duty on them. for example, metal clad PCBs, thermal compounds, aluminum heatsinks and plastic lenses with the max duty at 12.5 per cent. “This is a major cost burden when it comes to designing the system. Also infra-red reflow soldering machines required for high volume as­sembly of the LED unit are an expensive setup and, thus, the final product cost will rise,” says Dayal.

LED mounted on metal clad PCB should also be allowed to be imported at zero duty. “Government should wave off or reduce duty and taxes on such en­ergy-efficient products so that we all can benefit in the long run. An exemption or reduction in excise duty and sales tax will also help to control cost of the final product,” adds Dayal.

Incentives, if any, for LED lighting will fall directly under Energy Conserva­tion Act. The government is not yet well focussed, since the act is yet to be en­forced in the right earnest. The manufac­turing sectors in India has no precedent of getting incentives, so same is ruled out for the LED lighting too. “Government could encourage setting up of the LED epiwafer and chip through 150 per cent capital subsidy for every reactor setup. Only then would the industry make any effort to go through the hi-tech learning curve, braving the uncertainties and fast-moving specification targets. This would make the LED chips available at low-cost to produce low-cost applica­tions and create demand for the use of LED lamps,” Gupta adds.

Positives of LED

  • More power to light instead of heat
  • Reduced power consumption by up to 70 per cent in comparison to conventional lights
  • It lasts for more than 50,000 hours. Virtually, no replacement
  • Compatible with daylight/PIR sensor for daylight harvesting or on/off operations. Eligible for carbon credits
  • Helps to obtain LEEDs certification.Pure light-excellent visual acuity.Ideal for CCTV covered areas
  • No light pollution. Very useful with solar panel where no mains supply exists;also in rural areas, remote parking areas and primeters

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine

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