India is projected to embrace smart LED lights

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The young and tech savvy Indian consumers are known to quickly adopt the latest technology and global trends. This is true for the smart LED lighting segment as well. In this article, we delve into what the players in the market think about the future of smart lighting.

By Priyanka Kumari

India’s lighting industry grew steadily at a rate of over 10 per cent in the last few years, and is projected to grow between 13 and 15 per cent annually by 2020. This is thanks to the government’s favourable policies and incentives. According to ELCOMA (Electric Lamp and Manufacturers’ Association of India), the Indian LED industry recorded a revenue of ₹ 20 billion in 2013, which jumped to ₹ 120 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach ₹ 370 billion by 2020. There is demand from new areas driven by the rural electrification policy, rapid infrastructure development including roads and other public projects, the increase in manufacturing and urban housing, falling prices of LEDs, and the need for better light quality and enhanced energy efficiency.

According to a report by Grand View Research Inc., the global LED lighting market is estimated to be worth US$ 108.99 billion by 2025, registering a CAGR of 14.4 per cent during 2017 to 2025. Significant developments in energy-saving capabilities, the introduction of standard deviation colour matching, and the much higher life span compared to CFL and incandescent lighting have driven up the demand for LEDs. In addition, the introduction of smart or intelligent lighting with its many applications in the residential, commercial and industrial domains has accelerated the market’s growth.

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The smart lighting market
As per research firm, MarketsandMarkets, the global smart lighting market is predicted to grow from US$ 7.93 billion in 2018 to US$ 20.98 billion by 2023, registering a CAGR of 21.5 per cent over that period. Key driving factors for growth are the modernisation and development of infrastructure for smart cities, the demand for intelligent solutions for street lighting systems, the need for energy-efficient lighting systems, and the increased adoption of LEDs due to falling prices and growing awareness about energy savings among consumers and governments worldwide.

Smart lighting: Types and features
Smart light technology uses high efficiency fixtures and automated controls that are capable of adjusting to the occupancy levels, daylight and weather conditions. Smart lights switch on as soon as someone enters a room and their colour can also change. The smart lighting market is broadly divided into the hardware, software and services segments. Based on the application, the market is further segregated into indoor, outdoor, architectural and public lighting. And it can be classified as wired and wireless based on the communication technology used. Finally, the market is classified into new installations and retrofit installations.

The indoor lighting segment covers the residential, commercial and industrial domains and is expected to seize a large share of the overall market. In residential usage, besides wireless technology, smart lighting offers solutions that can be installed either according to the needs of a particular room or the entire house. In commercial applications, including offices, malls, retail stores and the hospitality sector, smart lighting is used to optimise the light levels to suit various needs and maintain energy efficiency, as energy consumption is the main concern here.

A smart lighting option with wireless technology doesn’t need cables, making it cost effective. Developments in wireless technologies will drive the growth of the smart lighting market for wireless communication protocols. The user can operate and control the switching timings, luminescence and colour of the light from a smartphone or personal computer.
With growing awareness among tech savvy consumers, smart lighting systems are likely to be quickly accepted by consumers as an integral part of the digitised household as well as commercial spaces. Given the increased construction activities and rising expenditure by the government on public infrastructure, the Indian market for automated and energy efficient lighting is expected to grow substantially in the coming years.

The industry speaks
While LEDs have been quite successful, the market has been disrupted by the introduction of newer technologies including Power over Ethernet (PoE), Internet of Things (IoT), light fidelity (Li-Fi) and human-centric lighting. In this article, we bring readers the views from some of the key industry players in India, on the reigning market trends, innovations, projects undertaken, future plans, as well as the challenges and solutions for the industry.

New technologies
Rajesh Uttamchandani, director, Syska Group, mentions connectivity, IoT, built-in light sources, new power technologies and healthier lighting as the different innovations in LED lighting. He says, “The latest innovation is PoE, which provides electricity through data cables. The next frontier in lighting is smart controls. With Alexa and Google Assistant getting into daily chores, LED lights are now available as Li-Fi and Wi-Fi connected bulbs. Healthier lighting options influence work productivity, learning capabilities and quick recovery from illness—all by adjusting the brightness and colour of the light during the day, to mimic natural light.” Pranav Tyagi, vice president – SENSEnuts, EIGEN Technologies Pvt Ltd (an IoT and smart lighting business), says, “In addition to PoE and Li-Fi, we are betting big on IoT using our SENSEnuts Mesh Connectivity technology as this will help most of the LED applications.”
Anil Bhasin, president, Havells India Pvt Ltd, says, “PoE refers to using an Ethernet cable to power the luminaires and transmit data between the luminaire and the control software. It uses sensors mounted on light fittings for predictive analysis of energy consumption. Automatic on/off, movement detection, occupancy alarms and daylight harvesting, among other features, can save a lot of energy and increase productivity.” He adds that though the price of the end product will be higher in comparison to many existing products, but looking at the long term payback period, cost savings will be much higher than what customers get now, especially in terms of energy consumption.

Used more for indoor lighting, PoE’s major benefits are energy savings, space optimisation, productivity enhancement and security alerts, Bhasin says. While intelligent analytics can switch the air conditioning to latent mode when the room is not occupied, the sensors can alert the office admin that despite the conference room being booked, it is not occupied and can be allocated to the next person who needs it. Havells is looking at transfer of technology, and is in active talks with a leading solutions provider from Europe for this, Bhasin adds.
Sumit Joshi, vice chairman and MD, Philips Lighting India, observes that connected lighting enables employees to use their smartphones to control lighting and air conditioning. It allows building managers to monitor and analyse building usage data in real-time, enabling them to identify efficiencies and control facilities like air conditioning, heating and meeting room availability. He says, “We see an increasing demand for linear solutions that can be aligned with furniture to eliminate the need for task lighting. The use of prefabricated materials to construct office buildings has increased demand for lighting that can be installed easily and quickly.” With increasing real estate prices, building managers are trying to enhance space optimisation by lowering the ceiling height to make room for more floors within the same building. Therefore, lighting must be optimised accordingly, to ensure good illumination, he explains.

Tushar Gupta, executive director, NTL Lemnis, says, “Sensors are increasingly taking over the operation of LED controls. Some examples are auto dimming (depending on the need and availability of natural light), motion and occupancy sensors, etc.” He adds that fixtures and LEDs should be selected on the basis of correlated colour temperature (CCT), colour rendering index (CRI) and standard deviation colour matching (SDCM). These technologies are important to ensure maximum natural light while designing a space, he believes.
Explaining Li-Fi, Anuj Dhir, vice president and business head, commercial lighting business, Wipro Lighting, says, “It is a high-speed, bi-directional, fully networked, wireless communication that uses visible light instead of radio frequencies, and offers greater security, data speeds and densities to support robust and reliable wireless networks to complement and enhance existing cellular and Wi-Fi networks.” Li-Fi can lead to a business model such as Lighting-as-a-Service (LaaS), which will bundle lighting and bandwidth, Dhir observes. The directionality of light propagation can effectively reduce interference in heavily populated offices. Wireless offloading to Li-Fi releases spectrum for connecting other devices. Dhir informs that Wipro promotes this technology on its Internet of Lighting (IoL) platform and has partnered with pureLiFi, a global provider of Li-Fi technology, to develop applications for wireless communications and lighting markets in Asia.

Dhir adds that the overall user experience can be enhanced with light being used to transmit data to remote desktops with robust security. With no electromagnetic interference and its performance not being affected by MRI scanners, there are opportunities for its use in hospitals as well. In the defence and banking sectors, Li-Fi can ensure secure communications. It also has the capability to apply different security levels to individual lights or a group of lights, allowing sophisticated geo-fencing. In the days to come, it will offer huge benefits for smart cities. Streetlights, building lights and transportation lighting will be able to communicate wirelessly. In the aviation sector, such lights will not interfere with the airplane’s crucial instruments. The cabin’s lighting system could also deliver in-flight entertainment (IFE), duty-free shopping and other communication services. Li-Fi will enable business analytics across all these segments, where high speed connectivity and lighting play crucial roles.
Architects and IoT consultants play an important role in popularising new technologies that are energy efficient and sustainable. Wipro’s R&D team is also working in this direction. Besides the sales and marketing team, its event called ‘Light Shows’, running in metros and in Tier-2 cities in India (based on the company’s Internet of Lighting platform), educates prospective customers about the features and benefits of Li-Fi technology.

Dhir points out that Li-Fi technology uses the unregulated spectrum of visible light (380nm to 750nm) that does not need licensing. Gupta, however, believes that Li-Fi will take some time to become truly all-pervasive, both across the world and in India. He emphasises that many companies are already experimenting with IoT lighting, which can be a game changer in the days to come.

Discussing the Li-Fi market, Joshi says, “In the next five years, we see immense potential in Li-Fi technology. With the advances in speed and efficiency and with cost optimisation, segments like defence, high-end offices and hospitality, among others, will see 8-10 per cent of the market adopting Li-Fi. Of course, this will depend on several factors like government regulations, standardisation, as well as mobile and laptop enablement for Li-Fi.”
Vijay Kumar Gupta, CEO, LEDchip Indus says, “Li-Fi will be the next wave, once the standard protocols are put in place by informal consortia and endorsed by the International Electrotechnical Commission, which is the leading global standards organisation.”
Presenting his views on the growing trend of using human-centric lighting to improve employee productivity, Joshi says, “Such lighting aids in employee well-being and comfort, and is achieved through better lit environments that include ample access to daylight, which is proven to have a positive effect on employee performance.” Human-centric circadian lighting systems incorporate lighting into the everyday work environment, following the sun’s natural pattern —which benefits the occupants by creating a comfortable environment and actually increasing productivity, he explains.

It is scientifically proven that mimicking natural light properties can enhance a person’s sense of well-being and comfort. Hence, according to Gupta of NTL Lemnis, this technology will reign supreme in the lighting segment, across the globe. Mahesh Bellad, director, Online Instruments, Orange LED Plus adds that the industry is becoming more conscious about the impact of lighting on humans. He says, “Products that enhance human performance and comfort will soon be the order of the day.”

The latest product innovations
Philips Hue, an IoT product from Philips Lighting, embeds connected technology and enables home users to control the brightness and colour of the lighting through an app on a smartphone or tablet, even remotely while travelling. It provides the right light for various activities like reading, relaxing, concentrating, sleeping, exercising and entertainment. The Li-Fi capable products can deliver a broadband connection speed of 30Mbps, sufficient to stream several HD quality videos while on video calls. The Interact series of lights, another IoT platform launched in 2018, can generate and upload data to the Interact IoT platform. While Interact City is used for public spaces like roads, streets, pedestrian areas, parks and plazas, Interact Landmark finds applications in architectural lighting. Interact Office is designed for offices and other commercial buildings, Interact Retail is used for large retail and food stores and Interact Sports is intended for stadiums. The company has also launched what it claims is the first-of-its-kind T-shaped LED bulb that can be installed in existing bulb sockets and offers better light distribution compared to a normal LED bulb.

In the connectivity space, Syska has launched Syska Dualite and Tritone bulbs with dimmable three-step manual switching. The company’s Smart Sonic Wi-Fi bulb enables people to use their voice to control the light through Amazon Echo. Once synced with Amazon Echo and other such devices, this smart light responds to a user’s voice commands. A single command like ‘Start my day’ can trigger multiple actions like switching on the bedroom and bathroom lights to turning on the water heater. It is also possible to dim lights while watching the television and set light levels for reading, all without lifting a finger. The Bluetooth connected Rainbow bulb offers more than three million colour options and is controlled by an app.
In façade lighting, Havells has launched Colorscape, which is architectural RGB lighting, for monuments of national repute. StreetComm is the patented intelligent street lighting system from the company which is modular, flexible and can be easily integrated with any city’s existing technology infrastructure. Designed and manufactured indigenously, it is efficient in terms of energy operations and the collection of Big Data.

Besides expanding its experience zones across India, where Orange LED Plus will offer ecologically-advanced LED lighting solutions, the company plans to introduce 23 new models this fiscal year – including large and compact LED ceiling lights for the residential sector and other tailor-made solutions. In addition to over 250 products across the residential, retail, commercial and industrial categories, including both indoor and outdoor lighting, NTL Lemnis is quite strong in the street lighting segment. Focusing on its Pharox brand with plans to capture 5 per cent of the total market by the end of 2020, NTL Lemnis is all set to enhance its channel base.

Key past projects and projections
Reduced energy usage and a quick payback period are what Bhasin predicts will continue to drive the usage of LEDs in India. With the government promoting LED street lighting through the Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), demand will continue to surge over the next five years. Commenting on the high number of streetlights in the country, Bhasin believes that it will take around five years to completely switch to LED lights. By that time, the fixtures installed today will require replacement and the process will continue, he observes. Havells has bagged a major smart city order and is negotiating and bidding for more, Bhasin adds.
Highlighting the demand for connected lighting in street lighting, Ajay Saraf, business head-professional lighting, Havells, says, “This gives us room to place our intelligence-integrated streetlights (ranging from low to high wattage) on Indian roads.” The company foresees high demand for connected lighting (smart panels and downlights) in the indoor commercial sector as well. Havells has got a test order of ₹ 4.5 billion from the North Delhi Municipal Corporation. Besides replacing conventional streetlights for the Guwahati Municipal Corporation with centrally controlled LED streetlights, the company has bagged an order from the rural development and Panchayat Raj wing in Tamil Nadu for 132,000 units. Other key projects in hand include installing streetlights for the Chennai Municipal Corporation and Surat Municipal Corporation.

Saraf says, “The commercial sectors, including ITES, are adopting new-age technologies that are in sync with the overall trend of digitisation.” In this segment, Havells has projects at Tata Steel Jamshedpur, TCS, HPCL, Amazon, Hexaware, Standard Chartered, Citibank, Wells Fargo, BEL and Apollo Tyres, among others. The company’s architectural lights have been used to beautify Delhi’s heritage monuments like Purana Quila and Humayun’s Tomb.
Talking about the growth in the professional lighting segment over the last two to three years, Sukanto Aich, chief marketing officer, Philips Lighting India, says, “We have illuminated Rashtrapati Bhavan, North and South Block of the Central Secretariat and India Gate in New Delhi—all with Philips Color Kinetics dynamic façade lighting solutions.” The company has also implemented several large street lighting projects in Nagpur, Naya Raipur, Hyderabad and Vishakapatnam Smart City, making these cities safer and energy efficient, he says.
EIGEN, which is working on implementing its IoT solutions for smart cities and connected streetlight projects, is also bullish about upcoming smart city projects and the government’s initiatives through EESL. In 2015-16, NTL Lemnis supplied over 15 million bulbs to EESL for various government procurement schemes. While mentioning that Syska’s indoor and outdoor LED lighting installations have been increasing at 20-25 per cent, year on year, Uttamchandani, says, “We believe that we will continue to grow in this space since there are a lot of potential projects in infrastructure, real estate, airports, railways and public service utilities.”

Challenges and solutions
The biggest challenge is to create awareness among consumers about the benefits of using efficient LED lights. Stressing on the sub-standard products that don’t comply with BIS standards, Aich says, “It can pose a significant threat to the sector and to tackle this, the government should strictly enforce compliance to standards.” Highlighting the challenge caused by the initial failure of projects due to lack of sufficient knowledge about new technologies and because of these being wrongly implemented, Tyagi says, “It led to customers taking a risk by investing in new technologies, and when these failed, losing their confidence and investments.”

Talking about Syska’s focus on achieving economies of scale by manufacturing LED products locally, Uttamchandani says that local manufacturers get lower margins and the industry faces intense rivalry from Chinese makers as they are flooding the market with low quality products. Bellad agrees: “The market is mainly driven by price, and the end customer is unable to distinguish between high and low quality products in the absence of technical guidance and product standardisation.” The inability to make LED chips and microchips in India has resulted in more imports and a high cost of production, he adds.

Gupta of LEDchip also stresses that manufacturing in India is more expensive by 10-12 per cent due to the higher cost of funds, the need to hold higher inventory, and poor logistics and productivity. Talking about the challenges on the policy front, he says, “SMD LEDs are in the ITA1 list (nil customs duty) and basic customs duty (BCD) cannot be imposed on them under WTO rules, but the government has increased this to 20 per cent. As a solution, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Electronic Industries Association of India (ELCINA) have suggested that the government should treat LEDs and their components as exports into India. MeitY’s schemes to support manufacturing in India are mired in rules that delay approvals.”

The future
In the words of Bhasin, future buyers of smart lighting will be buying an ecosystem of applications and services, which will be beyond illumination as lighting will intersect with security, sensing, Big Data and advertising. Uttamchandani notes that increased consumption will bring down the prices. The need is to leverage on expertise to drive innovation at affordable costs and offer products that are high on functionality, easy to use and locally relevant.

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