What Led India Towards LEDs?


Governments of many countries, such as Indonesia, China, and India, are actively focusing on modernizing their infrastructure, thus pushing up the requirement for LED lighting. Additionally, governments of the U.A.E., India, Austria, China, Spain, and Singapore are making huge investments in smart city projects, which is also propelling the advance of the LED lighting market. For example, the Indian government has recently announced plans to develop 100 smart cities by 2030 and granted approval to an investment of nearly $15 billion for this project.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the progress of the LED lighting market, with major economies, such as the U.S., China, India, and several in Europe, witnessing the closing down of construction sites and postponement of residential projects. Moreover, the implementation of restrictions on the movement of goods caused severe supply chain disruptions, which, in turn, affected manufacturing operations.

Asia-Pacific LED lighting market is expected to reach $58.0 billion by 2024, registering a CAGR of 13.0%, during the forecast period, the growth in the market can be attributed to the growing number of smart cities, high energy efficiency, and rising government initiatives, globally.

Leading India Towards LEDs

India is in a zenith where urbanisation is in a pinnacle and therefore, advance technologies are propelling the goals of the country. With tech jobs is giving new opportunities to ‘Young-India’, hence research alongside to soothe the massive population through digitalization is the new way out. LED market in India has been for decades specifically the lighting market in India has seen blossoms across decades, complementing many sector including vast transformation across outdoor, civic and indoor sectors. Though the contemporary lights has now become obsolete given the world moving towards more ‘Sustainable Energy’ and LEDs seems to have suffice the requirements. Today, LEDs across India are ubiquitous and is enriching research to a smarter world. But what is needed for the Indian LED sector to further prosper as technology is getting more integrated, embedded and connected.

1. Higher Efficiency/Lower Cost:

In the early stages of LED development, industry experts often quoted Haitz’s law: “Every decade, the amount of light generated by LEDs increases by a factor of 20, and the cost per lumen falls by a factor of 10.” Although this trend appears to be leveling off in 2016, improvements continue. We are seeing streamlined mechanical and optical designs coupled with more efficient LED packages (including phosphors) and more efficient electronic drivers.

2. Better Color:

Remember the very cool bluish white color of the early LED replacement lamps? Even the early holiday string sets were heavily weighted with bluish overtones. Today’s LEDs provide pleasing cool to warm tones, along with enhanced red and white, while maintaining high efficacy levels. A good example is the new GE TriGain phosphor which offers improved narrow red band performance, resulting in reds that are sharper and cleaner, enabling richer picture quality and increasing the color range for backlit displays.

3. Smarter Lighting Fixtures

Fixtures are becoming smarter. For example, in indoor lighting, there is technology focused on indoor positioning systems that can send high frequency modulation signals through the LED. These signals can be picked up by a smartphone or tablet, and provide the precise location of customers within a facility. Outdoor wireless control systems now offer remote operation and monitoring of all fixtures through a web-enabled central management system that collects data from sensors and cameras.

Heard of Natural Lighting?

In workspaces around the world workers prefer natural lighting. It helps keep up a positive mood and provides an ample amount of light needed to get work done. But in most places, you’d be lucky to even have a small window today. With a lack of space, air-conditioned interiors, and external blockages, it becomes difficult to get natural light in every office space. Fortunately, that’s changed a lot with a little help from artificial lighting. Lights in the last few years have been made to mimic the qualities of natural lighting. This comes a long way from the harsh whites of a regular tube light or the dull yellow of an old incandescent bulb. Today LEDs allow you to create natural lighting tones which can help set a positive working atmosphere. The sunshine we love to greet each morning isn’t exactly the same as the rays leaving the sun. In between the outer atmosphere and Earth’s surface, the properties of light become altered through a process known as Rayleigh scattering. Ever wonder why the sky is blue? That’s Rayleigh scattering at work — the scattering of light due to molecules in the air, which can be extended to scattering from particles up to about a tenth of the wavelength of the light. This phenomenon is most effective at short wavelengths (the blue end of the visible spectrum), hence the color of the sky. Red just goes through.

Health-Conscious Lighting

The Nobel-Prize for Medicine 2017 was awarded for the research on circadian-rhythm, which is mainly influenced, respectively, triggered by the color-temperature and intensity of the light.

Light is an important ‘Zeitgeber’ for the inner clock (cell rhythms, sleep-wake – cycle, organ rhythms) Also, the effect of the color-temperature of the typically backlit-displays of mobile devices and computers as well as laptops is a widely known aspect. Applications that change the CCT to warm-white user-driven or follow a timing e.g. towards the end of the day are intended to reduce the problem of falling asleep significantly later etc. The influence of color-temperature is, meanwhile, almost common knowledge. Light has a perceptible effect on a human beings’ vitality and health. The well-being of the human organism and all involved biological processes depend strongly on natural daylight. As large parts of modern life take place inside buildings, using static lighting, the natural course of daylight is not perceived anymore, since only static artificial lighting is used. This is especially critical for areas like hospitals and homes for the elderly, where humans – patients and/or residents, as well as staff – typically (have to) stay indoors for long periods of time, but is of course also relevant for offices and work places. It is obvious that conventional artificial lighting with, in most cases, uniform, invariable static characteristics, does not have a positive effect on human health, wellbeing and performance.

Human Centric Lighting takes up this challenge. It simulates the spectral quality of natural daylight over the entire day, thus keeping the human hormone levels balanced, even under artificial lighting. This has a positive effect on both body and mind. An increase in performance and improved concentration are the consequence.

Apart from the rod cells and cone cells which are responsible for our vision, the human eye also has so-called non-visual photoreceptors which noticeably influence the circadian rhythm (Intrinsic photosensitive retinal ganglion cells [ipRGC] – sensitive to blue spectral wavelengths). These receptors control our hormonal balance, in particular the regulation of melatonin, cortisol and serotonin, which are responsible for our sleep-wake pattern. This is exactly where authentic Human Centric Lighting based on PI-LED takes effect – with the aim of supporting the human circadian rhythm and keeping natural melatonin production in balance.

The effect of different CCTs on humans
Figure 1: The effect of different CCTs on humans

LEDs in Future and Its Architecture

LED technology was introduced in the mid-1960s. Generations later, two researchers, Xongxing Jiang and Jingyu Lin, imagined small displays and wearable displays illuminated with miniature LEDs. They envisioned microscopic displays and projectors that would disrupt the technology of the time and invented the first micro LEDs in 2000. Since then, major brands such as Sony and Samsung have developed concept products that sparked interest in the flexible, bright, and microscopic SSL technology. Although not yet mass produced, video wall products using mini and micro LED technology are commercially available. Samsung’s The Wall, Sony’s Crystal LED, and Konka’s APHAEA Smart Wall are available to consumers, albeit at high price points.

When the development of mini LED placement technology began, it was nearly impossible to source the unpackaged LEDs for experimentation. The demand was so small that suppliers did not devote capacity or their own development to the production of mini LEDs. Other issues arose in the adoption of the technology involving precise substrates and the control of the mini LEDs and optics on the final products. For some time, these roadblocks inhibited the use of micro and mini LED technology in the development of future product applications.

Addressing Mini LED Supply Chain Problems

The first problem the mini LED supply chain faced was acquiring the necessary LEDs. A single product that uses mini LEDs can have hundreds of thousands of die compared to hundreds of traditional LEDs in similar products.

In the last two years, suppliers have been forced to address these significant supply chain issues due to rising demand from end consumers and the promise of the technology. LED manufacturers have made significant investments to build capacity for die production to ensure broad availability.

While the inside of a packaged LED is the same as what is being used in an unpackaged LED such as the mini or micro format, more wafers will be consumed because more devices will be required for the end product. Therefore, the number of wafers processed will be much higher when there are greater numbers of mini LEDs utilized in innovative new launches.

Mini and micro LED product developers
Fig 2 Mini and micro LED product developers are seeking manufacturing and supply-chain solutions that will result in high-resolution devices such as this prototype.

Standards and Regulations to Propel the LED Industry in India

Adoption rates of LED light strips will also increase as more government and local oversight agencies make incandescent lighting obsolete. Although incandescent lighting remains available, it must use at least 25-percent less energy than its predecessors. As a result, the costs of incandescent lights available today have increased. This led to the natural adoption of solid-state lightings, such as flexible LED light strips, faster and more often than anticipated. However, the current speed of adoption does not consider the incentives, like tax credits, offered to builders and building-owners using energy-efficient systems, further accelerating adoption rates. In 2014, the government launched a programme to promote LED bulbs in Indian households and later named it UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All).

This is because LED bulbs consume less electricity, last longer, and does not contain mercury. The programme, arguably the world’s largest, has sold more than 27 crore LED bulbs with no subsidy from the government. How did the programme change India’s lighting industry and consumer behaviour? What part of programme design worked and what can be improved?

The UJALA programme transformed the LED lighting industry in India. Demand for LED bulbs has gone up 50 times in the three years since 2014, while the retail market price (for bulbs sold beyond UJALA) has dropped to a third. The fall in prices can be attributed to the economies of scale achieved due to substantial demand creation by the UJALA programme, in tandem with the global trend of reduction in prices of the LED chips. India’s LED bulb manufacturing capacity has also grown substantially, with about 176 registered manufacturing units in India.

LED bulb quality and warranty is important

Centre for Policy Research(CPR) surveys found that 2% of LED bulbs failed in Pune after a year of launch of the programme, while 14% of the LED bulbs failed in Puducherry three years after the launch. The bulbs sold in Pune carried a warranty of 3 years while the bulbs sold in Puducherry carried a warranty of 8 years. However, very few households got their faulty bulbs replaced. Lower expectations from a government programme and higher tolerance levels for faults in low cost LED bulbs, ignorance about warranty, and hassles in the process were cited as reasons for not replacing the faulty bulbs under warranty.

Therefore, India LED lighting market witnessed a surge in recent years on account of growing population and subsequent urbanization. In 2019, India’s energy demand grew by 6.5%, which outpaced the global energy demand of 2.8%. With the increasing rate of electricity consumption, the demand for an environment friendly and cost-effective lighting solution is also gaining traction. Hence, in the recent years, LED lighting has started to considerably penetrate the mainstream general lighting market of India.