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Poor quality imports give India a bad experience of LED lamps

According to reports, LED technology is considered the way forward in lighting but low-cost and inferior-quality imported products are severely harming the segment, say industry players.

India needs to urgently formalise product standards and boost local production to popularise the product, they say.

“Customers have had a lot of bad experience because of poor Chinese imports. Industry players through ELCOMA (electric lamp and component manufacturers association) have been pushing for BIS standards for LED products. Earlier, CFLs took that route and it helped curb sales of poor-quality goods. We should follow the same path on LEDs,” said Arun Gupta, managing director of NTL Electronics, a Noida-based lighting components maker.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the LED lighting industry in India earned revenues of over $142.8 million in 2012 and it is expected to reach $1.2 billion in 2018. The growing interest in energy-efficient technology, green buildings and the urge to reduce energy bills have lent momentum for the B2B and B2C LED market in India.

Gupta said Indian consumers have burnt their fingers by buying cheap imported products. LED product failures have been high and, hence, the adoption continues to be low.

The huge reliance on LED imports as well as finished lighting products is a critical challenge for India, as insufficient demand is discouraging local manufacturers.

Government agencies such as the ministry for renewable energy and the bureau of energy efficiency have been trying to raise awareness of the benefits of LED technologies and even distributing free solar LED lanterns in some villages.

“It is a chicken-and-egg story. Manufacturers will produce locally when there is enough demand; customers will buy more when there is enough supply. The critical inflection point may come when prices go down further,” says Rajesh Kocchar, president of TISVA, the lighting brand of Usha International.

“For example, an LED lamp now costs Rs 500. The cost needs to go down by half to be affordable for the masses. LEDs will then achieve the expected growth in India,” Kocchar said.

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