Less is more: That’s a good way to describe the guiding philosophy for office design over the past decade. Companies have trimmed the individual space allotted to employees, whittled away at the physical barriers between office workers and reduced the overall environmental footprint of the space. On the same lines, “less” has often been the guiding principle in planning for lighting systems as well. Trimming lighting energy use has been both more important and less difficult thanks to advances in technology, coupled with new codes and standards.
“The global LED lighting market is likely to grow at a CAGR of over 40% until 2020. The trend is replicating in India, with the Indian LED lighting market expected to reach INR 31,010 crores in 2020, growing at a CAGR of 62% between 2016 and 2020,” points out Gautam Seth, joint MD, HPL Electric & Power Ltd. This growth in the smart lighting market is attributed to the increasing smart homes and office market. The market penetration of LEDs has increased substantially over the past few years, as a result of reduced prices and enhanced awareness amongst consumers about its advantages such as high durability and lower power consumption amongst others. However, the latest trend in lighting technology after LEDs is the emergence of connected lighting.
Raghav Kapur, city head – Bengaluru, SILA, shares, “According to the US Energy Information Administration, 38% of all electricity used in commercial buildings is used for lighting. The use of LEDs has led to a 40% reduction of energy consumption, when compared to conventional light sources. Dimmer switch technology, daylight sensors and programmable lighting controls are some of the new technologies that are already being integrated within lighting systems to reap benefits of optimisation and efficiency.”
Vice-chairman and MD for Philips Lighting in India, Harsh Chitale agrees, “This trend marks a significant shift in lighting from a commodity, a standalone product to a fully integrated system that can seamlessly connect with a wireless network or Ethernet, allowing users to remotely control and monitor their lighting systems.” New LED systems can now connect and interact seamlessly with smart controls, networks, devices as well as apps for a customisable and tech-enabled experience, paving the way for a fully digital world. Philips Lighting foresees how significantly this system will enhance a consumer’s lighting experience and drive new business value for professional users.
Echoing the same thought, Jayanth Jain, CEO and MD of GM Modular, says, “Innovations in the modular LED lighting has taken a big leap. The upcoming trend in lighting segment has already become invincible for its exemplary light output and low energy consumption. The products lower costs and are an inevitable advantage over the rest of the light sources. They lights have immense flexibility with design variety and usability.”
Over the years, remote-controlled lighting has gained significant popularity amongst consumers. It represents the next generation in LED lighting, opening up a host of new possibilities. At hotels and workspaces, lighting systems can be connected to the office Ethernet (called PoE, or Power over Ethernet, lighting) allowing them to communicate with other devices and control usage.
“Connected lighting systems increase energy efficiency as well as employee productivity and guest comfort, as they can also be connected to other utility systems such as air conditioning, heating, etc,” states Kishan Jain, director, Goldmedal. The company pioneered the introduction of ‘radio frequency’ signals to improve this device in India. RF technology, unlike IR, successfully transmits every command: across walls, curtains, physical barriers and even when switches are out of sight. The company’s device can control up to 29 appliances and eight light-scene settings, and also includes dimming and timer functions.
Remote controlled lighting deals with the design and manufacture of remote control and automation for spotlights, decoration lights and other security. Most of these solutions are ideal for hotel ballrooms, banqueting sites, art galleries, etc, which have high and inaccessible ceilings and structures. When it comes to safety and security of offices, banks and other such establishments, it works well for safeguarding from intruders. Such benefits have led to high demand for remote controlled lights in all kinds of buildings — from individual commercial structures like banks and other financial institutions to industrial parks and complexes.
The oncoming trend of OLEDs
Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) are gaining prominence in the industry, however, with smaller production lines. Chitale explains, “An OLED light bulb is a thin film of material that emits light when electricity is applied. Unlike traditional lighting, OLED can create large area lighting panels (as opposed to point or line lighting, enabled by LEDs and fluorescent bulbs). They are used to make flexible and transparent panels that are also colour-tuneable and emit a soft diffused light, closest to natural light.”
In the coming years, manufacturers foresee rapid advances in performance and price rationalisation of OLEDs — once the technology gains mass popularity and generates bigger volumes, this is the next big step in automotive lighting. OLEDs provide thin, flat, cool, nearly glare-free and safe lighting. The modular light panels can be used to form fixtures or be embedded in walls, furniture and even textiles. As panel radiators, they are suitable for use as signal light, taillight, and even in car interiors.
Combining aesthetics and energy efficiency
“Lighting adds the fourth dimension to any interior space. While it definitely impacts the aesthetic and functional aspects of interiors, it also contributes to the mood and tempo of the space. Since all commercial spaces, such as restaurants, spas, hotels, stores, malls and even offices, provide differential experiences, lighting becomes an indispensable factor for all kinds of spatial design,” explains Jurgen Wolf, MD of Häfele India Pvt Ltd.
Clients in commercial, wellness and hospitality seek products that combine aesthetics, exceptional reliability and performance with ease of installation and operation, energy efficiency, sustainability and cost reduction. “With escalating cost pressures, these spaces are keen on adopting LEDs that significantly reduce energy consumption and offer a longer shelf life. Its popularity has led to more aesthetically pleasing designs, enabled by the flexibility offered by LED module designs. Of late, these industries are also seeking connected lighting systems that further reduce energy bills and increase energy efficiency,” says Chitale.
The connected world of lighting
Energy efficient, sensor-based lighting, colour-changing technology and dimmable are a few key features of smart lighting available. Smart lighting translates to the use of lighting efficiently whenever and wherever required in real time. It involves various components such as lighting source, sensing element, wireless connection enabling ICs and an application software. Srinivas Chebbi, vice president, Buildings, India and SAARC, of Schneider Electric, explains, “Inside every building is the potential to be more powerful and more profitable. Hence, we focus on designing and installing building management and automation solutions that unlock this potential in buildings of all sizes.” Smart lighting or connected lighting allows building managers to remotely control the systems through smartphones. It is the latest innovation in the sector, going beyond just the functional aspect.
Arun Gupta, managing director, NTL Group, also mentions the revolutionary concept of Li-Fi that uses light to deliver wireless internet. This will also enable connectivity in environments that do not currently readily support Wi-Fi, such as aircraft cabins, hospitals and hazardous environments, etc.
Commenting on the break-through technologies that are being orchestrated with lighting today, Sharmila Kumbhat, director, K-Lite Industries, states, “Under the aegis of the smart city concept, lighting systems are being integrated with traffic flow, movement sensors, weather patterns, energy-saving controls on pre-programmed areas and locations, etc. In fact, the controls have become so much integrated that one can access any location from anywhere to operate and monitor the systems.”
Although Indian consumers are getting acquainted with the perks of using LED on a daily basis, limited knowledge and misconceptions about its technology hamper the process of picking the product best suited for their needs. Rambo Zhang, India head, Opple Lighting, adds that despite the falling prices, cost still remains a hindrance. He reveals that “Though most of the smart lighting products provide better features, most consumers are still unwilling to pay an extra premium for them, which will impact smart lighting sector’s overall supply chain ecosystem, and requires long term observations.”
Kapur adds, “Although the initial investment may be high, the benefits in the longer run are many, leading many customers to adapt to it immediately. The process of smart lighting turning into a mass consumer system will take some time, however, with builders and corporates already adapting, it is only natural that more people will be exposed to the benefits and this will help increase the appeal.”
Luminaires are uniquely identified and seamlessly integrated into the IT network in a building or city, and share information about their status and operations. Outfitted with integrated sensors, each luminaire becomes a point of intelligence that can share information on occupancy, activity patterns, changes in temperature or humidity, and daylight levels. By integrating wireless communications into the lighting system, one can deliver location-based services and in-context information via mobile apps to people in illuminated spaces. Connected lighting delivers greater user insights, creates superior customer experiences and personalised workspaces, and adds a layer of intelligence to the environment.