Between 2010 and 2013 CQC made it possible for poor households in India to replace their inefficient incandescent light bulbs (ICL) with CFLs. We distributed more than 8.6 million CFLs in this period. However, CFLs are now an old technology and we are now transitioning to the distribution of leading-edge long-life LED lighting for households in South Asia.


  • Very poor families using incandescent bulbs (ICL) spend as much as 10% of their income on electricity in India.

  • LEDs have lifetimes of 25,000 to 50,000 hours and cut the electricity consumption to deliver the same lumens to about 15% of comparable ICLs;

  • Records from our own large-scale pilot distribution show failure rates of LEDs in Indian households are less than 0.5% per annum. This compares to ICL which have lifetimes of 500-1000 hours, needing to be replaced at least once a year;  

  • LEDs can be recycled like any electronic waste under existing Indian pollution control legislation;

  • 15 million LEDs avoids the need for 1000 MW of coal-fired power at peak hours for up to 10 years.

INDIA: Changing Light-Changing Lives

In 2018 CQC completed a 100,00 LED distribution pilot program to test distribution methods, establish baseline conditions in use of lights in low income households, and to perfect software for data capture on LEDs being provided to millions of households under large-scale distribution programs.

This pilot has laid the foundation for large-scale distribution of LEDs in rural and peri-urban areas across India to start mid-2019 to generate emissions reductions for the Korean compliance market.

Reporting on technology change in lighting



Incandescent bulbs remain the main form of lighting for low income households in India because they are universally available and cost as little as US 10-15 cents per bulb compared to 200 Rps for LEDs at the remote area retail level (2018). However, ICLs last only 500-1000 hours.

  • 100 million families are estimated still to be using 60-100 watt incandescent bulbs still in peri-urban and rural households across India, despite major government programs for LED distribution.

  • 1000 MW of coal fired power plant avoided at the evening peak: For every 15-20 million LEDs installed in households replacing ICLs.

  • 3-5 % of family income saved: In the switch from incandescent bulbs to LEDs


LEDs use approximately 15% of the energy of incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light, and last 50 to 100 times longer. CQC has launched a pilot LED distribution program to establish baseline use of various forms of lighting, hours of use of LEDs in high use locations in households,  and to test various local brands of LEDs. Full scale distribution will begin in 2019.

  • 130 tons of CO₂e saved by replacing 400 million incandescent bulbs with LEDs.

  • 1/5 of the cost: Electricity cost savings for very poor families from LED use of can be 3-5% of their income.

  • Payback time: It only takes 2-4 months of lower electricity bills from use of LEDs to recover the 15-30 INR per LED bulb cost under a carbon financed program for distribution of LEDs to the poorest consumers.

We have embarked on the design of the next generation of efficient lighting, using LEDs instead of CFLs, focused again on base-of-the pyramid consumers still unable to afford the transition from old inefficient but very cheap incandescent light bulbs. LEDs of modest quality retail in Indian in 2016 for 200-150 Rps per 8W bulb, while incandescent bulbs of 60W can be purchased for 10-15 Rps. Overcoming the first cost barrier is, as always, the key financing challenge to transform the provision of lighting services to the poor. We hope to launch a new series of LED lighting projects with Indian utilities and other partners in early 2017.


CFLs in India - Part 1

CFLS IN INDIA - PART 2: Implementation


CFLS IN INDIA - PART 3: testamonials