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


  • Very poor families using incandescent bulbs (ICL) spend as much as 10% of their income on electricity in India.
  • From 2010-2013, CQC supplied high quality CFLs at a fraction of the retail price;
  • The CFLs we had to unique 12,000 hour specifications lasted 10-20 times longer and produce better light than ICL bulbs;
  • CFL’s are a transitional technology and have been superseded by LEDs, which have lifetimes of 25,000 to 50,000 hours, 5-10 times longer than most CFLs and with the same improvement in efficiency and per lumens delivered;
  • CFL’s are a transitional technology and have been superseded by LEDs, which have lifetimes of 25,000 to 50,000 hours, 5-10 times longer than most commercially available CFLs and with the same or greater improvement in efficiency and per lumens delivered;
  • CFLs are prone to early failure under poor power quality conditions of wide voltage fluctuation which prevail in many developing countries. LEDs are much less susceptible to failure due to voltage fluctuation.
  • Recently recorded failure rates of LEDs in Indian households in regions with serious voltage fluctuation, are less than 0.5% per annum. This compares to CFL loss rates of up to 10% per annum.
  • LEDs cut electricity consumption by 80% compared to ICLs, while lasting 5-10 years compared to 6-12 months for ICLs, depending on level of use.
  • High quality, long life CFLs distributed by us in India up to mid 2013 reduced greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 4 million tons of carbon;
  • We are now planning to replicate the CFL efficient lighting projects using LEDs made in India with expected lifetimes of 12-20 years, with significant long term contributions to disposable households income. 

INDIA: Changing Light-Changing Lives

Between 2010 and 2013, we worked with the Indian government’s BLY program and the Ministry of Railways to distribute over eight million compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs. The result was lower electricity bills, better quality lighting, reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

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 COe 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