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LED Lighting & Power Quality

LED lighting is the latest buzz in the lighting industry with all the lighting manufacturers luring the consumers with the energy saving and low running cost benefits LED lighting inherently comes with. But, are all important technical factors being taken into account before marketing and mass selling these products? Is the power quality an important factor while designing Led products? We are pretty sure they are NOT!

Below we enlist and discuss a few of them.

Power Factor

Ideally the power factor of any electrical system should be 1 or least closest to 1 but in the case of LED electronics, it is not the same. There are LED drivers freely available in market whose P.F is 0.6 or even lesser. The scenario is much worse in case of retrofit LED lamps.

A consumer 10W LED lamp (retrofit/with driver) with power factor 0.5 will pay for 10W only but the utility company will have to provide 20W to run a 10W lamp!!!

So, although you have reduced your electricity bill, yet the overall consumption remains higher than it should actually be.

The solution is two-fold

  1. avoid, rather do not use LED drivers with power factor less than 0.8 or 0.9 and
  2. LED retrofit lamp manufacturers have to come up with efficient designs for improving the power factor

Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)

THD results from AC to DC conversion and potentially shorten equipment lifespan, increase power losses on the transmission line, heat up transformers, and affect the performance of the LEDs and other electronics.

Although the potential energy saving by using LED lamps is huge, the THD induced in the system is not good. It degrades the overall power quality and can damage the connected equipment.

The solution is to design & use LED electronics with THD less than 10%.

While the manufacturers of LED lamps have to address these issues at the product design stage for the consumer retrofit lamps, the specifiers have to be aware of these while specifying the LED lighting solutions for large projects such as offices, hotels and malls. Since lighting constitutes around 20% load of any electrical system, the overall impact on the power quality of the electrical system can be significant.

Recently, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has enforced compulsory registration & certification of electronics products (Self ballasted LED lamps for general lighting services). With this, sub-standard and non-certified LED products which are either imported or produced will make way for the ones designed and produced in India as per BIS standards.

Hopefully, this will bring about a big change on how we will use LEDs in near future without compromising on the power quality of our establishments.