EESL: Repeating the same CFL mistake with ceiling Fans

Few days back, when I opened the newspaper, I got a surprise. EESL, the heart and soul of energy efficiency in the country, just floated a tender to procure lakhs of BEE 5 star rated ceiling fans. On the face of it, you would think it is a great initiative. After all, replacing old 75-80W ceiling fans with 50-55 W fans must be great. And great it would have been if there were no super energy efficient BLDC fans in the market.

As soon as I saw it, my mind went back to the “Bachat Lamp Yojna”. Amidst much fanfare, this scheme was launched by the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government in 2009. And it also looked a great scheme to begin with. In fact, India being such a power deficient country, every new scheme launched seems to be the solution to the everlasting power crisis. As part of the Bachat Lamp Yojna scheme, customers could replace their 60W and 100W incandescent bulbs with swimsuits online 15W and 23W CFL bulbs respectively emitting 500-600 lumen. Perfect, right? Except for the fact that 6W LEDs emitting 700 lumen were available in the market.

Now comes the most interesting part. After continuing with this scheme for a few years, EESL started a new scheme, where they now started promoting LEDs as part of their DELP( Domestic Efficient Lighting Program). And now, with this scheme, they are going about and replacing both incandescent bulbs as well as CFLs( yes right, CFLs which they were promoting till 2013) with LEDs.

So, now the question was why did they start with CFL when LEDs were already present? Yes, there would be reasons. The prices of LED would have been high, vendors must have been few, etc. But, how could someone oversee the fact that there is a different technology which is twice as effective as the existing one. When you are planning for the nation, such short-sightedness causes huge losses as is evident from the failure of the Bachat Lamp Yojna.

So, everyone must have learnt their lessons right? If the recent tender to procure and distribute 50-55W fans in Andhra Pradesh is any indicator to go by, then the answer is a big no. The analogy must be clear to any common man, let alone the energy experts who are making the decisions. BLDC ceiling fans are present in the Indian market for almost 3 years now. And are twice as efficient as 50-55 Watt 5 star rated fans. And while there is no denying the fact that this technology is not as mature as normal ceiling fans and the price is still very high, but if the government backs it and incentivizes the producers, there is no reason why it won’t mature completely in a year or so. After all, the price of LED has also come down drastically once the government decided to push LEDs.

So, what is the solution to this problem? First of all, the star label guidelines for ceiling fans must change. A ceiling fan consuming 28W and one consuming 50W cannot both have the same 5 star rating. If a fan consuming 50W is given a 5 star rating, a BLDC fan consuming 28W must be given at least a 7 star rating. More so, because both of them give the same air delivery.

Next, all the 75-80W fans that must be replaced should be replaced with super-efficient and highest power saving BLDC fans. Instead of 5 star as a qualifying criteria, a minimum service value of 6 and minimum CMM of 210 must be the standard.

Once this is done, we would see more players venturing into the BLDC market. And as a pioneer of BLDC technology in India, we at Atomberg would love to see that. Because once there are multiple players and the volume increases, the cost of BLDC fans itself would come down. And with proper push and support from the government, this technology can touch the life of each and every Indian, just like LED is doing today. And that would be the day when we would actually have made progress in solving India’s energy crisis. After all, what is the use of technology if it cannot touch the lives of the common man and solve real problems?

Whether they admit it or not, the Government had made a mistake with their CFL scheme. I hope they do not make the same mistake with ceiling fans. After all, mistakes are made by men, but repeated by fools. India deserves better.