Disinfection, hygiene and an even greater awareness of virus as well as bacteria that may be airborne or on surfaces around us, has been one of the takeaways from the coronavirus pandemic. We all are now more aware of the need for hygiene, the genuinely scary things that unseen virus and bacteria are capable and for the need to minimize risks as much as possible. It isn’t at all surprising to see a lot of people now carry and regularly use hand sanitizers, for instance. And in many homes, there is also a regular wipe-down of surfaces that are regularly touched, with disinfectants. But, have you ever looked at the switches and sockets in your home and wondered if they are clean or not. Chances are, you haven’t. But you really should. And what if you could buy and install anti-viral switches and sockets in your home? That’s exactly what Schneider Electric India have launched, with their new Clipsal X switches and sockets that are anti-microbial and self-disinfecting. These products are made in India and uses what is called the Silver Ion technology that lasts the lifetime of the product. These are made in India, have been developed by the company’s research and development facilities in India and have been tested as well as certified by labs in Europe. We speak with Srinivas Shanbhogue, Vice-President, Home and Distribution at Schneider Electric India and he tells us how the self-disinfecting technology works, the company’s focus on pushing Atmanirbhar Bharat and how these switches are smart which allows them to work seamlessly with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Edited excerpts here.
There is an increased awareness about health and wellbeing. Do you believe these are becoming factors in buying decisions, when consumers look for solutions for homes?
Given the nature of the pandemic and the way it managed to disrupt lives and economies around the world, it is very clear that safety, hygiene, and wellness have certainly become key factors for most homeowners. It has heightened the need to implement and adopt hygienic practices in all day-to-day activities. However, it is not always possible to keep cleaning certain common surfaces in a home or office space. This is where technology can play a pivotal role in reducing or eliminating the need to be manually operated or cleaned thereby offering a greater sense of hygiene and peace of mind. As such, there has been a greater inclination towards the adoption of smart home products that promises safety, efficiency, and convenience without compromising on the style quotient. After all, smart living is all about reimagining and optimizing one’s physical space through technology to make lives easier as we go.
Tell us a bit more about the Clipsal X switches and sockets, particularly how the anti-viral tech has been integrated? How does the anti-viral tech work and how effective is it claimed to be?
The new Clipsal X range of anti-viral and anti-bacterial switches self-disinfects the surface and uses Silver Ion technology which restricts spread of viral infections on frequently touched switches and cover frames. This technology impart germ controlling properties on plastic surfaces, are non-migratory and non-toxic in nature. They are food grade as well as ecologically safe too. In a world where clean surfaces are proving to be essentials and lifesavers, a self-disinfecting switch surface will definitely ensure peace of mind. The anti-viral tech is powered by Silver Ion technology which self-disinfects its surface thereby reducing the spread of viral infections. It can kill up to 99.9% of the virus. The Clipsal range has been tested & validated by the Global Testing Labs of Europe, as per the adapted international standards of Anti-Viral. Clipsal X is one of the robust ranges of Schneider Electric Wiring Devices. The product has passed multiple and rigorous quality tests. It is a preferred range for many big builders and has been specified in their future projects as well.
Additionally, we have conducted a series of tests such as Check of dimensions, Drop test, High Voltage test, Insulation resistance test, Electrical Endurance test, Ageing test, Continuity test, Temperature Rise test, Shock resistance, Rust resistance, Ball pressure resistance, Tracking resistance, Earthing Provisions, Making & Breaking capacity and Advance lab test facility.
Will the self-disinfecting technology work for the lifetime of the Clipsal X switch or socket?
With the advanced technology used, the silver ions are mixed in the components used for the products during the manufacturing stage itself, rather than additional coating which withers away. Hence, leaving a long-lasting effect.
Has Schneider Electric developed the Clipsal X in-house or have other scientists and researchers helped in the development?
With its vast terrains and diverse regional climate, India has always been an important market for Schneider Electric. As such, it requires meticulous ground level research to identify the challenges and address them with effective energy efficient solutions. This past one year, our Indian R&D team comprising of engineers, researchers and scientists have relentlessly worked towards developing products specific to the Indian market leading to the conceptualization of the Clipsal X Anti-viral switches and sockets.
Are these products made in India?
The Clipsal X range has been developed in-house in our R&D Lab based in Bangalore followed by the production in our Himachal Pradesh factory. The range was thereafter tested and validated by European labs. We believe that our efforts will help make India a global manufacturing hub, wherein technological innovation in R&D will provide impetus for the country to become a self-reliant nation and further cater to the global demands.
A proactive government, cost efficiencies, technical competencies, and a low-cost workforce for companies setting up their R&D centres has boosted investments and employment opportunities. With India being a unique market, the company has been focused on identifying and addressing challenges specific to the Indian market by designing innovative products that caters to the needs of the people. The Anti-viral range of switches and sockets have been conceptualized and manufactured in India as a part of Schneider Electric’s commitments towards ‘Make in India’ aimed at making an Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Does that in any way change how a user interacts with these switches? What is the backward compatibility of the Clipsal X switches?
No, it doesn’t. The switches are very simple and easy to use. The switches and sockets are compatible and designed to easily fit into any existing infrastructure—old and new. It is a hassle-free process.
Are consumers receptive to the idea of self-disinfecting switches and sockets, or there is still apprehension? What would you say to convince the fence-sitters?
Given the current situation, we perceive a rise in demand for products that emphasize more on healthcare technologies, safety and hygiene. With switches being the most frequently touched appliance, the self-disinfecting technology will be a game-changer for future building designs that will make people feel safe and comfortable. Safety is paramount these days. Today’s consumers are receptive towards the concept of self-disinfecting switches and sockets.
Are the Schneider Electric Clipsal X switches and sockets smart, as in, can they be controlled using smart assistants such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa?
Yes, the technologically advanced Clipsal X range of anti-viral switches are Smart and are compatible with smart home solutions. They can be easily operated through smartphones, Google Home or Amazon Alexa when connected to a Smart Home solution. These switches are trendy and its dual-tone variants can complement the look of any home perfectly.
How big is the opportunity for such products in India, and does the first mover advantage help?
The COVID19 pandemic has surely redefined the very concept of smart living. People are more mindful when it comes to hygiene and safety. As such, we see a good opportunity for our anti-viral product range amongst the Indian customers. Being the initiator gives us an edge over our peers as our technology is unique and rightly addresses the issues faced by the consumers today.