ENERGYMANAGEMENT BY DARLENE BREMER
With an estimated 22 percent of electricity generation going to lighting in
buildings, a highly efficient OLED lighting system could significantly reduce
electricity demand, according to a June
2013 white paper from E-Cubed Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture
acceleration firm. In addition, according to “OLED Lighting Markets—2014,”
a report from the market research firm
NanoMarkets, OLEDs’ promise of energy
efficiency and flexible lighting applications is predicted to be a $1.4 billion
opportunity in 2019. In addition, NanoMarkets believes that, in the next five
years, there will be a major influx of
low-cost, and possibly government-sub-sidized, Chinese suppliers that will force
down OLED lighting prices in a manner
similar to the solar-panel industry.
Latest trends and applications
In the last year, OLED performance
levels have experienced a tremendous
jump. The technology now produces
high efficacy, improved R9 color rendering rating and long-rated life of
30,000– 40,000 hours at L70, according
to Jeanine Wang, director of business
development and marketing for the
OLED Group at Acuity Brands, Atlanta.
The rising interest in OLED technology is evident in the increase in
OLED panel suppliers and luminaire
“The numbers are still small, but
the industry is starting to see more
companies introduce OLED products,
demonstrating the increased awareness
and understanding of the technology
and making OLEDs more available for
lighting designers’ use,” said Michael
Boroson, chief technology officer for
OLED Works, Rochester, N. Y.
The first commercial OLED applications were mobile phones, portable digital
media players, car radios and digital cameras, among others. Such applications
have favored the high light output of
OLEDs for readability in sunlight and
their low power drain. However, the
appeal of developing OLEDs for lighting
applications is gaining renewed optimism.
“Opportunities are huge for OLED
lighting in hospitality, corporate interior,
residential and healthcare applications,”
So far, actual OLED lighting installations in buildings have primarily been in
more architectural scenarios, according
“However, the technology is moving
quickly into more practical applications
and is being used in some general lighting demonstration installations,” he said.
For example, the United States chose
OLED lighting for its embassy in Finland
based on the technology’s naturally diffuse, no glare, white light that is cool to
the touch and dimmable.
“OLEDs’ thin profile and their ability to
integrate into architectural schemes enable
them to create strong design statements
that promote their use in more creative
ways than other light sources,” Wang said.
New applications fast approaching
for the technology are in the areas of
step and marker lights and decorative
and path sconces, according to Boroson.
“OLEDs are still too expensive for
whole-space lighting, but they are
gaining traction as people realize their
nonglare benefits,” he said.
With the growth of OLED panel
manufacturing and applications, ECs need
to understand the technology’s benefits,
how to best apply them in relation to
other light sources and the challenge of
the limited luminaire choices.
Technology exhaustion from the shift
to LEDs is another obstacle, Boroson said.
“Manufacturers and electrical contractors had a steep learning curve
shifting to LEDs’ digital lighting technology,” he said. “But, with OLEDs, that
learning curve is minimal, and companies
already have the necessary digital expertise in-house.”
Contractors should also note that
OLEDs could potentially use Category
2 wiring instead of sheath cable wiring,
making them simpler and more cost-effective to wire and install.
Finally, the industry needs to overcome the perception of expense and
promote the technology.
“All industry participants need to be
more willing to look at the technology
per application and not assume OLEDs
are the more expensive option,” said Pete
Shannin, vice president and general manager of Acuity’s OLED business group.
According to Boroson, costs of OLEDs
are actually competitive, particularly
since they don’t require heat sinks or
As OLED technology matures, Shannin said more panel sizes, shapes and
substrates used in their manufacture
will emerge, creating dynamic colors
and enabling the integration of smart
technology with OLED lighting system
for greater control and an enhanced
The Next Lighting Revolution
OLEDs to broaden efficiency options
INVENTED IN THE 1980S AT EASTMAN KODAK, organic light-emitting diodes
(OLEDs) are composed of a layer of organic material situated between an anode
and a cathode and deposited on a substrate. When voltage is applied to the OLED
cell, the injected positive and negative charges recombine in the missive layer and
create electroluminescent light. A modern OLED device may use many layers to
improve efficiency, but the basic functionality remains the same.
BREMER, a freelance writer based in Solomons, Md., contributes frequently to ELECTRICAL
CONTRACTOR. She can be reached at 410.394.6966 and firstname.lastname@example.org. PH