At what price consumers will adopt OLED lighting?


(Source: BIZ Led Magazine, 2015)

By Ben Holden, Contributor, BizLED Bureau

October 12, 2015: In 2008, organic LED (OLED)technology was projected to penetrate the lighting industry by 2014, which didn’t happen. OLEDtechnology in the lighting industry is available for about four to five years now, but only in the luxury lighting sector. Over the years, OLED technology has advanced in terms of colour performance and lifetime, yet its high cost still remains an issue, and limits it from being used in mainstream applications.

The high cost of OLED still pinch the pockets of the customers. The cost issue will determine how much and how fast OLED penetrates the lighting industry on a large scale.

The surface emission features of OLED technology that helps to produce glare free light continues to get more advanced and makes the lighting more aesthetically suitable for many applications, but these applications are limited to luxury applicayions only as high price of OLED limits them to be used in mainstream applications.

However, the proponents of OLED technology and some lighting designers feel that like LED, OLED pricewill also come down over the years and the technology will get more commercialised.

Colour performance

OLED panels now feature CRI in 80–82 range with low R9 value for saturated red performance. These panels are available in 3500K or 4000K CCTs. LG Chem has developed an OLED panel that provides 3000K light at a CRI of 89 and R9 value of 30. To get better performance, LG Chem added another layer in the OLED stack so that green, red and blue pixels can be aligned vertically in the stack. Manufacturers are also using more number of OLED panels to enable glare free light. For example, Blackjack Aradess OLED table lamp uses eight OLED panels.

Increased lifespan

OLED manufacturers have also increased efficacy and improved the lifetime of this technology. The latestOLED panels have L70 life of 18,000 hours, hence the developers can keep the drive currents relatively low. For example, Acuity has kept currents down and panel output in 2500–3000-cd/m2 range so that there is no glare and it also maximises lifespan.

Universal Display Corporation (UDC) is also commercialising blue emitter that has efficacy of 70 lumen per watt, and has a lifetime of 30,000 hours when used in an OLED lighting panel.

However, the lifespan issue has not yet been solved for RGB full colour displays, especially with respect to deep blue phosphorescent emitters.

Signs of broader adoption

Slowly but steadily, OLED is being accepted in the lighting sector, although to it is still limited to the luxury sector. Providence VIP Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has installed 1680 OLED panels made by Philips Lighting. Acuity’s OLED project at Innovation Center at the US Embassy in Helsinki, Finland, is a high profile project.

But the question still remains: At what price level mainstream consumers will adopt OLED lighting? Consumer electronics experts believe that in the TV market, buyers will be ready to pay 30-50% more for an OLED TV because of its several benefits.

The growth of OLED market in the next two years may not pick up significantly, according to industry experts, by 2020-2023, OLED lighting is projected to become a major market.

The 66% price drop by LG Chem and more advanced and brighter panels offered by Philips indicate that OLED lighting is here to stay for long. In 2015-16, there will be more competition among OLED panel manufacturers, which will see more innovation in the technology and further drop in price.

OLED price issue

It is also predicted that by 2020, OLED panels will cost €200 per m2 and operate at a brightness of 5,000cd per m2; and OLED panels priced at less than €14/klm. By 2023, OLED panel production globally is estimated to exceed 500 million 100mm x 100mm panel equivalents.