Why OLED - Energy-efficient Lighting Design - Acuity Brands


OLED lighting introduces a new design paradigm where technology, architecture and lighting intersect with our emotions.

An OLED by its very nature is a planar area source, with a uniform glow and rich color.  Easy to handle and cool to the touch, it invites you to the source to gather and is meant to be seen. The emitted light from an OLED is calm, comfortable and glare-free, even without shrouds and diffusers.

OLED lighting can provide distinctive design statements for a wide variety of interior lighting applications, including corporate, hospitality, healthcare, and residential. This is possible because OLEDs can enliven any environment with focal points of sculpted light, and at the same time can provide appropriate horizontal and vertical illumination for a diverse range of tasks, while exceeding current energy codes. True customization and full expression become platforms of design. Smaller-scale sculptural pieces can be created for accent or way finding, or panels can be linked together in flowing sheets or organic meandering patterns to beautifully light an entire room, create a visual destination, integrate with furnishings, literally move along with the user (in the form of cool-to-the-touch portable light fixtures), or provide graceful transition from one destination to the next.

Let's take the example of a contemporary office space to more clearly understand the unique power of OLEDs: first  the quality of light reaching the user must be high; secondly, that zone of quality light must cover a large area. Simultaneously there should also be minimal disturbance to other people's space outside of the personal zone.  General ambient distribution provides large zones of quality light, but by nature affects everyone and thus disturbs other zones that desire different lighting conditions.  Tight beam downlighting does not disturb the neighbors, but typically offers poor quality of light.  And while task ambient offers a compromise solution, the coverage zone is usually very small.  With OLED lighting, all three of these objectives can be met easily. In the end, the high quality of OLED light, the flexibility of control, and the ability to create either a microcosmic space around itself or be part of a larger open area are all features that are rare in modern lighting options.


An OLED is light, small, and versatile – an ideal candidate for delivering light exactly where you need it.  Even in a technical evaluation, OLED lighting can meet application needs at the lighting power densities required for basic code compliance or even LEED Platinum performance.  By removing the need for grid-like layouts, OLED can place light at the points where it's needed most. 
Once a target illumination and at least one design that achieves this illumination have both been determined, a density of panels can be calculated. This gives the user the freedom to experiment with different patterns. Next, because OLEDs allow us to break away from regimented layouts and because the light source is so approachable, we can arrange light fixtures in closer proximity and in a density needed to meet lighting targets. This idea results in higher levels of efficiency achieved through design, and not simply better efficacy. And this is where by breaking from a grid--OLEDs excel.


OLEDs' distinct advantage in placing light where needed raises the bar for energy-efficient lighting design. 
Through the development of new lighting concepts, we’ve discovered that OLEDs yield higher application efficiency over conventional lighting – by 18-93%. This concept of application efficiency is based on determining how well the lumens installed in indoor spaces are utilized in delivering light where it is actually needed to provide adequate illumination levels at task locations. Because different visual tasks are typically performed at different locations in any given indoor space, uniform lighting cannot achieve a high level of application efficiency. In the case of discrete, low-luminance OLED panels, over half of the lumens generated are utilized in delivering the light where it is needed while minimizing direct glare. The small packets of light also allow complete customization for placement in designs that are visually compelling. Even at today’s panel efficacy of 60 lumens per Watt, energy use is comparable to offer light source technologies at 100 lumens per Watt. In just over a year, energy savings of 16-41% will be possible, and this number will only improve as OLED technology evolves.

For more information on the application efficiency of OLED, read this White Paper


The broad-band light emission of the latest-generation OLED panels utilized in our light fixtures yields a balanced spectral power distribution, resulting in excellent color quality. Virtually no energy is wasted in the UV or IR regions of the spectrum.
The OLED panels are available with a variety of correlated color temperatures (CCT) including 3000K, 3500K and 4000K, and a color rendering index (CRI) of 85-90 (up to a 13% improvement in color rendering from the previous generation of OLED panels). 
What is especially noteworthy is that these latest generation of OLED panels have high R9 values (ability of an LED source to render strong and vibrant red tones) in any of the three available CCTs.
We can now expect L70 lifetimes of 30,000 – 40,000 hours (depending on CCT) when operating the OLEDs at a maximum luminance of 3,000 cd/m2. If we reduce the luminance by a third (to 2,000 cd/m2), lifetime nearly doubles, to 54,000 – 72,000 hours. OLED light fixtures can therefore excel in applications where lower light and long life is a requirement.



These OLED panel lumen maintenance graphs (measured data at 25°C ambient operating temperature, as well as extrapolated data) show Lamp Lumen Depreciation through L70 based on 3000 cd/m2 nominal initial luminance.

Citing an article published in the IES online scientific lighting journal Leukos (Michael Royer, 2014; Lumen Maintenance and Light Loss Factors: Consequences of Current Design Practices for LEDs; LEUKOS: The Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, 10:2, 77-86, DOI:10.1080/15502724.2013.855613), calculating Lamp Lumen Depreciation (LLD) as a ratio of mean to initial lumens using a lumen maintenance curve is a viable approach for many LED lighting applications. This approach mimics what is typically recommended by the IES for non-fluorescent and non-HID sources. The same methodology is followed for our OLED light fixtures, in which case the LLD is 83%. This means that a total Light Loss Factor (LLF) of 0.79 for our OLED lighting fixtures can be used in lighting software calculations, assuming that the combined value for Luminaire Dirt Depreciation (LDD) and Room Surface Dirt Depreciation (RSDD) is 0.95 for a very clean interior space, and the Ballast/Driver Factor (BF) is assumed to be 1 (when testing is based on absolute photometry).


The OLED panels we use have been proven to be free of any hazardous materials. Extensive tests performed in compliance with the testing standard IEC 62321:2008 (developed by the internationally-recognized IEC TC 111 organization, with 27 member countries including the USA) have determined that our OLED panels do not contain any detectable amounts of toxic substances. In other words, we can truly refer to our panels as organic!


OLED provides the unique benefit of having a very thin and lightweight form factor which allows unique creativity and true design flexibility in design. A typical OLED lighting panel is less than 1mm thick – about  the thickness of a credit card. Large glowing surfaces are one possibility, but our imagination explores how various sizes and shapes of OLED panels can create unique experiences inspired by their thinness and flexibility. 

While the form factor of OLED supports physical installation similar to typical commercial recessed, surface-mounted, and suspended fixtures, it also enables extremely lightweight designs and novel housing structures. OLEDs are an ideal light source for creating compelling lighting experiences.


OLED technology allows us to design lighting that can be interactive with people, and makes it especially ideal in user-friendly and tactile applications. The value of OLED lighting truly lies in its minimalist form factor, glare-free and rich white light, and unparalleled design freedom.