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Is OLED lighting the future of home illumination?

We shine a light on what OLED lighting is, its supposed benefits, and whether it's something worth getting excited about

Is OLED lighting the future of home illumination?

Well-known brand LG is due to start selling flexible OLED lamps next year, adding to its OLED offering of TVs. So, what are OLED lamps and should you care about them?

OLEDs are essentially panels of light that can be bent into a variety of different shapes. They’re also very thin. OLED lamps could, therefore, mean saying goodbye to normal, chunkier light bulbs in favour of slimline, curved lights.

So, will 2018 be the year for you to shake up how you illuminate your lounge? Read on to find out what the possible benefits of OLED lighting are.

LED light bulb reviews – discover which LEDs shine brightest in our tests.

Should I care about OLED lighting?

OLED bulbs – Organic Light Emitting Diodes – are made from carbon-based, organic substances. They’re supposedly a step-up from regular LEDs, in part because of how thin and flexible they are – you could do almost anything with them.

OLED bulbs work in a similar way to LEDs. This means that, like the current LEDs, they should be cheaper to run on an everyday basis when compared with halogen and CFL options. However, although we don’t yet know the exact costs, we know they’re likely to be very expensive to buy.

OLEDs have been used on TVs for a few years now, and these too come with a high price tag. Interestingly, when it comes to running costs, our tests have found that OLED TVs cost a little more to run than LEDs. For a 55 inch LED TV, you’re looking at paying £24 on average a year in energy costs, while an OLED TV will cost you around £26.

What OLEDs could give you is more scope for creative and flexible lighting solutions for you home. The panels are paper-thin, allowing for a variety of curved forms and options beyond the traditional bulb.

LG says its OLED lighting offers a uniform light source with no glare and that, unlike LED bulbs, there’s no need for a bulky heat sink to spirit away excess heat energy. It also claims that OLED lighting has a better quality of light, closer to natural light, and better colour rendering than LED lighting, meaning that colours should be more accurately represented.

OLED vs LED lighting

Our light bulb tests have shown that some LEDs can struggle with colour rendering, and if OLED lighting can improve on this it could be a real selling point for lighting aficionados. It will probably be a few years before OLED lighting is worth buying though, as the technology is still in its infancy.

Early LEDs cost upwards of £25 while only delivering a relatively dim 40W equivalent light output. Today, LEDs can be picked up for less than £5, and there are 100W versions available. So, as OLEDs become more common, we’d hope the prices will begin to come down.

Of course, this is all theoretical at the moment. We can’t personally exalt the benefits of OLED bulbs until we’ve got hands on with some. We’ll be interested to discover whether they’re really worth getting excited about – or whether they’re a gimmick that will last for as long as the music careers of certain winners of The X Factor.

In the mean time, see which LEDs we recommend in our round-up of the best LED light bulbs, and find out more about choosing the right light for you in our light bulb buying guide.

Smart light bulb reviews for 2017

If you’re keen for more control over your home lighting set up, a smart light bulb can offer everything from remote control via your smartphone to finely tuned colour schemes to set different moods. We recently tested eight smart light bulbs from big-hitting brands including Hive, Ikea and Philips Hue.

There are some benefits to this technology, besides turning your home into an instant disco. Most systems let you turn bulbs on and off when you’re away from home and set on-and-off schedules according to preset timings – great for fooling burglars into thinking you’re at home when you’re not – or for turning off that light you left on accidentally.

Find out more about the pros and cons and what different brands offer, and get the lowdown on our top picks, in our ultimate smart light bulb buying guide.

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