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AV-News - Shining a light on COB & Sustainability

Posted by Ross Noonan|09 Oct 2023

Shining a Light on Sustainability: Incorporating COB LED Displays into Your Green Strategy.

Sustainability has never been higher on the agenda, but what does 'sustainable' really mean when it comes to LED displays? Ross Noonan, Technical Sales and Marketing Manager, explores how COB with Common Cathode is driving a sustainable future for LED display design and delivery.

As we continue to build towards a sustainable future for LED display technology, we need to cut through the buzzwords and look at what is really being done to help end-users reach their sustainability goals. This needs to take into account the whole manufacturing process, not just the display credentials.

One of the primary concerns in the Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) framework is reducing energy consumption and carbon footprint. The LED display manufacturing scene is a complex place, with multiple manufacturing methods, chip packaging solutions, and PCB surface coatings hitting the market.

Ross says, "In my five years of selling and installing LED solutions, I've noticed a common oversight: end-users often overlook or are not informed of the continuous energy expenses. This is usually because the stakeholders want a solution, and someone has to deliver it! With the proven effectiveness of COB display technology, customers now have a golden opportunity to slash their display running costs, significantly. The vital first step is ensuring they're well-informed, empowering them to make savvy choices."

COB LED displays are leading the way

Leading the way in the display sustainability stakes for ESG-driven companies is the innovation of Chip On Board (COB) LED displays.

COB displays have the diodes directly mounted onto a single substrate or circuit board. This arrangement allows for a concentrated and powerful illumination source in a compact package, leading to significant advantages that make them a top choice for sustainability-conscious businesses.

COB closeup

COB LED displays excel at reducing energy consumption through their efficient design, which converts a larger percentage of input power into visible light. This means they produce significantly less heat and require less electricity to deliver the same level of brightness as conventional LEDs, reducing energy bills and CO2 emissions.

On average, our tests have proved a 130” COB display at a resolution of 1080p to be up to 40% more energy-efficient than an SMD display of the same size, resolution, and brightness.

"To put this into context, if we look at the max energy consumption of a traditional SMD, 130” 1080p display (a very popular corporate display solution) for 8 hours a day, running costs can hit €6.72 per day (based on the latest EU average per kW €0.283). Over the lifespan of an LED display, which typically exceeds 10 years, these costs can quickly accumulate. However, with the introduction of COB technology, you can significantly reduce running costs," Ross explains.

COB meets Common Cathode

When combined with the Common Cathode Technology driver method, we’re onto a real sustainability winner. Firstly, Common Cathode technology isn’t new. It is available with legacy SMD technology, but many customers don’t know its benefits or aren’t being offered it as a solution that adds to their sustainability credentials.

"If the SMD displays you're sourcing aren't using Common Cathode, the first question you should be asking is, “Why not?”' Ross adds.

Common Cathode refers to the method driving LEDs in a display by connecting the cathodes of the LEDs together and driving them independently. This flips the script from the traditional Common Anode driving method, enhancing energy efficiency and optimizing power consumption by enabling precise control over each LED's cathode. Energy wastage is minimized through enhanced thermal management. In addition to this, Common Cathode displays offer superior colour performance resulting in a display that also looks better!

common cathode training picture

“At LED Studio we have been incorporating the energy saving benefits of Common Cathode technology, not just on our indoor SMD products but also our DOOH signage solutions resulting in displays that lead the way in terms of energy efficiency and wasted heat output”.

A heated debate

Another important factor to consider for sustainability is how the display will impact the temperature of its surroundings. For large displays in confined or immersive spaces or areas with poor ventilation, additional cooling in the form of air conditioning may be needed, adding to power consumption specifications. COB and Common Cathode displays, however, run cool to the touch, further adding to the overall efficiency and sustainability of the install for years to come.

The bigger picture

Looking beyond energy-efficient design, to be more eco-friendly we also need to consider the manufacturing process. Once again, with COB and Common Cathode joining forces, we can deliver.

An ESG framework requirement is to minimize electronic waste and extend the life of their equipment. COB with Common Cathode delivers a longer product lifespan because with less heat output components last longer. The fact that the diodes are attached directly to the circuit board also contributes as fewer components are needed to physically build the modules. Once finished, the applied resin makes the modules more robust and less likely to result in dead or damaged pixels.

COB LED displays will also (eventually) eliminate the need for BIN batching, the process where individual diodes are meticulously sorted and graded based on their characteristics (color, brightness, wavelength) before they are sorted into batches of similar outputs. This complicates the spares and repairs process and can lead to unnecessary shipping requirements to get spares in place.

By removing the need for BIN batching, any module could be used on any compatible display, regardless of whether it was intended for it or not. This makes the management and logistical operations for spares and repairs much easier.

Buzzwords Vs Compelling argument

With the above being said, those in procurement should not overlook the bigger picture and truly understand what sustainability means—it shouldn't just be a buzzword. If a display cost more upon the initial purchase due to its use of new technology, consider where that initial investment can be recouped. It's much easier to request additional budget when you have a compelling argument to justify the additional cost, and even easier if it’s reducing its impact on the environment. The first and most important area to examine once all display requirements are met is the display's energy consumption. Making the right choices here can result in substantial yearly saving and an eco-friendlier approach. Any reputable display manufacturer should be transparent and assist you in calculating these values or provide a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) document.

"As always, new technology typically comes at a cost. LED Studio has made substantial investments in its COB production lines, enabling us to offer COB technology at highly competitive prices, even versus SMD! A primary motivation behind this initiative is to empower our customers to embrace more environmentally friendly technologies without straining their budgets, that starts by making it more financially accessible" Ross concludes.

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