COB LED vs SMD LED: Which One to Choose for Your LED Lighting Needs?

smd vs cob

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LED light is getting popular with its energy-efficient and durable characteristics. Residential and commercial lighting, automotive, electronics, and signage applications use LED light. As an LED light company, we must keep up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in the market. Thus, we can provide our customers with the best products available. 

In the LED lighting industry, there are two prevalent types of LEDs: COB and SMD. They are solid-state durable lighting solutions with no moving parts. Both technologies are used for general lighting applications. They offer higher energy efficiency levels than traditional lighting solutions like incandescent bulbs. 

This post will compare COB and SMD LED so you can make informed decisions for your lighting needs. Let’s get started!

What are COB LED and SMD LED?

COB LED stands for Chip On Board LED. It is a type of LED with many LED chips mounted on a single substrate to form a single module. The LED chips are closely packed, which results in a high light output from a small area. This makes the light output more uniform and reduces the risk of glare.

SMD LED stands for Surface Mounted Device LED. It is a type of LED mounted onto a circuit board using a surface-mount technology (SMT) process. SMD LED chips are smaller than COB LED chips and compact, with a flat top and a rectangular shape. SMD LED technology allows for a high degree of precision in placement. As a result, it produces high-quality light output.

Both COB and SMD LEDs have their pros and cons. It is crucial to consider them when choosing the right LED lighting for your needs. Factors such as the size of the space, the desired light output, and the budget should all be considered.

smd vs cob

Performance Comparison

COB LED is well-known for its superior lumen output and color rendering index (CRI). It can produce more light per watt with a high lumen output. Thus, COB LED is more energy-efficient than SMD LED. COB LED can emit more light from a smaller surface area. It is proved to be an excellent choice for applications with limited space.

SMD LED has its own set of advantages in terms of performance. While SMD LED does not have the same lumen output as COB LED, it is more adaptable in size and shape. This facilitates integration into various lighting applications, such as LED strips and panels. SMD LED is a popular choice for energy-efficient lighting solutions due to its high efficiency.

Regarding the quality of light, the COB LED and SMD LED are different. This is due to the use of different numbers of diodes which influences the brightness and range of lighting. COB LED emits a uniform and glare-free light. The light beam produced is homogeneous and easy to modify. SMD LED has a glare to the resulting light and is ideal to be utilized as a point light. 

Cost Comparison 

The production cost of COB LED is lower than SMD LED. It typically comes in a standard size and shape. Its simplified manufacturing process helps keep costs down even for higher quantities.

For COB LED, labor and production costs account for 10% of the material cost. This demonstrates that chip-on-board LED saves you approximately 5% on manufacturing costs. You can also check this article to learn more about the process and costs for LED production.

In contrast, SMD LED has a higher production cost than COB LED, hence is more expensive. It is due to its complex manufacturing process that requires more precise equipment compared to COB LED. 

SMD LED offers more versatility in terms of size and shape. This can add to the cost as manufacturers need to produce a broader range of SMD LED products to meet different application requirements. The manufacturing and labor costs account for almost 15% of the material cost.

smd vs cob

Application Comparison

COB LED is often used in applications that require high-intensity lighting. For example, stage lighting, stadium lighting, and outdoor lighting. COB LEDs can provide a high-lumen output, producing bright and intense light. COB LED chips can be designed to emit a narrow beam angle, making them ideal for directional lighting applications.

COB LEDs are also commonly used for applications that require high-quality lighting. For instance, COB LEDs may be preferred in museums or art galleries where the accuracy of color rendering is critical. Plus, COB LEDs have a high Color Rendering Index (CRI).

On the other hand, SMD LED is often used in applications that require a lower lumen output. Examples of applications are indoor lighting, automotive lighting, and backlighting. The flexibility and low cost are vital, and the small size of the SMD LEDs can help cut installation costs.

As for the applications, SMD LEDs are usually applied in retail or hospitality settings. In such cases, the lighting designs may need to be changed frequently. SMD LED is also proved to be useful in creating custom lighting designs.

Thermal Management

The high power density of COB LEDs can cause a great heat build-up. This consequence affects the LED’s performance and lifespan. In such cases, thermal management systems effectively dissipate the heat in COB LEDs. This system is also used to manage heat build-up. 

Thermal management usually entails the use of a heat sink. Heat sinks can be made of aluminum, copper, or ceramic. It absorbs and dissipates the heat away from the LED. This action prevents the COB LEDS from overheating and keeps them within safe temperature limits.

SMD LEDs can produce amounts of heat despite their lower power density. It can’t be denied that the thermal management requirements of SMD LEDs are less demanding than COB LEDs.

The heat sink used with the SMD LEDs is smaller than those used with COB LEDs. Thermal pads and adhesives can also be used to improve heat transfer efficiency.

Maintenance Comparison

COB LEDs have fewer components and a lower failure rate. They usually have lower maintenance requirements, including

  1. Cleaning: Dirt and debris on the LED’s surface can reduce the amount of light emitted and cause the LED to overheat. Clean the COB LEDs with a soft cloth or brush.
  2. Thermal management: Ensure the COB LED is installed in a heat sink or other cooling system. Thus, thermal management is optimized.
  3. Replacement: COB LEDs are simple to install and remove.

SMD LEDs have multiple components, resulting in more maintenance than COB LEDs. Here are some considerations for SMD LED maintenance.

  1. Cleaning: Use a soft brush or compressed air to remove any dirt or debris from SMD LEDs.
  2. Soldering: SMD LEDs are soldered to a PCB. Inspect the solder joints on a regular basis and repair them as needed.
  3. Replacement: The PCB must be removed, and a new LED soldered onto the board to replace an SMD LED.
smd cob

COB and SMD LEDs: Which One to Go For?

Below are the factors to consider when deciding between COB and SMD LEDs:

PerformanceHave higher brightness levels and better color renderingHave lower brightness levels
FlexibilityNot flexible for customization optionsProvide greater flexibility and customization options
CostHave lower production costHave higher production cost
MaintenanceRequire less maintenance due to their simpler designRequire higher maintenance
SizeLarger in sizeSmaller in size

COB LEDs are generally best for high brightness levels, color accuracy, and long-term reliability needs. SMD LEDs are an excellent choice for applications requiring flexibility and customization.

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Main Differences between COB and SMD LEDs

COB chips typically have nine or more diodes concentrated in a single area. They all have one circuit and two contacts, regardless of the number of diodes. 

COB LED lamps cannot generate color-changing bulbs or lamps. It requires multiple channels to create color-changing effects. Due to the concentration of the LEDs in one area, greater cooling capacity is needed to prevent overheating. 

SMD LED chips can contain up to three diodes on a single chip. Each chip has its own circuit that has a cathode and an anode. As a result, the chip has 2, 4, or 6 contacts. 

The chip comprises a red, green, and blue diode. It allows any color to be produced by varying the output frequency. SMD chips are well-known for their brightness, which ranges between 50 and 100 lumens per watt. They are available in a variety of sizes and can accommodate complex designs.

The COB chip usually has 9 or more diodes. It also has 1 circuit and 2 contacts, but it is not related to the number of diodes.COB LED lights cannot be used to produce color changing bulbs or lamps and need to be regulated through multiple channels to produce color changing effects.

Lastly, COB LEDs are more concentrated and require greater cooling capacity. SMD LEDs are versatile, bright, and can produce any color.

smd vs cob 2


In short, COB and SMD LEDs are highly efficient and popular lighting solutions. Both of them have transformed the lighting industry. LED manufacturers constantly innovate and improve LED performance, efficiency, and durability.

The selection of COB or SMD LEDs is not the only factor influencing a lighting system’s overall quality and performance. Other major factors, including driver quality and optics, should be considered too. 

COB and SMD LEDs have their respective advantages and disadvantages. Subsequently, the choice between the two is not always clear-cut. The decision is influenced by the lighting project’s specific needs and requirements. Besides, other factors that influence the overall lighting performance should also be considered. 

I hope this article is helpful for your decision in choosing the right LED type. Or, you can achieve your optimal lighting results by working with Darkness LED. We are an experienced LED lighting company that supplies countries worldwide. Our team provides excellent after-sales service to give you peace of mind on LED packaging and inspection. Contact us today to get a comprehensive solution for your lighting needs!

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