COB LED vs. HPS: Everything You Need to Know

Technology is gradually taking the world by storm and slowly influencing every aspect of our daily lives and activities. Even processes like agriculture and horticulture are not left out; they are gradually incorporating and enjoying the dividends of technology. 

Choosing the appropriate lighting technique is crucial as it can affect the cultivation process, plant growth, and the final yield. Several modern lighting techniques exist, but the COB LED vs. HPS are the two most common contenders.

The comparison between these two technologies has left many curious as to their properties and capabilities. This article will critically explore the intricacies between these technologies, their properties, advantages, strengths, and weaknesses. Let’s get started!

What Is a COB LED?

COB LED stands for Chip on Board Light Emitting Diode. It is an LED construction method with multiple LED chips mounted on a substrate to form a single module. With this mounting method, the tiny chips are closely packed together to produce an intense and concentrated light output.

Their mounting method also makes for faster heat dissipation and reduces the risk of overheating. Also, they are lightweight, more energy efficient than other LED types, and perfect for indoor lighting solutions.

They remain a top pick because they can emit specific wavelengths of light with high accuracy in the right direction. COB LEDs are versatile and easily customizable; they enjoy a wide range of lighting applications. 

The COB technology powers the bright lights in most stage LED displays, photography equipment, and general lighting.  They are also fit for horticulture and power most of the grow lights we have today.

What Is a HPS?

HPS stands for High-Pressure Sodium and is a type of HID lighting technology. Their high brightness levels make them ideal for commercial use in supermarkets, malls, transportation, and street advertising.

They have a high lumen output per watt consumed and thus maintain good efficiency despite high brightness levels. A HPS can also last for long hours without diminishing its brightness level.

As expected, they produce a great deal of heat while they are on. You can use this heat to your advantage, especially if you are a horticulturist or a plant grower. It can help condition your environment and produce the necessary temperature and atmosphere.

Undoubtedly, the HPS is vital during the flowering and fruiting stage of your plant. In another sense, the heat from the HPS grow light can do more harm than good, especially when your plant is in its budding stages.

For an HPS grow light to be effective, it is usually used together with another light to help reduce its intensity. Getting another light or tool to use alongside your HPS can cause you to incur unplanned costs.

What Are Grow Lights?

In simple terms, grow lights are special lights that help plants grow by imitating the natural sunlight. Since plants need light to grow, they attempt to produce light that will help speed up photosynthesis and flowering for indoor plants.

Initially, professional horticulturists and cultivators used these growth lights to enhance their plant growth and grow unique plants whenever they wanted. Now, plant owners can use them to nurture their plants and keep them healthy and flourishing.

The different light spectrums, varying temperatures, and intensities can mimic the outdoor lighting conditions and sun temperature. Depending on the species of plants and their stage of development,  you can adjust the light to suit its growth needs.

There are four types of grow lights: incandescent, fluorescent, High-Intensity Discharge (HID), and Light Emitting Diode (LED). Each type has its benefits; however, the LED remains the best choice because of its cost-efficiency and ability to produce the ideal light spectrum for different plants.

With grow lights, plant owners can get faster yield all year long. There’s no fear of the lack of adequate sunlight or perfect weather conditions; you can easily adjust the light to set the right temperature at any time.

Major Differences Between COB LED and HPS

The COB LED and HPS are distinct lighting solutions with their peculiar advantages and disadvantages. Aside from these pros and cons, they also have some functionalities that are unique to them and make them stand out. 

Without delving into their discrepancies, we can not successfully engage in the COB LED vs. HPS debate. Let’s take a look at their differences with different criteria as the standard:

1. COB LED vs. HPS Electricity Consumption: Differences in Energy Efficiency

When we talk about energy efficiency, we are simply considering which of these lighting technologies can produce better and brighter light, considering the amount of energy they consume. We would consider their lumen output per watt to measure the energy efficiency successfully.

For the COB LED, the Lumen output is around 80 lumens per watt. This means they can produce very bright light, even with low energy consumption. Plant growers who own COB LEDs enjoy a cost-effective lighting experience as they will indeed spend less on energy bills.

On the other hand, the HPS produces around 40 lumens per watt. Thus, they will produce a duller light output with the same amount of light input. In the long run, they tend to be more expensive than the COB LED. 

A common excuse for the HS is that even though it is an old lighting solution, it can still produce a considerably bright light output. Thus, the HPS is reasonably efficient when it comes to conserving energy, but the COB LED takes the crown in this COB LED vs HPS energy consumption round.

2. COB LED vs. HPS: Differences in Durability

In comparing durability, we will consider which lighting technology is stronger and lasts longer. To successfully determine which of these lights is more durable, we will compare some of the following factors: temperature sensitivity, shock resistance, vibration resistance, and lifespan.

Temperature sensitivity relates to their reaction to temperature changes in their environment. The COB LED does not often get affected by changes in the atmosphere because of its efficient heat dissipation system.

So whether the weather is hot or freezing, your COB LED grow light could keep working like nothing had happened. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for HPS grow lights. They do not have the best heat dissipation system, and this causes them to overheat sometimes.

Not to mention a change in the ambient temperature, they’ll undoubtedly react. If the temperature in your room starts to rise, your HPS lights for growing could just catch the bug and start burning up as well.

The mounting technique and design of each light have an impact on how resistant it is to shock and vibration. During manufacture, COB LEDs are directly affixed to the substrate’s surface in order to generate light.

They become strong, solid, and less vulnerable to harm from shocks, vibrations, and frequent bodily movements as a result of this process. This provides one more verification of the COB LED’s enhanced durability.

In contrast, the manufacturing method of HPS grow lights is not as robust, which makes them more brittle and vulnerable to damage from vibrations, shocks, and frequent movements.

And lastly, these lights all have remarkable lifespans. A COB LED has an amazing 50,000 hours of continuous life, compared to the 10,000–20,000 hours that a HPS can last. How amazing!

HPS grow lights are robust in and of themselves despite having a shorter lifespan—especially considering that they have been in use since the 1990s. Moreover, frequent usage causes their bulbs to lose efficiency and may require replacement. 

In summary, the COB LEDs exhibit greater durability compared to their HPS grow lights counterparts. In the COB LED vs. HPS showdown, the COB continues to roll up victories.

3. COB LED vs. HPS: Differences in Heat Intensity

No doubt, grow lights tend to produce heat, especially when they have been in use at a stretch. To be careful, you need proper information on the amount of heat that your grow light generates; otherwise, it would heat up her space and kill your plants and flowers.

Normally, the COB LED generates little heat. Thanks to its effective heat dissipation system, it easily dispels this heat away from the light to ensure that it maintains a reasonable temperature. Also, they are less sensitive to the changes in ambient temperature. 

For the HPS, however, generating high levels of heat is the norm. The heat comes from the high-pressure sodium gas discharge process of producing light. Thus, HPS needs proper ventilation and additional air conditioning systems to avoid overheating.

From all indications, it is another win for the COB in the COB LED grow lights vs. HPS showdown. Let’s make another comparison!

4. COB LED vs. HPS: Differences in Installation

Since they are both lighting solutions for grow lighting, there are bound to be some similarities in their installation patterns. Their intended use, fixture design, and power requirements will ultimately determine the installation method.

Since COB LEDs are lightweight and more compact, you will need to attach them to other structures to support their weight and keep them grounded. You may also need to adjust the height for a better light coverage angle and set up the electrical wiring.

COB LEDs are versatile and now come in different shapes and portable sizes. In such cases, you do not have to go through the stress of an installation; just connect your grow light to a power source, and you are good to go.

Since HPS lights consume significantly more electricity, you need to set them up close to any power source in your house. Unlike the COB, they are bulkier and heavier and will require some screwing here and there and a little more care to set them in place.

Their size and weight will limit the need for movement to avoid damaging the lights. Also, you may not have the chance to try different placement options; one good spot should be enough to light up the place and set you up to go.

The installation process overall is pretty straightforward but may sometimes require more care and intentionality. If there’s any confusion about setting up your grow light, do not hesitate to contact a professional LED installer or manufacturer to take up the job. 

5. COB LED vs. HPS: Differences in Maintenance

You need to engage in proper maintenance techniques to ensure your COB LED vs. HPS yields the best results and stays in good shape. Practices like cleaning, ventilation, bulb replacement, etc, are some maintenance techniques you should adopt.

Unless your surroundings are very dusty and dirty, you will not need to clean your COB LED growth light too frequently. This is because its controlled temperature makes it less prone to dust and other microorganisms.

The HPS, however, will need more frequent cleanings and monitoring because it easily attracts dust. By cleaning the dust and dirt regularly, you reduce the risk of accumulation and keep your light solution looking clean always.

Unfortunately, HPS bulbs may need frequent bulb changes. Trust me, these bulbs are not cheap and can lead to higher costs for you. On the other hand, if you have a COB LED grow light, you will be less concerned with bulb replacement as the LEDs last longer.

Also, you need to make plans for proper ventilation as these grow lights tend to produce heat as they work. You can open up your windows to let in fresh air. Also, run a check on your HVAC system so you use air conditioning on days when the heat is super intense.

Generally, maintenance procedures do not always involve repairs and structural changes. Sometimes, a simple clean or temperature adjustment will do the trick and leave your grow light working better.

If you want to engage in any maintenance procedure that will require dismantling and screwing, be sure to use safety gear and protect yourself. When the task seems beyond your control, contact your repairer immediately.

6. COB LED vs. HPS: Differences in Cost

If you are just starting out as a plant grower, you need all the information you can get. One piece of information that is very important to note is the cost of buying, owning, and using any of these grow lights in question.

At the initial stage, COB LED grow lights are usually more expensive to purchase. This is understandable because of its advanced features, energy efficiency, customizability, and other amazing features it has.

The HPS, on the other hand, costs less to purchase at the beginning because they have been in existence far longer than the COBs. If you are starting your journey on a budget, this might just be the light for you.

Things like energy consumption, ventilation, maintenance, and replacement costs can either hike or lessen the general operational cost. We’ve already seen that the COB LED costs less to run all these things, while the HPS costs way more.

In essence, you may spend more purchasing a COB LED grow light initially; however, you will spend more on the HPS the more you use it. Ultimately, you get to decide the cost you want to bear and run with it.

7. COB LED vs. HPS: Differences in Light Spectrum

Light spectrum refers to the range of colors we see when we look at the rainbow. When light passes through a prism, it produces several colors, some of which the human eye cannot see.

At different phases of their life, plants require different colors of light to help them develop more effectively. We will examine the various light spectrums produced by these grow lights and their potential effects on plants, given that they aid their growth.

The entire light spectrum is fully adjustable with COB LEDs. This implies that with COB LED grow light full spectrum, you won’t need any extra light during the plant’s growth stage when using it. All you need to do is adjust the light to suit whatever stage of growth your plant is in.

The HPS light spectrum, on the other hand, is primarily red-orange. At the blooming stage of fruiting and flowering, your plant needs this light; however, if it comes before or after this stage, it becomes a problem.

HPS also has a blue spectrum that aids in the growth of vegetation. They also emit ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) light, which improves the plant’s overall health. COBs also emit these lights, but they do so in much larger quantities that the plant can use. 

COB LED growth lights are a superior option for plant producers because of their wider light spectrum. In the COB LED grow lights vs. HPS argument, COB LEDs have won yet again.

8. COB LED vs. HPS: Differences in PPFD-Value

The term “PPFD” (Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density) refers to a measurement of the photon flux accessible for photosynthesis. The unit of measurement for the PPFD value is µmol/m2/, or micromoles per square meter per second.

COB LEDs are designed to produce more uniform light, and as such, they have higher PPFD values. The customizable light spectrum also plays a vital role here. The plant grower can adjust the light to fit the required PPFD value at any time.

HPS grow lights also provide high PPFDs because of their red-orange spectrum. The only limitation is the fact that they do not have a broad light spectrum. So, at times when the red-orange light is not in use, the HPS grow light has little to nothing to offer.

Indeed, LEDs call the shots when it comes to all forms of digital lighting and LED displays. So, as long as PFFD is concerned in this COB vs. LED vs. HPS bulb debate, COB LED has the upper hand.

Although the COB is the clear winner, it would be unfair not to give the HPS its flowers. For a lighting solution that has been available since the ’90s, it still has its fair share of amazing functionalities.

No doubt, the COB LED grow light will always remain a top choice; however, the HPS can still hold its own and give the COB a good run for its money, not to mention its strength and high-end performance. Either way, you’ll have a good time growing your plants with these grow lights. 


Indeed, lighting solutions are there to make our lives better and our work smoother. As a plant grower, you no longer need to worry about the lack of sunlight or poor weather conditions; you can create the perfect conditions for your plant to thrive.

Whether you opt for the COB LED grow lights vs. HPS, you can grow your favorite plants anytime and anywhere. NSE LED is ready to provide you with the best grow light and cater to all your LED display needs. You can check out our work and get any product you like to get started!


1. COB LED and HPS: Which is Best for Plant Growth?

When it comes to plant growth, there’s a clear winner in the HPS grow lights vs. LED debate, and it is the COB LED. Apart from its favorable light spectrum and color, it also has a high level of energy efficiency and customization, which is best for plant growth.

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