COB LED vs SMD LED: Which Do You Choose For Your Lighting Needs?

There is absolutely no doubt about it – if you’re looking to create a display or lighting for a location, you want to make sure you touch all the pockets and make sure that everyone who steps into that place is able to enjoy the best experience possible. 

Everyone’s on the line here – you have to consider brightness, cater to the needs of each individual’s viewing requirements, and so much more. And today, there are just so many options to choose from. 

COB and SMD LEDs are among the most popular LED light variants at the moment. But, how do you know which to choose between them? Let’s find out! 

COB LED vs SMD LED: Understanding Both Lighting Technologies

The Definition & Characteristics of COB LED

The COB LED light has become one of the most popular LED variants in the market at the moment. Short for “Chip -on-Board,” this LED technology for packaging works with the use of multiple LED chips, which are directly placed on a substrate and used to form a single module. 

Now, this packaging mechanism is exactly  what makes COB LED so unique. Unlike traditional LEDs that mount individual LEDs separately, COB LEDs instead make use of these LED chips in a bunch, placing them together on the substrate as a unit. 

COB LEDs come with different characteristics that place them in a class of their own when it comes to LED operations. These include:

  • A Dense Light Presentation: Lighting density is one area where COB LEDs shine quite well. Thanks to the fact that their LEDs are packed closely together, you get a lot of intense lighting – especially compared to the traditional LED options. 
  • Managing Heat Efficiently: COB LEDs are also known for their improved thermal performance. Considering that heat is one of the major challenges that most users of LED lights experience, COB LEDs ensure that this heat can properly be taken out in a way that doesn’t affect the operation or lifespan of the lights. 
  • Seamless Color Mixing: Another major benefit that COB LEDs offer with their unique form is that they mix color much better than your average lighting module. If you’re looking for consistency and uniformity in light output, COB LEDs are here for you. 
  • An Easy Fit: COB LEDs are, by default, small. So, if you’re looking for a LED option that fits into compact or tiny spaces, then you have a solid option here. 
  • Very Little Glare: With their unique design, COB LEDs cut down on glare as much as possible. The light source is evenly distributed, and you get a much more comfortable light view. 
  • Part Of A System: If you’re looking to build a broader lighting setup or system, then you can count on COB LEDs to seamlessly slot in and be part of it. They are easy to implement in lighting applications, and you can find them in different configurations and sizes. 
  • You Save Money: Regardless of how much you have, there’s a considerable chance that you will be able to get a COB LED light that works just perfectly. 

What Is An SMD LED & Why Is It Notable?

Next, let’s look at the question of what is a SMD LED

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Surface-Mount Device (SMD) LED. These light-emitting diodes are known for their distinct look, which involves mounting LEDs directly on the surface of a circuit board. 

This is done with the use of surface-mount technology, and it makes SMD LEDs stand out as they simply have small leads or contacts that are joined to the board surface. In most cases, you will find that this joining is done using soldering, thus giving the LEDs a much better feel of  solidity.

Like COB LEDs, SMD LED displays have also been compared with several other notable LED display options. SMD LEDs have several distinct characteristics that make them especially unique:

  • Operational Versatility: Generally, you can rest assured that you can use your SMD LEDs in different capacities. We’ll look into the details later, but these LEDs do a very good job of maintaining brightness across the board. 
  • Keeping A Low Profile: Like COB LEDs, SMD LEDs also do quite well to maintain their compact and small shapes. So, if you need a slim display option, the SMD LED can work for you. 
  • High Brightness: Are you in the market for high-brightness display options? Then rest assured that you can get that with an SMD LED as well. 
  • Automation Compatibility: One of the things that set SMD LEDs apart is that they are properly suited for automated systems. Their use of surface-mount technology means that they can help you to save a great deal of costs, especially when it comes to seamless automation integrations. 
  • A Broad Range Of Color: You can find SMD LEDs in different colors. This makes it easy for you to design a lighting solution that meets your needs and color requirements. 
  • More Bang For Your Buck: Generally, SMD LEDs are known to last quite long. Now, what is SMD LED lifespan? This can vary based on the manufacturers 

COB LED vs SMD LED: Which Lighting Option Is Brighter?

Well, at the end of the day, the very first thing you want to keep in mind when it comes to lighting is brightness. With this in mind, you might want to know whether an LED COB light or SMD light provides the best form of utility. 

Generally, both options have something going for them. COB LEDs and SMD LEDs are designed to improve brightness, and it might not necessarily be accurate to say that one variant is inherently brighter than the other. Instead, it is important to compare the COB vs SMD variants based on their specifications. 

From lux output to lumens and more, there is so much that can be said here. 

For instance, COB LEDs have their high light intensity as a major selling point. As part of the COB light meaning, we pointed out that you have different LED chips being packed on the same substrate. As such, COB LEDs do better to concentrate light. Also, the design of these lights helps them to improve uniformity in light distribution. So, you don’t have to worry about one part of the subject being better lit than the other.  

Moving on, SMD LEDs are also quite notable. When you ask “what is an SMD LED,” one major thing you get to see is that they are versatile. You can find different configurations and sizes of SMD LEDs – from the SMD 5050 to other types. The LED 5050 SMD is probably the most popular variant here, and it provides optimal power input for you. 

Finally, an SMD 5050 LED strip can also provide a compact build that works in areas where you just don’t have enough available space. 

So, what does this mean? At the end of the day, you want to consider what your lighting requirements are when considering chip on board vs SMD. Look into their available liments, lighting efficiency, and ability to take in power and provide the desired lighting outcomes. Once you do it’ll be easy to choose which option works best for you. 

COB LED vs SMD LED: Thermal Management Comparison

You might not know this, but LED lights produce a lot of heat as a result of their operation. We all know that light is a major source of heat – and, if a LED light is unable to properly manage the heat it produces, that heat could literally cause a major fault.  

So, when comparing COB vs LED SMD, you need to also take this into consideration. The COB LED has been compared with several other lighting options, and it remains a major seller today.

The Selling Points For COB LEDs

  • Properly Concentrating Heat: A typical COB LED light comes with a higher power density rating. This is because of the light’s internal design, which concentrates heat and improves thermal management to a considerable degree. 
  • Heat Spreading: We should also mention the fact that COB LEDs have a much broader surface area. As a result, the heat that is generated is forced to spread over a larger area and is unable to build up. No need to deal with those hotspots when you have a COB LED
  • Use Of A Heat Sink: Not all COB LEDs have this, but the most advanced of them also integrate  heat sinks that improve thermal management. With the right heat sink, a COB LED will be able to soak in heat and expel it properly. 
  • Additional Regulation Mechanisms: Finally, you have COB LEDs that need additional regulation measures to take care of the heat that is generated while they operate. So, the mechanisms for managing heat here are quite robust. 

What About SMD LEDs?

Of course, we should also note that SMD LEDs have their own selling points when it comes to managing heat. Whether you’re working with an AMD LEDs 5050 or some other variant, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind: 

  • A Comparatively Lower Power Density: One important point when considering SMD or LED COB is that the former naturally has a lower level of power density. This is because in SMD LEDs, you have individual LEDs that are placed directly on the circuit board. So, heat distribution is higher, and that is a major plus. 
  • The Sleek Design: With their more compact design, SMD LEDs do a great deal of work to dissipate heat. This is especially heightened by the fact that in some designs, you have the circuit boards themselves functioning as heat sinks. 
  • The Use Of Thermal Pads: Some SMD LEDs also come with a special design that makes use of solders or thermal pads to mount them on the circuit boards. As a result, heat transfer is generally improved. 
  • Additional Ventilation Outlets: Finally, we should note that some SMD LED systems come with natural ventilation outlets that make it easy for any heat generated during operation to flow out. 

At the end of the day, you can pick any option in the LED COB vs LED SMD debate and rest assured that it will dissipate heat well. But, keep an eye on your application requirements and the environment to select which might be a better fit for you. 

COB LED vs SMD LED: Which Is Easier To Work With?

If you’re going to get a LED light option, then it goes without saying that you want something that’ll be easy and seamless to work with. At the end of the day, this is important because you don’t want to end up with a LED light that stresses you out. 

And, when choosing between chip on board vs SMD, you want to also consider this feature too. So, how do they compare in operational seamlessness? 

The Peculiarities Of COB LEDs

  • Soldering: For manufacturers and users, COB LEDs require a great deal of care while soldering. To avoid short circuits and solder bridges, you want to make sure that this is done by an expert alone. We can’t possibly stress this enough. 
  • Watch As You Install: You also want to make sure that  you handle the LEDs carefully as you install them. Now, because COB LEDs are larger, there’s a general sense that they are easier to handle – and, to an extent, this is true. But, you still want to be very careful here. 
  • An Intricate Wiring Process: When completing the wiring process of a COB LED, you would need to connect different LED chips  – either in a series or parallel connection standard. Whatever the configuration, be sure to pay close attention to the wiring details overall. 
  • Possible Heat Management: When discussing the COB light meaning, we pointed out that they might need additional help when it comes to heat management. Remember this, and make sure that your LED has the right infrastructure to optimally manage heat as much as possible. 

Handling Details For SMD LEDs 

  • More Difficult To Solder: Well, the size advantage that forks for SMD LEDs when looking for space also means that they are rather challenging to solder. These chips are closer to the circuit board, although this also means that you want to be extra careful when handling the soldering option. 
  • Limited Space Adaptation: Due to their smaller size, SMD LEDs work better when you don’t necessarily have enough space. As you can imagine, this comes as a major work benefit. 
  • A More Seamless Heat Management: Because their circuit boards can act as heat sinks too, SMD LEDs generally make it easier for you and your operation to manage heat. 

At the end of the day, your decision in the SMD or LED COB debate will depend on the amount of space you have, how easy you want your installation process to be, and the general requirements of your project.

COB LED vs SMD LED: Which Is More Energy-Efficient?

Generally, LEDs as a source of light make use of a considerable amount of energy. Whether it’s to power their operations or as a byproduct of their running, these LEDs consume quite a lot of energy. 

Your job here is to find out does an LED COB light saves energy? What’s SMD LED energy efficiency like? 

The Case For COB LEDs

  • High Light Density: The biggest argument in favor of COB LED lights when it comes to energy efficiency is the fact that they have a high light density. By concentrating light, they use less energy and help you to achieve more. 
  • Using Power Well: Just as well, the unique design of a COB LED means that you get a more effective level of power use. These LEDs are packed tightly, so they can work together to create a more uniform and effective output in general. 
  • Managing Heat Better: Overall, there’s an argument to be made that COB LEDs do better with managing heat due to their unique build. From dissipating heat better to incorporating other solutions to improve thermal management, these LEDs are quite effective overall. 

SMD LEDs’ Selling Points

  • The Sleek Build: Once again, the fact that SMD LEDs are comparatively smaller means that they will most likely come with a lower power density than their counterparts. And, since they can convert a considerable amount of electrical energy to light, you can get more done with less. 
  • Use For Whatever You Want: With optimal versatility in application, SMD LEDs allow you to enjoy overall efficiency regardless of the setting. 
  • The Higher Power Conversion: Finally, keep in mind that SMD LEDs are essentially standalone LED panels. So, they usually convert power more efficiently. 

So, How Do You Choose? 

Generally, you want to make a decision based on some of the following yardsticks: 

  • What Do You Need?: As always, begin by considering your power and energy requirements here. When you need uniformity and high light intensity, COB LEDs take the cake. But, SMD LEDs also pack a punch in the term that they are versatile. 
  • The Technical Details: Of course, you also need to keep an eye out for some of the major technical details that these LEDs have. One of the most important is the Lumens per Watt, which measures the general efficiency of an LED. 
  • How Efficient Is the Driver: Every LED has a driver, which regulates the amount of power given to it. The more efficient a LED’s driver is, the better it will handle energy. It’s that direct. 

COB LED vs SMD LED: Which Is More Expensive?

The process of choosing a LED option will also have an impact on your pocket and financial wherewithal/ If you’re working with a budget, you want to make sure that the LED you choose properly fits into it. 

So, on the LED COB vs LED SMD debate, which is more affordable?

Generally, COB LEDs tend to have an overall higher material cost. This is because of their design, which usually includes more LED chips being placed on the substrate. However, you should also keep in mind that these LEDs also come with more functionality – especially when it comes to thermal management. 

On the SMD LED side, you get a generally more affordable option that’s easy to handle and is also available in different variants. So, you’re not particularly losing anything here. However, you want to also check that the LED is energy-efficient and that it will be able to provide enough illumination for your requirements.


At the end of the day, there are pros and cons of both COB and SMD LEDs for sure. And, both of them have become incredibly popular for people looking to improve their lighting efficiency. 

As long as you make a choice that aligns with your needs, you won’t have an issue. And, if you need any additional help, rest assured that we at NSE LED Cloud are here to help you out. 

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