What is Cob Light: Everything You Need to Know

By Tati Taylor 16 days ago, Lighting & Studio

COB LED lighting solutions have appeared on the market recently, since they provide better quality of light, are more energy efficient, and feature an advanced design. They come in handy for those who want more freedom and possibilities in creating fantastic lighting environments. In this article, you will find a lot of interesting things about COB LEDs, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as a comparison with similar lights.

What is a COB Light?

what is a cob light

This type of light source can work continuously for several hours. COB lights can be attached anywhere you want. You can also hold them in your hand or take them with you. Moreover, it has excellent customization options. Choose the desired intensity and adjust the directions depending on your needs. The setup can be preserved for a long time.

what is a cob light

If you haven't found the clear answer to the question "What is a COB LED light?" yet, let's see what this construction looks like. This is a panel with compact LED chips placed very close to each other. There is practically no space between them. This design allows you to get a uniform and a very bright beam of light. If the light seems too harsh, you can adjust the intensity or dim it with accessories.

COB Light: Pros & Cons

Uniform lighting effect. Such devices can illuminate a large area with a powerful and consistent light flow. You can use COB LEDs to light one or more subjects. What's more, you won't have to deal with the multiple shadow effect that is often seen when using other types of LED lights. Thanks to the large coverage capabilities with a single chip, you get a huge focusing area.

Compactness. The main advantage of COB LED lighting design is the close arrangement of diodes on a single substrate. There is practically no empty space, which allows reducing the size. Thus, you get more variability and ease of use.

Durability. These LEDs are highly reliable, conductive, and durable due to their low thermal resistance. Spot welding is not used when attaching LED chips to the substrate. As a result, the probability of light failure is lower.

Better energy efficiency. COB light has an edge over its competitors in terms of energy efficiency. It delivers brighter light with less power consumption.

Flexibility and simple installation. COB LED solutions are quite small and you can place them anywhere. Unlike SMD light, you don't need to use a separate circuit for each diode in the chip. When installing a whole LED COB panel, you only need one circuit and two contacts. Everything is very simple.

Needs a heat sink. Since this light source emits highly focused light waves in a limited area, this results in a lot of heat. In this case, a well-designed heat sink is a key thing. An improperly placed heating element can cause the diode to overheat.

Lower repairability. Keep in mind that mechanical damage to one diode leads to a malfunction of the entire COB LED structure. This means you will have to replace the whole panel. In this aspect, SMD LEDs are cost-effective since you only need to change the non-working element.

The color selection is limited. If you need to build color-changing lighting setups, then COB lights are not suitable for this purpose. You can only use them for n single-color applications because they only have two contacts and one circuit.

When Should You Use COB Lights?

cob light usage

COB LED lighting is a good choice if you are a videographer or photographer and need a continuous light source. For example, it comes in handy when you are taking portraits or photographing for a fashion catalog. Plus, you can use it while shooting food, products, and the like. This is one of the must-haves in your studio lighting kit.

when to use cob light

Commercial photographers are interested in sharp photographs without unnecessary shadows. COB LEDs can provide the necessary homogeneous and bright illumination for them. Also, these compact devices are useful for real estate, architecture, and industrial shooters. They can easily carry them with them to a photo session and set them up in the right place without any difficulty.

COB lights can produce amazing uniform lighting and help create the right atmosphere in wide spaces. You can easily direct the beam to the right place to focus on certain details.

What’s the Difference Between COD and SMD LED?

cob light vs smd led

There are many types of LED lights for photography. SMD and COB LEDs are the most popular. So, what is a COB LED light and how is it different from SMD?

cob light vs smd led design

Design. A COB light panel features a simpler and more compact design with more diodes. An SMD LED resembles a set of small lights with a more complex circuit design and fewer diodes. The second option is more in demand in ring lights for photography. A COB light is more compact and less heavy than its competitor.

Energy efficiency. An SMD light is left behind in terms of energy and heat efficiency. COB LED lighting is brighter and consumes less power. For example, SMD lights produce 50-100 lumens per watt, while COBs bring 80 lm per watt and more.

Pricing. COB LED has a lower production cost. In general, the cost of SMD is 15% of the total material cost. If we talk about its COB counterpart, then labor and production costs account for 10% of the material cost. So, COBs are cheaper.

cob light vs smd led light quality

Light quality. If you need to create a point light formed from multiple light sources, then you should choose SMD LED lights. Mind that they produce some glare.

COB lighting is ideal for those who are looking for a uniform light without glare. Its light beam is homogeneous and you can adjust it according to your needs. This is a better light source thanks to its wide-angle beam.

Choice of color temperature. SMD provides better variability and adaptability in terms of color and color temperature. You can add blue, red, and green diodes to the chip. On the other hand, COB has limited capabilities when it comes to changing colors and color temperatures. It can only produce one color and temperature of light.


  • • How long can I use COB LEDs?

It depends on how you use them and how much heat they are exposed to. Typically, a COB LED can last up to 50,000 hours with the expectation that it is used for about 12 hours a day.

  • • How do COB LEDs work?

COB lights are based on one circuit with just two contacts to power the multiple diode chips. You don't need many components to make your LED chip run smoothly.

  • • Are COB lights better than other LEDs?

Most of the other LED options work on older LED technologies. This means they are inferior to COB LEDs in terms of brightness, beam quality, and energy efficiency.

  • • How efficient are COB lights?

Experts claim COB has amazing lumens per watt ratio and high heat efficiency. COB chips emit from 80 lm per watt. Energy consumption is lower than their counterparts. They are used in phone flashes, point-and-shoot cameras, various light bulbs, and more.

  • • Is COB LED brighter than SMD LED?

COB is ahead of SMD in this aspect too. They can produce 80 lm per watt and up. Whereas SMD can emit from 50 to 100 lm per watt. This means COB LED lighting is brighter.