LEDs have been the top choices, be indoors or outdoors, for either hobbyist or commercial growers. But one big drawback of LEDs is their big size, making it hard to fit small spaces. That's why people invented one type of LEDs which are still powerful for most vegetative and flowering flower, while don't contain much space.
Enter COB LED grow lights.
But COB isn't just known for its compact size, it also has more light intensity, and advantages than traditional LEDs and other grow light types.
In this post, I'll go explaining in details about the COD LED grow lights and help you pick the best ones on the market.
What are COB LEDs?
COB, or Chip-on-Board, is the new LED technology. It has its name as the LED chips will be mounted onto the circuit board to create LED arrays.
Because of the way COBs are built, COB LEDs reduce the components used and maximize the number of LED chips on the circuit. This makes COB LEDs have a number of advantages over the traditional SMD (Surface Mounted Device) LEDs, which we will discuss later.
The differences between COB LEDs and the traditional SMD LEDs
SMD (Surface Mounted Device) LEDs are the most common LED grow light you can find on the market.
Though both SMDs and COBs share similar characteristics such as wide light spectral spectrum, long lifespan, and efficient light output, here are some of the key winning points of COBs over SMDs.
Improved lumen density
Since COBs can be packed with more LED chips on the same substrate than SMD, it has a stronger light intensity and higher uniformity.
More focused light
Because more led chips are contained within an area and with the support of a reflector, the light produced is denser. With the use of a reflector, you can have a stronger and more vibrant light intensity for flowering plants.
A 200 lumen COB LED array can be much smaller than a 200 lumen SMD because COB makes better uses of the space.
Because fewer components are used to make these LEDs, and the thermal sink is pointed toward the circuit board, COBs tend to emit less heat than traditional LEDs. But the material of the COB substrate, the heat sink structure and the board circuit design play (Source) an important role in heat distribution. That's why you should look for a quality COB LED.
However, you also must know the downsides.
COBs have less versatility than SMD LEDs.
Even though you cannot have as many as LED chips on each array, SMDs allow accommodating more than one contact. And a single chip can have up to 3 diodes - each diode also has a separate circuit. This permit the SMD chips to have multiple colors - blue, red, green diode. Also, you can mix these colors by changing the light output of each color.
Meanwhile, even though COB LEDs have many diodes, they only accommodate 2 contacts and 1 circuit. That means you often see that COB LEDs produce a single color wavelength from time to time, and you cannot adjust it like other SMD LED lights.
SMDs generate more widespread light output.
It gives more light distribution than COBs. In this sense, traditional SMDs have a better light coverage and penetration for the plant canopy, which makes it more convenient to grow in an opener grow area.
Comparison between COBs and other grow lights
You can find below a quick comparison table between COB LED and other light technology
|Light spectrum||Full spectrum||Short||Short||Long||Short|
This leads to the next section
Why Choose COB LED Grow Lights?
The table below shows you that besides the cost, COB LED tends to win over other grow light types in every criterium. Let's blast through the details.
This is the number one factor that affects your plant growth, especially flowering plants. Regarding this, COB LED is only behind HPS, it has a stronger light output than other light types, even the traditional LED grow lights.
All modern LED grow lights, including COB LEDs, are known for their widest spectrum wavelengths. Some bulbs also include 12-color spectrum colors, including IR (infrared ray) and UR (ultraviolet ray)
Heat ventilation is also a strong point of COB LED. Modern technology allows these LEDs to produce strong light output while controlling the heat emitted. Some high-end COBs also use quality substrate, drivers, fans, which control the heat to the minimum.
Though COB LEDs with more power will be bigger, you'll never have such a compact light that still generate lots of light like COB, which makes it better suited for small areas.
Depending on the COB material build, most COBs can last from 30,000 - 60,000 hours. This is several times higher than other grow light types.
Top 5 COB LED Grow Light reviews
Dimensions: 21.3 x 7.1 x 3.9 inches
Weight: 12.02 pounds
Actual Wattage: 185 - 200W
Coverage: 2 - 4"
Lifespan: 50,000 hours
Dimmable light control from 10 - 200W
Wavelengths: Full spectrum (380nm - 780nm)
COB LEDs: CREE
Dimension: 14.2 x 9.4 x5.5"
Weight: 5.9 pounds
Wavelengths: Wide (440nm - 730nm)
Actual power: 200W (± 5%)
Ventilation: An aluminum substrate and two cooling fans
LED: Quality Epileds
Warranty: 2 years and 90-day product return
Lifespan: 50,000 hours
Budget COB Light
Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.6"
Weight: 4.4 lbs
Actual power: 108 (±3%)W
Wavelengths: 9-color spectrums, including UV and IR
LEDs: 80 pcs 3W Bridgelux/Epileds and 1 pcs 60W Cree COB
Coverage: 2.5' x 2.5' at a height of 24”
Lifespan: 50,000 hours
Warranty: 2 year
Other COB LEDs
Dimensions: 12.4 x 7.9 x 3.5 inches
Weight: 6.61 pounds
Wavelengths: Wide spectrum (410 - 730nm)
Actual Power: 200W
Coverage: 3ftx3ft at 21" for vegetative phase; 2ftx2ft at 18" for flowering period
LEDs: 10 pcs 5W CREE LEDs and 4 pcs 100W Epileds COBs
Warranty: 1 year
Dimensions: 15.8x8.26x2.36 inches
Weight: 8.4 pounds
Actual power: 300W
Max coverage: 3ft x 3ft at 24" height
Lifespan: 100,000 hours
Timer control included
It's hard to find a quality LED product but at the same time inexpensive these days. That's why if you're looking for quality COB LEDs, I would recommend the CF Grow COB LEDs. They are well-built COBS with the quality CREE LEDs and a MEANWELL driver. CF Grows are also packed with all special features that other COB lights can't compare like dimmable light output, full spectrum wavelengths. This assures quality light output for your grow for a long time.
However, budget growers don't have to worry as there are lots of inexpensive COBs that produce great results. We would recommend the Roleadro COB LEDs. They produce good light output, have a 2-year warranty and are well-praised reviews by online customers. These COBs could be a great introduction for small, weekend to midsize hydroponic growers.