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COB vs SMD LED Strips Explained

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Most people will have heard of COB LED strips and also standard LED strips, but not many of us know the real difference and benefits of each strip. That is where we come in to help guide you to buying the right type of lighting for your project. LED strip lights have been growing in popularity for the last few years, and in most projects, you will find some form of tape lights being used! But which type is best for me? 


                         SMD vs COB


What is COB?


COB standard for Chip on Board. This means that the LED is mounted directly onto the PCB rather than with SMD chips, they use a plastic reflector/casing which is then soldered to the circuit board. COB chips are much smaller than standard chips as they eliminate the need for the plastic casing & reflector, thus you can fit more chips per metre onto the PCB. That being said, COB chips go through no binning stage when in production, therefore colour consistency is not guaranteed across the length of the strip used. We have highlighted the pros and cons in a simple table below: 




Benefit from more LED chips per metre

No binning stage during production

Seamless output with no profile

Cutting intervals are not as frequent

Lifespan is predicted, rather than tested. No LM80 data

COB chips are not encased increasing the likelihood of damage

Colour consistency is not guaranteed

PCB weight often less than SMD strip

Reduced run lengths, often max 5 metres

Lower CRI ratings


What is SMD?


SMD LED stands for Surface Mounted Diode, which means the LED chip is surface mounted to the PCB within a housing. The casing houses both the LED diode and phosphor which then gets mounted to the circuit board by machine. The phosphor within the LED chip is responsible for converting some of the light into red & green wavelengths. This is certainly the most common type of LED strip on the market, and as technology has developed a number of years, the market has grown massively. Most of our range here at Arc LED used SMD LED tape lights and we have included a table below to highlight the benefits and some cons of using this type of lighting:




Low power consumption

Standard 60 LED/m strips will show spotting

Small size. Up to 336 LEDs per metre!

Cuttings points can be irregular

Up to 100,000 hour lifespan

High brightness/lumens per W

Non toxic materials

3oZ+ PCBs providing durability

Kelvin range offered is much better than COB

High CRI ratings 95+ available



Our opinion on COB LED Strips 


As specialists in the LED lighting industry, we are always getting asked for COB LED and our opinion on this new & popular product. In truth, we try to avoid COB strips where possible due to the high number of cons with this style of product. As a relatively new type of strip in the LED market, the technology is not as well developed as with SMD strip lights and therefore, we do not know exactly how 'good' this type of lighting is.


Is there an alternative to COB LED strips?


Yes, you will be pleased to know there are alternatives to COB strips and we at Arc LED have the solution! COB LED appeals to users usually down to the seamless appearance, but what most consumers do not know is that with a high density LED strip light, you can get the exact same appearance and linear light output.


LEDs have come a long way since they first burst onto the market with most strips offering just 60 LED/m and therefore giving you a horrible dotted output where you can see every single LED, even behind the diffuser. We now deal with a number of factories worldwide where we source and develop the latest PCBs on the market, with capabilities of up to 700 LED/m! The more diodes per metre, the higher chance of the output being spotless – in short. When using this type of LED strip light, you will need to house the strips within an aluminium profile and pair with an opal diffuser to achieve the seamless output, but a suitable heat-sink is always recommended with strip lighting, even with COB! 


Spotless LED strip lights are by far our most popular style of tape light and have been for the past 3 years since we first launched our collection. Browse the full range by clicking here


Arc LED Seamless Range


In addition to high-density SMD strip lights, we recently launched our new seamless range. This is virtually identical to COB strips, however have all of the benefits of SMD. Our seamless LED tapes use SMD technology to ensure colour consistency, 50,000 tested lifespans, high CRI rating and extended run lengths. Our brand new seamless range has been incredibly popular and can be used in a wide range of applications. Thanks to its self-cooling technology, it can be mounted without a profile if required, however, we still do advise to fit LED channels wherever possible! Our 7W and 10W versions are also IP67 rated meaning they can be used in popular areas such as shower niches, under patio steps and kitchen cabinets. 



Arc LED 7W Seamless 2700K Arc LED Seamless - Off Arc LED 7W Seamless 4000K




In conclusion, here at Arc LED we are certainly not as confident in COB LED strips, just yet, as technology is still being developed. LED lighting is becoming increasingly popular and with that, SMD LEDs will without a doubt continue to be developed with new and innovative technology. Weighing up the pros and cons, SMD LED strip lights come out on top for us due to their reliability, range, colour consistency and suitability for a wide selection of applications.


If you have more questions regarding LED strip lighting or would like to discuss your project, our team are here on hand to help!

Email us – [email protected], or call us on 01752 917447.

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