LED strips is something every home has right now. But why? LED strips are highly flexible and can be easily bent or cut to fit various spaces. This makes them suitable for a wide range of applications, including under cabinet lighting, accent lighting, cove lighting, and decorative lighting. LED strips can enhance the aesthetics of a space. They are often used for architectural and decorative lighting, providing a modern and stylish look to homes. LED strips emits a soft glow of light, giving off a cosy ambience while highlighting the beautiful features of a home.
Due to its popularity, LED strips has evolved and can perform novel features like dimming and integration with smart home system. But don’t be overwhelmed, as today we will be share with you the difference between the most common types of LED strips; SMD LED strips vs COB LED strips. And hopefully after today, you will be able to decide better on which type is the one for you!
SMD LEDs are mounted on the surface of the strip. They consist of individual LED chips placed on a flat surface. The most common types of SME LEDs are 5050 and 2835, which refer to the dimensions of the LED chip in millimetres.
The distance between the LED chips are placed will affect the light spread and the intensity of brightness. Simply meaning more LED chips = brighter. Hence, in this case, 5050 will provide a poorer illumination compared to its 2835 counterpart. As you can see from the image above, the gap between 5050(right side of the image) is wider compared to 2835(left side of the image).
In our opinion, 2835 is a better type as a tighter gap between the LED chips will give you a brighter illumination and reduce the “dotted” effect concurrently. A sparse light distribution is not something that most home-owners are trying to achieve.
COB technology involves mounting multiple LED chips directly onto a substrate to form a single module or "chip." This results in a more compact and integrated light source. This type of LED strips is created as a better, higher quality alternative to the classic SMD LED strips.
COB LED strips will eliminate the “dotted” problem that current SMD LED strips are facing. COB LED strips will provide a more uniform and even light output as multiple LED chips are closely packed together on the same module, creating a continuous light source.
As the popularity of LED strips are growing, there are more precise functions available for the users. We are talking about features that can enhance our daily urban lifestyle. Dimmability is a must for home-owners who values ambience settings and overall wellbeing. Dimmable lights allow individuals to control the level of brightness in a space, creating different atmospheres and moods. Lowering the intensity of light can create a cozy and intimate ambiance, while higher brightness levels are suitable for tasks that require more illumination. Bright light exposure, especially during the evening, can interfere with circadian rhythms and disrupt sleep patterns. So dimming lights in the evening may help promote relaxation and signal to the body that it's time to wind down, contributing to better sleep quality.
Smart feature is the next craze. It is not uncommon to hear about smart home now as compared to few years back. It used to be just a fantasy, but smart home has evolved, becoming stable and appliable in our daily lives. Smart lights can be controlled remotely through smartphone apps or voice commands, providing users with many functions with a few simple steps. And smart lights often support the creation of custom scenes and presets. Users can configure specific lighting arrangements for different activities, such as movie watching, reading, or entertaining guests, and activate them with a single command or button press.
LED strips with the right components can achieve both dimmable and smart functions. These purposeful characteristics do come with extra cost too. So, to know what is best for you; first, you must understand between your needs and wants.
The next question customers will ask us is: “So, which is suitable for me?”.
While that depends on where you are placing the LED strips, as well as your budget. Here are some frequently asked questions from our customers. By asking the right question, you will soon understand which type of LED strip is suitable for you:
Question: I am installing the LED strip close to a reflective surface (i.e. on top of a marble slab, next to a shiny surface), SMD or COB?
Answer: Go for COB LED strips. Due to the reflective surface, the SMD LED strips will give you a visible “dotted” light output that reduces the aesthetic visual in the overall space.
Question: I am installing it as a cove lighting, which one is better for me?
Answer: You can consider going with the 2835 LED strips. As LED strips are usually well-hidden inside the false ceiling and with that said, using 2835 light output will not give you the uneven light distribution as compared to installing near a reflective surface.
Question: Can I mix the COB and SMD LED strips? Perhaps 2835 for ceiling cove lighting and COB for the rest of the area?
Answer: Yes, you can. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to a mixing different types of LED strips. But there will be a slight difference between the light color and the intensity of brightness. As at the end of the day, they are using very different LED technologies. So, for home-owners who are particular when comes to the consistency of light output, we will suggest to choose the same type of LED strips for the entire house.
Question: Which is more costly?
Answer: Due to the perks COB LED strips offer, COB type will be more costly compared to SMD types. Price difference ranges from 20% to 40% depending on vendors. For us, we have 2835 LED strips at $36/5m and COB LED strips at $49/5m.
Question: LED strips comes in a long length, but can I use the same strip in different locations?
Answer: LED strips can be easily cut with a scissor; hence you can split up the same strip and utilise in different areas.
Question: I am leaning towards dimmable function. Can both types of LED strips work?
Answer: Both will work well with the correct dimmable components. But COB LED strips will be a better option as SMD LED strips will emit obvious uneven light output when dim.
Question: Does all LED strips need a driver?
Answer: Most LED strips in the market requires an external driver to work but there are some brands (i.e. Philips Hue) which uses integrated drivers which is located inside the electrical plug.
Question: What is the main difference between LED strips with external driver and integrated drivers?
Answer: There is a length limitation for LED strips using integrated drivers. The maximum length for those is usually 10m and nothing more. However for LED strips with driver, the lengths are customisable and can go a lot longer than 10m.
Question: How about LED strips that can change light colors?
Answer: Yes, we do have those. We called it CCT-COB LED strips. It is using the COB technology and it can tuned from warm(2700K) to daylight(6500K) using a remote control or an app.
Question: How does your smart LED strip like works?
Answer: To enable the smart feature for LED strip, we will be adding a control box between the light and the driver. This control box communicates to a remote control or Wi-Fi(depending which type you choose) which leads you to control the light color and brightness seamlessly using remote control or via phone app.
Question: Do I really need to get smart type of LED strips?
Answer: Well, you don’t have to, if you know that you will not use the functions. Smart lights are for people who needs the flexibility(i.e. change light color, dimmable) and convenience(control via remote, app or voice command).
Question: If we are talking about light colors of the LED strips, which is suitable for a home?
Answer: Most of our customers will prefer warm light as it gives off a welcoming vibe. Cool white light color is commonly used in kitchen or vanity area. But it is totally up to you!
Ultimately, the choice between SMD and COB LED strips depends on the specific lighting requirements, budget constraints, and preferences of the user. Each technology has its advantages and trade-offs in terms of brightness, uniformity and cost. If you still have some doubts and need our assistance, simply email us or fill out the contact form and our lighting specialists will be able to help you from there.
Till next time!