DIP vs. SMD vs. COB: A Comprehensive LED Lighting Comparison

Due to advantages like energy-saving and intelligence, LEDs dominate the current lighting world and consistently drive the evolution of illumination. But have you ever paused to consider why certain LED lights carry the DIP label, while others are branded as SMD or COB? These aren’t just random acronyms; they represent the diverse options within LED lighting, each tailored for specific applications. For instance, the primary LED spotlight categories include the DIP (Dual In-line Package), the SMD (Surface Mount Diode), and the COB (Chip On Board). Each kind of light has its own special benefits, changing how we light up our spaces today. Let’s take a closer look at these three different types of lights.

What is DIP LED?

DIP, standing for “Dual In-line Package,” represents one of the earliest forms of LED technology. These LEDs consist of a single diode connected to two straight parallel pins, which are then passed through a PCB (printed circuit board) for mounting. This through-hole method of installation was the standard before the advent of surface mount technology. For many years, DIP LEDs have served as the foundation for numerous electronic devices and displays. With their distinct bulbous tops, they’re easy to recognize. You’ll typically find them in old-school indicator lights. They’re also a staple in remote controls and some of the older display panels.

Why Choose DIP?

DIP LEDs, while older in technology, still present certain benefits when directly compared to the more modern SMD and COB LEDs:

Robust Construction: Unlike the more delicate SMD and COB LEDs, DIP LEDs are sturdier. For instance, a typical DIP LED can withstand a drop from a height of 1.5 meters without damage, making them more resistant to physical damage. This robustness is especially beneficial in environments where the LEDs might face rough handling.

Cost-Effective: DIP LEDs generally have a simpler manufacturing process. On average, DIP LEDs can be 10-20% cheaper than their SMD or COB counterparts, making them more affordable. When budget constraints are a concern, DIP LEDs often emerge as the economical choice over SMD and COB.

Easier Heat Management: Due to their larger size and through-hole design, DIP LEDs often dissipate heat more effectively than SMD LEDs. For instance, a DIP LED might have a thermal resistance of 15°C/W, whereas an SMD LED might be around 25°C/W, reducing the need for additional heat management solutions.

Ease of Replacement: The individual nature of DIP LEDs, combined with their through-hole design, means that a technician might take only 5 minutes to replace a faulty DIP LED, compared to 15 minutes for an SMD or COB LED, which might require more intricate rework.

Focused Light Output: DIP LEDs produce a narrower beam of light compared to SMD and COB. For example, a typical DIP LED might have a beam angle of 30°, while SMD and COB LEDs often range between 120° to 140°, making DIP LEDs ideal for applications that require directed or pinpoint illumination.

What is SMD?

SMD, an acronym for “Surface-mounted devices,” refers to LED chips that are mounted directly onto the surface of a PCB (printed circuit board) using surface mount technology (SMT). This cutting-edge approach has broadened their use in various applications, both common and specialized. Notably, SMD LEDs light up our smartphone screens and alert us with notification indicators. Additionally, they play a crucial role in modern Television Screens, offering vibrant and energy-efficient displays.

Why Choose SMD?

SMD LEDs are one of the most common types of lighting that we have today. They have carved a significant niche in the lighting world, especially when compared to DIP and COB LEDs. While all three have their merits, SMD LEDs offer certain distinct advantages:

Diverse Designs: SMD LEDs are typically 1.4mm x 1.4mm in size or even smaller, showcasing their compact and sleek design. Their diminutive size makes them an ideal choice for applications where space is at a premium.

Adaptable Use: Despite their compactness, SMD LEDs are versatile. For instance, they’re used in devices ranging from smartphones, where they might occupy less than 2mm² of space, to large outdoor displays spanning several meters.

Luminous Brilliance: SMD LEDs can achieve luminosity levels of up to 150 lumens per watt, outshining many DIP LEDs which might max out at around 100 lumens per watt.

Spectrum of Colors: While a DIP LED typically has one diode, an SMD LED can house three diodes (RGB). This allows them to produce over 16 million color combinations, providing a broader color range than DIP and COB.

Cool and Consistent: SMD LEDs have a thermal resistance ranging from 10°C/W to 15°C/W, ensuring they dissipate heat effectively and maintain consistent performance.

Wide Beam Angle: SMD LEDs typically have a beam angle ranging from 120° to 140°, which is broader than the average DIP LED’s 30° to 60°, ensuring more extensive light coverage.

Uniform Light Distribution: Due to their multi-diode configuration, SMD LEDs can mix colors seamlessly, ensuring no dark spots or uneven brightness. Their color uniformity index often exceeds 80, resulting in harmonious and vibrant light output.

Hassle-Free Installation: With surface mount technology, installing SMD LEDs can be automated, allowing for the placement of hundreds of LEDs in a minute, reducing setup time and complexity.

What is COB LED?

COB, standing for “Chip On Board,” is a modern LED technology where multiple LED chips are packaged together on one board. This design allows for a denser array of LEDs, resulting in a more unified and powerful light source. Unlike traditional LEDs where each chip is distinctly visible, COB LEDs appear as a single lighting module, providing a smooth and bright output.

Why Choose COB?

COB (Chip On Board) LED lights have rapidly gained popularity in the lighting industry, and for good reasons. Their unique design and capabilities make them a preferred choice for a myriad of applications, from illuminating vast streets to enhancing the ambiance of a backyard. Here’s why COB LED lighting is often the go-to choice for many:

High Luminous Density: COB LEDs can achieve luminosity levels of up to 170 lumens per watt due to the close packing of LED chips. This high intensity per unit area makes them ideal for applications requiring intense brightness.

Smooth Light Output: With hundreds of tiny chips packed closely, COB LEDs offer a Color Rendering Index (CRI) often above 80, ensuring a more uniform light output and eliminating the “multi-shadow” effect seen with other LED types.

Better Thermal Performance: COB LEDs typically have a thermal resistance as low as 5°C/W, allowing for superior heat dissipation and a longer operational life of up to 50,000 hours.

Compactness: A single COB LED can replace multiple traditional LEDs, often fitting into a space as small as 10mm x 10mm while delivering equivalent or superior luminous output.

Enhanced Durability: With 30% fewer solder points compared to multiple individual LEDs, COB LEDs have a failure rate of less than 1% over their lifespan.

Energy Efficiency: COB LEDs can achieve energy efficiencies of over 90%, translating to significant energy savings, especially in high-brightness applications.

Versatility: From automotive headlights that require 3,000 lumens to indoor spotlights with 500 lumens, COB LEDs cater to a wide range of luminosity requirements across various applications.

Simplified Design: The integrated nature of COB LEDs reduces component count by up to 40%, streamlining the overall system design and reducing assembly time.

The Evolution of LED Lighting: From DIP to Dominance of SMD and COB

In the contemporary LED lighting domain, DIP LEDs are less dominant than they once were. Historically, DIP LEDs were widely used, especially in earlier electronic devices and displays due to their simplicity and cost-effectiveness. However, as technology has advanced, SMD and COB have gained prominence.

SMD LEDs have become particularly popular in recent years because of their compact size, versatility, and ability to house multiple diodes. This makes them suitable for a variety of applications, from detailed electronic gadgets to expansive lighting arrays. COB LEDs, on the other hand, are known for their high luminous density and uniform light output. They are often chosen for applications requiring intense brightness and a smooth light profile, such as automotive headlights, spotlights, and floodlights.

While DIP LEDs still have their niche applications, especially where robustness and ease of replacement are crucial, SMD and COB LEDs have become more dominant in the modern LED lighting landscape due to their advanced features and adaptability to contemporary lighting needs. Next, let’s dive into what makes SMD and COB LEDs special, comparing them side by side, and leaving DIP LEDs for another time.

Similarities and Differences between SMD and COB LEDs

Similarities between SMD and COB LEDs:

  1. Compact and Simple Design: Both SMD and COB LEDs are designed to be compact, with SMD LEDs even being as small as 2.0mm x 1.2mm. Their straightforward designs make them adaptable to various applications.
  2. Energy Efficiency: Both LEDs are energy-efficient. On average, LEDs can consume up to 90% less power than traditional incandescent bulbs. This efficiency translates to cost savings in the long run.
  3. Versatile: Both LEDs can be used in a broad spectrum of lighting applications, from residential setups to commercial and industrial environments.
  4. Longevity and Brightness: LEDs are known for their longevity, often exceeding 50,000 hours. In terms of brightness, SMD LEDs can produce between 60 to 120 lumens per watt, while COB LEDs can often produce more than 80 lumens per watt.

Differences between SMD and COB LEDs:

  1. Configuration and Appearance: While some SMD LEDs, like the 3528, have a single chip, others can have multiple diodes (up to 3) on one chip, allowing for RGB configurations. They often look like collections of smaller lights. In contrast, COB LEDs have multiple LED chips(9 or more) closely packed, presenting a more uniform, panel-like appearance. SMD LEDs can be flatter and come in shapes like rectangles or squares, while COB LEDs, due to the close packing of multiple LED chips, can be round or other shapes.
  2. Heat Management: COB LEDs are designed for superior heat dissipation, ensuring consistent performance and longevity. When used as high power models such as 100 watts or 300 watts, they could work perfectly with big heat sink to dissipate heat quickly.
  3. Light Quality: COB LEDs provide a more uniform light output, resulting in fewer shadows and a consistent light spread, while SMD LEDs might produce some shadow or glare.
  4. Flexibility in Color Temperature: SMD LEDs offer varying color temperatures, including primary colors, and can be adjusted to produce different color temperatures. COB LEDs typically produce a consistent color temperature, single color.
  5. Manufacturing and Costs: SMD LEDs, due to their intricate design, might have higher manufacturing costs, accounting for about 15% of material costs. COB LEDs streamline the process, reducing costs to roughly 10% of material expenses.
  6. Application: While both are versatile, SMD LEDs are often preferred for detailed electronic gadgets and expansive lighting arrays, whereas COB LEDs are more commonly used in high-intensity lighting applications like automotive headlights and spotlights or high power application such as LED highbay lights.
  7. Mounting and Soldering Process: SMD LEDs require a process where they are first mounted onto a printed circuit board (PCB) and then undergo reflow soldering to secure and electrically connect them to the board. COB LEDs do not require the traditional mounting or reflow soldering process. Instead, multiple LED chips are directly mounted onto a substrate, forming a single module, which simplifies the assembly process.
  8. Different Beam Angle: SMD LEDs and COB LEDs can have different beam angles, which affect how the light is dispersed.SMD LEDs typically have a wider beam angle. Common SMD LEDs like the 3528 or 5050 can have beam angles ranging from 120° to 140°. This wide dispersion makes them suitable for applications where broad coverage is desired, such as in LED strips or panel lights.COB LEDs can have a more focused or diffused beam angle depending on their design and the presence of any secondary optics (like lenses or reflectors). Without secondary optics, a COB LED might have a very wide beam angle, almost 180°. However, with the addition of optics, the beam angle can be narrowed to as tight as 10° or 25°, making them ideal for spotlighting or task lighting.

Here’s a summarized table of the differences between SMD and COB LEDs:

Feature/AspectSMD LEDsCOB LEDs
Configuration & Appearance– Single or multiple diodes (up to 3) on one chip. – Look like collections of smaller lights. – Flatter, rectangular or square shapes.– Multiple LED chips (9 or more) closely packed. – Uniform, panel-like appearance. – Round or other shapes.
Heat Management– Standard heat dissipation– Superior heat dissipation. – Works well with large heat sinks for high power models
Light Quality– Might produce some shadow or glare.– More uniform light output with fewer shadows.
Color Temperature– The color temperature of the SMD varies from the primary red, green, and blue. – The output can also be adjusted to produce different color temperatures.– Consistent color temperature – Single color
Manufacturing & Costs– Higher manufacturing costs (about 15% of material costs)– Streamlined process reduces costs to about 10% of material expenses
Application– Detailed electronic gadgets – Expansive lighting arrays– High-intensity lighting (e.g., automotive headlights, spotlights) – High power applications (e.g., LED high bay lights)
Mounting & Soldering– Requires mounting on PCB and reflow soldering– Direct mounting of multiple LED chips onto a substrate – No traditional mounting or reflow soldering needed
Beam Angle– Wider beam angle (typically 120° to 140°)– Can range from very wide (almost 180°) to focused (e.g., 10° or 25°) with secondary optics

Which One to Choose: SMD or COB?

The choice between SMD and COB LEDs depends on the specific requirements of the application and the desired characteristics of the lighting solution. Here’s a guide to help you decide:

SMD LEDs: When to Choose

  1. Versatility in Color: If you need RGB configurations or the ability to adjust color temperatures, SMD LEDs offer this flexibility. SMD LEDs are commonly used in LED strips for decorative lighting in homes, bars, hotels, and commercial spaces.
  2. Broad Coverage: For applications that require a wider beam angle and more extensive light dispersion, such as LED strips or panel lights, SMD LEDs are more suitable.
  3. Detailed Electronic Gadgets: SMD LEDs are often used in detailed electronic devices due to their compact size and ability to be mounted on PCBs. Their small size makes SMD LEDs perfect for indicator lights on electronic devices, appliances, and control panels.
  4. Cost Considerations: While SMD LEDs might have a higher manufacturing cost, they can be more cost-effective in applications where their specific advantages are utilized to the fullest.

COB LEDs: When to Choose

  1. High-Intensity Lighting: If you need intense brightness, such as automotive headlights, spotlights, or high-power applications like LED high bay lights, COB LEDs are the better choice. In indoor farming or hydroponics, COB LEDs are preferred because they can provide intense light that closely mimics sunlight, promoting plant growth.
  2. Uniform Light Output: For applications that require a consistent light spread without shadows or glare, COB LEDs provide a more uniform light output, such as COB LED downlight.
  3. Heat Management: In scenarios where superior heat dissipation is crucial, especially for high-power models, COB LEDs, with their enhanced heat management capabilities, are ideal.
  4. Simplified Design: If you’re looking for a more straightforward design without the need for mounting or reflow soldering, COB LEDs offer this advantage.
  5. Focused Lighting: For tasks that require spotlighting or a more focused beam angle, COB LEDs, especially with secondary optics, are the go-to option. For art galleries, museums, or retail displays where specific items or artworks need to be highlighted, COB LEDs are chosen for their focused beam angle.

While both SMD and COB LEDs have a wide range of applications, the choice between them often boils down to the specific requirements of the task at hand. Whether it’s the broad, decorative lighting of an LED strip or the intense, focused beam of a car headlight, understanding the strengths of each type can guide you to the best decision for your project.


LED technology has seen various types rise to prominence. While DIP LEDs were once the go-to for their simplicity, the spotlight has now shifted to SMD and COB LEDs. SMD LEDs are versatile, catering to a range of applications from mood lighting to expansive displays. In contrast, COB LEDs are known for their intense, uniform brightness and excel in tasks that demand focused and consistent illumination. While DIPs hold historical significance, SMD and COB LEDs are the present and future, each catering to specific lighting needs. Choosing between them boils down to the specific needs of a project, but one thing’s for sure: both offer a bright promise for the future of lighting.

Ready to illuminate your next project with the best LED technology? As experts in both commercial lighting and cabinet display illumination, we’ve seen the evolution from DIP to the modern marvels of SMD and COB. Dive into our extensive range of LED solutions tailored for your needs. Don’t settle for less. Reach out to us today, and let Sinolumi LED Ltd. bring trusted expertise to light up your projects.

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