After sifting through my posts, I realized that I’ve neglected to write something that’s a little more suitable for somebody who’s brand spankin’ new to the world of LED COBs. This guide will serve as a short introduction to the basic elements of COB LED lighting systems, and is a good place to start if you’re looking to make the switch from other types of lighting, or if you’re new to indoor gardening altogether.
COB LED systems are actually quite simple – there are only a handful of different parts, and they all go together pretty easily. The main components of a COB LED system are:
- The COB LEDs themselves
- Heat sinks that the COBs are mounted to
- LED drivers that power the COBs
- The wires that interconnect the COBs and drivers.
Not so bad, right? Let’s delve a little further in.
When you’re picking your components and planning out your system, it’s very important to match your LED COBs with a proper driver. The goal of this guide is to get you comfortable with the basics involved with planning a simple system. If you’re brand new to growing with LED COBs, I’d recommend reading our COB LED Basics for Beginners article.
After you’ve read through this post, take a look at the DIY Guides page for a list of more specific and advanced guides and resources.
When it comes to COBs for indoor growing, the majority of people are currently using 1 of 3 proven brands: Cree, Citizen, or Bridgelux. In my opinion, if you’re looking for low-current efficiency and aren’t overly concerned with cost, go with the Crees. If you’re looking for a good all-around COB that’s easier on the wallet, or intend to drive your COBs with more current, go with Bridgelux or Citizen. The new gen. 7 & SE Veros and Version 6 Citi’s are really closing the gap in terms of efficiency, and can be found considerably cheaper (here in Canada, anyway).
- Currently, the most popular COBs from Cree are the CXB3070 and CXB3590 models, with the 3590s being the best Cree offers for this application. The 3070 is a good alternative, and, while not cheap, is less expensive than the 3590.
- The Bridgelux COBs used by most indoor gardeners are from the Vero Gen.7 or SE Series. There are 4 different sizes in the Vero series: Vero 10, Vero 13, Vero 18, and Vero 29; the number reflects the size of the Light Emitting Surface. Of these 4, the 18 and 29 models are most popular. While these COBs are not as efficient as the Crees, they still put out a lot of light (at higher currents) and are significantly less expensive.
- The Citizen COBs that most growers are using are the Version 6 CLU048 units. They come in a few different configurations like the CLU048-1212 (contains 12 diodes in parallel and 12 in series) or the CLU048-1818 (18 in parallel, 18 in series). There is also a larger model which runs at a considerably higher voltage but puts out a ton of light: the CLU058.
Aside from cost, there are a handful of important specifications that you’ll need to consider when choosing your COB. I suggest you read through the points below, then when you have a better understanding of these few specs, read this post on how to easily compare COB LEDs using manufacturer-provided simulation spreadsheets.