“COB LED grow lights are the future. They’re the best lights on the market.”
Is there any truth to it?
COB LED chips offer some definite advantages (more on those below), but there are also advantages to traditional LED chips.
That’s why I think the best lights are ones that combine COB chips with regular chips.
You’ll see that several of the lights reviewed below do exactly that. They give you the best of both worlds.
You’ll also see that the list is fairly short.
That’s because most of what is being sold on the market simply isn’t very good.
Many of the so-called COB lights don’t even use actual COB chips!
That’s the reason for this article. I did the research and found the best COB lights on the market. These are lights that work great and sell for a reasonable price.
In short: they give you the best value for the money.
You may have already taken a peak at the lights and noticed two very conspicuous absences on my list. There is a reason for that.
First let’s take a look at the best COB lights. Then I’ll explain why Optic LED and Amare LED are completely missing from this list. After that, I’ll go over the advantages of chip-on-board LEDs and follow that with brief reviews of all of the recommended lights.
COB LED Grow Light Comparison Table
Note: because there are frequent sales on these lights, it is impossible for us to stay updated on the price. Clicking the dollar signs takes you to Amazon to see the current price.
|Phlizon COB 2000
|4' x 4'||1561 umol/m²/s||9.6 / 10||$$$|
|4' x 4'||1241 umol/m²/s||9.5 / 10||$$$|
|Canagrow CREE COB
|3' x 3'||1120 umol/m²/s
(in a 2x2 area)
|9.2 / 10||$$$$$|
|2' x 2'||721 umol/m²/s||8.4 / 10||$$|
|2' x 2'||not given||8.0 / 10||$|
As is always the case with Chinese brands, every spec provided by the manufacturer is grossly exaggerated, especially the wattage. In that table, I provided the actual wattage and an estimate of the equivalent HID wattage (in lieu of the ludicrous “equivalents” given by the manufacturers).
Why No Optic or Amare Lights?
If you’ve been researching the top COB lights on the market, you have no doubt come across two main players: Optic LED and Amare LED. Both of these companies make COB and hybrid COB fixtures.
They are generally considered the top of the line brands when it comes to COB.
And while they are good lights, they are not good value.
My top pick, the Phlizon COB Series of lights (read more below) are basically exactly the same as the Optic LED fixtures. With one major difference.
Phlizon lights cost half as much as their Optic counterparts.
True, Optic is an American brand. But they are made in China. And they have had serious quality control issues, just like most Chinese brands.
They have upgraded their lights and their new Gen3 models have a much lower return rate, so perhaps they have fixed their quality issues.
On top of that, their customer service has also been pretty bad. Not quite as bad as most Chinese companies, but up until recently, Optic was just one guy. He has since hired some customer service help, so perhaps their service will improve, but it is essentially still just a company of one
As for Amare, they are basically the same as Optic (Chinese-made lights rebranded), but more expensive.
The only top brand COB lights worth considering are the new SolarXtreme line from California Lightworks. They make their lights in the US and generally charge a huge premium as a result, but their new line of driverless COB grow lights sell for much less than their other lights.
That makes them a great deal, but they are brand new to the market, so they do not have a track record yet. The jury is still out as to their performance.
All told, you are generally best off with one of the much cheaper Chinese branded lights I recommend on this page. They have a slightly higher failure rate, and their customer service is worse, but the differences in both are not that big.
The difference in price, on the other hand, is huge.
What Makes COB LEDs Better?
Before we get to the reviews, let’s take a look at why COB chips are better. I’ll keep this brief, since you’ve probably already done the research on this, or you would not have found yourself on this page. This article has more info.
The advantages of chip-on-board LEDs are:
- Compactness: far more LEDs fit into a much smaller space, meaning more output from a smaller area
- High-Intensity: since more LEDs are packed into a smaller space, the light is more intense, meaning deeper canopy penetration
- Design simplicity: only use 1 circuit with 2 contacts to energize all the chips on the COB array, reducing the number of components needed
- Lower failure rate: due to lower heat generation and better heat dissipation and fewer welding points (since each chip is mounted directly on the substrate, instead of soldered in place), quality COBs have a lower failure rate
The primary disadvantage is the fact that COBs are not yet available in every color. Luckily, they are available in the colors best suited for growing plants (white and pink). The first 4 lights below use warm white and cool white COBs, while the final fixture uses pink ones.
Best COB LED Grow Lights: Brief Reviews
These reviews explain why the lights got their ratings and will also help you decide which of these fixtures is best for your needs.
Phlizon COB Series 2000W LED Plant Light
The Phlizon 2000W COB light pictured here is one of 3 (at the time of writing) Phlizon lights. They also make a 1000W and a 3000W.
Their wattage figures are way off (read my complete Phlizon review for more on that), but basically, the 1000w fixture is equal to the Optic 2, the 2000w is equal to the Optic 4 and the 3000w is equal to the Optic 6.
And when I say equal, they are virtually identical in terms of specs and performance. The one major difference is price: Phlizon lights cost about half as much as their Optic equivalents.
In short: they are amazing lights. The best on this list. A large reason for that are the high-quality CREE COBs, which you would not expect on a budget light.
For this brief review, I focused on the 2000w version, since it is closest in specs to the other lights on this list. I gave that light a Grow Light Info rating of 9.6 out of 10 (or 4.8 out of 5). All other Phlizon lights have the same rating.
The 2000w Phlizon has the highest output of any light on this list, with a PAR reading of over 2000 umol/m²/s dead center at a height of 18 inches. At 24 inches, it gives you 1561 umol/m²/s.
The power usage to achieve that is only 451 watts. In terms of HID lighting, it is about equivalent to a 800 watts of HID light. It can cover a 4 by 4 foot area during flowering, though I would keep the area closer to 3×3 for maximum intensity. The expected lifespan is 50,000 hours.
The spectrum on this light is great for every stage of growth. It has two warm white and two cool white 50w COBs that combine with a mix of 10w red, blue, white, UV and IR diodes to give you a spectrum with two peaks in the red range and one in the blue, plus a large amount of green and yellow light.
This light does have a switch for veg/bloom and a second switch to turn the COBs on or off, which means you can cut down on power costs when you don’t need the full output (during vegging, for example).
When you buy this light, you also get a set of hangers and adjustable rope ratchets, grow light glasses and a thermometer and humidity monitor. You also get a power cord and your light is covered by a 2 year warranty and a 30 day return policy.
- High quality CREE COBs: the industry standard
- Most powerful light on this list (2161 umol/m²/s at 18 inches)
- Great spectrum for all stages of growth
- 4 by 4 foot coverage is among the largest on this list (though 3×3 gives max intensity)
- 2 year warranty
- More expensive than most other lights on this list
- Heavier than most other lights on this list
Aglex 2000 Watt Full Spectrum COB Panel
Like the Phizon light above, the Aglex Series of lights also combines high-powered COBs with smaller supplemental diodes to provide full-spectrum white light with additional red and blue, plus UV and IR.
It is a great spectrum for any stage of growth and the separate veg and bloom buttons allow you to save some money, by turning some of the diodes off when not needed. The veg switch controls the 4 COBs and the bloom switch controls all of the smaller supplemental diodes.
In terms of output, the Aglex light delivers as well. It gives you an impressive 1241 umol/m²/s dead center at 24 inches from the canopy and covers a 4 by 4 foot area for flowering (I’d keep it closer to 3 by 3 for best results), while consuming 408 watts.
That is almost as good as the Phlizon light. Considering the lower price, you are probably wondering why I recommend that light over this one.
I prefer the Phlizon, because they use high quality CREE COBs, as opposed to Bridgelux. Don’t get me wrong: Bridgelux are great, but they are not CREE, which is the industry standard.
On top of that, Phlizon lights have more power, they come with more extras and Phlizon has a better track record than Aglex. I am just not that familiar with Aglex and was not able to find much info on them.
That makes their lights a bit more of a risk, but if you are looking to spend a little less, they are a great choice. That is why they are rated only slightly behind the Phlizon, which is probably the best deal on the market today.
The Aglex lights are also a great choice if you want a smaller light. The Phlizon is available with 6 COBS, with 4 and with 2, whereas the Aglex has versions with 4, 2 and 1 COB.
Aglex lights are also daisy chainable, so you can connect multiple lights together and run them off a single outlet. They are rated for 50,000 hours of use. Aglex gives you a 3 year warranty on their lights.
- Very powerful with 1241 umol/m²/s at 24 inches
- Good coverage of 4 x 4 feet
- Perfect spectrum for all stages of plant growth
- Daisy chain capability
- UV and IR diodes
- 3 year warranty
- Aglex is not a well-known brand, which makes it a bit riskier
CANAGROW 400 Watt CREE CXB3590 COB LED Grow Light
Right off the bat: the Canagrow CREE CXB3590 400w light is by far the most expensive option on this list. The same goes for all the other sizes of this light. The high price is what drops them below the previous two lights in my rankings.
But there is a good reason for the price: the quality of the components.
Specifically, it is the top-bin CREE CXB3590 COB LEDs and the Meanwell drivers that drive up the price. Both are the industry standard and far above the Epistar and other chips that the rest of the lights on this list use.
Canagrow also uses the CXB3590 in its 100w light (one of the COBs) and in its 200w light (2 of them). If you go to the Amazon product page, you will also see 2 additional options that are much lower priced. That is because they do not use the CREE COBs and instead use some no-name Korean brand.
You may have also noticed 3 very similar lights to the Canagrow series by a company called CF Grow. Those lights are identical. They are even made in the same factory. They are simply sold by a different seller on Amazon. I picked the Canagrow lights, because they are usually a bit cheaper, but if you see a sale on the CF Grow lights making them cheaper, go ahead and buy those.
This review will focus on the 400 watt version, which gives you an output of 1120 umol/m²/s in a 2×2 area (the only value given by the manufacturer) or 48,000 lumen (I’m not sure why they provide the lumen output, but they do).
To achieve that output, it uses about 320 watts of power. It is roughly equivalent to a 600 watt HID light, although it does not give you as large a coverage area. This light covers about 3 by 3 feet for flowering.
These CREE COBs give you an all-white color spectrum with a color temperature of 3500K. This light includes all wavelengths, from 380 nm to 780 nm. It is a great spectrum for all stages of plant growth, with peaks in the red and blue ranges and lots of yellow and green light as well.
That said, I prefer the Phlizon and Aglex spectra, because they supplement the 4 COBs with additional red and blue diodes. Those are the colors plants need most, so adding additional light in those colors can really help boost growth and yields. The Canagrow lights also lack UV and IR wavelengths.
All of the Canagrow CXB3590 lights are rated for 50,000 hours of use and they come with a 3 year warranty and a 30 day satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t like them, you can return them for a full refund.
If you can afford them, these are amazing lights. That said, I feel the huge difference in price is not quite justified by the difference in quality of the components. That, and the better color spectrum, is why I prefer the Phlizon and Aglex lights. On the other hand, this light has a dimmer, which none of the others do.
- Great spectrum for plants (though not quite as good as the Phlizon and Aglex lights)
- Top of the line CREE CXB3590 COB chips
- Top of the line Meanwell driver
- Dimmer so you can reduce power and save on electricity when you don’t need the full intensity
- 3 year warranty and 30 day money back guarantee
- Very expensive compared to other lights on this list
- No UV and IR
Hipargero 800 Watt COB Fixture
Like the previous 3 lights, the Hipargero 800 COB LED plant light also features 4 chip-on-board LEDs. The difference is that those LEDs emit far less power than the previous lights.
It also surrounds those Epiled COBs with 3 watt Osram supplemental LEDs, but it only uses 16 of them in total. That makes this light far less powerful than the previous 3. Hipargero uses Letron drivers. That is a top Chinese brand, but far from a Meanwell.
This light uses 240 watts of power and gives you an output of 721 umol/m²/s dead center at 24 inches from the canopy, and 1266 umol/m²/s at 18 inches. It covers a 2 by 2 area during bloom and is roughly equivalent to a 400 watt HID light.
The main positives of the Hipargero light are a great spectrum for plants (similar to the Phlizon and Aglex spectra), the ability to daisy chain multiple lights, and a lower price. It is a great light, but there is one big reason why I rated it lower than the previous ones.
This is a fixture with 4 chip-on-board LEDs, but it gives you roughly the same output (and costs about the same) as the Aglex and Phlizon versions with only 2 chip-on-board LEDs. Why would I buy a 4-COB fixture, when a 2-COB fixture gets the same (or better, in the case of Phlizon) results?
That said, if you prefer having more COBs in your fixture, this is a great light and you will be happy with it, as long as you know exactly what to expect from it (i.e. it is only as powerful as other brands’ 2-COB fixtures). Hipargero gives you a one-year warranty (not good enough anymore, since most Chinese brands now give 2 or 3 years) and a 30 day money-back guarantee.
- Great spectrum for all stages of growth
- Daisy chain capability
- Smaller coverage area at 2 x 2 feet
- Less power than the top lights
- Warranty is only 1 year
Yueme 1500W COB LED Horticultural Light
The Yueme 1500 horticultural COB LED fixture is a bit different than the rest of the lights on this list. It features 5 open COBs (i.e. no lenses) and no other diodes apart from those.
The COBs are made by Epistar and they give off a pinkish light, instead of the usual white light. Their light is full spectrum, but it has peaks on red and blue and is very similar to the spectra of those lights above that combine COBs with supplementary diodes. It even contains UV and IR wavelengths.
In other words: it is a great spectrum for all stages of plant growth.
The main issue I have is that the COBs are far less powerful and the lack of any additional diodes means the fixture as a whole is less powerful still. Instead of the advertised 1500 watts, it actually uses about 260 watts and is roughly equivalent to a 400 watt HID light.
Yueme does not provide any output data for their light whatsoever, which is the main reason for the lower rating. Despite the lack of any data from the manufacturer, I can tell you that the output is more or less equivalent to the Hipargero light. But this light costs quite a bit less.
So why did I rank it lower?
Mainly because Yueme is an unknown brand, which is always riskier. Moreover, I do not like when brands fail to provide data on their products. That always suggests they may be hiding something, though I suspect in this case it may simply be laziness or a lack of business sense.
If you are on a tight budget and don’t need a light as powerful as the top choices above, it may make sense to take a risk on this light. It costs very little, so you would not be risking that much. You also get a 2 year warranty, but unfortunately, there is no 30 day return policy.
- Great spectrum for all stages of growth
- Very low price
- Less power than the top lights
- Smaller coverage area than the top lights
- No return policy