Addressable COB LED strip guide
Next to standard 5050 SMD style LEDs (I have a guide for those over here) there are now various COB style LED strips you can get for decent prices!
Below you’ll find summaries and videos for 5v strips (all individually addressable) and 24v (which are addressable per section or as I generally call it, zones).
5v addressable COB LED strip
5v COB strip can be found in much higher densities then regular 5050 package style LED strip because they are physically much smaller. Currently they are available in 60LEDs/m, 100LEDs/m, 160LEDs/m, 240LEDs/m and the ultimate 332LEDs/m and provide a different look vs 5050 package style LED strip! Sadly currently I only know of RGB strips, no RGBW.
5v Addressable COB LED strips are mostly suited for shorter length LED projects. Especially once the LED count starts increasing this means the complexity of the project instantly shoots up!
Things to remember
Since this is 5v COB LED strip this means the amount of LEDs and voltage drop are both a problem to take into account! The video explains this best but here is a short summary:
Amount of LEDs
The highest amount of LEDs recommended per LED data channel on your controller is 600 LEDs to retain a decent framerate. Using a higher number of LEDs for that data output will work but you will drop below framerates that will look fluid and smooth to your eyes. This doesn’t mean that the LEDs will start to flicker (the PWM rate is something else) but that animations and things such as color transitions will become much more choppy and not look as good.
This means that for instance of the 240LEDs/m strip you can use a maximum of 2.5m per LED data output to make sure things keep running smoothly.
Voltage drop on LED strip is a real thing and especially with 5v LED strip, COB based or not, this is something that needs to be taken seriously. The basic rules of 4A per edge injection and 8A for a middle injection apply to these strips except if we’re talking a 5mm wide strip, then use half those values. Look up in the power sheet what they actually want to use when properly injected and then take that into account for your project. I have a helpful guide here on how to figure that all out!
24v addressable COB LED strip
Using 24v instead of 5v means we can get about 4 to 5 times the amount of power into the LED strip from a single injection point making things a lot easier! These strips excel at long length projects but also have some compromises such as not being per LED addressable anymore. Currently I feel like they are the best options out there for longer length projects since being able to use 24v without the zones becoming too large, especially for the “addressable neon” strip!
💡 24v addressable COB “720LEDs/m” RGB I also call this one “Addressable Neon”
💡 24v addressable COB “768LEDs/m” RGBW Video review about these
💡 24v addressable COB “720LEDs/m” RGB IP68 Video review about these
*Please watch the video to learn all the details about these strips!
12v addressable COB?
Wait, aren’t you skipping over 12v? Yes I am because of any 12v version I have tested they are worse then their 24v counterpart. Basically if I can get a per 5cm zone addressable strip in 12v or 24v I would always go with the 24v version since it will use half the Amps for the same amount of power! I have looked at the 12v versions and they are less bright and use more Amps in comparison.
Zones per meter
With higher then 24v addressable strip we no longer talk about addressable LEDs per meter but addressable zones per meter. Because of the higher voltage needing to be dropped for the LEDs and this is usually done by having several of the same color diodes in series hence creating zones. You can see in the real-world power sheet how many addressable zones the strips actually have!
Confusing LED counts
How are the strips called “720LEDs/m” and such? There aren’t really 720LEDs in there! So the 720 number is a bit misleading. On a normal strip each 5050 package is counted as an LED and has 3 diodes inside of it, so Red, Green and Blue. But on a COB strip these diodes are no longer grouped together in 5050 packages but basically bare on the strip material with a silicone layer on top of it. And this is where the number comes from! The strip has 720 diodes per meter! But it only has 240 of each color. So if we’d calculate this in normal terms it would be a 240LEDs/m strip. Technically they are not wrong but it is a bit confusing.