Here's an easy-to-understand comparison between LED chip numbers and sizes.
The different numbers correlate to the different physical dimensions of the chip. The numbers 5050, 3528, 2835, etc correlate to the size of the chip in millimeters. Some LEDs are brighter than others and some give off more light per watt.
The LED chip you will need will depend on your project. Read below for more information.
Before you start, are you new to LEDs? A few resources:
LED Strip Light Product Selector Tool - Find the perfect strip light for your project.
What are LED strip lights and what can they do?
LED Strip Light Examples and Ideas
Showdown: The Difference Between LED 3528 vs 5050
LED strip lighting can be manufactured with a variety of LED chips. The numbers you see such as 3528 and 5050 refer to the size of the chip. The older style strips that have been popular for a few years now are the sizes seen above. Currently, there are even smaller and more efficient LED chips on the market with the sizes of 2835, 3014, 5630, and 3020. Each have benefits when used properly. No "one" chip can rule them all.
So, what is the difference between SMD 5050 and 3528 LEDs and why should you care?
SMD 5050 LED Flex Strip light
Simply put, these LED chips are called SMD 5050 because the dimensions of the chips are 5.0mm x 5.0mm. They have 3 LED diodes in one housing (sometimes called tri-chips), and are a lot brighter than individual 3528 LED chips.
These are examples of 5050 LED light strips:
They are used when you need slight illumination for your project area and especially RGB color changing lights. Theoretically, comparing the same number of chips, SMD 5050 LEDs can offer a light output 3 times that of the 3528 strips, and therefore the 5050 LED is well suited for lighting up areas that may be subject to high levels of ambient light. However, since they are larger in size, there are only so many you can fit onto the PCB. There are some brightness restraints when using the 5050s in this way.
Though they produce more heat than smaller chips, it is still drastically lower than other lighting options. These types of LEDs require a thicker PCB to draw the heat away form the chips.
The 5050's are different from the 3528 LEDs in that 5050s can combine the three different chips to inside the housing to create millions of color variations.
While the 5050 chip can be used in single color applications, we have found the 5050 LEDs to be better for the RGB and the 3528 SMD LEDs in high density better for single color applications.
SMD 3528 LED Strip light
They are called SMD3528 because the dimension of the chip is 3.5mm * 2.8mm. These LED chips (one LED per chip) are bright but not as bright as the 5050 side by side. However, when used in higher quantity can be brighter then a comparible strip of 5050s.
These lights are great for TV backlighting, color splashing walls, accent lighting for crown molding and pictures, under tables and cabinets, bars, etc.
3528 LEDs can be most cost effective, but will not be as bright when compared individually to a 5050 chip, but when there are 600 of them on a reel, they can be brighter than a 5050 strip.
Buying Tip: When comparing LED strip lighting between companies, if both competing strips are using the same chips, look at how many LED are on the strip and look for lumen output to determine brightness.
Pay attention to how many LEDs there are per foot or meter. When searching for a bright LED strip light, make sure you compare apples to apples, as not all LED strips are made in the same way.
Watch: YouTube Video showing how our 3528 LED strip lights come with 600 LEDs per reel Instead of 300
3528 LEDs in various lighting projects
Other sizes: 3020 LED chips and 3014 LEDs in high brightnes s LED strip lights
s LED strip lights
The UltraBright Series are of the Brightest LED strips in the world!
3020 SMD LED chips
3014 LED chips
Though 5050 and 3528 SMD LEDs were the most popular on the market for strip lights, the LED market has changed rapidly over the past few years.
Today, there are many LED chips available that are brighter and also more efficient. The 3020 SMD LED chips in our High CRI UltraBright Series and 3014 SMD LED chips in our Architectural Ultra Bright and Design Series Ultra Bright LED strip lights are smaller and more efficient than their predecessors. Because the LED sizes are much smaller, we were able to fit many more of them onto the strip lights, thus creating blindingly bright LED strips. Our Industrial LED strip lights use a new advanced 2835 chip.
So, What does all this mean?
So, What does all this mean?
Should I choose 5050, 3528, 3020, 3014, or some other size I have never heard about?
The size of the chip and how many chips you will need depend upon the use for which the LED strips are going to be used. We can help you design your project and select the strip and chip needed, for free!
We recommend doing an overview of your project and asking some main questions.
Start by deciding what you want/need the lighting for.
View our Buying Guide
What is the project? Do you want accent lighting, principal task lighting, color changing, lighting a display case, outdoor, etc?
Dimmable or non dimmable capability?
Which color do you want?
Do you require very high CRI
Do you need it waterproofed?
When purchasing LEDs, please pay attention and compare the following:
Look how many LEDs are on the reel or per foot and
the total lumen (brightness) of the LED strip light
Pay attention to the CRI ( Color Rendering Index ) - Our CRIs range between 80 - 95.
How many watts does the strip use?
Are the UL or ETL safety listed?
Are they dimmable?
How many ounces of copper do they use in their PCB to dissipate the heat? (we use 2-4oz)
What type of LED chips are used?
How are the LEDs binned? (will you get the same color every time you order?)
*Please be hesitant to purchase if the supplier does not offer this information, as these are important specifications to know when purchasing a quality product.
LED strip lighting 101: Great and informative introduction pages:
1. What is an LED strip light and what can they do?
2. What do I need to know before I choose an LED strip light?
3. LED Strip Light Examples and Ideas
4. LED strip light product comparison chart
5. How does Flexfire LEDs manufacture the highest quality LED strip lights?
Have Questions? Our design experts are waiting to assist you with any question!