What are the differences between types of LED chip?

What are the differences between LED chips (SMDs)? Which type should I choose?

LED strip lighting can be manufactured using a variety of different LED chip types.Below, we’re going to explain the main differences between them – by comparing the most commonly used chip types on the LED tape market: the 3528 and the 5050.

Comparing LED chips - 3528 vs 5050


What does the number of an LED chip mean?

Each type of LED chip (also known as surface mounted diodes or SMDs) is identified by a four-digit number. This code is less complicated than it looks – it simply indicates the size of the LED chip. For example, the dimensions of SMDs on 5050 LED strip lights are 5.0mm x 5.0mm.


Which is the best LED chip?

LEDs like 3528s, 5050s, 2835s and 5630s aren’t really different types of chip at all – they’re simply different sizes. Each has its own spec: different power requirements and output brightness. The best choice depends on what’s right for your project.

You can find out more about each LED chip below.


The 3528 LED chip explained

Measuring 3.5mm x 2.8mm, the 3528 SMD is a smaller chip than the 5050 LED strip SMD. 3528 chips are most often found on 12-volt LED strips, drawing 4.8 watts (also known as 4.8w p/m or 5w p/m LED tape) with 60 SMDs per metre.

These strip lights output around 330-360 lumens per metre, depending on colour (equivalent to a 40w halogen) – enough to produce a smooth, bright effect when shining onto any surface.

Standard colours available in the 3528 SMD range are red, green, blue, amber, and both warm and cool whites. (Any other white colour temperature you need can be made to order.)

3528 60 SMD p/m LED strip lights are typically used for feature lighting – such as plinth or coving lights, in homes, bars, restaurants, hotels and other locations.

Though less common than standard 60 SMDs p/m LED tape, 3528 SMDs are also used on LED strip lights with 120 chips per metre. Pulling 9.6 watts (known as 9.6w p/m or 10w p/m LED tape), these tapes are available in the same range of colours. Light output is exactly double that of 60 SMDs p/m tape – they have twice as many LEDs – so that’s around 660-720 lumens per metre, depending on colour.

3528 120 SMD p/m LED strips are used for the same kind of feature-lighting applications as its standard alternative. They’re ideal for locations with more ambient light, where a higher brightness is needed than the 4.8w p/m can produce.

The cut points for our 60 SMD-per-metre 3528 LED strips are 50mm apart. The 120 SMD p/m strips have cut points at 25mm intervals. Both types are also available in waterproofed versions (IP67-rated).

3528 SMDs do not give off a lot of heat – you can safely touch them. Even so, the 60 LED p/m tape requires PCBs (printed circuit boards) at least 8mm wide, and the 120 LED p/m tape should use 2-ounce thickness PCBs. As long as your LED strips meet these minimum specifications, they can be simply installed anywhere because they have a sufficient heat sink not to require an additional aluminium extrusion.There are many manufacturers of 3528 SMDs. Epistar-branded SMDs are extremely high quality and give you the brightest 3528 SMDs on the market. They offer excellent colour consistency and reliability, with a life of 50,000 hours at 70% output. Cheaper alternatives are less bright and less reliable, and are prone to colour inconsistencies within the reel and between reels.


Double-power 3528 SMD explained

Double-power 3528 SMDs are the same size as standard-power LEDs. They are available in the same colours, drawing twice the power to give twice the output. LED strip lights manufactured using double-power SMDs have 120 LEDs per metre and pull 19.2 watts per metre (also known as 19.2w p/m, or 20w p/m).

Double-power 3528 LED strips use a 2-ounce 10mm wide PCB to disperse heat effectively, in order not to require an extra heat sink when installed. These LED strips are only available for 24-volt systems, as this carries current better. Lumen output is around 1320-1440 lumens per metre (depending on the colour). Because of its high brightness, this LED tape is ideal as general lighting or to replace fluorescent tubes and halogens.


The 5050 LED chip explained

At 50mm x 50mm, the 5050 SMD is a larger LED chip than the 3528 SMD. The 5050 chip is most often used for 60 LED-per-metre strip lights, pulling 14.4 watts at 24 volts (commonly called 14.4w p/m or 15w p/m LED tape). With an output of around 990-1080 lumens per metre, depending on colour, this tape gives you a smooth, bright effect when shining onto a surface.

Available colours are:

  • warm and cool whites (other Kelvins requirements can be manufactured on request)
  • red, green, blue, and amber single-colour
  • and also colour-changing – either RGB or RGBW (red, green, blue, white), using ‘tri’ / ‘quad’ chips (three or four LED chips in one).
These 60 SMD p/m 5050 LED strip lights are typically used for general lighting applications, such as corridor lighting, replacing fluorescent tube lighting, in homes, bars, restaurants, hotels and other locations.


5050 SMDs used in RGB LED strip lighting

The 5050 SMD is actually a ‘tri’ chip, meaning it has three smaller chips in every SMD. So each white LED actually has three white chips inside.

This means 5050s can be used for colour-changing LED tape, with red, green and blue chips inside each LED. By linking this type of RGB LED strip light to a controller, you can mix any shade of any colour you choose. (RGBW tape is similar, but uses ‘quad’ LEDs, with an additional white chip.)

RGB 5050 LED strip lights are available in two types:

  • 30 LEDs per metre (known as 7.2w p/m or 7.5w p/m LED tape) outputs up to 500 lumens per metre and is ideal for feature lighting such as covings, plinths in homes, hotels, restaurants and bars.
  • 60 LEDs per metre (aka 14.4w p/m or 15w p/m LED tape) produces up to 1000 lumens per metre, perfect for full wall-washes such as bar frontage, back bars in restaurants, clubs, or the home.
Both 30 and 60 LED p/m options are available waterproofed (IP67-rated). Cut-point are placed at 100mm intervals on both our 30 and 60 LED per metre strip lights.Branded Epistar SMDs are the highest quality 5050 LEDs on the market. They provide the best brightness, colour consistency and reliability with 70% output at 50,000 hours. Using cheaper alternatives instead, you’ll get dimmer and more unreliable LEDs that output inconsistent colours within each reel and also from reel to reel.

5050 LED strip lights used for exhibition lighting


The 2835 LED chip explained

A new choice on the LED market, the 2835 SMD has now been fully tested by Instyle LED to confirm reliability and efficiency.

2.8mm x 3.5mm in size, the 2835 chip is so far only available for white LEDs.

In practice, this SMD can be viewed as a more efficient replacement for the 5050 – producing 20% more light but drawing less wattage. It pulls 0.2w per LED (a 5050 SMD pulls 0.24w), so that’s around 12 watts per metre compared to 14.4w for the 5050 SMD, based on 60 LEDS p/m. Because the 2835 SMD is smaller and doesn’t get as hot, it’s possible to mount up to 120 LEDS p/m – that’s 24w p/m – giving up to 2600 lumens per metre!

  • Cool white 5050 SMD 60 LEDS (14.4w p/m) = 1080 lumens per metre
  • Cool white 2835 SMD 60 LEDS (12w p/m) = 1300 lumens per metre
  • Cool white 2835 SMD 120 LEDS (24w p/m) = 2600 lumens per metre
InStyle’s 2835 LED strip lights are mounted on 2-ounce PCBs (10mm width) for better heat dispersion, superior reliability and longer life. So this really is a product for the future. We supply both 12w and 24w p/m LED tapes, in warm white, cool white or any custom white shades. We also offer splashproof IP65 and waterproof IP67 heatshrink-coated options.Now that 2835 chips have been available long enough to prove themselves, we confidently predict that more people will switch to them from 5050 SMDs, as they realise the advantages.

25-watt LED tape on a reel


The 5630 LED chip explained

With dimensions of 5.6mm x 3.0mm, the 5630 SMD has been around for several years, but has only recently become an option in the LED tape market. (Until now, these LED chips have mostly been used in thick PCB rigid strips rather than LED tape, as they require a very good heat-sink.)

A larger LED doesn’t always mean brighter – but in this case, the 5630 chip outputs far more light than the more common 5050 SMD. High-quality 5630 chips on 60 LED p/m tape can produce up to around 2700 lumens. (To give an idea of the importance of component quality, lower grade 5630 SMDs output less the 2000 lumens per metre.)

Because of the heat they can generate, InStyle recommend that LED tapes mounted with 5630 SMDs should be installed with an aluminium extrusion and/or heat-sink backing or a thicker and wider PCB. Without these, your LED strip lights may work initially – but brightness will likely reduce quickly, because overheating is the biggest adverse contributor to the brightness and lifespan of LEDs. Used 8 hours per day, overheating could see you lose up to 20% in brightness per year!

Instyle LED always uses thicker, wider PC boards and A-grade Epistar-branded SMDs, so you can always rely on the quality of our 5630 LED tape components. We offer this product in all shades of white.

We don’t advise the use of heatshrink to waterproof 5630 SMDs, as it can lead to overheating issues.


Summary of LED chip types

In the end, the type of SMD chip doesn’t matter – as long as it can meet your requirements. InStyle recommend branded Epistar LEDs for the reasons we discussed above (brightness, reliability and colour batching).

White LED Tape
Choose 5-watt tape for feature lighting
10-watt tape for feature lighting (where there is a lot of ambient light)
15-watt tape for general lighting or replacing fluorescent tubes etc
20-watt tape for general lighting or replacing fluorescent tubes etc
Choose 7.5-watt tape for feature lighting
15-watt tape for ‘washing’ surfaces
When purchasing LED strip lights, you should ask yourselves these questions:

  • Do you want feature lighting, task lighting, colour changing, waterproof, etc?
  • Dimmable or non-dimmable?
  • What colour do you want?
  • How bright do you need the LED strips?



InStyle LED products that use the 3528 SMD chip

5 Watt LED Tape

10 Watt LED Tape


InStyle LED products that use the double-power 3528 SMD chip

20w White LED tape


InStyle LED products that use the 5050 SMD chip

7.5 Watt RGB LED Tape

15 Watt White LED Tape

20-watt RGBW LED tape

 Source: https://www.instyleled.co.uk/support/what-are-the-differences-between-types-of-led-chip/

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