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Comparison between 3528 LEDs and 5050 LEDs

Comparison between 3528 LEDs and 5050 LEDs: What are SMD 3528 and SMD 5050 LEDs?

Here's an easy-to-understand comparison between LED chip numbers and sizes.

TL/DR: The numbers 5050, 3528, 2835, etc correlate to the size of the chip, in millimeters! Some are brighter than others and some give off more light per watt. The chip you need depends on the use-case. Read below for more information.

SMD LED comparison of 5050, 2835, 3528, 3014

Before you start, are you new to LEDs?:

 What are LED strip lights and what can they do?

LED Strip Light Examples and Ideas / Customer submitted Gallery

5050 SMD 3528 SMD and 3014 SMD LED strip light customer gallery examples

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 5.0mmThey 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:

5050 led chip lighting5050 smd led lighting example
Client Photo of 5050 RGB strips5050-led-chip-example-in-rgb.jpg

5050 color changing rgb LED chips

They are used when you need slightly 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.

5050 color changing rgb LED chips


SMD 3528 LED Strip light

Example of 3528 SMD LED Chips

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  he same way. 

Watch: YouTube Video showing how our 3528 LED strip lights come with 600 LEDs per reel Instead of 300

colorbright vivid blue led strip light examplecolorbright warm white led strip lights example
kitchen lighting with 3528 LED chips3528 LEDs in a shelving display
3528 LEDs in various lighting projects

 3528 led strip light chip information


Other sizes: 3020 LED chips and 3014 LEDs in high brightness LED strip lights

The UltraBright Series are of the Brightest LED strips in the world!

3020 LED chips for strip lights 3014 led chips for strip lights
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. 

3014 SMD LED chips example architectural led strip lighting example
Industrial LED strip lights - 2835 LED chips Architectural LED strip Lights - 3014 LED chips
3014 smd led strip light example 3528 LED strip light SMD example
Architectural LED strip Lights - 3014 LED chips ColorBright LED Strip Lights - 3528 LED chips 

 3014 smd leds and 3020 smd leds


So, What does all this mean?

LED 5050 vs 3528

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.

    1. View our Buying Guide
    2. What is the project? Do you want accent lighting, principal task lighting, color changing, lighting a display case, outdoor, etc?
    3. Dimmable or non dimmable capability?
    4. Which color do you want?
    5. Do you require very high CRI?
    6. What brightness is needed?
    7. Do you need it waterproofed?

When purchasing LEDs, please pay attention and compare the following: 

    1. Look how many LEDs are on the reel or per foot and the total lumen (brightness) of the LED strip light
    2. Pay attention to the CRI (Color Rendering Index) - Our CRIs range between 80 - 95.
    3. How many watts does the strip use?
    4. Are the UL or ETL safety listed?
    5. Are they dimmable?
    6. How many ounces of copper do they use in their PCB to dissipate the heat? (we use 2-4oz)
    7. What type of LED chips are used?
    8. 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! 

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Flexfire LEDs Support


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