What is the difference between 3528 and 5050 LED strip light?

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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. 

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.

They are used when you need high illumination for your project area and especially RGB color changing lights. Theoretically, 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 but 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: The number of LEDs per foot matter!

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 applesand look for how many LEDs are offered on the product. 

                                                             【 So, What does all this mean?】
Should I choose 5050, 3528, 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 recommend doing an overview of your project and asking some main questions.

Start by deciding what you want/need the lighting for.

Do you want accent lighting, principal task lighting, color changing, lighting a display case, outdoor, etc?
Dimmable or non dimmable?
Which color do you want?
Do you require very high CRI?
What brightness is needed?

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 they dimmable?
How many ounces of copper do they use in their PCB to dissipate the heat? (we use 2-4oz)

***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. 

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