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What is the difference between 3528 and 5050 LED Strip Lights?

The SMDs (Surface Mounted Devices) used by single colour LED Strip Lights are manufactured to two specifications. To distinguish between them the numbers 3528 and 5050 are used. But what exactly do these numbers mean and how do they differ from one another?

The numbers are actually a code that refers to the physical dimensions (length and width) of each individual diode. The 3528 measures 3.5mm by 2.8mm and the 5050 measures 5mm by 5mm.

For the sake of simplicity it is better to think of the 3528 as a "small" chip and the 5050 as a "large" chip.

Apart from their size, the other main difference between these two kinds of LED is the amount of light they produce. As might be expected, the larger, 5050, chip delivers more light due to its greater surface area, while the smaller, 3528 chip gives less light. For the very same reason, 5050 chips are more power demanding than 3528 chips.

When it comes to choosing one type of SMD over the other, the matter is complicated by the fact that neither is necessarily better than the other.

Generally speaking, LED Strip Lights that use 3528 SMDs feature a greater number of LEDs per metre, while those that use 5050 SMDs have less. At the moment the standard for 3528 is either 60 or 120 LEDs per metre, delivering 400 and 800 lumens respectively, while 5050 feature 30 or 60 LEDs per metre, giving 510 and 1020 lumens.

It is worth bearing in mind that a strip light that has a large number of smaller LEDs spaced closely together will create a more concentrated light than a strip light that has a small number of large LEDs spaced further apart.

As a rule of thumb it is better to use smaller LEDs for decorative lighting, such as grazing and accenting, as their light tends to be more directional. LED Strip Lights with larger LEDs are better for functional lighting or illuminating an area, such a kitchen work tops, as the light they produce is spread over a larger area.

When choosing a strip light the following questions are relevant:

What effect am I trying to achieve?

Where am I using my strip lights?

How much light do I need?

How large is the area I am trying to illuminate?

If are still unsure about which type of strip light you need you can of course speak to your retailer who should be able to offer advice.

For any more information about LED Strip Lights please call 0116 321 4121 or email