SMD chip comparisons

LED chips (also known as surface mounted diodes or SMDs) are all 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. With so many LED chip types available (2835, 3528, 3020, 3030, 3535, 3014, 4014, 5050, 5060, 5730). It can quickly become overwhelming to choose and compare.

Use the quick summary below to compare the most common chip types:

Using the Chart
Let’s say you have  60x 5050 chips per metre mounted on 14.4W LED tape, then from the chart 60×24 Lumens = 1440 Lumens, power demand = 0.2W x 60 = 12W, the 14.4W tape is able to supply this, so the theoretical brightness should be achievable.

Now let’s say you have 120x 2835 chips per metre, 12.8W LED tape, then 120×29 Lumens = 3480, power demand = 0.2W x 120 = 24W, however the tape only supplies up to 12.8W, so lumens are reduced by the ratio (12.8W/24W) which is about 53%, so theoretical lumens is approximately 1900.


The 5050 Chip
The 5050 SMD chips measure 50mm x 50mm, which mean that each 5050 SMD is big enough to house four separate LED chips (sometimes called ‘quad LEDs’).

5050 LED chips are often used on 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. 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.

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. All our 5050 chips use Epistar SMDs. We also offer splashproof IP65 and waterproof IP67 heatshrink-coated options.


The 2835 Chip
Measuring 2.8mm x 3.5mm in size, you can view 2835 SMDs as a more efficient replacement for the 5050 – producing 20% more light but drawing less wattage. Each 2835 SMD pulls 0.2w (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!

Our 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.


The 3528 Chip
Measuring 3.5mm x 2.8mm, the 3528 SMD is a smaller chip than the 5050 LED strip SMD. You will most often find 3528 chips 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.

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. We recommend them for locations with strong ambient light, where more brightness is needed than the 4.8w p/m can produce.

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.