SMD 3528 vs SMD 5050, those are the two types of chips most used in strips nowadays, and it is essential to distinguish which one is used in each case because that will impact on the price but of course also on the performance. So what are their features and differences?
SMD 3528 strips LED flexible are a medium output, low heat LED die. In 5 meter reels with 300 chips they generally generate between 120 to 220lm/m (in Pure White) which is enough to project an even light level approximately 300mm (1′) from where it is mounted. Some manufacturers offer Ultra White versions which can offer up to 360lm/m. The average power consumption for this type of LED SMD Strip is 5W/m. However, big manufacturers offer also higher density reels, with 600 chips per 5 meter reel, which deliver up to 440lm/m (in Pure White), which can go even higher to 720lm/m for manufacturers with Ultra White versions. The power consumption in this case is around 10W/m. Most 3528 LED strips can be cut every 3 LED modules, or 50mm (2″) for 300 chip reels and 25mm (1″) for 600 chip reels. SMD3528 is a single color LED strip lighting solution. In terms of price, they are the cheaper option.
SMD 5050 flexible strip LED are a high power, higher heat SMD LED option. They are also commonly referred as triple core strips (when looking closely three different areas can be identified on the chip). Strips using this type of SMD LED flexible strip usually have a wider variety of options, being the most common the normal density reels with 30 chips per meter (360lm/m in Pure White) and a power consumption of around 7,5W/m but some manufacturers offer also higher densities, normally in shorter reels, such as 3 meter, with 60 chips per meter, delivering an astonishing 720lm/m in Pure White with a Power Consumption of around 14,5W/m. As we can see, SMD 5050 can offer a light output over 3 times that of the 3528 strip and therefore the 5050 LED is well suited for lighting up areas that may be subject to high levels of ambient light. 5050 LED strip can also be used as a replacement for fluorescent tube in general task lighting and in light boxes. As a result, logically, they are more expensive, but for installations with high luminosity requirements they are preferred since their cost per lumen is generally lower.
Moreover, the 5050 strip is available in both single color and RGB color change models. The color change version requires additional control but can produce millions of different colors, so finding the right shade or combination is a simple matter of programming.
What type of SMD is better? The answer is simple, it depends. For basic lighting projects with low luminosity requirements, monocolor and when cost is the key factor, then SMD3528 prevails. For more demanding projects or RGB installations, then SMD5050 is the obvious choice.