Your Guide to LED Chip Lighting

Your Guide to LED Chip Lighting

Strip lighting is the modern way to light up your space. However, not all LED light strips are alike. Before you choose LED chip lighting for your application, you should know which chips will provide the right color and intensity for the conditions and which will serve you best over time.

Common LED Chip Types

The most popular chips available for strip lighting are the SMD 2835 and the SMD 5050. Less common but extremely efficient, the SMD 2835 employs new technology that brings some fresh possibilities to the world of strip lighting. While the names sound highly technical, they are actually simple in origin.

What Is SMD?

SMD stands for surface-mounted diodes. Each LED chip is mounted onto the surface of a flexible circuit board without a wire or the need to drill into or cut the board. Instead, the diodes are soldered into place. This type of circuit board and mounting allow for maximum flexibility in how the lighting can be used.

What Do the Numbers Represent?

The numbers indicate the physical dimensions of the LED chip. Size is not the only difference between the chips, however. They vary in brightness, color availability, and efficiency too.

SMD 3528

An SMD 3528 LED chip is 3.5mm wide by 2.8mm long. This is the most common. Light strips featuring SMD 3528 chips are generally used for accent lighting, as they offer a low light output of only six or eight lumens per diode or chip.

Each chip contains only one diode, so each strip is a single color. These light strips are available in two shades of white: cool or warm. They also come in red, green, and blue. As with all LED strip lighting, these single-diode strips are dimmable.

SMD 5050

The SMD 5050 chip is larger than the 3528; it measures 5.0mm by 5.0mm. Also very popular, this LED chip offers up to 22 lumens of light per chip, providing roughly two to three times the brightness of the 3528 chip.

The 5050 chip contains three diodes and is available in single or multicolored options. With a remote controller, you can dim these strips or adjust the color. With the brighter light of the 5050, you can dim down to the equivalent light of the 3528 if you need lower lighting conditions.

SMD 2835

This chip is 2.8mm by 3.5mm. It has the same dimensions as the 3528 but in a different orientation. As is true with the other LED chip options, brightness is not determined or limited by size. These high-output chips are brighter and more efficient than the 3528 or the 5050 LED chips.

The 2835 chip uses, on average, a little less power than a 5050 chip but produces about 20% more light. They are smaller in size as well, so they can be mounted more closely for higher density on the circuit boards, providing the brightest possible strip lighting of all three chip options.

The SMD 2835 has another advantage: These chips stay cooler during use than the others. As a result, they have the longest life span. These little powerhouses are not available in multiple colors. They are made only in shades of white. Like the other chip options, however, they are dimmable.

LED Strip Lighting

Strip lighting is very adaptable. It can be used for accent lighting, task lighting, or even as the main source of light in a living or workspace. The brightness of the light is only limited by the number, density, and type of LED chip used.

Determine Which LED Chip Lighting Option Is Right for Your Application

Decide first whether your lighting will ever potentially get wet. If moisture exposure is possible, choose outdoor strips. Otherwise, indoor lighting is an appropriate option.

How much light will you need? Consider the use of the space. For the widest range of lighting conditions, include a dimmer and choose strip lighting that is bright enough for the maximum amount of light you might require.

Brightness is determined not just by the type of LED chip used but also by the density of the chips on the circuit board. The more chips per foot or meter of the light strip, the brighter the light, regardless of which type of chip is used.

For the most light with maximum energy efficiency, your best options will use a high density of SMD 2835 chips. For minimal light, such as accent lighting, a low-density strip using the SMD 3528 is very economical.

Will you want to adjust the color of the lighting? In that case, you need to choose strip lighting with SMD 5050 chips. Note that you will also need to include a controller with your LED light system to manage the color of the light.

Select Quality Strip Lighting

Regardless of your application, choose high-quality strip lighting with the right LED chip type and density for your project. You will never regret purchasing well-made, premium lighting. Once installed, your strip lighting should provide years of trouble-free performance. Here is how you can select the best products for your application.

Durability and Brightness

Look for products that use thick, sturdy copper for the circuit boards. Choose light strips that won't crease when flexed. Strip lighting should bend easily without breaking. A durable circuit board provides reliability and a longer life for your installation.

Select brighter lights for more flexibility. For example, the Luma 20 can provide over 475 lumens per foot, which is ideal for general or task lighting. With this intense brightness, you can see clearly to work or prepare a meal. A dimmer gives you the option to lower the light when you are ready to relax or perhaps enjoy your meal with softer lighting and a few candles on the table.

Brighter light is accomplished by using a higher density of the right LED chip type. The more chips per foot generally mean the higher the cost of the lighting. You will pay a little more, but you will benefit by having the right light for a wide variety of uses.

UL Listing

UL, originally known as Underwriters Laboratory, performs strict safety testing on electrical products. A UL listing ensures that your strip lighting has been evaluated and has met UL's high standards.

Some strip lighting products on the market don't have a UL listing. Confirm that your selections have been through this rigorous testing procedure to reduce the risk of shock or fire hazards. If you are a contractor or other building professional, you may find that a UL listing is required for approval of your lighting installation.

Strip lighting is low voltage but should still be safety tested and approved. Be safe. Insist on a UL listing for any electrical product, including strip lighting.

Warranty

A UL listing ensures that you're selecting a safe product, but it is not a warranty. How long will your new strip light installation last? That will depend on many factors, such as which type of LED chip is used, the quality of the circuit boards, and whether your strip lighting is in continuous use.

A warranty tells you that the company stands behind its product. HitLights offers a six-year warranty on its strip lighting. This is a promise of quality and durability. When you have a good warranty, you know your installation will perform as expected for years to come.

Power Calculations

Each strip lighting installation is a little different. Calculating your total watts is easy. Each product will have the watts required per foot printed on the package. This is the number of chips per foot multiplied by the power needs of each LED chip used.

Multiply this number by how many feet of strip lighting your application will require. For example, if your light strip uses two watts per foot and you need 30 feet of lighting, you will require 60 watts of power. A 20% safety factor is required when choosing the correct power supply. In this case, where the load is 60watts we cannot select a power supply that is also 60watts. Doing so will overload the power supply, we need a buffer of at least 20% or the load should not exceed 80% of the power supply's maximum wattage capacity.

Strip Light Installation

One of the great features of strip lighting is its flexibility. You can have exactly the lighting you need right where you want it. Each application is unique. You may decide to use batteries for portable lighting to illuminate your vehicle or just to add a little light to a dark corner where no outlet is handy.

Perhaps you want to light up that stairway for safe passage in the dark or have dimmable lighting in your building that can convert the space to be more usable during darker hours in the morning or evening. From festive patio lighting for your summer events or security lighting in an apartment building corridor, there is a proper LED chip and strip lighting solution for your project.

Visit us at HitLights for expert assistance and check out our many options of lighting, controllers, connectors, and dimmers for every application. We will help you find the right strip lights and accessories to create the perfect lighting to bring your installation to life.