What is the difference between LED package types such as 3528, 5050, and 2835?

When searching for LED products, you may come across different 4-digit designations for LED types. When you first come across these codes, you may be very confused as to what they mean! Read on to find out the difference between common LED types and what to look out for.

First of all, what is an LED package?

An LED lamp typically consists of multiple LEDs mounted onto a circuit board, commonly specified at certain density numbers such as 60 per meter for LED strips. Each of these LEDs, however, come in a variety of types called LED packages.

An LED package is a plastic casing that carries an LED chip and phosphor. The LED chip is the semiconductor material that emits light (blue light) and the phosphor material converts some of this light into green and red wavelengths. This mixture results in the white light that is emitted by the LED package.

A variety of LED package types

LED packages types are designated by four digit codes such as 3528, 5050, 3030 and 2835. The first two digits refer to the width of the package, while the last two digits refer to its length, in tenths of a millimeter. So for example, a 3528 LED package has a width of 3.5 mm, and a length of 2.8 mm.

Generally speaking, a larger package can handle more power. This is because it has more surface area to dissipate heat. However, be aware that this is not always a hard and fast rule. The 2835 package, for example, has the same surface area dimensions as the 3528, but is a newer package design that allows for much higher power levels. The package material (e.g. PPA vs PCT vs ceramic) and thermal design all have an influence on power capacity as well.

Generation 1 LEDs: 3528 and 5050

The first generation of surface mount style LEDs come in 3528 and 5050 sizes. The 3528 typically contains a single 20 mA LED chip (approximately 0.06 Watts) and a 5050 typically contains three 20 mA LED chips (approximately 0.2 Watts). Therefore, a single 5050 LED package has the capacity of 3x 3528 LEDs.

In addition to the higher capacity, because the 5050 package typically has enough space for three different LED chips, it is a popular method of packaging RGB LEDs that require multiple colors. Of course, they can also be used to package single color white LEDs, in which three blue LED chips would be used.

There are some 3528 RGB LEDs, but these typically contain only one color per LED. This can cause additional issues where you may see some shadowing or color shifts due to the uneven spacing. Because the RGB LED chips are located in a single package for a 5050 LED, the single point source tends to work better.

Generation 2: 2835 and 5730

The second generation of LED types saw an increase in power density. The 2835 LED is typically driven at 60 mA each (0.2 Watts) while the 5730 LED is typically driven at 150 mA each (0.5 Watts). Due to improvements in LED chip technology and package thermal design improvements, power levels at the LED level have increased significantly. In reality, some of the power levels of these LEDs will exceed the overall thermal capacity of the LED strip system since the thermal dissipation of an LED strip is limited due to the material and lack of heat sinking.

The second generation 2835 and 5730 LEDs also offer a lower profile. If you need to fit the LED strips in a location with limited vertical space, this can be an advantage, and in addition, this package design creates fewer issues with fringe yellowing.

Other package types

3014 may be another LED package type that you come across. These LEDs are designed to be low power (approximately 20 mA each) and are commonly used in LCD backlighting applications where high LED count is needed for uniformity. Similarly, there are LED strip light products that have these LEDs in a diagonal pattern at a high density in order to create a uniform linear light source.

3030 LEDs are also seen used on LED strips. Many of these products take advantage of the symmetrical circular light emission surface as they can be paired with secondary optics and lensing. 3030 LEDs are typically designed to be run at 300 mA or more (up to 1.0 Watts) but due to thermal concerns are typically not run at full capacity on LED strip products.

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