The Different Types of LED You Can Use in Your Next Project

FACTS CHECKED BY  Willian Zhou 

Many types of LEDs are on the market today, and it can be challenging to know which one is right for your next project. This blog post will discuss the different types of LEDs and their applications. We will also provide tips on choosing the right LED for your needs.  

What are LED lights?

long life Recessed light with LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps

long life Recessed light with LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps

“LED” is an acronym for “light-emitting diode,” a semi-conductor technology that converts electricity into light. An LED is a specific diode emits visible light when an electric current passes through it.

LED lighting has only been on the market for a few decades. People first created Rudimental LED lighting in the 1960s, roughly 100 years after the first light bulb appeared. In the 1970s, LEDs became available for electronic devices like calculators and watches. But it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that LED lighting became inexpensive and commonly used in general lighting applications.

In a PN Junction Diode, electrons and holes recombine in the PN Junction to release energy as light (photon) when voltage is used in the forward direction. The color of light emitted by an LED depends on the materials used to create the PN Junction.

The color of an LED is usually monochromatic, meaning it has a single hue and depends on the energy bandgap in the semiconductor.

The Electrical Symbol of an LED

The LED circuit symbol is simple to understand. The LED character includes a diode symbol with two arrows pointing outwards, denoting that light emanates from the device.

LED circuit symbol

LED circuit symbol

When showing the light-emitting diode symbol only as an outline and without the filled-in forms, it’s usually a hint that you should not use them with acid. The outline form is also acceptable.

light-emitting diodes alternative, LED circuit symbol

light-emitting diodes alternative, LED circuit symbol

Outside, the circuit board and other components may also feature LED characters. The light-emitting diode symbol occasionally gets encircled by circles. Although this sign isn’t as famous anymore, you can see it on many circuits.

Characteristics of LED (Light Emitting Diode)

Pile of multicolored 3mmq, 1W LEDs - light-emitting diode and infrared receivers

Pile of multicolored 3mmq, 1W LEDs – light-emitting diode and infrared receivers  

You should be aware of a few LED characteristics before connecting an LED to a circuit and utilizing it. These characteristics are the forward voltage (Vf), the forward current (If), and the polarity of the LED.  

Forward Voltage of LED

It is another term for voltage rating: how much power the LED can use. Besides, it is how much voltage the LED has to conduct electricity. For example, all 5mm LEDs have a current rating of 20mA, but the forward voltages differ.

LEDs of different colors have slightly different maximum voltage ratings. The maximum voltage rating for LEDs is 3.2 volts, whereas the maximum voltage rating for red LEDs is 2.2 volts, blue LEDs are 3.4 volts, and white LEDs are 3.6 volts (LEDs with higher voltages require more amperage).

Forward Current of LED

The power supply for LEDs is a DC 12V battery, which you have to recharge every 100-150 hours, depending on the LED type. Because LEDs are sensitive devices and the amount of current flowing through them is vital, it’s crucial to ensure they get connected properly.

The brightness of an LED also lies in how much current passes it. Too much wind will destroy the LED, while too little current will dim the LED. The maximum forward current for an LED is 20mA.

However, different colors of LEDs have different maximum forward currents. For example, the maximum forward current for a red LED is 30mA, while the maximum forward current for a blue LED is 50mA.

Polarity of LED

A component’s polarity is a measure of symmetry. A Light Emitting Diode, like a PN Junction diode, is non-symmetric, allowing current to flow only in one direction.

The arrow in the image above shows the direction of conventional current flow, from positive to negative. The longer lead on an LED is always the positive lead (anode).

The shorter lead is always the negative lead (cathode). If you reverse the polarity of an LED, it will not light up. You can damage an LED by supplying too much current, so it is essential to use a resistor in series with the LED.

When an LED is forward-biased (i.e., when it applies voltage to the anode concerning the cathode), electrons can recombine with holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is electroluminescence, and the color of the light (corresponding to the point of the photons) depends on the semiconductor’s bandgap.

How do LED lights work?

fluorescent tubes, normal LEDs on blue background

Fluorescent tubes, regular LEDs on blue background

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a type of semiconductor device that converts electrical energy into visible light. LEDs comprise a material called a semiconductor, which is a substance that can conduct electricity. The two types of materials used to make semiconductors are metals and nonmetals. Silicon and germanium are examples of nonmetals that people use to make semiconductors.

When you apply electrical energy to an LED, electrons within the device recombine with holes, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is electroluminescence, and the color of the light (corresponding to the point of the photons) is up to the semiconductor’s bandgap.

What are the different types of led lighting?

The two main types of LED lighting are traditional and organic LEDs (OLEDs). Here is the list of types of LEDs:  

Surface Mounted Diode (SMD) LEDs

Surface-mounted 7-segment Binary digit on white isolated background

Surface-mounted 7-segment Binary digit on white isolated background  

The surface-mounted LEDs are brighter than their through-hole cousins and have various shapes. The most common types are the 3528 and 5050 packages. These get attached to the PCB board and soldered in place, probably the most frequent type of LED chip available.

3528 LEDs are smaller, use less current, and aren’t as bright as the 5050s. They’re often used for backlighting or under-cabinet lighting where space is tight and heat dissipation isn’t as important.

5050 LEDs are slightly larger with three legs instead of two, which allows them to dissipate heat better than the traditional lighting methods of a standard bulb. That makes them more versatile since they can be available for high-power applications like car headlights or other higher-light output surface-mounted devices.  

Through-hole LEDs

Top view of white aluminum electronic circuits with SMD LEDs and microchips.

Top view of white aluminum electronic circuits with SMD LEDs and microchips.

LEDs come in various shapes and sizes, the most popular ones being 3mm, 5mm, and 8mm. LEDs are available in several hues, including Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, and White.  

Chip on Board (COB) LEDs

COB LEDs on black carriers trays

COB LEDs on black carriers trays

The COB is a chip-on-board type that produces a more powerful beam of controlling light than SMD. Besides, it has a more accessible choice because people design it to emit light in a specific direction.

Bi-color LEDs and tri-color LEDs

Color LEDs

Color LEDs

These types of LEDs have two or three colors in one LED. Bi-color LEDs have red and green, while tri-color LEDs have red, green, and blue. We often use these as status indicators since they can emit different colors depending on the voltage you apply to them.

High–Power LEDs

Two high power SMD white lighting LEDs isolated on white background

Two high-power SMD white lighting LEDs are isolated on white background.

Usually, we measure the amount of power an LED can dissipate in Watts. These are excellent flashlights with LEDs. Using their arrays, you can even use them to create spotlights and automobile headlights. Because so much energy passes through the LED, they almost always need heat sinks. Heatsinks are metal chunks with a lot of surface area that you can use to help dissipate heat away from the LED light.

Dual In-Line Package (DIP) LEDs

DIP LED chips are the original LEDs, as many people recall when they hear “LED lights.” While older than their younger counterparts, DIP LED chips are still in use today and are more commonly in built-in devices due to their small size. Despite this, they aren’t very bright and can only produce a limited amount of light.

RGB LED (Red – Blue – Green LED)

RGB LED strip on a reel with black background

RGB LED strip on a reel with black background

The RGB LEDs comprise three individual LEDs hooked together. But it doesn’t imply they can only produce three colors. You may modify the intensity of each color to create every hue of the rainbow because red, green, and blue are primary additive colors. RGB LEDs have four terminals: one for each color and a shared pin.  

Dimmer Switches

Switches with dimmers in the collection of wall 

Switches with dimmers in the collection of wall 

Like other types of lights, you can also find dimmer switches for your LED lights. These types of buttons control the amount of power that flows to bulbs.

Compared to dimmer switches for LED bulbs, the dimmer switch in standard incandescent bulbs does not function effectively.

As a result, Someone suggests that traditional bulbs should replace with LEDs since they use less electricity than other types of bulbs.

Organic LED

Plants on vertical farms grow with light-produced led lights.

Plants on vertical farms grow with light-produced led lights.

The basic concept behind organic LEDs is light-emitting diodes. The LED, as the name implies, contains organic components. The fundamental light-emitting diode emits light from the specific PN junctions that are the focus of attention. Organic LEDs exist in thin sheets and produce a diffuse glow.

LED technology continues to develop at a breakneck speed, both in terms of efficiency and complexity, and there are no limits to its application in any field. It is most often a thin-film substance deposited on the glass substrate. Then, it transmits the electrical impulses through semiconductor components to the embedded pixels, which cause the LED to glow.

Graphene LED

The competition is now in progress, and it aids in discovering innovative services for durable materials. In late 2015, the popular channel BBC announced that the development of light would employ graphene-coated LED filament. The use of graphene was first developed by a scientist who worked at Manchester University. It is more efficient than typical bulbs and claims to save users money on their energy bills by around 10%.  

Maximum Brightness LEDs

High-intensity LEDs refer to light-emitting diodes inorganic LED (often abbreviated as ILED). In the field of lighting and decoration, people have already utilized this type of LED. However, it was not until the early 2010s that inorganic LEDs became powerful enough for general lighting purposes. High-intensity LEDs are also in use as a replacement for traditional light sources such as incandescent and fluorescent lamps. These types of LEDs have a long life and are energy-saving.

Color LED

Spherical yellow lamp bulb hanging on a tree branch on the leafless tree and sepia evening sky background

Spherical yellow lamp bulb hanging on a tree branch on the leafless tree and sepia evening sky background

The color LED attracts everyone’s attention and is available in three hues: cool white LED, warm white LED, and daylight LED. Warm white halogen bulbs are the most popular choice for indoor lighting. The pale blue hue in the daytime LED, which has a stark white base with a hint of blue, gets operational chiefly to bring out the actual shade.

LEDs w/ Integrated Circuits

LED circuit board on LED TV close-up

LED circuit board on LED TV close-up

-Addressable LEDs

You can also individually program LEDs with different wavelengths. Individual LEDs get controllable using other chipsets (WS2812, APA102, and UCS1903) with varying degrees of color control.

-cycling LED

LEDs are not all created equal. Take the cycling LED, for example. An integrated circuit in these LEDs allows them to blink without using an external power source.  

-Built-In Resistor

LEDs with a small current-limiting resistor are also LEDs with built-in resistors. So turn on your power source and light up the LED with a built-in resistor! There is a tiny, black square IC on the post to limit the current on these LEDs.  

Special LEDs

 -infrared LEDs

Infrared LEDs isolated on white background

Infrared LEDs are isolated on white background.

Some LEDs give off light outside of the visible spectrum. Infrared LEDs, for example, are pretty standard. You can utilize them in television remotes to transmit little pieces of information via invisible light! These might resemble regular LEDs, so they’ll be challenging to distinguish from them.

-ultraviolet LEDs

You may also get UV LEDs on the low end of the spectrum. Ultraviolet LEDs will cause certain materials to fluoresce, much like a blacklight! They’re also helpful for disinfecting surfaces because many germs are sensitive to UV light. You may utilize them in counterfeit detection credit cards, papers, etc.  

Mini LEDs

The primary purpose of these tiny LEDs is to decorate. There may be a chain of little LED lights or separate to use. They come in a variety of hues.

The essential aspect of mini LED lights is their tiny size, which is why they’re available in automobiles and other places where space efficiency is required.

Alphanumeric LEDs

Alphanumeric LEDs come in seven-segment, starburst, and dot-matrix forms. The seven-segment variety can display all digits and a restricted number of letters.

All letters may appear on Starburst displays. In the case of dot-matrix shows, it represents each character by 5 x 7 pixels. The popularity of seven-segment LED displays waned in the 1970s and 1980s as liquid crystal displays with reduced energy requirements and greater display flexibility increased.

Flashing LEDs

3D rendering of a wall with flashing lights and bright spotlights.

3D rendering of a wall with flashing lights and bright spotlights.

LEDs constantly on can be used as attention-seeking signals without needing an external device. Flashing LEDs look like ordinary LEDs but include a built-in voltage regulator and multivibrator circuit, allowing them to explode with a one-second rhythm.

This circuit appears as a tiny black spot when viewed in a diffused lens LED. Most flashing LEDs give off one color of light, although more advanced devices can flash between colors and even fade through colors in an order using RGB color mixing.  

Simple LED Circuit

There are several interesting LED Circuit Project ideas to explore.

Such as LED Pilot Ligh, LED Battery Tester, LED Nightlight, led display, and more.

You may need the materials like led tubes/ led bulbs.

For additional basic LED Circuits, please see here

The benefits of using LED lights over traditional light bulbs

led light bulbs with crumpled papers on the blue surface 

led to light bulbs with crumpled papers on the blue surface

LED lamps have several advantages for industrial and commercial enterprises that want to lower their power consumption and costs. Here are some of the benefits of LED lights.  

Lower power consumption

LEDs are more efficient than incandescents because they produce light in large ​with relatively little energy.

LEDs convert over 70% of their electricity into light, which is far better than other bulbs that waste a lot of power by converting it to heat. A 6-watt LED bulb can create the same amount of illumination as a 40-watt incandescent.

In addition to saving money on your energy bills, LEDs also last longer than traditional light bulbs. So you could save your electricity bills and get an energy-saving lifestyle in domestic lighting.  

Long life

Led strip green light roll with cool light

Led strip green light roll with cool light

The life expectancy of an LED light is far greater than that of a regular incandescent bulb. The typical incandescent bulb lasts around 1,000 hours. An average LED light has a lifespan of 50,000 hours. An LED light can endure anywhere from six to 12 years, depending on how you utilize it. This compares highly favorably against traditional led light bulbs.  

A wide color palette

The color of the emitted light changes in LEDs by changing the actual diode ( or material) used. Incandescent bulbs need gels or filters to create different hues and tones of light. On the other hand, LEDs provide a more comprehensive range of colors and color temperatures without gels or filters, which might burn out or fade over time.

This is important to consider if you’re using LEDs for specific tasks like growing plants indoors because different light colors can affect plant growth. For example, blue light helps plants grow taller, while red light helps them produce more flowers.  

Eco-friendly

LEDs are eco-friendly in multiple ways. They don’t contain harmful materials like mercury found in CFLs. They also don’t produce UV rays or release toxic chemicals into the air as HIDs do.

In addition, LEDs are recyclable, so once they’ve reached the end of their lifespan, you can recycle them instead of throwing them away.  

Design Flexibility

Another advantage of LEDs is that they come in various shapes and sizes. This gives you more design flexibility when choosing led lighting for your home or business.

For example, you can find LED bulbs that look like traditional incandescent bulbs and ones that look like CFLs and HIDs. You can also find LED bulbs with different types of bases, such as E26, E12, and GU24.  

High brightness and intensity

LEDs also have high brightness and intensity. This means that they can provide better lighting for your home or business than other types of standard bulbs.  

Dimming Capabilities

You can use LEDs at power levels ranging from 5% to 100%, with a success rate of over 90%. Some lighting technologies, such as metal halide, can only be dimmed at a power level of 20% to 50%.

And the dimmer switch may help you whether you want white light or warm white.  

Directionality

LEDs, unlike incandescent bulbs, don’t distribute their light in all directions. This helps to minimize energy consumption since no light is lost or trapped inside reflectors and diffusers, which can retain approximately half of the generating light from exiting the bulb. LEDs are great for applications like task lighting and recessed downlights because of their directional light output.

No Heat or UV Emissions

If you’ve attempted to change a dull incandescent light bulb after it has fallen out, you know how hot they get when used. Traditional lighting sources, such as incandescent bulbs, turn more than 90% of the energy they consume into heat while only utilizing 10% for illumination.

LED lights emit very little heat when turned on, making them much safer to the touch.

Additionally, LED bulbs don’t give off ultraviolet (UV) radiation like some types of lighting, such as mercury vapor lamps. This means that they won’t cause fading of fabrics or artwork and can be available in enclosed spaces without fear of UV damage.  

light-emitting diodes: How to install LED lights

Led strip coil on dark background. Led shining diodes

Led strip coil on dark background. Led shining diodes

Installing LED lights may seem daunting, but with a few simple steps, you’ll be on your way to energy-efficient lighting in no time.

First, determine where you want to install the LED lights.

Second, gather the necessary tools and materials.

Third, follow the instructions below.

Installing LED strip lights is a relatively simple process that anyone can do without too much trouble. The first step is to find a suitable location for the lights. You’ll need to consider both the power supply and the layout of the room when choosing a site.

Once you’ve found a good spot, gathering your tools and materials is next. You’ll need a drill, screwdriver, wire strippers, and other essential tools. You’ll also need a power supply, LED strip lights, and connectors.

The last step is to follow the instructions for your LED strip lights. This will vary depending on the brand and model of lights you use. But in general, you’ll need to connect the power supply to the lights, then use the provided brackets to mount the lights in your chosen location.

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, you can also solder the LED strip lights directly to the power supply. This will give you a stronger connection, but it’s unnecessary for most projects.  

The different types of LED lights available on the market

Newest LED light bulbs on black background

Types of LEDs: Newest LED light bulbs on black background

What is the best kind of LED? One of the most common types of LEDs is the standard LED, a small, round bulb that can be useful in various applications. Standard LEDs are available in many colors, including white, blue, green, and red.

Another type of LED is the high-powered LED, which is larger and brighter than a standard LED. High-powered LEDs, such as street lights and wall sconces, often appear in outdoor applications.

LED strips are another type of LED that is becoming increasingly popular. LED strips are long; you can use thin strips of LEDs to add accent lighting to a room or provide task lighting under cabinets.

Finally, LED light bulbs are a type of LED available to replace traditional incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs are available in various shapes and sizes and can be accessible for indoor and outdoor applications.

How Are LEDs Different than Other Lights?

street lights

Types of LEDs: street lights

There are a few critical ways that LEDs are different from other lights. Such as:  

Heat

The advantages of LED lighting are numerous, but the main one is that it is more energy-saving ​than other types of lighting. Incandescent bulbs generate 90% of their energy as heat, while CFLs generate about 80%. LEDs, on the other hand, generate very little heat.

Light Source

LEDs are about as big as a grain of sea salt, and their numbers are tiny, comparable to a pinch of sea salt. The light source is from a semiconductor comprising two materials joined together.

Directional

The direction emitted by LEDs makes these types of lights so different. It emits light in a specific order, which reduces the need for reflectors and diffusers—these are what trap the light. Other types of lighting, reflecting its light in a particular direction, causes much-wasted light and may never even leave the fixture.

How to choose the right LED light bulbs for your needs.

Types of LEDs: How to choose

Types of LEDs: How to choose

Before buying LED lights, there are a few things and variables to consider.  

Types of LED: Make a list

Types of LEDs: The person filling out a to-do list

Types of LED: The person filling out a to-do list

Count the amount and kind of light fixtures in your house.

How much are you willing and able to spend on LED lights? You may be able to find some good quality, affordable options if you take the time to look around.

Determine the types of light bulbs you need.

Not all rooms in your house will require the same light bulbs. Consider the function of each room when making your decision.

– For example, you may want brighter lights in the kitchen to see while you’re cooking.

– Or, you might prefer softer light in the living room to create a relaxing atmosphere.  

Types of LED: Think about the color of light.

Types of LEDs: the color of light

Types of LEDs: the color of light

What color of light do you want to illuminate your space?

White light is the most common, but you can also find LEDs in other colors like yellow, green, and blue.

Some people prefer a particular color of light for specific rooms in their house. For example, blue light might be calming in a bedroom, while white light could help you stay alert in a home or commercial lighting.

You should also consider the color temperature of the light.

-Measure this in Kelvin, and it determines how warm or cool the light will appear.

– For example, a bulb with a color temperature of 2700K will emit a warm, yellow light, while one with a color temperature of 6000K will emit a cool, white light.

Brightness or Lumens

The brightness of an LED is essential. You need to pick the proper brightness level based on your needs. If you have little room, you’ll want a low-brightness setting, but if you have ample space, you’ll need more light, which means high-brightness LEDs ( inorganic LEDs).

The light you need to install at a location also influences the cost. The lumens measure the amount of light an LED supplies in a unit period. The number of fixtures you’ll need to install is up to the area’s size and how many people will use it.

Type of LED Light

The first step is to determine the type of LED light you require. LED lights are available for various applications, with several different types of LED strip lights, tiny lights, halogen bulbs, and fixtures.

If you want to grow plants in your home using LED Grow Lights, you’ll need them. If you’re looking for tiny LED lights for decoration, get colorful mini-LEDs (white LEDs, blue LEDs) and excellent light.  

 

Types of LED: Calculate your financial and environmental savings

Like all other bulbs, LEDs come in various shapes and sizes. They are one of the more costly bulb types available today; however recent advancements in LED technology have brought the price down. Many electric utility companies provide incentive programs to help you save money on the upfront cost of LEDs. LED lights are an investment, but they will save you money in the long run.

In addition to saving you money, LEDs are more environmentally friendly than other bulbs. Besides, they are available in various sizes, shapes, and colors. You can even get mini-LEDs that are small enough.  

Types of LED: Do LEDs need a Heat Sink?

Types of LEDs: Detail of an aluminum heat sink from a led lamp for power dissipation

Types of LEDs: Detail of an aluminum heat sink from a led lamp for power dissipation

Yes. LED light strips require heat sinks or channels to remove the heat from them and disburse it back into the ambient air. LED strips will suffer rapid deterioration.  

Summary

LEDs come in all shapes and colors, making them a versatile lighting option for your next project. When choosing an LED, it’s essential to consider the color, brightness, and viewing angle of the light. There are also different types of LEDs available, depending on your needs. We hope this post has given you a better understanding of the different types of LEDs available and how to choose the right one for your project. Are there any other questions you still have about LEDs? Let us know in the comments below!

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