What is SMD in LED lighting? What is it used for?

SMD-LED light

It is sometimes difficult to tell different types and techniques of LED lighting apart. You have recently come across the term SMD LED somewhere and are curious what exactly the meaning and function of this variant of LED lighting is. We would be happy to help you with a simple explanation.

Compared to the first generation of so-called Direct In-line Package (DIP) LED lighting, SMD LED is seen as a relatively new, advanced form of LED technology. Surface Mounted Diode (SMD) is the smaller variant of the similar Chip-On-Board (COB) LED technology, where multiple LEDs are placed together on a single surface.

This overview will help you in simple terms to make this so-called SMD LED technology a little less mysterious. The most important thing you need to know: SMD, like the similar COB LED, is a relatively new and efficient LED technology.

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SMD LED meaning

The term SMD stands for Surface Mounted Diode (SMD). An SMD LED is always a combination of several individual LED light sources permanently soldered onto an aluminium circuit board without wires or cables. The SMD LED chip is packed in epoxy resin or silicone.

SMD LED is thus a technical abbreviation for a specific type of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. The technique is roughly comparable to direct soldering of specific components on a computer motherboard, but for an LED light source.

Regularly, you will come across the term "in the wild" in combination with a series of numbers, which refer to dimensions in millimetres (mm). For example, 5050 SMD LED strip is a reference to the exact size of an LED strip, in this case of 5.0 x 5.0 mm.

SMD LED applications

In a modern world with high demand for high-quality, economical lighting, SMD LEDs have become hugely popular in a short space of time. The lighting technology is the standard choice for a wide range of applications, mainly because of the many advantages it can offer.

SMD LED lighting can be found in commercial lighting such as LED panels, LED high-bay lamps, LED downlights, or LED track lights, for example. The technology is used in lighting for workshops, offices, shops, but is also simply used in LED lamps in and around your home.

There are also infinite functions for SMD LEDs in all kinds of industrial manufacturing applications. SMD LED light sources are widely used in many types of electronics, vehicles, and even medical devices.

Advantages of SMD LED technology

The very wide range of applications of this lighting technology is not entirely without reason. The so-called 'new generation' LED lighting is used in many ways for its many advantages over the alternatives.

The main reasons for manufacturers to prefer SMD LED technology over other techniques can be summarised as follows:

  1. Compactness: The small size of an SMD LED makes it the ideal lighting technology for devices and applications where space saving is essential. This has enabled creative and flexible lighting applications.
  2. Lighting quality: SMD delivers better brightness and colour accuracy compared to alternatives, providing a better lighting experience for users in practice.
  3. Integration: PCB technology makes integration with mainly electronics much easier for manufacturers. This makes factory processes cheaper and faster.
  4. Efficiency: SMD LEDs provide less energy consumption compared to alternative lighting technologies. This allows savings on energy bills and makes the use of lighting technology more attractive to users.
  5. Robustness: The LED chip is more resistant to vibration and shock, allowing SMD LEDs to last longer on average than other lighting technologies. It also allows them to be used in more applications.
  6. Diversity: The lighting technology is available in many light colours and colour temperatures. Together with the small size, this makes SMD LEDs an attractive option for a wide range of lighting applications.


After the 'first generation' of DIP LEDs, a new generation of lighting technology has entered the market. This includes both SMD LED and COB LED technology, which is why the two are often compared.

To get a better idea of the main differences between the two techniques in practical terms, the following is a brief comparison:

  • Format: SMD LEDs are generally smaller in size than COB LEDs. As a result, SMD LED offer greater flexibility and diversity in manufacturing and design.
  • Application: Directional light is the speciality of SMD LEDs, while for omnidirectional light, COB LEDs are mainly used. LED spotlights are perfect for SMD, while uniform light distribution is ideal for COB.
  • Brightness: COB has a higher lumen output on average. On average 50 to 100 lumens per watt for SMD, but at least 80 lumens per watt for COB. So COB is almost always brighter.
  • Heat regulation: COB LED will produce slightly more heat than SMD LED, mainly due to the fact that technology places individual LED chips more compactly together. This makes heat regulation more important for COB LEDs to maintain the same performance for a long time.
  • Cost: For production, SMD LEDs are often more cost-efficient due to differences in production methods and the number of LED chips used. COB LEDs are on average a bit more expensive to produce.

Opting for SMD LED lighting

The so-called 'second generation' LED technology is a very popular choice for a wide variety of lighting applications. So-called Surface Mounted Diode (SMD) LEDs can be found (mostly inconspicuously) in many types of LED lamps and products.

The small size and flexibility of the economical lighting technology provides many energy-saving opportunities in the industrial world, but can also be found simply in your home. Together with the 'larger' alternative COB LED, SMD LED is still used in very many situations today.

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