DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Major Differences and Applications

Light-emitting Diodes (LEDs) have changed the face of lighting and digital display technology. They offer many benefits that tend to keep consumers coming back for more. They have successfully changed the game through their constant evolution and innovation.

Two notable heavyweights in this family are the DIP and SMD LEDs. As expected, several arguments have been surrounding DIP vs. SMD LED and their efficiency. This comparison is not far-fetched because they are both efficient LEDs in their own right.

You don’t need to worry if you are caught in the web of the LED SMD vs. LED DIP debate, as this article will clear many confusions you harbor. Read on to learn more about these LED displays’ and their major differences and applications.

What Is DIP LED?

The DIP LED stands for Dual In-Line Packaging Light Emitting Display. It is a type of LED packaging technology where the LED chips are mounted, enclosed in epoxy or hard plastic, and attached to two parallel pins.

The DIP LEDS can be easily mounted through a hole with these two pins. Their straightforwardness and ease of use make them an easy choice for electrical appliances, indicator lights, and other devices where a quick solution is paramount.

The DIP LED produces around 4 lumens per pixel, and each LED is easily distinguishable. Although they are easy to use, they are quickly fading out because of the advancement of the SMD LED. However, they remain a top choice for outdoor LED displays.

Advantages of the DIP LED Display

Every LED display technology has its fair share of pros and cons. However, for now, let’s focus on the advantages of the DIP LED display which include:

  • Durability: The process of manufacturing a DIP LED is thorough, and consequently, the finished product is sturdy. This makes it suitable for use in spaces with harsh weather conditions and high human traffic.
  • Low-Resolution Displays: Although having a low-resolution display does not seem like the typical advantage, it has its perks. The DIP LED will offer a bright yet low-resolution display if you want to use simple indicators or primary numeric displays.
  • Simplicity: The DIP LED has a longer manufacturing time due to the intentionality that goes into the mounting style. If you’re looking for a manual yet meticulous and low-volume method of producing LEDs, you should try DIP LEDs.
  • Wide Viewing Angle: DIP LEDs offer a more immersive experience because of their wide viewing angle. This wide viewing angle is only possible because its omnidirectional light emission feature allows it to display the light from its screen in diverse directions.
  • Cost Effectiveness: DIP LEDs can be cheaper thanks to their simple manufacturing process. You should try them out if you want a cost-effective solution for specific design requirements and low-volume production.

What is an SMD LED?

The SMD stands for Surface Mounted Device, another type of LED packaging technology. It uses a 3-in-1 packaging system where 3 LEDs (red, green, and blue) are arranged in a single system directly on a Printed Circuit Board (PCB). They are rampant because of their compact, flat nature and how easily they operate.

SMD LEDs are arguably the most popular choice for LED displays; there may be a device or two around you right now with SMD LEDs in it. From creative LED displays to automotive lighting, to electronic fixtures, and even LED  fixtures, SMD LEDs are changing the face of digital display.

The dimensions of this LED are usually measured in a unique 4-digit format. Out of the four digits, the former two represent the LED length, while the latter two measure the LED’s height.  For example, if the dimensions of an SMD are 3528, that means it is 3.5 mm in length and 2.8 mm in height.

Advantages of the SMD LED Display

Over time, people who used SMD LED technology have enjoyed some fantastic advantages. By joining the movement, you will enjoy several advantages, such as:

  • Versatility in Application: Naturally, the SMD LED displays are super stylish and aesthetically pleasing. This makes them versatile and usable for various applications ranging from wearable technology to automotive displays, stadium displays, etc.
  • Compact Size: In terms of size, SMD LEDs are significantly smaller when compared to their counterparts, the DIP LED. The closely packed LEDs give them a high-density arrangement ideal for application in areas with limited space.
  • High Resolution: Because of their small size, SMD LEDs make for tight pixel pitches to produce sharper and more detailed visuals. This feature makes them suitable for digital signage applications.
  • Automated Manufacturing: Thanks to the high-end machines used in SMD LED manufacturing, the process is automated and seamless. This automated manufacturing makes producing the LEDs in large and marketable quantities easy. Overall, the manufacturing process is highly efficient and cost-effective in the end.
  • Energy Efficiency: SMD LED displays typically require less energy to produce the same or even higher brightness levels than traditional LED displays. This feature automatically translates to higher energy savings.
  • Better Thermal Management: Another significant advantage of the SMD LED display is its effective thermal management. Since it is small, dissipating heat and preventing overheating is much easier. Better thermal management translates to the longevity and reliability of the display. 

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Mounting Style

A significant basis for the SMD LED vs. DIP LED debate is the difference in their mounting styles. From their names, you already know there is a divergence in how the manufacturers mount the LEDs.

DIP LEDs are designed for through-hole mounting. The two pins are inserted into corresponding holes on the PCB and held in place with a soldering iron. They are easy to fix and assemble, thus making the mechanical process easy.

On the other hand, the SMD LED is mounted directly on the surface of the PCB without any holes or pins. They are then soldered to the bottom to give them a flat appearance. SMDs are smaller and ideal for application in areas with limited space.

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Size and Profile

Further comparison of the size and profile will open up more of the differences and unique qualities of DIP and SMD LEDs. 

The through-hole mounting method makes the DIP larger and maintains a higher profile. As we have seen earlier, they are an excellent choice for ample lighting like LED billboards, indicator lights, and several outdoor displays. 

The SMD LED is more suited for small and medium lighting solutions because of its mounting style. That is why this technology is more common in modern lighting fixtures, electronic devices, and displays where compatibility and aesthetics are a priority.

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Assembly Process

Taking the SMD LED vs. DIP comparison further, we’ll consider their assembly process. Note that this assembly process directly affects automation, manufacturing speed, and the overall production cost of the LED.

The through-hole mounting is the first step in the construction procedure for the DIP LED. The components are placed by manually placing the LED pins into the appropriate holes on the PCB. Along with inspecting the procedure, the operators solder the LEDs to the panel board.

This careful construction method has the benefit of providing a strong mechanical connection, which makes the finished product manageable and long-lasting. However, due to the precise positioning of the LEDs, production takes a long time.

When you urgently require LED supply or lighting solutions, this painstaking assembly of LEDs will cause delays. You could look into your options and choose another LED solution, such as an SMD or COB LED if you are impatient and cannot wait a long time.

SMD LEDs, on the other hand, assemble more quickly and automatically. The installation procedure can be finished quickly and precisely in a matter of minutes with a pick-and-place machine.

This automation enables you to produce large quantities of goods at a constant level of quality. Because SMDs are flat and suitable for small, compact designs, they can also suit your aesthetic tastes.

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Brightness

Depending on the LED model and power supply source, the DIP can produce a very bright display. Advancements in technology also make for even brighter DIP LEDs. A typical DIP can shine up to 7,000 nits, while a high-definition DIP can even up to 10,000.

It is little wonder that DIP LEDs are primarily used to manufacture streetlights, headlamps, indicator lights,  and other devices where brightness levels are paramount. 

The SMD LED not only offers high resolution and picture quality but can only reach a brightness level of 6,000 nits. It’s a pretty decent combo, especially with its other unique features. Remember that chip technology, power source, and production material can also affect brightness levels. 

Indeed, both LED display technologies can reach high brightness levels; you just have to put the application into perspective. If it’s a comparison of DIP vs. SMD LED lighting, the DIP LED takes the cake. However, when you compare the DIP vs. SMD LED screen, the SMD screen is a better option as it offers crisp and brighter display quality while maintaining a reasonable brightness level.

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Energy Efficiency

Of all the concerns and worries LED users have, energy efficiency maintains a top spot. No one wants to spend good money purchasing an LED display and still spend a huge amount on light bills because of their high energy consumption.

The LED debate on energy efficiency is even broader as it compares the DIP vs. SMD v. COB LED. COB stands for Chip-On-Board and is the latest addition to the LED family. With the COB, the LEDs are mounted directly on a substrate to produce light.

The COB technology has a higher lumen density; this means that it can produce a brighter light display with less energy consumption. This often results in a uniform display with a brighter light display and a steady light output. 

We will, however, focus on the SMD LEDs vs. DIP LEDs debate to avoid deviating from the main entities in contention. These two LEDs have the potential for low energy consumption, but their unique characteristics differentiate them.

By design, the DIP LED’s through-hole mounting system makes it difficult for heat to pass through. The direct implication of this defect is that the DIP will consume more energy to stay shining. No matter they are popular amongst outdoor display devices where energy consumption is not a hassle.

The SMD LED, on the other hand, is better suited for indoor use as it consumes less energy. Thanks to technological advancements, they can produce more lumens per watt and shine brighter than a traditional LED for extended periods.

Their compact size is an added advantage to their energy-efficient prowess. Because the LED is directly mounted on the surface of the PCB, heat can easily pass through it. By implication, the SMD LED screen can stay brighter for longer without overworking or overheating. 

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Color Range

Another valid basis for the unending comparison between LED DIP vs. SMD is their color range. Regular LED bulbs can produce a wide range of colors. However, the material used in covering or coating the LED chips can affect the accuracy of the color reproduction. 

The DIP LED can effectively reproduce single colors like red, green, blue, white, yellow, etc. If you want to display simple colors without any extravagance or added effect, the DIP LED is the perfect display technology for the job.

On the other hand, the SMD LEDs do a fine job reproducing colors for dynamic lighting effects in architectural lighting and LED strips. Thanks to their advanced technology, which allows them to reproduce colors and heighten the viewing experience accurately.

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Heat Dissipation

Heat dissipation refers to the flow of heat away from a machine or equipment to prevent it from overheating and maintain optimal temperature. In LED displays, heat dissipation is a primary consideration in the design and functionality of the display, as it can affect the device’s performance and reliability.

The difference in heat dissipation between a DIP LED and an SMD LED largely depends on their respective packaging, designs, and the efficiency of thermal management systems. As you have seen above, the through-hole design of the DIP LED does not have an effective heat dissipation system.

Unfortunately, the mounting style in the DIP LED is not ideal for proper heat dissipation. The heat has to travel through the leads, which can slow down the process of heat dissemination. Ultimately, the heat dissipation efficiency largely depends on the material and size of the LEDs.

Owing to their surface-mounted design, the SMD LED allows for an efficient and direct path for heat dissipation. Their direct contact with the PCB surface and compact size makes heat dissipation easier and quicker.

With the rapid rate of research and technological advancements, we can expect better and more effective heat dissipation methods in the future. Until then, the SMD vs. DIP LED debate continues; in this case, SMD LED offers better heat dissipation.

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Durability

In choosing any  LED, you should consider one that can withstand wear, tear, and harsh weather conditions. By so doing, you will avoid unnecessary repair costs and save yourself a few bucks.

Apart from the material used in making the LED, other factors like the LED’s design and the environmental conditions in the area where you mount it can affect the durability of the screen. They will determine how well your LED display will fare.

The DIP has a through-hole mounting method that gives it a sturdy connection to the PCB surface. That is why DIP LED displays can withstand vibrations, external hits, and mechanical stress better than others.

SMD LEDs are mounted directly on the PCB surface and are more delicate and at risk of physical stress. Even though they are a top choice for space efficiency, they are at risk of mechanical stress and damage.

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Viewing Angle

There’s nothing more annoying than watching a screen with a horrible viewing angle, the horror! Whether you are watching an SMD vs. DIP LED display, your priority is an excellent viewing experience.

From the positioning and properties of the LED, you can already determine if it has a good viewing angle. A DIP LED will give you a better viewing angle for an outdoor LED screen.  Its omnidirectional light emission pattern makes it direct light at a wider angle.

On the other hand, the SMD LEDs are more suited for indoor displays as they have a more direct light emission pattern. The light from the screen is more direct and travels straight to the person in front of the screen, putting others around at a bad viewing angle.

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Cost

Another valid basis for the DIP LED Vs. SMD LED debate is on the difference in cost. As expected, several factors contribute to the cost of the LED display. Things like the manufacturing process, high demand, and ease of assembly can affect the cost of the LEDs.

Typically, manufacturing DIP LEDs is not costly; however, because of the time it takes to produce them, you may end up losing the money you would have made from sales. However, you will spend more to employ capable hands to help in production.

The SMD LED has an automated mounting style, which makes the production process easier. At the initial stage, the cost of producing an SMD LED will be high, but it will be more cost-effective with time.

With the ever-evolving LED tech space, we can expect more innovations to make LED production more straightforward and cost-effective. In conclusion, the DIP LED and SMD LED are cost-effective at different stages of the production process. It’s best to conclude what works for you and the cost you are ready to bear.

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Packaging

In the manufacturing process, packaging plays a crucial role. In addition to strengthening the final display’s luminous efficiency, it safeguards the LED display chip and joins external leads to its electrodes.

A packing material’s physical form, intended application, and manufacturing method should all be taken into account before selecting one. Selecting the appropriate packing material can also increase an LED’s lifespan.

DIP LEDs are frequently placed in an epoxy or plastic casing and linked to two parallel leads to safeguard the LED chips and facilitate through-the-hole mounting. The waterproof packing materials used to shield the LED from inclement weather are also purposefully chosen.

SMD LEDs have a flat form factor that gives them a sleek appearance and increases their space efficiency. Depending on your intended display use, many materials are available for the exterior.

Materials like metal, plastic, ceramic, epoxy, lead frame, or phosphor contacts are a good fit for LED packaging. As you choose a material for your SMD vs. DIP LED signs and other display packaging, consider the thermal conductivity, efficiency, and compatibility with the manufacturing process. 

DIP LED Vs. SMD LED: Difference in Application

Application is a major factor to consider when choosing an LED display. As we have previously indicated, each of these LED displays is unique and finds its diverse applications in different situations. 

Depending on their intended application, a great deal of intentionality goes into LED manufacturing and packaging. Let’s consider some of the standard applications of the DIP LEDs Vs. SMD LEDs:

Applications of DIP LED

Some of the most common applications for the DIP LED display technology include some of the following:

  • Traffic Signals: In some traffic signal applications, DIP LEDs are used to create simple visual signals.
  • Dashboard Indicators: DIP LEDs are perfect for automotive dashboard indicators to notify drivers of engine warnings, low fuel, turn signals, and other conditions.
  • Home Appliances: Some home appliances, like refrigerators, microwave ovens, washing machines, etc, have DIP LEDs as display elements and status indicators.
  • Audio Equipment: The level indicators in amplifiers, mixing consoles, and other audio devices are made with DIP LEDs.
  • Indicator Lights: DIPs are mostly used for creating indicator lights in appliances, control panels, and electronic devices. Their high level of brightness always makes them hard to miss.
  • Electronic Displays: For devices like calculators, digital clocks, and numerous digital displays, the DIP LED is a popular choice for alphanumeric and numeric representations.
  • Control Panels: You can incorporate DIP LEDs into the control panel for machinery, industrial equipment, and manufacturing processes to indicate different operations.
  • Low-Resolution Displays: Most alphanumeric and numeric display screens do not need high resolution; you are good to go once the screen is bright enough. DIP LEDs power most of these screens that do not need high resolution for a good viewing experience. 
  • Scoreboards and Counters: The adrenaline coursing through your body can be reduced because of minor things like an unclear scoreboard while watching your favorite team. Sports authorities can prevent this disappointment by using automated scoreboards and counters powered by DIP LEDs.

Applications of SMD LED

The SMD LED is one of the most sought-after LED display technologies today, and some of its typical applications include some of the following:

  • Digital Signage: If an enticing billboard ad has ever drawn you, it was most likely powered by SMD LED technology. Digital signage will be ineffective without high-resolution large screens to produce clear visuals and display information correctly. Thankfully, LED manufacturers produce effective LED billboards using SMD LEDs.
  • Consumer Electronics: Most consumer electronics we use today are products of SMD LED technology. It powers the indicators and backlights on appliances like laptops, TVs, smartphones, game consoles, and tablets, just to name a few. 
  • Camera Flashes: What’s an excellent professional picture without a good camera flash to illuminate the room and light up those dark corners? It would interest you to know that those super bright camera flashes on your phone and digital cameras are powered by SMD LED technology. 
  • Street Lighting: What better way to enjoy the high brightness level of an SMD LED than to use it in making a street light? In recent times, SMD LEDs have featured in the composition of super bright outdoor lighting like street lights.
  • Wearable Technology: Wearable technology like fitness trackers and smartwatches are not left out of the SMD LED train. They light up the indicators that help you monitor your energy levels, heart rate, number of steps taken, etc.
  • Lighting Fixtures: If a bulb or light fixture in your house is too bright to be ignored, it certainly has SMD LEDs. The SMD LED technology is efficient and compact, making it a perfect fit for producing light fixtures like LED bulbs, decorative lighting, strip lights, and downlights.
  • Automotive Lighting: The versatility of the SMD LED technology is no myth; it is fit for lighting up different parts of automobiles both inside and outside. SMD LEDs power most automotive lighting like brake lights, headlights, dashboard indicators, turn signals, etc. 
  • Medical Devices: Imagine the amount of medical accidents that would abound if there were no SMD LEDs to power surgical lamps and other procedure lights. The SMD LED technology is available to power the light indicators in diagnostic tools and other portable medical instruments.
  • Gaming Peripherals: Gaming peripherals are not left out of the SMD LED goodness, as they help create customizable backlighting effects. They power the decorative lights in gaming peripherals like gamepads, keyboards, and mice to enhance their visual appeal. 


The DIP vs. SMD LED debate shouldn’t stop you from getting the best LED display solution for your lighting needs. You can easily make an informed decision as you now understand each display technology properly.

Whichever one you choose to work with, you can always count on the services of renowned LED-based product manufacturers, such as NSE LED, for excellent results. Check out our product catalog now to get started.


Which is Better: SMD or LED?

This comparison is inaccurate as the SMD is a method for mounting LED bulbs. A more appropriate comparison would have been between the DIP LED Vs. SMD LED, or between DIP vs. SMD v. COB LED. However, each type of LED has its benefits and specific application, so deciding on what is ‘better’ largely depends on your preference. 

What is the Lifespan of SMD LED?

A typical SMD LED can last up to 50,000 hours. As is the norm with any LED display, other external factors can increase or decrease the lifespan of the SMD LED. Such factors include temperature, humidity, and heat management.

How Much Power Does an SMD LED Use?

An SMD LED is energy efficient and typically consumes less power than other light sources. Small SMDs consume about 0.1 watts, while the larger ones can use up to 10 watts. High-power SMD LEDs for industrial lighting and street advertising can even use up to a few dozen watts to produce a display.

Is SMD Brighter Than LED?

The SMD is not mutually exclusive with the LED, so it’s almost impossible to determine which is brighter. LEDs can reach high brightness levels, and as expected, SMDs can do the same. However, the brightness’s intensity will depend on the design and application of the SMD.

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