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DIP LED vs SMD LED: What are the differences?

DIP and SMD are both technologies used to package LED modules, so they are often compared. To provide a comprehensive understanding, we have collected a wealth of information to analyze the differences between DIP LED and SMD LED, starting from the basics.


Why Use LED Packaging Technology?

As mentioned earlier, DIP and SMD are two different LED packaging technologies. In addition to these two, there are also other LED packaging technologies such as COB and GOB. Interested readers can leave comments, and if we receive enough feedback, we will publish an article specifically about COB and GOB.

So, why use LED technology for packaging?

Because full-color LED displays require the combination of three different colored LEDs to display full-color images.

To make three LEDs of different colors work better together, LED packaging technology is used to encapsulate them. We can think of it as three different colored bulbs being encapsulated together under a transparent glass.

DIP LED Module Composed Of Multiple LED Lamp Beads
DIP LED Module Composed Of Multiple LED Lamp Beads

Some readers may wonder what would happen if only two different colored LEDs were encapsulated together?

Good question! In fact, LED displays are divided into full-color, dual-color, and single-color types. When three LEDs of different colors are encapsulated together, they can produce various colors, hence termed as full-color; while encapsulating two LEDs of different colors together results in dual-color displays. As for single-color displays, it’s quite straightforward—they contain only one LED encapsulated inside.

Understanding why LED displays are packaged and the corresponding colors based on the number of encapsulated LEDs, let’s move on to our main topic: the differences between DIP LED and SMD LED.

First, let’s understand the basic definitions of both.

What is DIP LED?

DIP stands for Dual In-line Package. It combines three LEDs of different colors to create bright colors. Moreover, because its LEDs are larger and thicker, LED displays packaged with DIP technology can achieve higher brightness.

P31.25 DIP LED Module
P31.25 DIP LED Module

What is SMD LED?

SMD stands for Surface Mounted Device. It combines smaller LEDs onto a closed circular base. The smaller size of the LEDs allows for free switching between pixel pitches ranging from 1-8mm.

P4 SMD LED Module
P4 SMD LED Module

Next, let’s delve into the advantages of both types.

Advantages of DIP LED displays:

High brightness: DIP LED displays are among the few that can reach up to 10,000 nits.

Durability: DIP LEDs have a much larger overall structure compared to SMD, making them more durable.

Long viewing distance: DIP LED displays have larger pixel pitches, usually above 8mm, and can be viewed from distances exceeding 100 meters. Currently, DIP LED displays are mainly used outdoors and rarely indoors.

Good waterproofing: Due to the hard plastic casing surrounding DIP LED displays, they have good waterproofing properties, suitable for various harsh outdoor weather conditions.

Advantages of SMD LED displays:

Wide applicability: SMD comes in many different models, suitable for both close and long-distance viewing, making them suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

High resolution: SMD LEDs can be arranged more densely, allowing for higher resolutions and displaying clearer images.

Energy-efficient and environmentally friendly: Compared to traditional LCDs, self-emitting LEDs require less energy, thus leading in energy efficiency and environmental friendliness.

Wide viewing angles: SMD LED displays have a viewing angle of up to 170°, ensuring good display quality from any direction.

Now that we understand their definitions and advantages, let’s look at their differences.

DIP vs SMD: Brightness

The LEDs in DIP displays are much larger than those in SMD displays, allowing them to achieve brightness levels that SMD displays cannot. For example, in outdoor LED series, the highest brightness of a P8 SMD outdoor LED display is only 6500 nits, while a P8 DIP outdoor LED display can achieve up to 8000 nits.

DIP vs SMD: Viewing Distance

Many people believe that DIP LED displays have a longer viewing distance than SMD LED displays, but this is actually incorrect.

The viewing distance of an LED display is determined by the pixel pitch. The larger the pixel pitch, the longer the viewing distance.

I used to think that a 20mm DIP LED display had the largest pixel pitch among LED displays until I learned from JYLED, a LED display manufacturer, about the existence of a 150mm SMD mesh LED display. This type of display has a viewing distance of up to 200 meters and can even reach 800 meters if large enough.

Mesh LED Dispay
150mm mesh LED display manufactured by JYLED

DIP vs SMD: Heat Dissipation

Heat dissipation is always an important consideration for electronic products used at high frequencies.
Because excessive heat accumulation and temperature rise can lead to the destruction of electronic devices or even cause fires, all electronic devices incorporate heat dissipation solutions, including LED displays.

Due to the structural differences between DIP and SMD, their heat dissipation methods are quite different.

DIP LEDs encapsulate the entire LED chip, and heat dissipation relies only on the two leads on the LED chip, resulting in slower heat dissipation.

SMD LEDs are directly connected to the entire circuit board, providing more comprehensive and efficient heat dissipation. From this perspective, SMD has better heat dissipation capabilities than DIP.

DIP vs SMD: Price

The price difference between DIP and SMD LEDs is often a contentious issue. Some claim that DIP is cheaper while SMD is more expensive. However, comparing DIP and SMD technologies directly is not entirely correct. It’s like comparing the prices of bicycles and cars—it doesn’t make much sense.

For example, in LED stock ticker displays, although using DIP may lower the cost, DIP cannot produce LED products suitable for viewing at close distances. Therefore, the effect of displays made with DIP is relatively poor.

In the same scenario, SMD LED displays can be selected based on the actual size of the scene to achieve the best viewing effect at different distances.

However, if the viewing distance is the same, the display effect of DIP is not far behind that of SMD, but the price is much lower. Therefore, comparing DIP and SMD directly is not appropriate.

In summary:

  • DIP LED and SMD LED are two different LED packaging technologies.
  • DIP LED has much higher brightness compared to SMD LED.
  • Viewing distance depends on pixel pitch, not LED packaging technology.
  • SMD LED has better heat dissipation capabilities than DIP LED.
  • The prices of DIP LED and SMD LED cannot be directly compared.
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