5050 VS 3528 LED: Which is more suitable as a grow light?

Growing plants indoors can be quite a challenge if the light is scarce in the area. Plant productivity, including qualitative and quantitative yield, is dependent on the presence of light. (1) Photosynthesis, a specialized plant process that sustains life on earth, cannot take place in the absence of light energy. (2)

Nowadays, you can tend indoor plants simply by installing an artificial light system that can mimic daytime. In fact, LED inter-lighting can supplement a plant’s light requirement and enhance yield even with limited sunlight. (3)

In this article, we will discuss two LED strips, the 3528 and 5050, and determine which one is the better grow light.



Before specifying on the SMD 5050 LED as a grow light, you have to understand what it really is. SMDs are tiny chips fixed by epoxy resin. SMD-LEDs (Surface Mount Device-Light Emitting Diodes) give off the light intensity and spectrum your plant needs to flourish in a sheltered space. (4)

Going back to 5050, it’s termed as such because of the size of each SMD (50mm x 50mm). What does this mean exactly? A single 5050 SMD can contain four LED chips. This gives a bright and smooth reflection when shined on to a surface. (5)

The 5050’s typical make is a 60-LED/meter strip light. It pulls 14.4 watts or 14.4w p/m at 24 volts. (5) This high-performance yet energy-saving lighting option makes it suitable as a grow light because it emits less heat than other forms of artificial light. (6)

Also, plants use LED-emitted light energy from 5050 more efficiently because it produces greater light for photosynthesis per watt. For example, a +-600w LED strip can effectively replace a 100w HPS. (7) This reduces as much as 40% of heat in your controlled growing space. (7)

Another significant characteristic of the SMD 5050 is the possibility of using it as a single-color light or in RGB lighting. This flexibility will enable you to choose the light spectrum you need. This is one of the most important advantages of an SMD-LED—you can select a specific wavelength, depending on the target plant response (i.e. flowering, foliage growth, etc.). (8)

Other benefits of using 5050 LED light strip as a grow light is its durability. LEDs have a longer lifespan than incandescent bulbs and other lighting equipment. (9) The common service life of a flexible LED light strip lasts 3~500000 hours. (9)

the reduction in overall costs for any controlled environment agriculture setup. This not only improves the qualitative and quantitative yield, but it’s also more cost-effective for you in the long run. (10)



The SMD 3528 LED is another type of strip light that can be used as a plant grow light. The number is indicative of the SMD chip size, which is 3.5mm x 2.8 mm. There’s only one Led per chip and is typically used in a 60 LED/meter tape. This pulls 4.8w (4.8w p/m) at 12 volts. (5)

The 3528 emits the characteristic bright and smooth illumination of most LEDs. Its output is rated at 330-360 lumens per meter or an equivalent of 40w halogen. (5) the photon-capturing molecules of a plant naturally crave light, (11) and light with power outputs of this wattage is enough to illicit phototropism in indoor plants. (11)

The available colors for this SMD-LED are white (both warm and cool variants), green, blue, red and amber. The 3528 is an excellent choice for monochromatic illumination because it’s easy to mount multiple chips into a spool to make the light shine brighter. If you’re looking to expose your plants to blue light to increase qualitative yield, (12) this one is perfect for you.

Since the 3528 consumes less power, it’s also more energy-saving and therefore cost-cutting compared to fluorescent or incandescent lamps. (13) Since it emits lesser heat than natural light or light bulbs, it could also be used as continuous lighting for your controlled space. (14)

Several studies have shown that 24-hour lighting for greenhouse plants is beneficial for their growth and reproduction. (15) Additionally, heat and other harmful wavelengths are counterproductive to plants. This issue is significantly lessened in using LED grow lights like 3528. (14)

Overall, the SMD 3528 is another grow light option that is cheaper and long-lasting. LEDs are also eco-friendly and have a cooler operating temperature than other lighting systems. It’s perfect for indoor cultivation of plants because you can practically control significant lighting factors such as intensity, spectrum and duration when you use LEDs. (1)



Both 3528 and 5050 LED light strips are effective as a grow light, but which one is brighter?

The main difference of these SMD-LEDs is the size, for which their names are based on. The SMD 5050 (50mm x 50mm) is bigger than the SMD 3528 (35mm x 28mm). The 5050 can house three diodes, which is why it’s often referred to as a tri-chip. the 3528, on the other hand, can only contain a single diode on an SMD chip. (16)

Naturally, you would assume that 3528 is dimmer than the 5050, which is true. 3528 is one of the least bright SMD in the market based on the number of diodes. (17)

However, it is important to note that the 3528 LED strip light consumes less power and therefore also emits lesser heat than the 5050. (17) This implies that it’s possible to place say 600 diodes in a spool 16 feet long of the 3528, and you can expect better light distribution and brighter artificial lighting system that promotes plant growth. (18)

The 5050 SMD is much brighter, yes, but since it is considerably bigger, there are not many options for placing more chips on a spool to increase the brightness of the strip. (17)

Also, 5050 gives off more heat than 3528, which can directly affect how an indoor plant thrives in a controlled environment setup. (19)



The verdict—each SMD variant has its pros and cons, but if you were to consider cost-effectiveness and monochromatic illumination, SMD 3528 would be the wiser buy. It’s a low-heat, power-saving artificial lighting that you can install strategically for better plant growth. (6)

On the other hand, 5050 is useful in RGB illumination, which is also a key consideration when choosing a grow light. Spectrum is very important in improving yield, (12) and the SMD 5050 is very flexible when it comes to multichromatic illumination.

Again, it would all depend on a lot more factors, such as how you arrange the LED strips to distribute light energy more effectively. Light duration and intensity are also determining factors for choosing the best grow light.

Overall, having a clear artificial lighting plan with the type and number of SMD you install can determine your success in growing indoor plants healthily.




2- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5264509/ Photosynthesis

3- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6211714/ Supplemental LED inter-lighting compensates for a shortage of light for plant growth and yields under the lack of sunshine

4- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/311759118_Influence_of_injection_current_and_ambient_temperature_on_intensity_and_wavelength_of_low-power_SMD_LED

5- https://www.instyleled.co.uk/support/what-are-the-differences-between-types-of-led-chip/

6- http://abacus.bates.edu/acad/depts/biobook/FP-LEDlt.pdf Plant Growth as a Function of LED Lights

7- https://chilledgrowlights.com/education/do-led-grow-lights-produce-heat

8- https://journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/43/7/article-p1951.xml

9- https://www.energy.gov/eere/ssl/led-lighting-facts

10- https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1406/1406.3016.pdf LEDs for Energy Efficient Greenhouse Lighting

11- https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-011-1884-2_23 Phototropism

12- http://abacus.bates.edu/acad/depts/biobook/FP-RWB.pdf Blue light, red light, white light growth comparison of Brassica rapa

13- https://www.researchgate.net/publication/32027522_Prospects_for_LED_lighting

14- https://growlightinfo.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-led-grow-lights/

15- https://www.researchgate.net/journal/1878-4372_Trends_in_Plant_Science

16- https://www.flexfireleds.com/comparison-between-3528-leds-and-5050-leds/

17- https://www.instyleled.co.uk/comparison-3528-smds-5050-smds/

18- https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/147715355401900802?journalCode=lrta Artificial lighting for plant growth

19- https://academic.oup.com/jxb/article/63/4/1593/448768 Drought, salt, and temperature stress-induced metabolic rearrangements and regulatory networks