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

There are many types of LEDs on the market today, and it can be difficult to know which one is right for your next project. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of LEDs and their applications. We will also provide some 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,” which is a semi-conductor technology that converts electricity into light. An LED is a specific type of diode that 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 use in electronic devices like calculators and watches. But it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that LED lighting became inexpensive and commonly put into use 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 in usage 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 symbol 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

The outside of the circuit board and other components may also feature LED symbols. The light-emitting diode symbol occasionally gets encircled by circles. Although this sign isn’t as popular 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  

There are a few characteristics of LED that you should be aware of 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, which is how much power the LED can use. Besides, it is how much voltage for the LED to conduct electricity. For example, all 5mm LEDs have a current rating of 20mA, but the forward voltages differ from one to another.

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 type of LED. Because LEDs are sensitive devices and the amount of current flowing through them is vital, it’s crucial to ensure that they get connected properly.

The brightness of an LED also lies in how much current passes it. Too much current 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 important to use a resistor in series with the LED.

When an LED is forward biased (i.e., when it applies voltage to the anode with respect to the cathode), electrons are able to 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 energy of the photons) depends on the semiconductor’s bandgap.

How do LED lights work?

fluorescent tubes, normal LEDs on blue background

fluorescent tubes, normal 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 within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is what we say electroluminescence, and the color of the light (corresponding to the energy 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 LEDs 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  

These get attached to the PCB board and soldered in place, probably the most frequent type of LED chip available. 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.

3528 LEDs are smaller, use less current, and aren’t as bright as 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, with the most popular ones being 3mm, 5mm, and 8mm. LEDs are available in a number of 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 an easier 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 nice flashlights with LEDs. You can even use them to create spotlights and automobile headlights using their arrays. 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 them when they hear the term “LED lights.” DIP LED chips, while older than their younger counterparts, are still in use today and are more commonly existing 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, as well as 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 switches 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.

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. The 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.

Graphene LED

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

Maximum Brightness LEDs

The term high-intensity LEDs refers 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 hue.

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 different chipsets (WS2812, APA102, and UCS1903) that have varying degrees of color control.

-cycling LED

LEDs are not all created equal. Take the cycling LED, for example. There’s an integrated circuit in these LEDs that 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. There is a tiny, black square IC on the post to limit the current on these LEDs. So turn on your power source and light up the LED with a built-in resistor!  

Special LEDs

 -infrared LEDs

Infrared LEDs isolated on white background

Infrared LEDs are isolated on white background.

There are LEDs that give off light outside of the visible spectrum. Infrared LEDs, for example, are quite common. 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 difficult 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 useful for disinfecting surfaces because many germs are sensitive to UV light. You may utilize them in counterfeit detection credit cards, papers, and so on.  

Mini LEDs

The basic 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 most 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 as well as a restricted number of letters.

All letters may appear on Starburst displays. In the case of dot-matrix displays, 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 that are constantly on can be used as attention-seeking signals without the need for an external device. Flashing LEDs look like ordinary LEDs but include a built-in voltage regulator and multivibrator circuit, allowing them to flash with a one-second rhythm.

When viewed in a diffused lens LED, this circuit appears as a tiny black spot. The majority of 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 lights have a number of 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 the electricity they consume 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 a lot longer than traditional light bulbs. So you could save both your electricity bills and get an energy-saving lifestyle in the 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. It’s possible for an LED light to endure anywhere from six to 12 years, depending on how you utilize it. This compares extremely favorably against traditional led light bulbs.  

A wide color palette

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

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


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, as well as 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.  


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 ever attempted to change a dull incandescent light bulb after it has fallen out, you know how hot they get when they’re in use. 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 like a daunting task, 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 fairly 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 location.

Once you’ve found a good spot, the next step is to gather your tools and materials. You’ll need a drill, screwdriver, wire strippers, and other basic 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’re using. 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 not necessary 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 type of LED? One of the most common types of LEDs is the standard LED, which is a small, round bulb that can be useful in a variety of applications. Standard LEDs are available in a wide range of 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 often appear in outdoor applications, such as street lights and wall sconces.

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 that is available to replace traditional incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs are available in various shapes and sizes, and they can be accessible for both indoor and outdoor applications.

How Are LEDs Different than Other Lights?

street lights

Types of LEDs: street lights

There are a few key ways that LEDs are different than other types of lights. Such as:  


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% of their energy as heat. 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.


The direction emitted by LEDs is what makes these types of lights so different. It emits light in a specific direction, which reduces the need for reflectors and diffusers—these are what trap the light. Other types of lighting, reflecting its light in a certain 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 certain 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 important. You need to pick the proper brightness level based on your needs. If you have a little room, you’ll want a low brightness setting, but if you have a big space, you’ll need more light, which means high brightness LEDs ( inorganic LEDs).

The type of light you need to install at a location also influences the cost. The lumens measure the amount of light supplied by an LED in a unit time span. The number of fixtures you’ll need to install is up to the area’s size and how many people will be using it.

Type of LED Light

The first step is to determine the type of LED light you require. LED lights are available in various forms 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 cool light.  


Types of LED: Calculate your financial and environmental savings

LEDs, like all other bulbs, come in a variety of 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 also 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.  


LEDs come in all shapes and colors, making them a versatile lighting option for your next project. When choosing an LED, it’s important 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!

Hommer Zhao
Hi, I am Hommer, the founder of WellPCB. So far, we have more than 4,000 customers worldwide. If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact me. I really appreciate any help you can provide.