12V DC LED Light strip Comparison

Comparison of 12V DC LED light strips in shop light conversions (3528 vs 5050 vs 5630)

Shop light using 12V DC LEDs using 3528/5050/5630 Flexible Light Strips   In an earlier post I shared how I converted shop lights to low cost LED lighting using readily available 12V DC LED light strips with 3528, 5630, and 5050 SMD LEDs as pictured above.  These lighting strips are very low cost ($5-8/ 5M roll shipped)  and provide an easy way to add light to any place you need it, not just for a shop light conversion.  You can run them off an AC to 12V DC power supply or a 12V battery, which makes them extremely handy in the case of a power outage.   In this post I compare the differences between each LED strip and share which one makes for the best shop light conversion.

SMD LED light strip comparison

Theoretically the 5630 LED is one and half times brighter than the 5050 LED which is three times brighter than a 3528 LED.  However, this does little to tell you which one is really the best light.  Interesting is that the part number actually refers to the size of the individual device, with 3528’s being 3.5 x 2.8 mm and so on.  All have approximate 120 degree emitting angles, the angle at which the light radiates outward from the chip.  You have to be a bit careful with the whole lumens or candela rating on LEDs. These are measured  via standards and tell you nothing about the color/quality of the light produced.

12V DC LED Light strip Comparison

Above shows one of my shop lights converted with 3528 LEDs light strip.  I used three lengths of light strip on this lamp. It produces an amount of light that is considerably less then two 48″  T32 bulbs, but is still more then adequate for some shop spaces.   The power rate of 0.08W/led for 3528’s makes it the lowest power per LED device of the three.  It also has the lowest rated light output.  The light output by these strips is a good color.  By this I mean observed quality.  I am not talking about measured wavelengths.  It has a very very slight cool or  purple tinge to it, but it is almost unnoticeable. Not noticeable at all without a grey card Kodak photo scale reference handy. For lower power less used areas I think these strips are good. I would not use these in an area I was using all the time as they do not emit enough light.  I used these 3528 LED light strips inside my 3d printer enclosure and they work wonderfully for this application.  If there’s not enough light you can simply use more of the strips.

12V DC LED Light strip Comparison    Rated at 0.5W device on strip, the 5640 LED’s are theoretically the “brightest” of the three I’m comparing for shop light use in this post.  I find the light emitted from these to be very purple and harsh.  I strongly suspect, that the LEDs used in these strips are a low cost clone of the Samsung 5640 OEM chips and thus the poor light quality. This is my least favorite of the lighting strips. I would not recommend the 5640 light strips for any applicaton, the light generated irritates me.  Additionally, even with 3 rows (instead of 2 of the 5050 strips)  it has less apparent light generated then the 5050 lamp with 2 rows.  The real drawback is the color on this one,  Have I mentioned that I find it highly irritating?  I only converted one lamp to these and I will put it in a location I almost never use because of my dislike of the output lighting.  I may even change it over to 5050 strips eventually.

12V DC LED Light strip ComparisonThe clear winner of these three and my favorite is the 5050 LED strips.  With a power consumption of  0.24W per device, they have a  good balance between color output, and total light intensity.  Two strips seems more then adequate, vs three of the other strips.  I really like the quality of the  light produced by these strips.  It is a bright white without any weird or subtle tint.  It almost feels like natural lighting.  These strips are so good I ordered several more rolls of this light strip for the remainder of my shop light conversions as the bulb or ballasts continue to fail.

One last thing to note, the angle of light produced by led strips is 120 degrees. This is different then fluorescent tubes that generate light in 360 degrees.  I find these LED conversion shop lights work better in high bay applications then in lower ceiling spaces.  the 10 ft ceilings give the light plenty of room to spread out, at 8ft you get a lot less square footage covered by the direct light.  I suppose some sort of plastic diffusion panel would help with this somewhat.

As they say, your mileage may vary, but this post aims to share my experience. It may be that the strips I purchased on ebay are to blame for my opinions.  If you want to order the same strips I did, here is a link to the ebay listing for strip lights.  If the link no longer works, the sellers name is  cnredceo.  If you search you should find them easily enough.  His shipping is very fast, and the packaging is excellent.

** If something should change in 6 months or a year, I will return and edit this post to include any noticed issues or failings.

13 thoughts on “Comparison of 12V DC LED light strips in shop light conversions (3528 vs 5050 vs 5630)”

  1. Thanks for this post and the one on the light conversion. I just rigged up a panel to my shed and was thinking about the most efficient way to put in a shop light. I may have found my answer. Cheers – Scott

    1. Glad you found it helpful. I have a dozen of these running now without any issues. I run them all off a pc power supply with a switched hub and it’s fantastic.

    2. I have gone led. I did s conversion of a 4 foot double tube fixture and then rethought the physics of why tubes vs point source. I put up a 30 foot light with 120 3528 per meter. I got 4000k strips. I got aluminum channel with opaque diffuser and got 24v strips. I can power with thermostat wire as current is 1/4 I 12v. That one strip evenly light up a 35×35 foot garage with 10 foot ceiling. In house i used rgbww strips. Various lengths from 6 to 12 feet. Each is on a separate power supply and each has remote. The remotes handle 4 lights.
      I did same thing with converting bath fans to dimmable led.nice for night lighting also. J used for rgbww 5050s and white 3528.
      For longevity use dimmer. Check heat and power use jump when full power applied. These things heat and lifetime drops. If I remember from ee class in semiconducr physics that lifetime is 1/t to 4th power using Kelvin. Basic physics still applies.

  2. When you’re talking about the quality of the light (meaning LEDs), the real giveaway here is $5-8 per 5 meter reel! You really do get what you pay for! Think about it. You are buying 1 foot of LEDs for about $.50 (or less). What kind of quality LEDs do you think you’re going to be able to get for that? And I do guarantee that they are coming from China. Even so, the quality is going to be VERY low. Just enough quality that they light up when they factory test them (probably for only a few seconds!). That’s assuming that they even test them at all after manufacturing them! I have seen LED strips fail right out of the box. And I have seen them fail after they have been turned on for only 3-4 minutes, then poof! When you pay a decent amount of money for them, you are usually getting quality LEDs mounted to a quality flexible PCB (thick and strong) with quality soldering. And then they are tested! Some Chinese products are decent quality though. If the price seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. At the same time though, you have to beware of sellers marking the price up so high that they are basically ripping you off. It’s a fine balance. And you have to be careful. Good luck!

    1. I agree, one has to be careful with the LED’s you buy. I suspect the ones I hate were simply super cheap components. That being said. All of my lights have been running for hundreds, if not thousands of hours now and none have failed except the 5630 strip that I dislike so much. There’s about 5% dead on that strip now.

  3. You list 5630 at the top of your article, then you talk about 5640’s. Never saw a 5640 listed. Which are you using?

    BTW, What is the color temperature of whichever of those SMD’s that you didn’t like?

    1. Hi VideoBruce,
      That’s a typo, I will fix it.They are 5630’s. All of the lights I buy were purchased as cool white. The ones I hate are very PURPLE looking and the light is terrible from them. I’m slowly converting all of my old shop lights to LED and use the 5050 for everything now. I made a power distribution center I will share when I have some time.

  4. Great post!
    I am looking into installing 6x 5m/300LED 5050 LED Strip Light in my garage. I would like to control them with my main light switch. What do you think my best option is for powering such a strip? Each have their own power supply that go to a plug that is powered by a switch or can I have less power supply’s?

    1. I would go with a single large 12V power supply rather than individual ones. I used a free scrap PC supply on my garage, with a distribution block 3D printed and switches for each bank so I did not have to have it super bright when I am going to work in the morning. A great way to connect all the wires are Wago connectors like these, UL listed and approved for a wide range of wire guages: https://www.amazon.com/Wago-222-415-LEVER-NUTS-Conductor-Connectors/dp/B01AO24OQY/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1491519082&sr=8-7&keywords=wago+connectors Good luck with your project!

      1. Thanks so much for taking the time to post all your findings Zac!!!
        i just ordered 10 rolls of the 5050. Was planing on making 20 4footers(8ft of strip each) for my woodshop. just wondering if you know how many i could power with a standard 300w 12v PC power supply? (or how many watts i would need to power them all)

        Thanks so much for your time!

  5. I’m really interested in doing this. I was wondering if in your testing was the led density (number of chips p/m) was a consideration. I’m thinking the more bulbs per foot, the better. Obviously power consumption is a concern. Of course if chips do fail it’ll be less noticeable.

  6. Obviously a key element to the successful use of these smd LEDs is the initial selection.
    I think we all recognise that unless the application is “mission critical” we will likely choose LEDs of Chinese origin.
    I have bought rubbish & regret failing to do my homework.
    OTOH I have bought what appear to be decent clones of Samsung, Cree & Bridgelux.
    One supplier I found seems to stand out: Shenzing who make the Epistar. They openly admit their product is not the standard of Cree but will source higher quality if asked to do so. Epistar seem to be of suitable quality at affordable prices.
    Alibaba unfortunately often lists only product with relatively high MOQ

  7. Thanks so much for taking the time to post all your findings Zac!!!
    i just ordered 10 rolls of the 5050. Was planing on making 20 4footers(8ft of strip each) for my woodshop. just wondering if you know how many i could power with a standard 300w 12v PC power supply? (or how many watts i would need to power them all)

    Thanks so much for your time!

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