Everything You Should Know About LED Lamp Beads

LED displays are known for their brightness, crisp image quality, and energy efficiency. While a lot of it has to do with the quality of the screen and its internal parts, it all boils down to one tiny component that’s easy to miss but can make or break a whole display: the lamp bead.

LED Lamp Beads Meaning

Lamp beads are the most basic unit of LED displays. If a module makes up an LED screen, lamp beads are the building blocks of a module–a square foot of LED module can have thousands of lamp beads. These semiconductors are also known as emitters because of their ability to emit their own light.

Lamp beads are made of various materials, including arsenic, gallium, and phosphorous. The color of the lamp bead depends on the materials the semiconductor is made of. Red LEDs are made of aluminum gallium arsenide; green LEDs are made of gallium phosphide; and blue LEDs are made of indium gallium nitride.

LED lamp beads also come in various shapes with the most common ones being square, rectangle, and round. Each lamp bead has two pins, representing the positive (anode) and negative (cathode) charge.

LED Beads Types of Processing Method

There are various types of LED lamp beads in the market, each involving different manufacturing processes and suitable applications. They are typically covered with a diffuser or lens and installed on a PC board or a printed circuit board, allowing their intensity and light direction to be regulated.

There are three processing methods commonly found in the market:

DIP (Direct In-line Package)

As the name suggests, DIP or Direct In-Line Package involves plug-in LEDs directly inserted and soldered into the circuit board. Red, green, and blue LEDs are typically grouped by threes and line up in one long strip. These are considered old-fashioned and are now less commonly used, but they are typically used as decorative and prompt lighting because of the simple installation.

SMD (Surface-mount Diodes)

Surface-mount diodes (SMD) are sticker-like lamps attached directly to the circuit board. They come in various models identified by numbers which represent their sizes. For instance, a 5050 lamp bead is 5.0mm wide and 5.0mm long. SMDs are popularly used in electronic devices because of their high brightness despite their small build. The 2835 and 3014 models are suitable for home lighting applications because of their brightness and energy efficiency.

COB (Chip On Board)

Chip-on-board (COB) lamp beads are multiple LEDs grouped to form one large chip. This results in a brighter light source suitable for large applications requiring large amounts of light. Enclosing the LEDs in a capsule protects their connections from wear and tear, resulting in a longer lifespan compared to stand-alone LED lamp beads.

LED Lamp Beads vs. LEDs (Light-emitting Diodes)

While LED lamp beads and LEDs are terms commonly interchanged in LED technology, they are, in fact, two different entities. However, the two have more similarities than differences. Here’s a comparison table:

Characteristics LED Lamp Beads LEDs
Semiconductor Yes Yes
Charge Positive Positive
Voltage Reverse breakdown Reverse breakdown
Luminosity Higher efficiency Lower efficiency
Electric Sensitivity More sensitive Less sensitive
Type of Installation SMD Plug-in

How LED Lamp Beads Impact Screens

While lamp beads may be the smallest component of an LED screen, they are also the most crucial, in that they are responsible for the quality of the whole display. LED lamp beads can quite literally make or break a display. Here are some important aspects that they affect:

Viewing Angle

Viewing angle refers to the clarity of your display when seen from various angles. This is crucial for large displays in large locations, such as in stadiums or on building facades. If the type of LED lamp beads in your display does not have the right amount of brightness, the viewing angle will be affected. As a rule of thumb, the narrower the viewing angle, the brighter the lamp beads are.


An LED display’s brightness level highly depends on the brightness level of individual LED lamp beads. The brightness level your display needs will depend on its installation location. Generally speaking, outdoor LEDs require higher brightness levels for greater visibility in any lighting condition.

Failure Rate

Although a lamp bead may seem microscopic compared to oversized LED displays, it can significantly affect the display’s quality. Since LED screens consist of thousands of RGB LEDs, one missing color can negatively impact the display quality.

Anti-static Ability

Semiconductors, including LEDs, are static-sensitive and prone to static failure. However, lamp beads have anti-static abilities, making LED screens that use them less at risk of static failure.


LED lamp beads typically have a working lifespan of up to 100,000 hours under normal conditions, significantly longer than other components of an LED display. This ability, paired with an efficient production process and PCB thermal design, makes LED displays extremely durable.

Attenuation Characteristic

Attenuation refers to the LED lamp beads’ ability to maintain color consistency throughout their lifespan. LED displays, particularly those installed outdoors, are prone to decreased brightness levels and color consistency due to exposure to the elements. LED lamp beads can maintain their original quality for a long time.


The size of the LED lamp beads affects the resolution of LED displays.  Larger-sized lamp beads suit outdoor installations with larger pixel pitches (spaces between pixels), while smaller-sized beads serve indoor LEDs with smaller pixel pitches.

How to Choose LED Lamp Beads

After learning how lamp beads LED can significantly affect an LED display, you can now choose the appropriate lamp beads according to your display’s needs and specifications. Here are some useful tips:

  1. Inspect the soldering quality. The solder joints are the most crucial part of an LED lamp bead, and a loose connection can lead to the beads failing to light up.
  2. Check the cleanliness of the installation. SMD lamp beads should have a clean surface without any stains or impurities.
  3. Inspect the chip’s quality. For COB lamp beads, the quality of the chip dictates its brightness and heat-dissipating capabilities.
  4. Check glue quality. High-quality LED displays use imported glue to secure the lamp beads. The lamp beads attached with high-quality glue should return to their original shape when pressed with your fingers, while those that used low-quality glue would crack.
  5. Inspect packaging quality. The LED lamp beads should be securely and neatly installed on the circuit board.
  6. Check color consistency. The lamp beads should appear bright and display colors accurately.
  7. Buy only from reliable and trusted vendors to ensure the quality of the LED lamp beads.

Final Thoughts

LED lamp beads may be the smallest unit in an LED display but also the most powerful. While some prospective LED screen buyers may overlook these tiny components, they are the biggest contributors to the display’s overall quality. That’s why choosing the appropriate lamp bead according to your display’s location, intended use, and your budget is crucial in ensuring you get your money’s worth.

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