Category Archives: LEDs 101

How Does a 5mm LED Work?

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are all around us. They are in our homes, our cars, even our phones. LEDs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, this gives designers the ability to tailor them to their product. Any time something electronic lights up, there’s a good chance that an LED is behind it. Their low power and small sizes make them a great choice for many different products as they can be worked into the design more seamlessly to make it an overall better device.

We have discussed high-brightness LEDs in the past, but throughout this post we will be focusing our attention on 5mm LEDs or through hole LEDs. These are the types of LEDs that are likely to be in your smaller electronics as an indicator light or something of that nature.  5mm LEDs take much less current to run than high brightness LEDs, 20mA compared to a minimum of 350mA for high-power LEDs. If you followed our original Mastering LEDs post, you should know: more current = more light. So obviously these 5mm LEDs are going to be more of an accent light or light for very small spaces. This is exactly the purpose of 5mm LEDs, they can be used together in a large array to create a sign or some sort of matrix, or they can be used on their own to make a small indicator light or one of those tiny key chain flashlights.

5mm LEDs are super helpful as they Continue reading


Attention Lighting Engineers, Designers & Installers – See How AC LED Drivers Can Cut Down on the Size and Cost of Your LED System

LEDs are low-voltage light sources that need either a constant DC voltage or current to operate correctly. Operating on DC power has advantages as it enables LEDs to easily work with many different power supplies/batteries, it permits longer stand-by power, and increases safety. A single high power LED like the emitters we offer on 20mm star boards require about 2-4VDC and at least 350mA of current.

If you’re using a battery, you don’t have much to worry about as batteries give off DC power. For a constant voltage LED you could simply hook the battery to the LED and for LEDs needing constant current you could just put a low voltage constant current driver in between the battery and the diodes. It is when you start setting up larger systems running from line voltage, typically between 110 and 120VAC, that you will need more components to bring down the AC voltage to DC and protect the LEDs from line-voltage fluctuation. Continue reading

Why You Need an LED Heat Sink: Increasing light output & extending your LEDs lifetime

Do LEDs produce heat?

A frequently listed advantage of LEDs is that they do not produce heat. In a way, this is true, LEDs are cool to the touch because they usually do not produce heat in the form of infrared (IR) radiation. This obviously doesn’t go for IR specific LEDs.

IR radiation is what actually heats incandescent bulbs and other light sources, making them hot to the touch. Without IR radiation, LEDs are able to be placed in spots where the heat from other sources would cause a problem (grow lights, reef tank lights, illuminating food, etc.).

Although LEDs are cool to the touch, within the devices themselves, there is plenty of unwanted heat. This heat comes from the inefficiency of the semiconductors that generate the light. The radiant efficiency (total optical output power divided by total electrical input power) of LEDs is typically between 5 and 40%, meaning that 60-95% of the input power is lost as heat. So what do you do with all this excess internal heat?! Continue reading

How to Solder LEDs

Guide to Soldering LEDs: Save time & money with these helpful tips!

soldering iron & stationSoldering: Here is what works!
Struggling with soldering and ruining your LED(s) and printed circuit board (PCB) or metal core printed circuit board (MCPCB) is easy to do without the proper tools, materials and soldering technique. To help avoid common issues with LED soldering we looked back on our 20 plus years of electronics experience and outlined here all the “dos & don’ts” for soldering to LEDs. Our intention is to help save you time, money and avoid frustration so maybe you try a second LED project with us! Additionally, there is a video at the end that shows the process in action. Continue reading

What Type of LED Driver Do I Need? Constant Current vs. Constant Voltage

buckpuck‘What type of LED driver do I need?’ Searching for LED drivers can be more difficult than you think with the variety of options out there. There are plenty of factors to look at when choosing the one that works best for you, we have a thorough run-through of this in our guide on LED drivers here. One important choice is that of choosing a constant current LED driver versus a constant voltage LED driver. Now, it’s known that LED drivers are considered constant current devices, so why do manufacturers offer constant voltage drivers for LEDs as well? How can we tell the difference between these two? Continue reading

Series/Parallel Circuits Explained

Wiring LEDs Correctly: Series & Parallel Circuits Explained!

Schematic of Series Parallel CircuitHopefully those looking for practical information on electrical circuits and wiring LED components found this guide first. It’s likely though, you’ve already read the Wikipedia page about Series and parallel circuits here, maybe a few other Google search results on the subject and are still unclear or wanting more specific information as it pertains to LEDs. With years of providing LED education, training and explaining the electronic circuit concept to customers, we have gathered and prepared all the critical information needed to help you understand the concept of electrical circuits and their relationship to LEDs. Continue reading


1-Watt, 3-Watt & High Wattage LEDs: Please Explain!

1-WATT-3-WATT-EXPLAINED_THUMBNAILCoined originally from the Philips LumiLEDs Luxeon I, III & V line of LEDs was the idea and terminology that high-power LEDs are grouped and referred to by a specific wattage. By many, the Luxeon I was called a 1-watt LED, the Luxeon III a 3-watt LED and the Luxeon V a 5-watt LED.

Duh, right…

Well, technically these and most LEDs have a wide current range at which they can be powered, so boxing them into one wattage ‘category’ has proven Continue reading

LED Seal: Protecting your LED Investment

LEDs and their components can be used for a variety of applications, and finding the best quality products does come at a higher price than most other lighting applications. That is why it is extremely important to protect your LEDs and circuitry in order to make sure your investment holds up and lasts a long time.

Picking the right LED driver is part of protecting your LEDs as this makes sure you are supplying a steady, appropriate current to your LEDs so that they do not burn out as their temperature increases. With the temperature increase you also need to make sure you have enough LED heat sink that dissipates the heat so that the LED isn’t getting too hot and frying out. But what about protecting from water and outside elements? That’s where our LED Seal comes in handy. Continue reading

Understanding LED Drivers and How To Choose the Right One

LED drivers can be a confusing part of LED technology. There are so many different types and variations that it can seem a little overwhelming at times. That’s why I wanted to write a quick post explaining the varieties, what makes them different, and things you should look for when choosing the LED driver(s) for your lighting application.

What is an LED driver you might ask? An LED driver is an electrical device that regulates power to an LED or a string of LEDs. Using one is very important in preventing damage to your LEDs Continue reading