The Difference Between Single- and Tri-colored LEDs

October 21, 2011 by CHAUVET DJ


by Allan Reiss, product manager for CHAUVET® Club/DJ

LED fixtures have simplified the hectic life of the mobile DJ and made the inconvenience of broken filaments, burned hands and short life spans found in traditional incandescent or discharge bulbs a thing of the past. LED fixtures often use either single or tri-colored LEDs, but is there really a difference?

Single-color LEDs have one diode that projects one color (usually red, green or blue) housed under its own lens. If a fixture is made up of single-colored LEDs, it typically includes a combination of red, green and blue (RGB) LEDs and is commonly referred to as an RGB fixture. RGB fixtures can be cheaper than fixtures with tri-colored LEDs; however, these fixtures don’t always mix color correctly and can give multi-colored shadows (also called the Skittles effect). These fixtures work just fine for mobile DJs because they are typically washing a wall and it’s barely noticeable.

Tri-colored LEDs have three diodes (usually red, green and blue) housed under a single lens. Fixtures with tri-colored LEDs are typically more expensive and tend to run a bit hotter than single-colored LED fixtures. However, they mix color right away and some fixtures have the option to swap out lenses, which alters the output (beam spread). These fixtures are commonly used in theater and professional settings because of their desired effects and ultra-saturated colors.

The type of fixture you invest in depends on what you plan to illuminate. If you contact your local dealer and speak to someone who knows their way around LED fixtures, they can point you in the right direction.

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