LED displays dominate today’s modern work, from simple phone screens to gigantic 3D cornered walls. They are highly varied and it will leave you wondering how the LED display works in the first place that they can function differently using similar operations. 

Some may find it too technical and complicated to learn about the actual process but if you’re one of the curious persons who love exploring the “hows”, you’re in the right place. 

Technical Terms Used LED Display

An LED display is a type of device that uses LEDs to produce light and images on the screen. These LED displays are energy-efficient screens that can come in different sizes and shapes. The most common types are standard, curved, and flexible LED displays. And despite the differences between these screens, they all operate and function similarly. So, how does an LED screen work?

Learning how LED display works start with understanding the terms and components that are involved in the process. The fascinating LED technology uses elements that you might just be hearing for the first time so it’s important to establish them first. Here are some components and definitions that are working taking note of. 

  • LED – (Other similar terms: Light Emitting Diodes or cold light) is responsible for generating light in the form of electric luminescence, which will be used to transmit colors and in the process images. This is an important element in understanding how LED displays work.   
  • RGB – stands for Red, Green, and Blue, which can be mixed with each other to produce new colors that make it possible to generate vibrant images and videos. 
  • Pixel Pitch – refers to the distance between LED panel pixels. This affects the image quality, resolution, and even viewing distance of the LED display. A lower pixel pitch equates to better image quality, higher resolution, and longer viewing distance. 
  • Pixel Density – (measured by ppi or pixels per inch) refers to the number of pixels used in the LED panel. The higher the density, the better the quality of the images. 
  • SMD – (or Surface Mount Device) refers to the component installed on the circuit board, which is used to house the encapsulated RGB diodes. This is an important part when learning how LED displays work, especially with the function of RGB in the process.
  • LED Viewing Angle – refers to the central angle of the screen, which suggests the best position for the viewer to have the best visual experience. 
  • LED Scan Rate – refers to the ratio of the LED lights currently lit versus the entire number of LED lights in the panel. Not all LEDs are lit at the same time since it will be too energy-consuming. A number of LED lights then are activated at the same time and then replaced by another set of LEDs. 

How LED Display Works – The Basic Working Principle

In exploring how the LED display works, you need to take note that they are developed in different sizes and shapes and are integrated with different features. But there is a basic process that all LED screens follow in one way or another. Let’s start with the basic components of a LED display. 

An LED display is comprised of three components, including the main LED display, the controller, and the content source. The main LED display refers to the panels that can be connected together to form an entire screen. The controller and content source may widely vary depending on the LED display. In knowing the basic knowledge of how LED display works, the panels pretty much work the same way. 

The working principle of LED displays starts with a flat panel and the LEDs installed in them. These panels are composed of unmovable solid parts molded into the board and these light-emitting diodes are molded into it. 

LEDs or light-emitting diodes are semiconductor materials (usually silicon-coated) that allow electricity to transform into light energy. They are one of the most important components of learning how the LED display works. These diodes can come in red, green, or blue, each with its own brightness levels and intensity. The intensity and brightness levels of LEDs vary greatly by changing the pixel pitch, pixel density, and LED scan rate. And they are able to create new colors that make it possible to produce vibrant images. 

Light Generation: How LED Display Generates Light

Despite their variations, there is a basic concept of how an LED screen works that can be applicable to all types of displays. But one of the factors that can set them apart is their backlighting. This gives birth to the different types of LED displays based on their backlighting. 

To further understand how the LED display works in relation to the type of backlight used, here are the most common selections you can look into. 

Direct-Lit LED Display

Considered the most affordable option, direct-lit LED displays can be classified under lower to mid-range LED screens. They usually come in a bigger structure but less complicated images.

How LED display works in this type of screen is that it has lower pixel density since among all of the other types of LED screens, it has the least number of diodes installed in them and does not have a local dimming feature. It’s similar to a full-array LED display in a way that the diodes are directly installed behind the screen.

Edge-Lit LED Display

Recognized as the most common type of LED display, edge-lit screens are named as such because the diodes are installed at the edge of the screens. How LED display works in this case relies on how the diodes are arranged along the edges. They can be placed all around the screen, top and bottom, or left and right. 

Full-Array LED Display

While the screens appear to be slimmer, they have fewer diodes too compared and so may have dynamic lighting issues. There might be bright spots on the edges compared to the center of the screen, leading to dimming zones. 

When learning about how LED display works, going through full-array LED displays is a necessity. It has the most effective backlighting compared to edge lighting and direct lighting. Since the LED diodes are evenly distributed all over the screen (at the back and even along the edges), it produces consistent lighting with dynamic colors. 

Full-array LED displays are installed with colored LEDs, which helps the device generate a wider range of colors. And since the LED diodes are evenly distributed, the display can dim and turn off specific zones on the screen.

Visual Aspects Of LED Display

Exploring how LED display works also means learning about the visual aspects of these screens. Besides the lighting, the semiconductor materials can also affect the colors generated from the screen. The intensity and depth of colors would rely heavily on these compounds. Here are some of the most popular compounds used for these diodes.

  • Gallium Arsenide
  • Gallium Indium Nitride
  • Gallium Phosphide
  • Arsenide Phosphide


In exploring how the LED display works, it’s important to stick with the basics. The process may include some technical terms but the process of how LED screen works are pretty standard. Light-emitting diodes are installed in the screen and when hit with electricity, they produce light responsible for producing a wide range of colors. These colors are then used to produce vibrant images and videos on the screen. 

Some LED displays are brighter and some are more colorful than others, and this can be due to two factors. They have different semiconductor materials and different backlighting types. So if you’re looking for a display perfect for you, make sure to look into these aspects too. 

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