Makers are equipping models with MCUs and adding value via other electronic features.
China suppliers of car battery chargers and jump starters are expanding product options with multifunction and intelligent units to reach more markets. To take advantage of rising demand, companies are investing more in R&D.
|These car battery chargers from Saip have 6 to 12VDC charging voltage.|
Manufacturers of chargers are focusing efforts on smart models equipped with MCUs to improve battery life and efficiency.
These units support automatic selection of charging mode based on battery type and charge status, with power shut off when charging is complete. The MCU prevents overload and -heating, reverse polarity and short circuit, stopping and alerting the user upon detection of battery problems such as vulcanization.
Jump starters with MCUs have a reverse hook-up warning alarm, overload protection and automatic cutoff to prevent overcharging.
In line with the trend for multifunctionality, makers of jump starters are integrating cigarette lighter sockets, USB ports and other accessories in their releases. For car battery chargers, engine starting capability is an option.
Some manufacturers are riding the “green” bandwagon by releasing solar chargers.
Shenzhen Topray Solar Co. Ltd, for instance, has introduced the TPS-946 and TPS-102-15 models, which are bundled with amorphous silicon panels. These can be mounted on the dashboard or windshield.
The maker also offers versions that employ monocrystalline modules, which boast higher conversion efficiency and rated output power.
In terms of design, businesses are riding the portability trend with compact chargers and jump starters gaining traction. The 7AH-3D and 17AH-3D-1 models from Hangzhou Qiantong Tools Manufacture Co. Ltd are 40 percent smaller than older units.
China produces 5 to 10 million car battery chargers annually. AC/DC units account for the bulk of output, while solar-powered models constitute 5 percent.
More than 90 percent of exports in this category are intelligent devices with overcharging, -load and -heating, reverse-polarity and short-circuit protection. Some also have a battery detection function and a smart charging algorithm.
The products are suitable for various kinds of lead-acid batteries. The internal software may select relative charging function accordingly.
Trickle chargers dominate the low-end category. Priced below $20 per unit, such releases deliver 2A charging current and 6 to 24VDC output voltage. They are typically no larger than 200x100x100mm. Box types with 4A current and LED indicators also belong to this sector.
Midrange kinds are available from $20 to $50. These have 4 to 30A maximum charging current and 6 to 24V output voltage.
Measuring 300x200x200mm, models usually come in box designs with aluminum or iron housings and plastic handles. Besides LED indicators that are also found in some low-end variants, intermediate versions incorporate ammeters and rocker or rotary switches.
Going for $50 to $100, the upscale selection includes multifunction units with starters and those designed for large- capacity batteries. Products support 60A charging current and 6 to 24 output voltage, with dimensions ranging from 300x250x250 to 700x400x300mm. Wheeled or trolley-mounted models are available.
Makers expect prices to remain steady in coming months. Many implemented a 10 percent markup in the past six months due to material cost increases. Copper, for instance, rose to $10,545 per ton at the end of May, 10 percent higher than November 2010 rates.
China’s output in this segment reaches 3 to 5 million units a year. Most releases are portable and suitable for lead-acid batteries.
Products support 100 to 600A start, and 900A peak current ratings. The operating temperature range is -40 to 70 C.
Standard jump starters use alligator clamps or cigarette lighter plugs as connectors, and come in ABS, PP, PC or aluminum alloy housings. They feature smart power cutoff in the event of an overload or -heating, or reverse polarity.
Prices in this category are influenced by the battery capacity and add-ons. Models below $15 have 100 to 300A charging current and 5Ah battery. Such basic units are suitable for 12V vehicles and use only one type of charging connector. Value add-ons come in the form of USB output or LED, fluorescent or incandescent lighting.
Quoted between $15 and $40, midrange releases are fitted with a 5 to 20Ah battery and deliver 200 to 400A charging current. Suitable for 12V systems, these have an LED, fluorescent or incandescent light, USB port, cigarette lighter socket, ammeter, air compressor, tire pressure gauge and battery-power indicator. Some use spiral lead-acid batteries.
Upscale models may be priced up to $80 each. Releases support 300 to 900A charging current. Most have the same features and functions as intermediate ones, but some are equipped with an inverter for 220VAC output. Several high-end units can start 12 and 24V vehicles.
Price movements in the jump starters line will depend primarily on the cost of lead-acid batteries, which account for 60 percent of total outlay. With China regulating the latter industry in line with environmental protection policies, battery quotes are expected to surge.
Moreover, China has scrapped the 17 percent export tax rebate for jump starters beginning May 1. This translates to cost some companies will likely add to the final product price.
Note: This article "Battery chargers & jump starters boast smart, multiple functions" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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