Makers of standard battery chargers are enhancing functionality and product attributes, including charging time and circuit protection, to sustain the line’s viability.
Manufacturers of standard battery chargers in China continue to emphasize product quality, with R&D underscoring intelligent and multifunction units. Suppliers are rolling out models that can match the growing number of high-performance consumer electronics.
|The model CCUCA-1-2 universal charger from Guangzhou Vigour suits AA and AAA batteries.|
Intelligent battery chargers boast capacity detection, discharging and repairing capability. They have LED indicators and LCDs to show charging status.
Makers are incorporating protection circuitry against overheating, -voltage and -current, reverse polarity and short circuit. Releases in this category can determine the charging current based on battery quality, adjusting the temperature accordingly to regulate the charging speed.
Some suppliers are working on boosting the charging time, with fast variants already able to power up devices in an hour.
More manufacturers are expected to turn out smart chargers in the months ahead. The type currently accounts for 50 to 80 percent of several enterprises’ total yield.
Companies are also launching multifunction variants. The latest models consist of a power adapter, a charging box and various charging plugs. The power adapter is connected to the charging box through a USB interface or standard DC power plugs. The charging box has a digital microcontroller and can output optional DC voltages and current for different devices, including mobile phones, digital cameras, PDAs and other consumer electronics.
Universal battery chargers have been registering 20 percent average annual growth for the past two years, and makers expect the trend to continue until 2013.
To follow “green” trends, suppliers are turning to environment-friendly inputs and production techniques. Most makers adopt anti-combustion PC/ABS compound and flexible Noryl resin. They also check for RoHS compliance.
Chargers from China work with Li-ion, NiCd, NiMH, AA, AAA, C, D and 9V batteries. Nearly all units support suppliers 100 to 240V input voltage ratings.
The line is supported by more than 500 suppliers, most of which are midsize enterprises.
Products from China come with several charging slots, with models featuring two or four notches dominating makers’ selections. Most are for AA, AAA, NiMH and NiCd batteries, although some high-end variants work with 9V and button cell.
Low-end releases, which represent about 30 percent of China’s exports in the line, start at $1.
These plug-in timer-based types incorporate two charging slots and LED indicators, and provide 300mA current, 1.2V output voltage and less than 40 C operating temperature. They can power AA and AAA 700mA batteries within 3hr, and 2,500mA variants in 10hr. LED indicators show charging status.
Midrange models are priced about $2 and take up 50 percent of overseas shipments. They have similar specifications as entry-level versions, except for the number of charging slots and power capacity.
The former units come with four charging notches, and 250mA current and 2.8V output voltage ratings.
High-end releases, quoted at $4, account for 20 percent of exports. These have four charging slots and are available in plug-in and desktop variants, with the latter type prevailing. A 9V slot is optional.
Upscale desktop chargers include a switching power adapter and a cigarette lighter plug for in-car use. They deliver a charging current of 1,300mA/2.8VDC, 600mA/2.8VDC and 20mA for AA, AAA and 9V batteries, respectively. The charging time for 700mA AA and AAA batteries is about 1hr, which can reach 2hr for 2,500mA versions.
High-power units are equipped with various input plugs for use in different countries. They have LED indicators or LCDs to show battery status.
Most of the products shipped overseas are 4-slot models in fast- and slow-charging configurations. The first type packs a 500mA or greater digital microcontroller. It supports two channels, dV, 0dV and Vmax cutoff, safety timer, trickle charge technology, defective- or nonrechargeable-battery detection, and LED indicators. The input voltage is 110 to 220VAC and the charging time for NiMH takes 2 to 3hr.
In general, releases with four or more charging slots are priced higher than models with just two options. Smart chargers with greater power capacity and multichannel variants are also more expensive than standard battery types.
Quotes are forecast to remain steady despite surging outlay for raw materials and product approval.
According to Guangzhou Vigour Electronics Co. Ltd, input costs increased by 2 to 3 percent in the past year. Spending on copper, ABS and PCB, in particular, climbed. Most manufacturers source key components locally.
Meanwhile, expenditure related to compliance with RoHS, WEEE, CE, UL and other standards also increased in recent months, although this affects mostly players that are accommodating small-volume orders.
Besides raw materials and safety approval, external housing designs influence prices. Complexity in styles raises molding expenditure. Integrating digital microcontrollers and value-added functions likewise pushes up quotes.
Hong Kong suppliers are enhancing standard battery chargers’ performance to match varying user preferences. Recent releases boast safety features and increased charging capacity, all in trendier designs.
For the first two, makers are incorporating short-circuit, reverse-polarity and overcurrent protection, negative delta-V cutoff and temperature sensors. Many are adopting trickle charge technology, defective- battery detection and charging timer.
To add value and extend the product’s functionality, most releases enable USB charging. This allows the device to work with mobile phones, MP3 players, digital cameras and other electronics devices. When loaded with charged batteries, some units can double as emergency chargers.
Other manufacturers are integrating LED flashlights, in-car charging and discharge functions.
For enhanced visual appeal, slim housings with an aluminum or white finish constitute a key trend. Models with curved edges are displacing square and rectangular versions. Several suppliers have also introduced variants with bicolor status indicators and LED displays.
Hong Kong’s selection includes plug-in chargers that support two to four batteries and desktop units with detachable power cables for four to 10 batteries. Nearly all are compatible with AA and AAA types. Some tabletop releases have discrete compartments or adjustable contacts to accommodate larger batteries. USB charging sticks that work with one or two batteries are available as well.
Suppliers can provide product certification on request.
Manufacturers are looking to boost output to attract more clients. ATC EnergyTech Corp. Ltd, for instance, is expanding its selection of standard battery chargers. The list includes white-exterior products with reverse-polarity protection.
Vanson Electronics Ltd offers superslim plug-in chargers, USB sticks with IC timer control and fast chargers with LCDs.
Minwa Electronics Co. Ltd has an R&D facility and ISO 9001:2000-certified factories. Some of its latest models support simultaneous battery charging and USB power output.
Taiwan makers are taking diverse steps to boost an otherwise slow line. Mainstream products, mostly 2 and 4-slot fast chargers for NiMH and NiCd batteries, integrate protection mechanism against overheating and -charging. Releases from the island comply with UL, cUL and CE requirements.
Companies are likewise developing Li-ion battery chargers to match the chemistry’s widening adoption in computer, communications and consumer electronics. Also called portable Li-ion or emergency power systems, these come with I/O connectors for powering various 3C products.
Others adopt USB ports to ensure compatibility with terminal devices. Otomatter Trading Co. Ltd carries a series of USB chargers.
Battery chargers for the iPod, iPhone and iPad are likewise increasingly being introduced. Not all releases, however, have the Made for iPod mark because of the prohibitive license fee.
With production activities moving to mainland China, a growing number of Taiwan makers are working as trading companies or subcontracting to factories there.
ATC EnergyTech Corp. Ltd
Hotgiant Co. Ltd
Minwa Electronics Co. Ltd
Otomatter Trading Co. Ltd
Shenzhen Arun Electronic Co. Ltd
Vanson Electronics Ltd
Note: This article "Standard battery charger R&D highlights intelligent, multifunction variants" 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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