LED strip suppliers underscore energy-efficient attributes, eyeing opportunities in the decoration and automotive sectors to replace traditional lighting variants.
China makers of LED strips continue to highlight product advantages amid widening adoption, particularly in decoration and automotive lighting. They emphasize elevated luminous flux, low attenuation, and tensile, torque and weld strength to meet requirements. The majority will also boost output by more than 15 percent this year, with some aiming for 30 percent and above.
In the decoration application market, including landscape illumination, suppliers are targeting both outdoor and indoor installations. They position the category as the replacement for neon and incandescent variants, leveraging the technology’s decreased thermal dissipation, high efficiency, long life span and absence of UV radiation. To showcase the product, it was extensively used in pavilions at the recent World Expo in Shanghai.
Companies likewise anticipate a rosy future in the automotive sector, with the country forecast to overtake the US as the world’s largest car manufacturer by 2015. The industry’s volume touched 13 million vehicles in 2009, rose by an estimated 20 percent the following year and is anticipated to do the same in 2011. By 2020, China will be rolling out 20 million cars, according to estimates from research company Orient Investment Consulting. This will provide a huge opportunity for the diode line.
To bolster overall competitiveness further, makers cooperate with buyers on package size, diode quantity, luminous flux, color and strip length. Last year, custom orders accounted for 80 percent of suppliers’ output. At Shenzhen Hongya Opto Electronic Co. Ltd, the share was 100 percent, which the manufacturer intends to maintain in the next two years.
Besides product enhancements, enterprises plan to broaden aftersales service to include installation and troubleshooting assistance to attract more orders. A shorter delivery lead time is likewise an objective. At present, the average turnaround is five to 10 days.
With production and demand expansion, makers expect revenue to increase significantly in the near term. Shenzhen Hongya predicts its sales will jump to $45 million to $75 million in the next three years from the current $15 million. The company invested $15 million in a new factory, which began mass manufacture in 2010 and will enable it to achieve a 15 percent higher yield in the months ahead. Orient Lighting Co. Ltd also intends to raise output by 20 percent.
LED strips account for 20 to 30 percent of sales in China’s diode industry. The sector generated an estimated production value of $23 billion last year with the penetration of the general illumination market, thanks to the spreading “green” trend. The category is estimated to grow by 15 percent in 2011-12.
China has about 100 makers, mostly in Shenzhen, Dongguan, Zhongshan and Guangzhou in Guangdong province. The majority comprises small and medium ventures. Enterprises export 50 percent of yield to the US, Europe, and Southeast and East Asia.
Flexible and rigid types constitute the range in China, with the first representing 70 percent of production for most makers.
By size, the options are 0603, 0805, 1210, 3528 and 5050. SMD units adopt mostly the last two and are provided in 5m reels. These have an operating voltage of 12 or 24V, and come in RGB and single-color versions, including red, yellow, blue, green, white and warm white. Both non- and water-resistant kinds are available. The latter covers several aspects with corresponding ratings. It is IP55 for glue, IP65 with semi- and IP68 with full sleeves. Upscale models boast the highest with IP68.
Because of its pliability, the flexible version can accommodate various images for advertising and decorative lighting. It uses SMD diodes and comes in different lengths, depending on buyers’ requirements. Typical 30cm-long variants have 12 or 24 LEDs, and 50cm with 15 or 30. The maximum number of diodes per meter is 120. Substrates are 5, 8, 10, 12 or 15mm wide. Shenzhen Hongya’s HY-5050RGB model carries 30 5050 RGB SMD diodes per meter. It has a 24VDC operating voltage and 14.4W/m power consumption.
Rigid kinds adopt SMD or DIP LEDs. Models may have 12, 30, 36 or 54 of the first, while it is 18, 24, 36 or 54 for DIP-based units. Orient Lighting’s OL-5050HRS-3050-WW-1 model boasts 30 SMD 5050 LEDs, each with 330 lumens luminous flux. It has 12VDC operating voltage, 7.2W power consumption and a 120-degree viewing angle. Available in natural and warm white, red, blue and green, the unit is suitable for indoor signs, channel letters and advertising frames.
The key component and material of LED strips are diodes and glue, which combined account for more than 60 percent of costs.
Low-end and midrange models use inputs from mainland China companies, and upscale versions from overseas, usually Taiwan. Suppliers of the latter said foreign-made LEDs have better consistency and brightness, and reduced return and repair rate. For indoor and outdoor application, high-end units employ PU glue for adaptability to low and elevated ambient temperatures, and water, UV radiation and impact resistance. Sleeves are also added for enhanced watertightness. Epoxy glue with an IP56 rating, meanwhile, is the choice for entry-level LED strips.
To control quality and performance, enterprises such as Shenzhen Hongya produce diodes in-house. Regardless of input source, makers conduct aging and other tests on the component to ensure it makes the grade.
Prices of LED strips dropped by 10 percent in 2010 due to stiff competition, and may continue doing so in the months ahead. Declining costs is also a contributing factor, as chip sourcing becomes localized. In addition, makers have realized mass production for the line itself, bringing down overall outlay. Some, however, believe rising material expenses can reverse the trend. Orient Lighting, which implemented a 10 percent reduction in quotes last year, forecasts an increase of 5 percent in 2011-12 if expenditures remain in an upturn.
Hong Kong makers are promoting LED strips as an energy-efficient alternative to traditional cove, accent, signage and automotive illumination, and TV backlighting products. They provide rigid and flexible ribbon variants with color-changing capability in a range of brightness levels, and white and colored types in different color temperatures.
DIP or 3528 and 5050 SMD top LEDs are used. The strips can be customized to have 15 to 120 diodes per meter. These support 12 or 24V input voltage or even lower. Some can integrate dimmers or solar cell-charged batteries for increased energy efficiency. RGB kinds come with an IC controller on which lighting effects are programmed.
The selection likewise includes models with a self-adhesive back for DIY installation, and water-resistant variants in IP65 to IP68 ratings for outdoor and rugged applications. Side-emitting varieties are offered as well.
Lengths typically range from 9 to 20in, although these can be adjusted according to customers’ requirements. Units in cuttable reels of 5m or longer are also among options.
Flexible LED strips in an array of colors constitute the line of Lena Optotech Ltd. These are available in non- and water-resistant versions. The maker also provides diode-based bulbs, tubes, rope and downlights, wall washers, and panels and modules. All comply with safety guidelines.
Hotronic Ltd manufactures both rigid and flexible types, in addition to finished products such as LED bulbs, and down- and spotlights. Its mainland China factory in Shenzhen, Guangdong province utilizes components sourced mainly from South Korea, Taiwan and the US.
A cable assembly specialist, UFA (Hong Kong) Industrial Co. Ltd has added the category to its selection. The supplier’s flexible models with double-sided adhesive on the back come in regular and water-resistant kinds.
The territory’s LED strip sector comprises at least 30 suppliers. Some that do not have their own production facilities invest in or act as sales agents for mainland companies. Distributors of branded models are also among them. Besides overseas clients, the majority of enterprises pursue local and mainland buyers, including various government agencies.
Note:This article 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.
Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.