Features-rich switching power supplies in smaller form factors comprise a key R&D trend as makers meet requirements in the PC, networking and industrial sectors.
Smart, compact and energy-efficient models are defining product development in China’s switching power supplies industry. Most makers’ R&D initiatives aim to achieve more stable, lightweight units that can handle multiple outputs and have a high input power factor and anti-EMI. Efforts to improve performance likewise address reliability and noise issues.
Variants designed for communication and PC applications boast power factor correction, pulse width modulation, enhanced frequency, synchronous rectification, single switching, and zero-voltage and -current soft switching. The last can effectively reduce losses and stress. Both active and passive PFCs lower harmonic pollution to a power grid.
The use of high-frequency transformers makes for smaller SPS with increased power density and heightened dynamic response. PWM satisfies the needs of a distributed power system or boost the reliability of a communication setup.
Models for PCs, in particular, have an 80 to 85 percent efficiency rating and greater than 1W standby power consumption. Suppliers have raised both figures by using advanced power management ICs and semiconductors. Technologies for soft switching, synchronous rectifiers, high-power full-bridge converters and active clamps continue to gain ground.
To enhance performance further, companies adopt planar transformers and circuit protection chipsets. Makers also employ ICs that integrate PFC and PWM. Applying DSPs to improve operational speed and anti-jamming is another growing trend.
Future development initiatives are forecast to move toward integration, which will mean increased power density. This, however, might necessitate a review of current manufacturing techniques and processes.
Despite makers’ efforts to keep abreast of emerging power architectures, China continues to trail international players in circuit design and production techniques, particularly as regards high-end systems.
Customization remains a core strength in this line. Eight out of 10 models from the country are in fact tailor-made. Companies design the performance parameters and specifications to suit target applications.
In recent years, many have started offering intelligent SPS modules, partly because of the growing popularity of power building blocks and distributed power supplies in the communications, networking and PC sectors. These constitute PFCs with a 97 percent efficiency rating. The MCUs embedded in the modules manage current sharing, protection and signal monitoring.
China accounts for 80 percent of the world’s switched-mode power supplies, with products targeting desktop and notebook PCs, consumer electronics, home appliances and transportation systems. The releases are also suitable for office automation, and mechanical, automotive, medical and power equipment. Meanwhile, units for electric vehicles and boats, solar and wind power, and LED and modular power supplies are breaking into the mainstream.
Most makers increased capacity in 2010, a trend expected to continue through this year’s end. The estimated annual growth rate is 20 percent, but several small and midsize players expect a larger upturn.
Shenzhen Flypower Tech Co. Ltd, for instance, is looking to breach the 1 million mark in 1H11, double its monthly output in 2010. This is on the back of healthy sales abroad, especially in the EU and North America.
Switching power supplies from China can be classified according to input and output waveforms, namely AC-DC, DC-DC and DC-AC. The first two currently lead production. Units are also categorized into brick and half-brick types, and enclosed, LED power, DIN rail, modular or open frame, AC/DC adapters and DC-DC converters.
Enclosed SPS has a range of 15 to more than 3,000W and one to four outputs. Models below 350W are considered low-end and incorporate a universal input, an LED power indicator, and protection against short-circuit and overload, -voltage and -heating. These boast 105 C high-performance electrolyte capacitors, operate at 70 C and can withstand 300VAC input surges for up to 5s.
Units with 2,000W and above additionally have an active AC input surge arrestor, a built-in 5V/0.3A and 12V/0.8A auxiliary power supply, and adjustable voltage of between 20 and 100 percent of rated power. PFC is optional in 75 to 3,000W versions.
LED SPS types are widely used in display, backlight and illumination products. Such releases have one output, built-in active PFC and a power range of 16W to greater than 300W. Housed in plastic or metal, these variants have a universal input range, constant current limiting circuit, adjustable output voltage and current, and up to 94 percent efficiency. They can be used indoors and outdoors, with preventive mechanisms for short-circuits, and overload, -voltage and -heating.
DIN rail power supplies are mainly designed for industrial control equipment. Slim types suit TS35 7.5/15 configurations, supporting 10 to 96W, less than 1W or 0.75W no-load power consumption, built-in active PFC and overheat protection.
Standard units adopt a fanless design, with a 45 to 960W range. Models with a rated power exceeding 240W have built-in active PFC and also fit TS35 7.5/15.
In the modular SPS category, the most popular versions pack 450 to 1,000W. These are highly customized and flexible power supplies with an output voltage of 1.6 to 53V, built-in active PFC and up to 14 multiple outputs.
Open-frame SPS comes in on-board, general and medical types. Releases from the first category have one output, deliver 5 to 20W, and are assembled onto the main PCB of a system. General varieties incorporate up to four outputs and enable a power range of 5 to 250W.
Small-wattage variants are available in PCB formats with no PFC, but there are units in multiple form factors such as 7x4.25, 5x3 or 4x2in, and slim designs. Medical PCB types comply with medical safety standards. These do not have PFC for small-wattage configurations, and the low leakage current is suitable for nonpatient contact medical equipment.
AC/DC adapters from China come in power plug form in wall, universal, desktop and travel formats. Applications cover laptops, mobile phones, digital cameras and video recorders, MP3/MP4 players, video game consoles and other portable devices. Wall-mounted units generally feature 6 to 25W and incorporate a universal AC input,and short-circuit and overload and -voltage protection.
Models conform to ERP Stage 2 and EISA 2007. Some use changeable DC plugs. Desktop variants have 15 to 220W rated power.
DC-DC converters are available in open-frame, brick and half-brick configurations. The first is usually rated at 50W with an output voltage of 1.5 to 5V. Brick types support a maximum rating of 400W, while half-brick units 50, 75, 100 to 150W. The output pins are compatible with standard power supplies.
Makers also provide high-voltage single/three-phase 340 to 550VAC input models and extra-redundant DC UPS modules for special applications. Wide-input voltage varieties adopta slim design, with power ranging from 120 to 480W and single-phase input from 180 to 550VAC. These have a built-in DC OK relay contact.
Versions with 240 and 480W rated output are equipped with active PFC. High-efficiency variants likewise feature a streamlined look and integrate active PFC. These are appropriate for DIN rail TS35 7.5/15 and can provide 150 percent peak load output.
Raw materials and components account for about 70 percent of SPS production costs. Makers source approximately 90percent of requirement locally, covering the ICs, passive components, plastic, metal, casings and fans. Some key parts may be imported on request.
Most makers maintain long-term relationships with upstream partners to ensure steady input supply and rates. Even as the cost of plastic, wire, copper and tin surged in 2010, the majority of manufacturers kept prices stable.
A few implemented an upward adjustment of 5 to 10 percent to avoid profit loss. Enterprises such as Lucky Valley Technology (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd see further price increases if metal and plastic spending continues to climb.
Switching power supplies from Hong Kong keep step with the energy requirements of the latest personal electronics. A growing number of releases are customized for netbooks, laptops and LED lighting products.
Selections also consist of in-car models with a cigarette lighter plug and universal types with knobs for selecting the output voltage. Some of the smallest configurations have a USB output. The USB port is an option in other releases. A few suppliers develop benchtop varieties for research and professional use.
Products support 1 to 300W and feature fixed or changeable output voltage. Portable versions come with interchangeable AC plugs. Assorted connector tips can also be bundled.
Models meet ERP Stage 2, MEPS IV and CEC Level V standards. They are subjected to rigorous screening, including functional, short-circuit, overloading, thermal shock, humidity and aging tests.
In terms of aesthetics, designs are veering away from the black, heavy brick look of a decade ago. Compact, curved and slim units dominate the yield, with most releases in matte black. Buyers will also find piano white, pink, apple green and other trendy colors.
More than 20 Hong Kong companies provide SPS equipment. The majority also manufactures linear power supplies, AC/DC adapters, converters or their components, while some are primarily EMS operations.
Many makers have been exporting to the UK, Germany, the US and Japan for years, and are therefore already familiar with the various safety, efficiency and environmental regulations. They source key inputs from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, and most other parts from mainland China.
Minwa Electronics Co. Ltd offers ERP Stage 2-compliant SPS for laptops and netbooks, including 90, 72 and 65W versions with an output selector and an optional USB outlet.
Ten Pao International Ltd supplies both plug-in and desktop SPS. Its selection comprises small plug-in 2W models to 150W types.
Fujikon International Ltd specializes in SPS, AC/DC and AC/AC adapters, AC/AC transformers and universal power adapters. Its ERP Stage 2-compliant SPS can be customized on request.
Taiwan’s mature switching power supplies industry is moving toward “green” solutions. Upcoming models are expected to pack more efficient, low-power designs, with units for LED applications gaining ground.
A growing number of companies are developing niche products to boost sales. Delta, a global leader in office power supplies, offers high-frequency types for servers. AcBel Polytech has developed varieties for telecom base stations under efforts to follow trends for cloud computing.
Makers see the shortage in components resulting in raised quotes in the months ahead. Tighter competition could also edge out smaller players in a line already dominated by large enterprises.
To bring down production costs, nearly all suppliers have set up factories in mainland China. Big operations typically have more than two manufacturing sites to meet volume orders, with the monthly capacity averaging 1 million units. These pursue OEM and ODM business and have established good relationships with downstream device makers. The major players include AcBel Polytech, Delta, FSP, Lite-On and Phihong. All offer standardized products that are widely used in consumer electronics, PC and communication applications.
Smaller SPS operations have at least one factory to carry out mass manufacture. They can turn out an average of 10,000 units a month. Unlike bigger players, they emphasize niche fields such as the automotive, industrial and medical sectors.
Suppliers that focus on OBM, including Mean Well Enterprises Co. Ltd, generally have a diverse lineup but only in small quantities. They, nevertheless, maintain flexible processes to accommodate small and midsize terminal device manufacturers. The majority of makers offer customization services.
Fujikon International Ltd
Model: SAW03VA Series
Hangzhou Tiecheng Information Technology Co. Ltd
Model: 1.5KW HF/PFC Charger
Lucky Valley Technology (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd
Model: EPS 30-4815AF1
Mean Well Enterprises Co. Ltd
Model: PCD-16/25 Series
Minwa Electronics Co. Ltd
Model: MW A2102
Sinpro Electronics Co. Ltd
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.
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