R&D efforts emphasize efficiency upgrades and better aesthetics.
Primed for greater demand in coming years, China suppliers of solar lights are pushing for models that boast better performance-to-price ratios. At the majority of enterprises, R&D work revolves around extending the operating time and enhancing the decorative value.
|This solar light from Risen comes with three white LEDs.|
With regard to the first, makers are adopting PV panels with higher conversion efficiency ratings. For amorphous silicon panels in particular, double-junction versions are being employed to bring up conversion efficiency from 5 to 10 percent.
In terms of light source, LEDs continue to gain traction as the technology improves and becomes less costly. Some companies have even begun utilizing OLEDs, which are considered more environment-friendly than conventional diodes. Thin and flexible, the former emit a brighter light, consume less power and dissipate heat better.
The high cost of OLEDs, however, limits adoption to upscale designs. The components are more than twice as expensive as LEDs. Further, being a relatively new technology, only a few enterprises in the world are capable of producing the line.
The adoption of more efficient panels and light sources has yielded models that can illuminate for at least 8hr daily, even during rainy or cloudy days. The latest releases can store enough power to support this length of operation for as long as 10 continuous days of inclement weather conditions.
To extend the operating time further and boost user convenience, several suppliers are incorporating timers or optical sensors in their designs for automatic operation. Some are fitting devices that will allow products to run using a power line when they lack sufficient solar energy.
A number of suppliers are taking a different route, releasing fixtures capable of employing wind or solar power. During unfavorable weather conditions, these can operate more than 10hr daily for four days.
In garden and landscape lights, makers are also paying attention to aesthetics. Many enterprises are introducing decorative units with a stone or plastic housing. Shipped mostly to Europe, these come in novelty shapes or follow certain motifs.
Risen Energy Co. Ltd’s model SL2320 garden light is one such product. Offered in polyresin, stainless steel or PS, the fixture boasts a mosaic pattern on the housing.
Suppliers are confident of achieving 15 to 30 percent export growth in the next six months. The US, the EU and the Asia-Pacific region will remain the key destinations, but companies are also keeping tabs on emerging markets such as South America and South Africa.
Makers are anticipating domestic consumption of solar lights will continue increasing as well, with the government encouraging the adoption of renewable energy technologies.
Dominating China’s selection of solar lights are road and landscaping fixtures. Prices depend mainly on the raw materials, wattage and control modes of the product.
Most models adopt crystalline or amorphous silicon panels. Modules have a rated power of 1 to 300Wp.
The conversion efficiency of the solar panel varies depending on the purity of the silicon crystal. Monocrystalline modules, used primarily in the high-end, often have a specification of 16 percent. Polycrystalline versions boast a rating of up to 15 percent, while many amorphous types reach 9 percent efficiency.
In terms of the light source, LEDs dominate the midrange and upscale segments. Entry-level solar lights adopt fluorescent, sodium or another type of bulb.
For batteries, most suppliers employ rechargeable lead-acid types. A number of makers, however, are switching to lithium, NiCd or NiMH variants, which are considered more energy-efficient and environment-friendly.
Ground-mount units normally have galvanized steel poles. Those for streetlights range from 4 to 9m, and garden fixtures are between 2 and 4m.
Models can also come with timers and optical sensors. Some have intelligent control modules that offer various lighting modes.
Prices of China-made solar lights are likely to rise by as much as 10 percent in coming months. While LED rates are on a decline, the cost of other raw material and labor-related expenses are putting pressure on quotes.
Note: This article "Makers enhance performance of solar lights" 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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