Makers are adding more efficient and user-friendly designs to the line.
Riding growing demand for LED bulbs and luminaires, China suppliers of dimmers are expanding selections in coming months. Interest in diode-based illumination has been on the upswing in recent years and is expected to remain strong amid the implementation of stricter energy efficiency requirements worldwide. Prospects at home are also bright, with the government promoting the development and adoption of solid state lighting and other "green" technologies.
|Shenzhen Asia Bright offers dimmers with remote controls.|
Designs for a wider variety of LED lamps are anticipated. Besides common household fixtures, many companies are developing models compatible with commercial and public illumination systems such as wall washers, and strip and curtain lights.
Advanced technologies are being employed to improve functionality. Among these are pulse width modulation modules, which enable units to provide more energy savings. These also extend the service life of luminaires since they act as surge protectors.
At some enterprises, R&D efforts are focused on 3-channel dimmers that allow adjustments in brightness and color settings. Shanghai Euchips Industrial Co. Ltd is among the suppliers with such designs, offering the DIMLK3-5-360 model with an input voltage of 12/24VDC and a load rating of 180 to 360W. The maker’s R&D targets include the development of units suitable for digital addressable lighting interface networks.
Shenzhen Asia Bright Industry Co. Ltd, meanwhile, is working on inductive dimmers. It also aims to introduce variants capable of handling 2,000W loads for residential buildings, factories and commercial areas.
Infrared and RF remote controls featuring six to 24 buttons are being bundled with the latest LED dimmers to enhance ease of operation. The former has a range of 10 to 20m, while RF versions enable control from distances as far as 100m.
To support the expansion of LED-compatible lines, several suppliers have invested in imported facilities. Apex Optoelectronics Co. Ltd uses machines from South Korea and Japan, while Shenzhen Leynew Technology Co. Ltd employs equipment from Switzerland and Germany.
|Apex’s AX-SDimmer-1CH-LV model is a key-press dimmer for LED bulbs.|
Mainland China-made dimmers come from approximately 350 manufacturers, most of which are found in Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces. About 90 percent of the supplier base consists of private enterprises, while the rest comprises foreign-invested operations.
Releases compatible with incandescent lamps dominate selections for home use, but units for CFLs and LED bulbs suppliers are also available. Designs for commercial applications are typically meant to work with electronic and magnetic low-voltage lamps.
Incandescent dimmers use TRIAC or SCR. Versions for CFLs and LED bulbs are PWM- or TRIAC-based.
Models can be wall-mounted or connected to a power cord. The brightness setting can be adjusted via a rotary knob, slide bar, touch sensor, rocker switch or keypad.
Sizes vary depending on the target market. For instance, UK-bound wall-mounted panels measure 86x86mm, while 118x72mm models are popular in the US.
Between 10 and 20 percent of units are equipped with IR or RF remote controls. Such designs are generally for the upscale segment.
Plastic housings in white, ivory or almond color are widely available. Some suppliers offer versions made of stainless steel, which are often painted gold or silver.
Materials for the housing and circuitry are typically sourced from local providers. Chipsets, on the other hand, are procured from the US, South Korea or Taiwan.
Dimmers from the mainland have a working temperature ranging from -20 to 60 C. Many come with a 2 or 3-year warranty, the CE mark and RoHS certification.
Incandescent dimmers: Models in this category range from $1 to $12. These have one or two channels, each with an output current of up to 10A. They have an input voltage of 110/240VAC, while load ratings range from 50 to 2,000W.
At the lower end of the price spectrum are variants made of plastic such as PC and Bakelite. Upscale incandescent dimmers employ stainless steel, and several are fitted with LED indicators and other add-ons.
LED dimmers: In this line, models are offered starting at $2 per unit. Basic designs priced $4 or lower have one channel, with output current reaching 8A. These have a supply voltage of 5 to 24VDC, while the maximum load is up to 100W. Most have fewer than 256 gray levels.
Variants between $4.50 and $9, which operate on 24 or 48VDC, can accommodate 200 to 400W loads. These have 256 to 1,024 gray levels.
The selection comprises single- and 3-channel systems. The former has a maximum output current of 10A, while the second can generate 5A in each channel.
More expensive LED dimmers have three RGB channels, each with an output current of up to 5A. A maximum load of 400W is common.
Value-added features are prevalent in this segment, as are in midlevel units. Extras include overload and overcharge protection mechanisms, delayed shutdown and remote controlled functions.
CFL dimmers: The line has few suppliers since most makers provide models that can also work with LED bulbs. Priced between $1 and $7, most units adopt PC housings.
Releases come with one or two channels having an output current of 5A. They have an input voltage of 110/240VAC, while the maximum load reaches 100W.
Basic systems offer four dimming levels, usually 10, 25, 50 and 100 percent. Models priced higher than $5 support 0 to 100 percent stepless dimming.
Suppliers of LED dimmers either kept prices stable or lowered these by 5 percent in the past six months. Companies point to their enhanced R&D capability and the advancement of key technologies as the major contributors to the decline.
Models for incandescent bulbs, on the other hand, are 10 to 15 percent more expensive than they were a half year ago. This is because, being a more mature line, such products are more sensitive to changes in raw material costs.
In coming months, suppliers see prices of both LED and incandescent dimmers rising 5 to 10 percent as production outlay and the yuan’s value remain on an upward track.
Note: This article "More LED-compatible dimmers under way" 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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