Makers are using more efficient components and offering a wider range of designs.
Riding the trend for environment-friendly devices, China suppliers of solar garden lights are expanding selections to cover various illumination needs. Through this, manufacturers hope to sustain the double-digit growth they achieved in sales and exports last year.
Many companies are optimistic of attaining a 15 to 30 percent increase in 2011. In fact, as developments in the industry accelerated, several enterprises entered the field in 2010 with expectations for this year going as high as 300 percent.
For a number of makers, R&D work revolves around enhancing performance to suit different environments. Most companies have zeroed in on extending the number of days units can operate during rainy or cloudy weather. The latest releases are capable of storing enough power to generate eight hours of light each night for as long as 10 continuous days of inclement conditions. In contrast, previous models can provide illumination for only two or three days with weak sunlight.
In addition, several enterprises are enabling their models to withstand a wider range of temperature. Most products function in -10 to 40 C climates, but there are already a number of designs capable of running in -40 C surroundings.
Guangdong Gangfeng Electrical Appliance Co. Ltd's model TV1101LT-16 pole light is among the latter. The unit also works in areas with 10 to 95 percent humidity.
To achieve performance targets, suppliers are adopting PV panels with a conversion efficiency of at least 16 percent and a service life of more than 20 years. Such components cost 20 percent higher than mainstream versions, which are generally 15 percent efficient and last 15 to 20 years.
Companies capable of manufacturing solar panels in-house are keeping an eye on quality and controlling costs to make their designs more competitive.
Among enterprises currently outsourcing the devices, many intend to expand upstream to gain a similar advantage. Allpowers Industrial International Ltd is one of the garden light makers planning to engage in PV module production in the months ahead.
Style options more varied
Products & prices
Providing an assortment of designs for different lighting requirements is another priority. Accent, mood, security and path illumination are among the applications makers are targeting.
Most companies have broadened their selections to include models with classic lines and patterns, as well as those with a modern, streamlined look.
In addition, several enterprises have rolled out ornamental units that imitate natural objects such as rock formations, animals and plants.
Some have released designs specific to a season. Solar Nation Powertech Enterprises Co.'s product range, for instance, includes a garden light shaped as a replica of Santa Claus.
Such decorative fixtures are popular exports to the EU and North America.
To keep their selection updated, suppliers maintain a team of professional designers on their R&D staff.
China's solar garden light selection comprises ground-, wall- and fence-mounted designs. Pole and lawn types, spotlights and floodlights account for about 70 percent of output and exports.
The majority of output uses crystalline silicon panels and LED bulbs. For power, most suppliers adopt rechargeable lead-acid batteries. A number of manufacturers, however, are switching to NiCd or NiMH versions due to the environmental problems attached to lead-acid variants and their short service life of 1 year.
In the pole lights segment, models that do not exceed $1,000 are generally fitted with polycrystalline panels. The modules have a service life of about 20 years and a conversion efficiency of less than 16 percent. For batteries, lead-acid types are the primary option.
Designs in this price range usually have CE and EMC certification.
Pole lights priced at least $1,000 have monocrystalline panels. The modules feature a conversion efficiency of more than 16 percent, while their service life ranges from 20 to 25 years. Batteries have NiCd or NiMH formulations.
Similar to less expensive counterparts, most meet CE and EMC requirements. In addition, several comply with RoHS specifications.
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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