Targeting the high end, makers are adopting energy-efficient PV panels and bulbs in their models.
China suppliers of solar string lights are planning to move upmarket in coming months amid strong overseas demand.
In line with the shift, more designs will be integrating monocrystalline silicon solar panels. Such PV modules have a conversion rate of 17 or 18 percent, which are at least 1 percentage point higher than specifications for polycrystalline types.
A number of companies also hope to roll out designs with thin-film panels, which perform better in low-light conditions. Suppliers aim to reduce silicon consumption amid rising rates for the material.
At present, only a few large enterprises have begun investing in the manufacture of these variants because the technology is relatively new. More makers are expected to follow suit, however, as silicon costs remain on the upswing in response to strong market demand.
As regards light source, LEDs will continue to dominate because of the environmental trend. Currently, those adopted in solar string lights are rated below 1W. In the months ahead, suppliers will be improving the performance of the components. Luminous flux, in particular, will be enhanced by about 5 percent.
Boosting efficiency further, makers will be bundling designs with more advanced control systems. At present, models that operate according to the brightness of the surroundings account for the majority of output. Units that function during a specified time frame are also popular.
For new products, a growing number of suppliers intend to adopt DMX controllers. Besides enabling users to turn the lights on and off automatically, these systems allow the setting of lighting effects such as color changes and flashing illumination.
Models featuring enhanced functions are anticipated to boost the uptake of solar string lights, especially overseas. Exports are projected to increase between 10 and 50 percent in coming months.
Products & prices
String lights constitute less than one-fifth of China's lighting output. Of this turnout, no more than 40 percent utilizes PV energy.
Prices of solar string lights start at $5. Quotes vary depending mainly on the type of light source and panel adopted since these components account for about 80 percent of total outlay.
For bulbs, LED types are the primary option, although some low-end units employ fluorescent variants. The chips used in the former are procured from local makers or overseas-based counterparts such as Osram and Cree.
As regards PV panels, most solar string lights adopt versions that have a working voltage of 2 to 5V. The components are often outsourced, with less than 10 percent of the industry capable of manufacturing these in-house.
At present, more than half of China's products utilize monocrystalline silicon modules. About 45 percent of output employs polycrystalline variants, and the rest adopts thin-film counterparts.
Models priced $8 or below typically have monocrystalline panels, domestic LEDs and lithium batteries. Versions between $9 and $15 may employ chips from South Korea and NiMH or NiCd power sources.
More expensive variants are fitted with crystalline silicon modules and Cree or Osram chips. These are often water-resistant and suited for outdoor applications.
Solar string lights can be sourced from an estimated 200 enterprises in China. Roughly 80 percent of the suppliers manufacture the line together with other types of LED-based illumination.
About 95 percent of the supplier base consists of privately owned small and midsize companies. Joint ventures and foreign-invested operations constitute the rest.
Fonta (Ningbo) Electronic Technology Co. Ltd
Fonta (Ningbo) Electronic Technology 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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