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Landscape lights: LED-based designs rule supply

The rapid advances in LED packaging and photovoltaic solutions continue to expedite the 'green' market shift.

Declining costs and rapid advances in LED packaging technologies are spurring China's landscape and garden light makers to focus efforts on creating more energy-efficient designs.

Landscape light
The ESL-11-2 model from Ningbo Yixincheng is a solar-powered LED light in GPPS housing.

Greater public awareness for diode-based luminaires continues to pace the market, raising their share of total shipments of the line to 95 percent in 2009. Continued growth is expected throughout 2010 as demand from the overseas and domestic fronts remain on the upswing.

The presence of leading lighting manufacturers in China is also contributing to this expansion as their latest LED solutions get shared easily and quickly among domestic partners. Osram, for instance, operates a factory in the country and is also the largest shareholder of Foshan Lighting, a publicly listed LED bulb maker.

Meanwhile, the shift to environment-friendly technology with low to zero carbon footprint continues to drive solar units to the forefront. Designs with mono- and polycrystalline panels now account for more than half of output at most enterprises and come in basic to upscale packages. For instance, PV units already make up 90 percent of production at Ningbo Yixincheng Electrical Appliances Co. Ltd and Ningbo Shengshida Lighting Electric Co. Ltd.

Novelty and simple designs are widely available. Ningbo Yixincheng, for example, offers a glass ball light that runs on solar energy. Ningbo Shengshida's models come in gnome, animal or geometric rock shapes. Yuyao Hangjia Eletronics Co. Ltd produces accent lights that can be installed along walkways.

The majority of LED lights from China have a brightness of about 10 lumens since these are intended for decorative purposes. Some streetlights have an intensity of more than 10,000 lumens.

Expanding export destinations
Products & prices
Expanding export destinations

Demand for China-made landscape and garden lights from key export outlets such as the EU and the US has remained relatively high. This could shoot up further depending on how fast their financial sectors can come back to precrisis levels.

In the meantime, many suppliers are exploring emerging destinations, including South America and Africa, to ease their dependence on volatile markets. They are also hoping the government could implement other economic stimulus projects to boost domestic demand. Flourishing local trade would shift focus away from the international markets where dropping export prices are cutting into profit margins.

China's landscape and garden light industry subsists primarily on OEM and ODM agreements, which represent 80 to 100 percent of all exports. Most new designs, therefore, follow client's requirements and, resultantly, consumer preferences of their respective markets.

As with most contracts, many suppliers are compelled to develop models using popular LED solutions and quality components, and employ the latest production processes.

Moreover, the clamor for 'greener' units is spurring some enterprises to use recycled and other environment-friendly materials. One maker doing this is Xiamen Ocean Rock Garden & Landscaping Co. Ltd, which is using biodegradeable housings for a series of garden lights.

Products & prices

Materials and product design determine prices of landscape and garden lights from China. The brightness level and operating life, and standards-compliance also comprise a significant portion of manufacturing outlay.

Designs generally meet CE, UL, GS and RoHS. Some models meet IP44 requirements.

At less than $4, low-end models have a brightness of 1 to 2 lumens and work for about a year. They adopt domestically sourced ABS, PC and polyresin bodies, covers and housings.

Going for $4 to $10, midrange variants deliver 3 to 5 lumens and are made of ABS, PMMA, marble and diecast aluminum. They can be used for roughly two years.

High-end lights provide more than 10 lumens. With prices exceeding $10, units come in more durable materials such as stainless steel and last over three years.

Quotes for less-expensive models dropped by 5 to 30 percent in 2H09, while rates for upscale designs have remained steady in the past two years.

Prices are likely to stay level in 1H10 then go up by 5 percent in the next half if material and labor outlay increases.

Manufacturing expenditure rose last year due to the upswing in metal and plastic costs. ABS and PP rates in December 2009 were 50 and 49 percent higher than those in the same month in 2008. The per-metric-ton value of aluminum increased 40 percent.

On the other hand, the cost of LED bulbs and solar panels is expected to slide because of abundant supply.

To cope with any increases in material outlay, companies are planning to cut back further on other manufacturing expenses. They also intend to enhance production efficiency and increase output, eventually achieving better economies of scale.

Most are optimistic about exports in the next 12 months. Yixincheng Electrical and Shengshida Lighting are looking forward to 30 and 20 percent growth, respectively.

The EU and the US are the two largest export markets for China-made landscape and garden lights, accounting for about 80 percent of total shipments. Shengshida Lighting sends 70 percent of output to the EU and 20 percent to the US, while the areas¡¯ export share at Yuyao Hangjia is 60 and 30 percent.

This article "Landscape lights: LED-based designs rule supply" is originally posted in Global Sources.

Note: 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.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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