Faced with stricter environmental standards in the key markets of the US and the EU, China suppliers of table and floor lamps are ramping up production of energy-efficient releases.
The US Energy Star labeling program, for example, has released new requirements for the power consumption, starting time, color quality, luminous flux, life span and radiation output of luminaires.
The EU, meanwhile, is phasing out incandescent bulbs, a three-year project that started in September 2009 with 100W and higher models. The ban will expand to include lower wattage versions by 2011-12.
Such endeavors are presenting China lamp makers already adopting energy-saving light sources such as CFLs and LEDs greater growth opportunities.
CFL supplier Heshan Mingkeda Industries Co. Ltd equips table and floor lamps with low-wattage bulbs, usually 11, 13 and 18W. The manufacturer said the mainstream line will continue to consist of CFL models, with high costs prohibiting the adoption of LEDs.
Unitop Technology Group Ltd plans to decrease quotes for its LED lamps in the next six months to spur orders. Such models are currently 80 to 90 percent more expensive than their incandescent bulb counterparts. This is due to the large number of diodes, ranging from 24 to 100, needed to produce the same level of brightness as the latter. LED models, however, have the edge in power consumption, using less than 1W compared with 10W or higher for incandescent units, resulting in up to 50 percent energy savings.
Lamp makers that outsource bulbs, on the other hand, are unaffected by environmental regulations as they can easily adjust procurement options depending on buyers' specifications. Some even export models without the light source.
The biggest impact is on suppliers that also manufacture incandescent bulbs for in-house use as they will need to change production strategies.
Temporarily, some companies are turning to alternative markets such as the Middle East and Africa where environment-protection standards are less strict. A number of enterprises, on the other hand, already have plans of shifting focus, spurred partly by initiatives from the China government to switch to energy-saving light sources. Under these measures, makers receive subsidies for the gradual phase out of incandescents in the next three years.
Products & prices
|Products & prices|
Table and floor lamps from China come in different shade, stem and base materials. Popular choices are metal, plastic and glass although models in wood, bamboo and marble are available. These greatly influence market positioning and prices.
For plastic versions, PC and ABS are often utilized in upscale releases, while low-end units use PP. Table lamps made of the last and measuring 25in high range from $5 to $8. Units with PC and ABS bodies start at $10.
Metal options include iron, aluminum and steel. Models with aluminum alloy and stainless steel stems and bases are priced 5 and 10 to 20 percent higher, respectively, than iron versions of the same height.
Marble is also gaining attention as it is durable, lightweight, and has enhanced reflection and UV resistance.
Products with bases in this material are 50 percent more expensive. A 70in-high lamp, for example, starts at $100.
As regards shades, sandblasted glass is typically adopted. Stained versions are also used, adding 5 percent to the price. Local glass is manually crafted, while imported counterparts are made utilizing computerized machines. The latter have better distribution and density, and cost about 10 times more.
Apart from materials, China's selection of table and floor lamps can be categorized according to style, including classical, modern, European and Japan-inspired, with the design and functional details determining prices.
Novelty shapes, for example, raise quotes 5 to 10 percent due to the complex molds needed. Versions with intricate construction and handcrafted components are even more expensive.
In addition, multifunction models such as table lamps that can be converted for floor use are being produced. Some units come with radios and clocks as add-ons.
Most lamps have brightness control, and adjustable stem height and angle.
Intelligent designs boast presetting features and LED compatibility. Versions with remote controls are also available.
Multipurpose and intelligent units are 5 to 10 percent more expensive.
Products can be exported with or without bulbs depending on buyers' requirements. Most have E14, E27, E12, E26, B22 and B15 holders for different markets. The inclusion of bulbs adds 2 to 10 percent to the price.
Generally, quotes for table lamps range from $2 to $70, with models between $15 and $25 the best-sellers. Floor lamps go from $5 to $180. Rates are expected to remain stable in the next half-year amid strong competition.
Models meet RoHS, CE, UL, GS, PSE, SAA, CCC, BS, SASO and VDE standards.
China is home to approximately 7,000 makers of household lighting. Many offer a range of lamps, including table, floor, ceiling and wall versions. Exports are mostly OEM and ODM orders.
Small and midsize operations account for nearly 90 percent of the country's manufacturing pool.
Catering mainly to the low-end and midrange markets, these assembly-oriented enterprises make bases, stems and shades in-house. Electrical parts are usually outsourced.
On average, small suppliers have revenue of $5 million each year and turn out 10,000 units monthly.
R&D teams consist of two to five members focused mainly on countersampling. Some provide RoHS and CE approval on request.
Midsize makers, meanwhile, have five to 10 personnel handling product development. Annual sales range between $5 million and $10 million, while monthly output is from 10,000 to 20,000 table and floor lamps.
Large companies generate $10 million to $20 million yearly and release between 20,000 and 50,000 units every month. Some bigger corporations churn out 100,000 pieces.
They boast multiple factories and manufacture a wider range of home-use lamps and light bulbs. A number even offer the latter as a main product line.
Top-tier players concentrate on high-end releases and cater primarily to the US and EU markets. These enterprises have 50 members in their R&D teams.
In addition to local operations, China has a growing number of offshore factories owned by multinationals attracted by the country's relatively low labor and production costs.
The Netherlands' Philips, US-based Thorn and Copper, and Odelic of Japan have established manufacturing facilities in China for high-end models with advanced energy-saving features. Such designs mostly target the domestic market, although part of turnout is exported.
Some local makers are working with these enterprises to expand their knowledge of design, management, aftersales service and other manufacturing procedures.
Provinces in the southeastern coast of China, including Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, form the largest lighting production base in the country, accounting for 95 percent of total output. Other than being home to all large domestic enterprises, these areas in the Pearl and Yangtze River Delta regions host the plants of major international players, including GE, Philips and Osram.
Guangdong is the main sourcing center for lighting products. Guzhen in Zhongshan city is known as China's lighting capital, boasting more than 5,000 suppliers of various luminaires, bulbs and tubes with a combined workforce of 60,000. Over 50 percent of China's LED products come from the town.
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.