Multiple lighting modes and extra functions are being incorporated in releases.
China suppliers of camping lanterns and flashlights are releasing more multifunction designs to gain an edge over rivals. Companies are integrating various add-ons that will make their models stand out from the proliferation of devices boasting energy-efficient light sources, even in the low end.
The extra features are geared primarily toward enhancing user convenience in various settings. At many enterprises, this means enabling products to support multiple dimming levels and modes of illumination.
Such efforts have brought on an increasing number of designs with an SOS flashing option. Several models are also fitted with a blue light suitable for night fishing.
Built-in camping essentials such as compasses and clocks are becoming more popular as well. In upscale releases, FM radios and MP3 players are often integrated.
Additionally, some makers have launched designs that can double as car emergency or survival tools. Ningbo Sunen Electronics Co. Ltd, for instance, has developed a flashlight featuring a built-in hammer for breaking car glass windows in case of an accident.
For convenient placement, portable electric lights are fitted with a neodymium magnet that allows these to be attached to metal surfaces. Some come with a hook or a foldable tripod.
In the rechargeable line, units offering multiple charging options are growing in number. Such designs can typically obtain power via an AC/DC adapter, a USB port or a solar panel. Several can also operate after being cranked, wound or shaken.
R&D is most active in the LED category. China suppliers are fitting the diodes into more basic and promotional models, with the necessary components now widely available domestically.
Recent releases for Africa and the Middle East, for example, adopt 0.2W diodes instead of CFLs or fluorescent tubes. These are priced no more than $5 each.
For high-end models, which typically go to the US and other developed countries, makers employ 1 to 7W LEDs. Imported diodes still dominate the segment, as these generally perform better than domestic versions.
With regard to luminous efficacy the international standard for a high-power LED is 100 lm/W or greater. China-made versions, however, can reach only 80 lm/W at present.
The Cree XR-E Q3 to Q5 LEDs are the preferred light sources for high-end lanterns and flashlights. Q3 types offer 93.9 to 100.4 lumens at 350mA, while Q5 variants can generate 107 to 114 lumens with the same current.
Products & prices
Depending on the housing, light source and integrated functions, camping flashlights from China range from $1.50 to $30. Quotes for lanterns start at $2 and can reach or exceed $10.
Designs typically meet CE, RoHS and UL requirements. Raw materials and components for basic models are generally sourced from domestic providers, while imported versions are adopted in upscale units and some midrange variants.
Plastic is the dominant option for housings. Midlevel and high-end devices, however, may have certain parts in stainless steel or aluminum.
For the light source, LEDs are mainstream. Incandescent bulbs and CFLs are also offered, generally at the lower end of the price spectrum.
In terms of add-ons, built-in compasses, fans and clocks are common. Upscale models often have FM radios or MP3 playback functions as well.
Camping lanterns and flashlights employ either primary or rechargeable batteries. For the latter, the selection includes lead-acid, NiCd, NiH2, NiMH and lithium types that can be powered via an AC/DC adapter, a USB port or a solar panel.
Some devices do not require batteries at all. Instead, these utilize energy generated via hand cranking, shaking or winding.
Prices of China-made camping lanterns and flashlights are 5 to 15 percent greater than they were at the beginning of 2010. Adjustments were made to account for elevated manufacturing outlay, which comprised a 15 to 50 percent increase in raw material and component costs. For instance, rates for high-power Cree LEDs rose by up to 50 percent.
In 2011, however, quotes for LED units are expected to move within a narrower range. Most suppliers are planning to keep adjustments within 5 percent in anticipation of diode costs stabilizing or even dropping amid the expanding domestic LED capacity.
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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