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AC/DC adapter manufacturers strengthen switching category

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AC/DC adapter

Guangzhou Vigour's model C10 AC/DC adapter supports AC and DC input, and dual USB output. It integrates a safety fuse.

Suppliers raise the type's output share while upgrading product features to meet the trend for high efficiency.

China makers of AC/DC adapters are boosting switching types, leveraging advantage in efficiency over traditional linear units to advance the line. The former currently represent more than 80 percent of output, and the ratio is expected to surpass 85 percent in the months ahead. Suppliers are complementing this with sustained efforts toward features enhancements.

Manufacturers are looking to adopt single-stage power factor correction initially in high-end models. The technology not only requires fewer components such as controlling ICs, inductors and MOSFETs, but can also elevate efficiency to 90 percent. At present, most local releases are just above 80 percent.

Kuantech (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd employs single-stage PFC but, so far, only in its upscale products for LED lighting. The majority of manufacturers continue to use the combination of PFC and pulse width modulation, while there are still analog models in the 75W and below segment. Suppliers believe the better digital technology will replace PFC and PWM in China’s advanced variants in the years ahead.

Large makers are reducing no-load power consumption as well. They are aiming to downgrade it to less than 0.1W for below 50W-rated units and 0.21W for 50 to 250W versions to meet DOE-VI standard. Most existing models respectively consume 0.3 and 0.5W, and comply with CEC V regulations. Kuantech spent between $81,000 and $97,000 in 2013 to ensure its high-end models are certified to DOE-VI.

Suppliers are also working on securing more product approval such as CCC, CE, GS, PSE, TÜV and UL/cUL. To keep up with changing quality and safety requirements, they will update releases to guarantee compliance.

Concurrent to product efforts to improve AC/DC adapter performance, manufacturers are pursuing miniaturization to match the trend in terminal applications. As such, Shenzhen Kaisnight has introduced 65W units for notebook PCs measuring 96x44.3x28mm.

China makers are also strengthening production capability through full automation to enable them to focus on higher-profit ODM projects while enhancing overall manufacturing efficiency. They will allocate $800,000 to $1.6 million annually for the purchase of auto-insertion and SMT machines. At present, through-hole technology remains the mainstream process adopted.

Fueling these initiatives is the projected 19 percent annual sales growth for external AC/DC adapters and chargers in 2012-14 globally. By the end of the period, revenue will hit $1 billion, according to IMS Research. Smartphones, tablet PCs and LED lighting are the key demand drivers.

In mainland China itself, the line has been in an upturn, with sales climbing by 10 percent. As a result, suppliers such as Kuantech are raising their output. The maker has increased its yield by 15 percent, achieving 9 million units monthly. It will do so again by up to 15 percent in coming months to meet demand. Guangzhou Vigour Electronics Co. Ltd will transfer production focus to switching adapters as it gradually drops its linear category in the next one or two years. The former represent more than 90 percent of the supplier’s turnout.

There are between 800 and 1,000 companies offering AC/DC adapters in the mainland. More than two-thirds are locally owned and the rest with investment from Taiwan, Hong Kong and the US. The latter group accounts for over 60 percent of sales in the mainland’s midrange and advanced categories.

Generally, tier 1 companies cater to top clients such as Apple, and those in the next level serve handset suppliers such as Blackberry and Nokia. Makers in tier 3 count among its key customers key homegrown players such as Huawei and ZTE.

More than 60 percent of the manufacturers converge in Guangdong province, mainly in the cities of Shenzhen, Dongguan and Zhongshan. The rest are found in the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

Mainstream selection

AC/DC adapter

AC/DC switching adapters from China companies come in below and above 50W. Units in the former range are mainly used in smartphones, MP3/MP4 players and digital cameras. Those in the second group suit tablet and notebook computers, and LED lights.

Releases have input and voltage ratings of 100 to 240VAC and 5 to 24VDC. These come with built-in safety features such as overcurrent, -voltage and short-circuit protection. The majority bear CCC, CE, GS, FCC, RoHS and UL approval.

In high-end models, UL listing is a must. Midrange kinds usually comply with TS standard, while entry-level counterparts may come with or without CE certification.

Linear units remain part of the lineup to cater to industrial applications.

Suppliers source transformers, MOSFETs, capacitors, inductors and other manufacturing inputs locally. For chips, most turn to foreign providers, including TI, ON Semiconductor and National Semiconductor. Kuantech designs its own MCUs to meet custom requirements better.

The supply and the cost of materials and components have been stable, a trend expected to persist in coming months. Despite this, some makers have lowered their prices due to intense competition. Guangzhou Vigour implemented a 5 percent cut in quotes in the past months. In 2014, it will adjust rates depending on the orders.

AC/DC adapter

AC/DC adapter

Product gallery

AC/DC adapter

Aquilstar Precision Industrial Shenzhen Co. Ltd
(Mainland China)

Model: ASSA40
Description: 5V, 5A output; 25W power output; four USB ports, interchangeable plugs; UL94V-0-rated PC housing; 70x55x28mm; 120±10g; CB, CE, FCC, UL

AC/DC adapter

Click Technology Ltd
(Hong Kong)

Model: 36W Power Adapter Series
Description: 100 to 240VAC, 47/63Hz, 1A input; 4.5 to 30V, 0 to 4,000mA output; 36W maximum power output; <0.3W no-load power consumption; 80% typical efficiency, 84.6% CEC V; short-circuit, overload, -voltage protection; -10 to 45 C operating temperature; 2 or 3-pin inlet; Energy Star IV or CEC level V, BS, CB, CCC, CE, GB, UL/cUL

AC/DC adapter

Dongguan Yinli Electronics Co. Ltd
(Mainland China)

Model: YLS0121U
Description: 12W power output; 62x39x34mm; for household appliances; CEC level V, DOE, ErP stage 2, CE, FCC, GS, UL

AC/DC adapter

E-Tek Electronics Mfy Ltd
(Mainland China)

Model: ZDA050100US
Description: 100 to 240VAC, 50/60Hz input; 5V, 0.5, 1, 1.5 or 2A output; 0.25mA maximum leakage current at 264VAC; 3,000VAC/min withstand voltage at maximum 10mA; short-circuit, overvoltage, -current, thermal shutdown protection; PC and ABS housing; 55x30x20cm; in white, black, custom colors; Energy Star, CEC, CE, C-Tick, FCC, GS, PSE, SAA, UL

AC/DC adapter

Guangzhou Vigour Electronics Co. Ltd
(Mainland China)

Model: C10
MOQ: Negotiable
Delivery: 3 days
Description: AC and DC input, dual USB output; 100 to 340VAC, 12 to 24VDC input voltage; 5V, 1 or 2A output; built-in IC, safety fuse; short-circuit, overvoltage, -current protection

AC/DC adapter

Jiangsu Tenwei Electronic Co. Ltd
(Mainland China)

Model: TA35
MOQ: 3,000 units
Delivery: 10 to 15 days
Description: 100 to 240V input voltage; 12 to 30V output voltage

AC/DC adapter

Kuantech (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd
(Mainland China)

Model: LAWW480P0250SSA
MOQ: 3,000 units
Delivery: 10 days
Description: 100 to 277VAC input voltage; 48VDC output voltage; 150W rated power output; up to 93% efficiency; short-circuit, overvoltage, -heating protection; IP65 or IP67 rating; CCC, CE, GS, PSE, TÜV, UL

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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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