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Broadening application base spurs AC/DC adapter upgrades

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Tablet AC adapter

E-Tek's EAC-012M model has 100 to 240VAC, 50/60Hz input and 5V, 2,000mA output. It is bundled with EU, US, BS and AU plugs.

The medical equipment and LED lighting sectors expand the line’s bases in the consumer electronics, computer and communications markets.

Enhanced efficiency, safety and reliability, and miniaturization continue to steer China’s AC/DC adapter R&D and production, matching trends in terminal applications. The last comprise the consumer electronics, computer, communications, medical equipment and LED lighting segments. In the 3C market, MP3/MP4 players, digital cameras, e-book readers, gaming devices, LCD TVs, mobile phones and laptops drive demand.

Makers are improving transfer performance for higher efficiency, although they meet Energy Star Level V, EISA 2007, CEC 2008, ErP and the Code of Conduct for External Power Supplies requirements. They will concentrate on the magnetic core, winding and structure, adopting better-performance rectifiers, filters, switching components and power management ICs. The goal is to introduce more models with 90 percent efficiency and 0.3W standby power. The current selection has 80 to 90 percent and 0.3 to 0.5W.

Suppliers are also boosting the development of elevated-power variants to suit features-rich products such as notebook PCs and gaming devices. The latest laptops now require more than 100W from 50 to 70W previously. Gaming units need adapters exceeding 150W, which is expected to rise further with the release of more advanced models of the former. At present, companies can offer up to 300W AC/DC adapters.

For greater product safety and reliability, businesses add overvoltage and -current and short-circuit protection. They employ power management and control ICs that adjust the output voltage and current. The use of such components also ensures smaller configurations and reduced costs. To suit outdoor applications, some enterprises integrate water, moisture and dust resistance. Xing Yuan Electronics Co. Ltd’s model XY-1201000-UO switching unit has IP44 rating.

Sustaining local R&D is the global AC/DC adapter market, which is expected to remain strong in the years ahead. Shipments will surpass 5 billion units in 2016, surging from 2.7 billion in 2011. The CAGR is 13 percent in 2011-16, according to Darnell. A contributing factor to the demand uptick is the booming smartphone and tablet PC segments. By 2016, the deliveries of the former will be about 1.2 billion units, posting nearly 20 percent CAGR based on Canalys estimates. Tablet computers will hit 207 million units during that year at a CAGR of about 27 percent.

China suppliers are also anticipating more opportunities in the growing portable medical device and LED illumination sectors. The former application’s CAGR will be at about 8 percent in coming years. In terms of shipments, the total will reach 5 million units in 2015 from over 3 million in 2010.

As a result, companies project higher sales of about 10 percent in 2013. Xing Yuan expects its overall revenue to increase by about 30 percent, with exports value improving by 10 to 15 percent.

For the same reason, some enterprises are expanding production capacity. E-Tek Electronics Mfy Ltd’s factory in Jiangxi province raised the maker’s monthly capability to 3.1 million units from 1.5 million. Zhongshan Xiaolan Hui Yang Electric Appliance Fty built a facility that increased its capacity by 100 percent. It can churn out up to 2 million units each month.

China is the world’s largest manufacturing base for the line, generating more than 60 percent of aggregate output. Its maker pool exceeds 2,000.

Most of the manufacturers are found in the Pearl River and Yangtze River Delta regions, mainly in the provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

Various power ratings

Tablet AC adapter

China’s selection of AC/DC adapters caters to diverse applications, with rated power ranging from 3 to 300W. Units have an input voltage of 100 to 240VAC or maximum 90 to 264VAC. These operate in 50/60Hz or 47/63Hz.

AC/DC adapters in 3 to 120W lead output. The main uses are 3C products. Models for mobile phones are rated below 10W, and those for digital video cameras 5 to 20W. At Xing Yuan and E-Tek, 3 to 60W and 5 to 60W kinds constitute the mainstream. Zhongshan Xiaolan Hui Yang offers 3 to 90W units.

By technology, there are linear and switch-mode variants. The latter type dominates supply, accounting for more than 70 percent of total yield.

Switch-mode kinds feature 80 to 90 percent efficiency, surpassing their linear counterparts typically with about 60 percent.

Linear adapters are adopted mainly in low-wattage devices such as cordless phones.

E-Tek’s line comprises switch-mode units, while the type has about 80 percent share in Zhongshan Xiaolan Hui Yang’s output.

There are also in-line and wall-plug versions. The former configuration is used mostly in high-power terminal products such as flat-panel monitors, laptops, gaming devices and portable printers. Wall-plug models find broad application in handsets, tablet PCs, MP3/MP4 players, e-book readers and other portable electronics.

The main components and materials in the manufacture of AC/DC adapters include ICs, transformers, rectifiers, filters, passive components, copper and plastic. These collectively represent about 70 percent of costs.

Suppliers usually source the first input from TI, National Semiconductor, On Semiconductor, STMicroelectronics and Taiwan providers. Some also turn to local IC companies BYD, Silan and Chiplink. The other materials and components come from the domestic market.

Although the cost of manufacturing inputs is stable, labor outlay continues to rise. Despite this challenge, makers are opting to keep prices at current levels to attract more orders.

Makers underscore compact, multifunction units

Tablet AC adapter

Sheng Yih’s SY-AC-DC-USB-Adapter model has 100 to 240VAC, 0.5A, 50/60Hz input and 5V, 0.5A output.

To stay ahead of the competition, Taiwan makers of AC/DC adapters develop products with differentiating attributes. They offer thin models with USB ports, which double as battery chargers. The units target mobile phones, MP3 players and digital cameras.

Companies also offer multifunction types supporting 110 to 240VAC and 12 to 15V input voltage for home and car use, and 5V 1A USB and 15 to 24V output. The units also work as chargers. There are also variants that can be plugged into car cigarette lighter sockets.

The releases also include AC/DC adapters integrating programmable logic controller modules to enable networking capability. These are adopted in home-use devices such as gateways, set-top boxes and game consoles.

Some suppliers are working on reducing the no-load power consumption to less than 0.3W.

The selection in Taiwan includes 100 to 300W varieties for computer products, 120 to 200W for game consoles, and 4 to 50W for set-top boxes. There are also kinds for niche surveillance and industrial computer applications.

The PC sector is the key demand driver, specifically laptops. For the latter category, makers offer 90W units with 70mW no-load power. They have slim 95W versions for ultralight notebook PCs. The options for ultrabooks are low-idle voltage variants in 60 and 90W, and for all-in-one PCs 120, 135, 150 and 180W. Adapters for industrial computers come in 50, 60 and 150W.

Besides AC/DC and DC/DC power adapters, Taiwan companies produce transformers, switching power supplies and converters.

Product gallery

Tablet AC adapter

ENG Electric Co. Ltd

Model: 3A-303WPXX
Description: 90 to 264VAC, 47/63Hz input; 30W power output; low ripple and noise; EPS 2.0 Level V; CB, CE, FCC, GB, UL/cUL

Tablet AC adapter

GangQi Electronic Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: GPU280300250WDOO
Description: 3VDC, 250mA output; PC-ABS housing; in black; UL

Tablet AC adapter

Kuantech (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

MOQ: 1,000 units
Description: 90 to 264VAC, 47/50 or 60/63Hz input; 9 to 24VDC output voltage;
82% efficiency; overvoltage, -current, -heating, short-circuit protection; smart fan speed control; EMI Level B; -40 to 70 C operating temperature; >50G shock, vibration resistance; EN 60950, UL 60950, ITE

Tablet AC adapter

Li Tone Electronics Co. Ltd

Model: LTE150E
MOQ: 1,000 units
Delivery: 42 days
Description: 90 to 264VAC, 50/60Hz input; 2.5A rms input current at 115VAC, 1.5A rms 230VAC; 150 maximum power output; >83% efficiency; overvoltage, -load, short-circuit protection; Level IV and V efficiency; for industrial, telecom, networking applications

Tablet AC adapter

Powertron Electronics Corp.

Model: PA1008 I Series
MOQ: 1,000 units
Description: Low ripple and noise; overvoltage, -current, short-circuit protection; 45 C ambient temperature; >5,000hr MTBF at 25 C; CEC IV, CISPR 22 Class B, VCCI Class B, FCC Part 15 Class B, LPS, LVD

Tablet AC adapter

Sunny Computer Technology Co. Ltd

Model: SYS1460
MOQ: Negotiable
Description: 90 to 264VAC, 47/63Hz input; 5VDC, 2.1A or 12VDC, 1A output; 50,000hr MTBF; BSMI, CB, CCC, CE, C-Tick, FCC, GS, PSE, SAA/DOIR, T-Mark, UL/cUL, VCCI

Tablet AC adapter

Xing Yuan Electronics Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: XY-1201000-UO
MOQ: 1,000 units
Delivery: 20 days
Description: 100 to 240VAC, 50/60Hz input; 12VDC, 1A output; 12W power output; EU, UK, US or AU plug, 1.83m cable; 76x42x36mm; 350g; in white, black; IP44 rating; BS, CE, C-Tick, GS, SAA, UL/cUL

Tablet AC adapter

Zhongshan Xiaolan Hui Yang Electric Appliance Fty
(mainland China)

Model: HS05-0501000AB
MOQ: 1,000 units
Description: 100 to 240VAC input voltage; 5VDC, 1A output; 5W power output; high efficiency, low standby power; overload, -voltage, short-circuit protection; 0 to 40 C operating, -10 to 70 C storage temperatures; CE, GS, RoHS

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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