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Manufacturers of PV connectors revitalize line

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Photovoltaic connector

Wenzhou Onkak Impex's model OC4C MC4 PV connector has an auto-locking feature. It bears TÜV and UL approval.

Companies capitalize on the recovering local solar photovoltaic industry to tide over challenges overseas.

China suppliers of PV connectors re-emphasize high product reliability and safety, confident the projected gradual recovery of the local industry at large this year bodes well for the category. They are banking on the government’s new energy industry development plan to jumpstart growth. At the same time, companies sustain efforts to secure more international certification to prop up exports. They are hoping for reversal of the slump brought about by the anti-dumping and -subsidy measures taken by key markets.

As such, makers stress capability to turn out connectors with elevated current and water-resistant ratings, specifically 30 and 40A and IP67 and IP68-rated variants. This is to complement standard selections with flame-retardant, anti-UV and class II safety attributes. Quick-Contact offers UL-listed and TÜV-approved IP67 MC4 units with 25 or 30A and 600 or 1,000V rated current and voltage.

A number of manufacturers focus on firm connection and longer life span. Wenzhou Onkak Impex Co. Ltd has a self-locking 1,000VDC and 30A model. Major player Ningbo Hengda has introduced aluminum alloy types, which can last up to 25 years compared with mainstream copper-based counterparts’ 10 years.

In terms of standards, China suppliers follow RoHS guidelines. Some adopt DIN V VDE V 0126-3:2006-12 to ensure IEC-approved releases. They meet TÜV requirements as well. At export-oriented Wenzhou Nova New Energy Co. Ltd, PV connectors bear TÜV and ETL marks. Wenzhou Onkak Impex is developing models for launch in the next one or two years, all of which will match the TÜV criterion.

The long-range objective is to keep up with international rivals whose products typically comply with more than two standards. The SolarSpec connectors from Molex, for instance, carry IEC, TÜV and UL approval. These IP67-rated units have 30A rated current and less than 0.5mohm contact resistance.

There are about 100 makers of PV connectors in mainland China, of which more than 70 percent are local operations. Ningbo Hengda, Zhejiang Renhe, Ningbo GZX and Ningbo Zhonghuan are among the major suppliers. The first is a key global player. Foreign-invested companies come mostly from Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Manufacturers also offer related categories such as PV junction boxes and cables. Quick-Contact also has connectors for automotive and consumer electronics applications.

Zhejiang province is the largest production base there, gathering over 50 percent of the makers. Many others are in the province of Guangdong.

Local initiatives

Under efforts to elevate the quality of PV products, including modules, connectors, junction boxes, inverters and controlling equipment, the China Quality Certification Center announced the CQC33-461298-2013 standard late last year. The central government is complementing this by extending support through preferential policies, which cover finance, land and subsidies.

In February 2014, the Certification and Accreditation Administration and the National Energy Administration jointly issued the implementation scheme to improve product testing and certification.

To encourage the use of local materials, the Ministry of Commerce has begun imposing a two-year anti-dumping tax measure on polysilicon from Europe since May this year. This is to help buoy the solar cell and module market in the interim and, in turn, boost the development of the connectors segment.

Encompassing such projects is the mainland’s new energy industry development plan, which includes investment of $813 billion for the PV sector’s advancement from 2011-20.

From this program, connectors makers expect to realize 10 percent higher sales this year. Wenzhou Nova will bolster capacity by 5 to 10 percent to meet rising requirement. At present, it can produce 100,000 units each month. The category accounts for up to 10 percent of its overall yield. The supplier sends as much as 95 percent of products overseas, including Europe and the US. It is looking forward to greater export shipments in coming months.

With the anti-dumping measure’s significant impact on demand, most mainland PV suppliers saw revenue drop by 10 to 20 percent in the past one or two years. This forced a number of them to exit the line. Wuxi Suntech, one of the largest homegrown makers of solar cells and modules, was among those severely affected. Early this year, it was acquired by Shunfeng Photovoltaic.

MC3, MC4 types abound

Mainstream PV connectors from mainland companies are MC3 and MC4 units, which have copper contacts with gold, silver or tin plating, and PC, polyphenylene oxide or nylon insulator. These have 600 or 1,000VDC and 15, 20, 25, 30 or 40A rated voltage and current.

Products operate in -40 to 85 C, are aging- and UV-resistant, and conform to class II safety level and UL94V-0 guidelines. They boast IP65 to IP68 rating. The supported wire sizes are 8, 10, 12 and 14AWG.

Makers adopt metal and plastic from domestic providers. Some obtain the latter from foreign companies to comply with buyers’ requests.

The supply and cost of these inputs will remain stable and keep prices unchanged until the year’s end.

Product gallery

Photovoltaic connector

Dongguan Newsun PV Technology Co. Ltd
(China)

Model: PV4.0
MOQ: Negotiable
Delivery: 7 days
Description: Tin-plated copper contact; PPE or PC insulator; 1,000V (TÜV), 600V (UL) rated voltage; 30A rated current; ≤5ohm contact resistance; ≤50N insertion, ≥50N withdrawal force; class II safety; UL94V-0-rated housing; -40 to 85 C operating temperature; IP2X, IP67 ratings; TÜV, UL

Photovoltaic connector

Ningbo PNTech New Energy Co. Ltd
(China)

Model: PV004
MOQ: Negotiable
Delivery: 7 days
Description: EXL9330 resin insulator; 1,000VDC rated voltage; 30A rated current; ≤5ohm contact resistance; UL94V-0-rated housing; pollution degree 2; -40 to 85 C operating temperature; IP67 rating; TÜV

Photovoltaic connector

Wenzhou Nova New Energy Co. Ltd
(China)

Model: YF-1001-T
MOQ: 50 pairs
Delivery: 3 days
Description: Silver-plated copper contact; PPO insulator; 1,000VDC rated voltage; UL94V-0-rated housing; 10, 12, 14AWG cable; IP67 rating; ETL, TÜV

Photovoltaic connector

Wenzhou Onkak Impex Co. Ltd
(China)

Model: OC4C
MOQ: 1,000 units
Delivery: 20 days
Description: MC4 type, male or female; auto-locking; aging-, UV-resistant; ultrasonic welded; TÜV, UL

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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