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Power supplies from China cut costs considerably

Feb. 14, 2005
Competitive pricing from Asian manufacturers has prompted market growth of power supplies and considerable cost cuts. CONTROL Senior Technical Editor Rich Merritt provides a Product Roundup.

By Rich Merritt, Senior Technical Editor

My son, Rob, lives in New York City. He brought home a purse as a Christmas present for his sister. Although he paid only $40 from a street vendor, it is virtually identical to a $700 purse that is all the rage among rock stars and movie stars. I suspect that when the Chinese factory that makes the purse for the name-brand vendor completed its contract, it kept the production line running to supply all the discount stores, New York City street vendors and other outlets with lower-cost yet identical versions. 

The same is happening with running shoes, designer clothing and, most likely, with industrial power supplies. There’s a good chance the power supply you are considering is made in China so, if you look hard enough, you’ll find the exact same power supply being sold under another name at a fraction of the price by a wholesale outlet or a New York City street vendor. Such are the realities of having products built in China; that is, they build your product on the day shift, and then build it for discount vendors on the night shift. 

Mainland China and Taiwan will produce 3.7 billion power supplies in 2005, according to Global Sources (Hong Kong). This is a 10 percent increase over 2004. The production of switching power supplies (SPS) is expected to reach 900 million units in 2005 and 1.2 billion in 2006. This represents 40% of all SPSes sold worldwide. Mainland China has 2,800 SPS manufacturers, and Global Sources says 200 more companies will start up in 2005.

One immediate effect of this competition is a drop in prices. As you can see in the product roundup that follows, we list power supplies costing $30, $40 and $99.

Not only are the costs of power supplies dropping fast, but the Chinese manufacturers are hip to current equipment trends. “Suppliers are upgrading their production processes to increase their competitiveness in the key European and United States markets,” says Mark Saunderson, publisher of the report. “By 2007, more than 50% of companies will have implemented lead-free production. Many will have started using more environment-friendly raw materials.”

We were unable to find any recent market studies concerning power supplies, surge suppressors, power conditioners and UPSes, probably because the market segment is falling rapidly in the U.S. and Europe as production shifts to China. Market researchers only write glowing reports they can sell, and few companies are willing to fork out $4,000 to read what they already know.

The most recent studies were published in 2002 and 2003. Frost & Sullivan noted in 2002 that “intense competition” (from the Chinese, we presume) was causing price drops in transient voltage surge suppressors and power conditioning markets. Even so, F&S predicts that both markets will enjoy healthy growth rates of 5.7%.

Venture Development predicted a 5.8% increase in power line surge suppressors in the North America market in its 2003 study.

Power Supplies and Controllers
For more information about any of these products, click on the description of the product below to view a longer description and all contact information, including phone numbers, e-mail addresses, websites, and a photo where available.

Fieldbus Power Supply Runs Redundantly
The FPS200 provides isolated and conditioned DC power with built-in surge protection. The module mounts directly onto a standard DIN rail, has duplicated connectors to accept DCS systems cables for Foundation fieldbus segments, and is compatible with all FF devices and systems. It delivers 350 mA per segment for 1-4 redundant fieldbus segments, or eight segments in simplex mode. Hawke International

DC Power Supplies Power Panels
Four regulated 24VDC power supplies provide enough power to drive automation control panels. Models include a single-phase input, 20 A/24 V output power supply, and three-phase input, 10, 20, and 40 A/24 V output power supplies. All are space-efficient, easy to install, use and maintain, and able to handle the type of signal transients commonly found in industrial processes. Weidmuller

Switcher Provides Passive Power Factor Correction
The PAS150 switch-mode power supply provides a universal 115/230 VAC input, choice of 3.3, 5, 12, 24 and 48V output voltages, or a single output of 150W continuous power. It employs passive power factor correction technology that meets Class A EN61000-3-2 harmonic distortion standards, and is protected against overload, overvoltage, reverse voltage and thermal conditions. Options include current-sharing capability for 1+1 redundancy, remote on/off, and droop or single-wire current sharing with OR-ing diodes. Prices start at $40.00. Taiyo Yuden

Power Supply Provides Maintenance Data
The S8VS switch mode power supply has a LED display with lifetime and run-time monitors. The lifetime monitor shows an estimate of the remaining service life in years, while the run-time monitor displays how long a load has been operating. The power supply has overload and overvoltage protection, and is The S8VS is available in 60, 90, 120 and 240W versions. Prices start at $99. Omron Electronics

Big UPS Handles Industrial Operations
The Galaxy 4000 Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) meets the power demands of critical data centers and industrial facilities. Available in 40, 50, 65 and 75kVA online double-conversion models, the UPS  eliminates input harmonics from utility-supplied power, corrects the input through power factor correction, and regulates voltage during surge conditions. Prices start at $35,000. MGE

Redundant Modules Make Reliable Power
SDN-P Performance Series Power Supplies have external modules that provide redundancy. They incorporate isolation diodes for protection, visual and dry contact signaling, and can isolate two power supplies to create a no-single-point of failure system. In the event of a power supply failure, the modules decouple the power supply outputs from each other so that one unit cannot overload the accompanying units. As a result, the system is assured of uninterrupted power during the failure period as well as during the ensuing replacement. Sola/Hevi-Duty

Compact Power Supplies Fit on DIN Rail
Phaseo regulated switch-mode DC power supplies are available in three models, all with overload, short-circuit, overvoltage and undervoltage protection. Models include single-phase and three-phase units with 100 to 520 V inputs, 12 or 24 VDC outputs, and ratings of 10 to 40 A.   All three deliver a voltage accurate within 3 percent, regardless of load and supply voltage. They are UL listed and CSA certified, and conform to IEC standards. Schneider Electric

Sitop And Take Notice: UPS Keeps Network Running
The 6A SITOP DC uninterruptible power source delivers up to 6 A of output current during power failures or network fluctuations to 24 VDC industrial networks. In the event of a power outage, the battery immediately cuts in. Monitoring functions include backup readiness, battery life and charge status, signaled via LEDs and floating contacts. Signaling data and diagnostic data can be also transferred directly to a  control system through an optional USB or serial interface. Siemens Energy & Automation

Remotely Resettable Electronic Circuit Breaker
The ESS20 remotely resettable electronic circuit breaker system eliminates the need for a plant electrician or technician to open a control panel and push the manual reset button to resume protection. After the source of the fault is cleared, the circuit breaker remotely resets, and production resumes It provides selective circuit protection of DIN-rail factory automation equipment connected to switch-mode power supplies, components such as sensors, actuators, field bus couplers and controls. Prices start at $30. E-T-A Circuit Breakers

DC Power Supplies
The 787 Series primary switch-mode power supplies are available in single or three phase versions with input voltages of 90-264 or 325-550 VAC, output voltages of 12 or 24VDC, current ratings of 1.3, 2, 2.5, 4, 8, 10, or 20 A, and power ratings up to 480 W.  Each has over voltage protection, short-circuit protection, surge protection, and in-rush current limiting via an NTC resistor. Prices start at $81.70. Wago

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