1. Downgrading and Fictitious Marking
Downgrading and fictitious marking refer to dishonest behaviors of reducing the specifications of a product without customer’s knowledge and labeling the product parameters according to the agreed specifications, in order to make a profit from the price difference. This is a typical trap in the solar street light market.
The components of downgrading and fictitious marking are usually parts whose specific parameters are not easily recognizable by customers on site, such as solar panels and batteries, whose actual parameters need to be tested with instruments. Many customers have experienced that the same parameters quoted by different merchants can vary greatly in price. Generally speaking, for the same product, the raw material cost is almost the same, and even if there are some price differences between different regions, labor costs and process matching may vary, and a 0.5% difference is normal. However, if the price is much lower than the market price, then it is very likely that you will receive downgraded and fictitiously marked goods. For example, if you request a 100W solar panel, the merchant will only price it based on 80W, but actually provide you with a power of only 70W, so he can make a profit of 10W from the price difference. The battery unit price is higher, and the return on fictitious marking is higher, making it a key area of fictitious marking.
Even if customers buy the same 6-meter 30W solar street lights, the results can be completely different. Merchants may claim that the light is 30W, and the number of lamp beads is also above 30W, but the actual luminous power is unknown. Customers can only see that the light does not perform like other 30W lights, and the working time and rainy days also vary. Even LED lights now have many dishonest merchants who falsely mark the rated power of the lamp bead with a small rated power bead pretending to be a high-power bead. Customers only know the number of lamp beads, but not the rated power of each lamp bead. For example, the small street lights or floodlights that are popular in Guangdong with dozens or hundreds of watts are actually made of 2835 or 5730 lamp beads with a rated power of only 0.1-0.5W per bead, and even if it is 100W, the actual rated power is only 10W.
2. Concept Switching
The most typical concept switch is with the battery. When purchasing batteries, what we ultimately want is the amount of energy that the battery can store, measured in watt-hours (WH), that is, the number of hours (H) that the battery can discharge using a certain power of light (W). However, customers often pay attention to the capacity of the battery in ampere-hours (Ah). Many dishonest merchants also guide customers to focus only on Ah and ignore the battery voltage.
Let’s look at the following relationship: power (W) = voltage (V) * current (A). Inserting this into the quantity of electricity (WH), we get: electricity (WH) = voltage (V) * current (A) * time (H), so electricity (WH) = voltage (V) * capacity (AH).
When using gel batteries, this is not a problem, because the rated voltage of gel batteries is 12V, and people only need to pay attention to the capacity. But with the advent of lithium batteries, battery voltage has become more complicated. There are 11.1V ternary lithium batteries and 12.8V lithium iron phosphate batteries for the 12V system; But for low voltage systems, lithium-ion batteries is 3.7V or 3.2V, and 9.6V systems made by some manufacturers. With changing voltage, capacity also changes, so if you only focus on the AH number, you’ll end up losing out. Let’s take the most common examples of an 11.1V 30AH lithium-ion battery and a 3.2V 80AH low-voltage iron lithium battery. Many customers just look at the AH number and think that 80AH is definitely more than 30AH by more than two times and must be a better deal. However, what’s the best way to compare them? This is where our electric quantity WH comes in handy. Let’s do a simple calculation: 11.1V * 30AH = 333 WH and 3.2V * 80AH = 256 WH. As you can see, the actual capacity of the 11.1V 30AH battery is larger. Therefore, the method for comparing battery capacity is to multiply capacity by voltage to convert it into electric quantity (WH) and then compare it.
3. Cutting Corners
If swapping concepts is still just hovering in the gray area of the law, then downgrading, falsely labeling, and cutting corners have undoubtedly crossed the legal red line. Such businesses are not only dishonest, they have actually committed crimes. Of course, they won’t blatantly steal, but they will definitely use some camouflage to make it less noticeable to you. Below are some common phenomena of cutting corners in various components:
Solar panels: It is common to use low-efficiency battery cells to make up the full size, but the power cannot be reached, and the service life will be affected. Some even use ineffective battery cells, and some places use printed paper to package them in the components to make up the full size. Therefore, estimating power based on the size of these solar panels is ineffective.
LED streetlights: Use low-power chips to pretend to be high-power chips, such as the commonly used 2835 or 5730 chips on the market, which are 0.1-0.5W per chip, pretending to be high-power chips of 1W per chip; using domestically produced LED chips that are low-brightness and low-priced to pretend to be imported big brand LEDs; using light-weight and thin-walled lamp bodies that can be easily broken in areas with strong winds.
Batteries: When using gel batteries in the past, experienced customers would weigh them, but it has been exposed that illegal manufacturers add sand, broken glass, and other materials to the battery’s electrolyte to increase its weight. Now, some lithium battery manufacturers make the battery shell larger to pretend to be a high-capacity battery.
Streetlight poles: Promised wall thickness, diameter, flange thickness, etc. do not meet standards; batches of goods contain poles with parameters that do not meet standards; inferior forged steel plates are used to make poles; and galvanized steel plates and galvanized pipes are used to pretend to be fully hot-dip galvanized poles.