Electricity is a vital part of modern life. Unfortunately, electricity creates something known as an ‘electromagnetic field’.
This means that electrical devices can sometimes interfere with each other.
Have you ever heard buzzing just before your phone rings, or seen your TV screen flicker slightly when someone is using a high-powered drill nearby?
These are all signs of electromagnetic interference.
Today, those issues are rare compared to how often you might have seen them even a decade ago, but they do sometimes happen.
The reason that they happen a lot less often these days is that the International Electrotechnical Commission has set out standards to help reduce interference.
These standards are known as the EMC Standards.
EMC and Safety
EMC is important because it relates to the safe operation of a range of electrical devices.
Having your phone interfere with your TV, or your hairdryer cause problems with your game console are annoying, but not a serious issue.
Having a high powered drill interfere with someone’s pacemaker, or a mobile phone interfere with life-saving hospital equipment is a much more serious matter.
Understanding the EMC Standards
The EMC standards are designed to limit the interference that an appliance can produce. Interference can come from many sources.
Drills and motorcycle engines can cause radio interference, while other appliances can cause interference because of the way that their power supply works.
They draw ‘harmonic’ currents off the mains, and this can cause electrical failures.
The EMC Standards are designed to reduce the emissions that appliances produce.
This also helps to keep the immunity to interference relatively high so that there is a good margin for safety in the event that things do go wrong.
Do All Products Need EMC Testing?
If you have a product which contains electrical or electronic parts, then there is a very high chance that it will need EMC testing.
There are some exceptions, however. These are particularly niche product families or products that are already covered by other regulations, such as radio equipment.
It is safe to assume that if you are designing an electronic product it will need EMC testing at the very least.
The regulations for equipment which emits a signal are even more strict than the regulations for other electronic devices or devices which contain electrical components.
How EMC Affects You
If you are designing or manufacturing electronic products, then you are obliged to make sure that your products meet the relevant EMC standards.
There are a few major international standards. The CISPR (Comite International Special des Perturbations Radioelecrique) is one such standard, and the IEC is another.
If you wish to sell your products internationally then you should check that they meet the standards for the countries that you will be targeting.
The standards are reviewed and updated once every five years, on average, and it is important that you check to make sure that your products are still being made in compliance with the latest requirements for both resistance and production of interference.
You should have your products tested to confirm that they are compliant.
It is not uncommon for new products to fail the EMC tests the first time they are submitted, and failure can necessitate a redesign of the product, which could delay it entering the wider market.
Talking to the test lab before you submit the product, and taking the time to understand the regulations, will stand you in good stead when you are getting ready to launch.
If you would like to know more about the EMC standards and product testing or need EMC testing done, then look no further than Compliance Engineering.
We are the definitive source for all of your Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) requirements.