Are you aware of the term electromagnetic interference? Do you know every device powered by electricity, in any form, creates an electromagnetic field? If you take a look around, you’ll find that everyone is surrounded by all kinds of electronic devices and all these devices produce some kind of electromagnetic field.
The problem is that this electromagnetic field is capable of interfering with all the other electrical devices nearby. This is why all devices require EMC testing to ensure their electromagnetic emission is within range and they are not susceptible to electromagnetic interference from other devices.
In short, all the electrical devices in the world should be able to work as intended and this is why they need to be tested for electromagnetic compatibility or EMC.
The Need for EMC Standards Accredited Testing
In the real world, there are thousands of companies selling hundreds of types of electrical products. Since all these products produce electromagnetic emission, the only way to ensure that everything works as intended is to make sure that every single piece of electrical equipment complies with the same set of standards.
In Australia, the responsibility for setting up these standards lies with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). They are responsible for regulating EMC compliance standards and you can find the standards on their website.
In essence, electromagnetic compatibility refers to the control of 2 factors:
Emissions – As explained above, all devices that use electrical power produce an electromagnetic field which means they produce electromagnetic emissions which have the potential to interfere with the functioning of other electrical equipment nearby. The electromagnetic emissions need to be kept below certain levels in order to ensure that these do not affect the working condition of other electronic products.
Susceptibility – While controlling the emissions is one aspect of electromagnetic compatibility, a product needs to work as intended even when there is electromagnetic interference from other products. This is why devices need to be able to withstand electronic electromagnetic interference as much as possible.
For both these aspects, physical shielding is used for absorbing or reflecting electromagnetic energy. Keep in mind that in the real world, all these devices require certain openings for heat management, cabling and other such things which means an electronic circuit can’t simply be caged inside a steel casing to shield it completely from electromagnetic interference.
Australian EMC Standards
All kinds of electrical equipment need to comply with the relevant EMC standards. The ACMA groups electrical equipment into 3 separate categories or levels.
These levels are designed on the basis of the risk of particular products in that category emitting unwanted electromagnetic signals. These 3 levels are labelled low risk, medium risk and high risk.
The compliance level 1 or low-risk category includes devices that are powered by a small battery such as watches, torches or calculators. In short, it includes devices that do not require an external power supply to work.
These need to comply with the standards outlined in the standards list but when it comes to compliance, the manufacturer has the freedom to choose the necessary evidence for compliance.
The compliance level II or medium risk category includes all the devices that are not considered high risk and include one of these: a microprocessor, a transistor switching circuit, a switch-mode power supply, a commutator, slip-ring motor or other such things.
Some of the common examples of devices in this category include printers, laptops, TVs, electronic ballots and video game consoles. The suppliers are required to label the equipment in this category and provide certain evidence such as a description of the device, a declaration of conformity and a test report showing the compliance with the relevant standard.
The high-risk category or compliance level III includes devices where electromagnetic radiation is produced on purpose. This category includes products such as microwave ovens, spot welding equipment, induction heating equipment and other such items.
When it comes to labelling and other legal requirements, the criteria for these devices is similar to medium risk devices but the testing for these devices needs to be carried out by an accredited testing body.
Overall, all electrical devices produce electromagnetic emissions and are also susceptible to electromagnetic interference. This is why all the electrical devices sold in Australia are required to conform to a certain set of standards as defined by the ACMA.
While the sellers of low-risk devices have the freedom to choose the evidence of compliance, the law requires that the sellers of high-risk devices get the devices tested by an accredited testing body.
If you’re planning to introduce a new electronic product into the market, it is important for you to get it tested by an accredited testing body such as Compliance Engineering.
Get in touch with Compliance Engineering today to learn more about EMC standards and EMC testing. We are the definitive source for all of your Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) requirements.
Please call us today at Compliance Engineering on + 61 3 9763 3079 or leave an enquiry.