New Standards Developed for Wi-Fi Alliance Certification

by on Mar.23, 2015, under Wireless

Wi-Fi-Authorized-Test-LaboratoryWith Wi-Fi device shipments now in excess of 10 billion, the Wi-Fi Alliance® continues to innovate, developing new certification programs to support new technologies. A list of current work areas can be found here. To highlight a few:

  • Wi-Fi Aware – a power-efficient proximity-based technology that identifies nearby users without connecting to the Internet (Certification program expected in late 2015)
  • Extended Range ah – The developing IEEE 802.11ah standard will extend W-Fi’s usefulness for new device categories and applications with very constrained power requirements and need for long-range connectivity

Wi-Fi Alliance is also developing a 60 GHz certification,WiGig CERTIFIED™,  a program that came from its WiGig Alliance unification in 2013.  Although the best use for 60 GHz has not been determined yet, some companies use it for backhaul in cellular networks and cable replacement in the home or office.

MET Laboratories has been working with the Wi-Fi Alliance since 2013, and recently added Authorized Test Lab (ATL) accreditations. MET now tests and certifies devices for Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ n and related standards a, b, g, WPA2, and WMM.  This accreditation is a natural extension of MET’s deep experience in wireless testing and certification

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ETSI EN 300 328 Version 1.9.1 Contains Important Updates to V1.8.1

by on Mar.17, 2015, under Wireless

RTTERight on the heels of EN 300 328 Version 1.8.1 becoming effective on December 31, 2014, Version 1.9.1 is expected to be published this year.  Since there were significant changes between ETSI’s V1.7.1 and V1.8.1, it’s natural that electronics manufacturers are wondering what changes are in store for V1.9.1.

What is anticipated to become final harmonized standard EN 300 328 Version 1.9.1 is currently draft Version 1.8.2, which was released in April 2014.  The overall scope and the essential requirements of the standard remain the same, but there are changes that include new and revised definitions, modifications to the limits, and simplification and clarification of test methods.  Following are four important changes in V1.8.2.

Frequency Occupation Options
For frequency hopping equipment, the requirement for Minimum Frequency Occupation was renamed to Frequency Occupation, and it now includes two options for compliance, one being an occupation probability.

Dwell Time Definition Change
Also for frequency hoppers, the definition of Dwell Time was clarified in V1.8.2 and the conformance requirement for Dwell Time was renamed to Accumulated Transmit Time.

Adaptivity for Non-FHSS Devices Modification
The Adaptivity conformance requirement for non-frequency hopping devices using Listen Before Talk (LBT) was modified to remove the confusing random variable ‘R’ and value ‘q.’  Instead, to simplify the test methods, the Clear Channel Assessment time and Channel Occupancy time in V1.8.2 are fixed values, or a range of fixed values.

Emissions Requirement Change
The transmitter unwanted emissions in the spurious domain and the receiver spurious emission requirements have also changed.  V1.8.2 includes a clarification on the requirement for both conductive and radiated measurements. The test procedures for spurious emissions were also modified and slightly better defined in the draft of V1.8.2.

There are other changes in V1.8.2, contact MET for more information.

While we wait on EN 300 328 Version 1.9.1, Version 1.10.1 is already on the horizon; a task group has been commissioned to work on it. We’ll let you know when its content is known.

If you sell products in Europe with 2.4GHz transmitters, contact MET for a free quote for EN 300 328 testing for R&TTE Directive CE marking.  MET is deeply experienced in all types of wireless testing, including for the Wi-Fi Alliance.

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Electric Sign Safety Governed by UL 48 and NEC Article 600

by on Mar.09, 2015, under Product Safety

LED-SignsThe National Electrical Code (NEC) Article 600 and UL 48 Standard for Safety for Electric Signs are used to evaluate the field installation and construction of electric signs in the U.S.  In Canada, the relevant guidelines are the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) and CSA 22.2 No. 207.

All signs that are electrically operated and/or electrically illuminated are covered, regardless of voltage, including:

  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • High intensity discharge (HID)
  • Neon
  • Light-emitting diode (LED)
  • Cold cathode
  • Electroluminescence.

Not included are:

  • Illuminated clocks operating at 600V or less
  • Exit signs
  • Trailer of a trailer-mounted sign
  • Luminaires mounted to function as outline lighting
  • Luminaires mounted within an awning sign
  • Luminaires intended for billboard illumination
  • Fiber optics or fiber optic illuminators
  • Signs for use in hazardous locations

The Sign Shop Program, as designed and run by MET Labs, allows a sign manufacturer to have their signs listed without any lab testing and/or evaluation.  The Program requires:

  • Procedures to ensure required testing is conducted and documented
  • Test logs showing all required information
  • Non-conforming products are reworked and tested
  • All applicable personnel are trained to perform required tests

The latest edition of UL48 (15th edition) requires three tests: ground continuity (6.1-6.3), strain relief (5.4.1-5.4.4), and exclusion of water (5.9.1-5.9.2).

Documentation requirements include:

  • Component traceability records
  • Checklist for wiring diagrams, schematics and marking
  • Personnel assigned to Sign Shop listing
  • Checklist for sign documentation
  • Sign label log

Marking Requirements
Certified (Listed) signs follow the marking requirements of NEC Section 600.4 and UL 48.  A sign must be marked with the identification of the manufacturer or an identifying trade name or trademark, along with electrical voltage and current ratings.  All required markings and the MET Certification (Listing) Mark are to be permanently applied to the exterior surface of the sign.

MET Certified labels are the manufacturer’s declaration of compliance and can only be affixed by the manufacturer at the place of production.  The application of a MET Mark in the field is only permitted when an inspection is performed by one of MET’s Field Safety Group after a field evaluation.

MET Labs is widely considered the responsive alternative to UL, with a business-friendly service and allowance for use of any component that is certified by any Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).

Contact MET for a free quotation for a single field evaluation or a full Sign Shop conversion.

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More Products Are Subject to FCC and R&TTE Wireless Module Compliance

by on Feb.23, 2015, under EMC, Wireless

SonyWireless modules are increasingly being integrated into everyday products, like refrigerators, cars, and consumer medical devices.  Therefore, more manufacturers need to be aware of the regulatory requirements of wireless transmitters.

European Union
In the European Union, it is mandatory that radio equipment meets the requirements for the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive (R&TTE) 1999/5/EC (replaced in June 2016 by the Radio Equipment Directive 2014/53/EC).

The manufacturer of the wireless-enabled product is responsible for its overall compliance.  Module manufacturers must provide clear instructions of integration to any host product manufacturer.

Since the R&TTE Directive does not make specific reference to wireless modules, there are no strict rules to follow, but there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind:

  • When an R&TTE compliant module is integrated into a final host product, no further radio compliance testing is required, provided the module is integrated in accordance with its manufacturer’s instructions
  • The final host product must always meet the other essential safety and EMC requirements of the directive
  • The most common method of demonstrating compliance and a presumption of conformity with R&TTE is by using harmonized standards

The R&TTE Compliance Association has issued guidance on the use of wireless modules: Technical Guidance Note 01 on the R&TTED compliance requirements for a Radio Module and the Final Product that integrates a Radio Module, May 2013.

North America
In the U.S. and Canada, the approval process is straightforward, unless there are multiple modules integrated together.

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) rules on module integration are explained in CFR 47 Part 15.212, with further detail in the guidance document KDB 996369.  The Industry Canada rules for modules are similar to those of the FCC and are spelled out in RSS-GEN Section 3.

In order for a wireless module to meet the requirements of FCC Part 15, it must comply with the requirements for shielded circuitry, a unique antenna connector, stand-alone configuration, and RF exposure limits. Once these guidelines are met, FCC modular approval is granted through a TCB like MET Labs, and the product may be operated under certain conditions of use. If the conditions of the grant are met, further testing is not required for the intentional radiator part of the host equipment.

Where multiple modules are integrated together, the rules can become more complex. This is particularly true if the host device is to be used in a portable application within 20cm of the human head or body and RF exposure becomes a major issue.  Then SAR testing is required.

Where the conditions of the modular grant cannot be adhered to when integrated into the final host, additional testing and certification is usually required.

To learn more about wireless compliance, attend our upcoming EMC & Wireless Design and Testing Seminar in Santa Clara, CA.  If you have an upcoming need for wireless equipment testing or compliance assistance, contact us today.

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New UL 2735 Electric Utility Meter Standard Ensures Safety and Performance

by on Feb.16, 2015, under Meters

meter fireIn the past, design flaws in smart meter units have been known to cause serious fire hazards and spotty performance. This has caused a lot of concern for utilities and manufacturers of smart meters. To prevent problems like this, a new voluntary safety standard – UL 2735 – has been created for electric utility meters.

In the past, meters were tested to UL/CSA 61010-1, as was other Measurement, Control, and Laboratory Equipment.  Meter manufacturers are increasingly migrating from UL 61010-1 to UL 2735.

UL 2735 covers:

  • Meters rated up to 600V which measure, monitor, record, transmit, or receive electrical energy generation or consumption information
  • Socket mounted plug-in (Type S) utility meters, and non-socket mounted, bottom connected (Type A) utility meters
  • Meters provided with one or two-way communication capabilities by means of carrier signals, telephone, cable, or wireless communication
  • Meters that provide signals, directly or wirelessly, for the control of electrical loads or electrical power generation equipment

These construction and performance requirements are included in UL 2735:

Components

  • Compliance with relevant component standards
  • Used within their recognized ratings
  • Includes plastics, PCBs, MOVs, wire, and transformers

Electrical

  • Accessibility of hazardous live parts
  • Electrical spacings over-surface and through-air
  • Isolation of current transformer secondary
  • Endurance of load control switch
  • Single component fault

Fire

  • Polymeric enclosure flammability
  • Battery protection, charging, placement and replacement
  • Single component fault

Mechanical

  • Enclosure environmental considerations
  • Enclosure strength and rigidity
  • Access panels
  • Static
  • Impact
  • Drop

ANSI C12.1

  • Insulation resistance
  • HV line surges
  • Fast transient/burst
  • RF interference
  • RF conducted/radiated emissions
  • Temperature rise
  • Temporary overload
  • Electrostatic discharge

Markings

  • Environmental suitability
  • Electrical ratings
  • Installation instructions
  • ANSI C12.10 nameplate
  • Permanence and legibility

UL 2735 is not yet part of the NRTL Program, however MET Labs is already accomplished in testing to it. Learn more about MET’s highly-regarded testing of meter safety, reliability, and accuracy for manufacturers or utilities.

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EMC Testing Requires Robust Traceability in EMI Measurements

by on Feb.09, 2015, under EMC

systemnAs a leading 3rd party EMC Test Lab, MET Labs maintains a strict ISO/IEC 17025-2005 Quality System.  This system includes a set of requirements addressing the subject of traceability of measurement results.

Traceability means that the result of a measurement can be related to a national or international measurement standard, and that this relationship is documented. In addition, the measuring instrument must be calibrated by a measurement standard that is itself traceable.

Traceability is important because it allows the comparison of the accuracy of measurements worldwide according to a standardized procedure for estimating measurement uncertainty.

To guarantee traceability, MET uses measuring equipment that has been calibrated by an accredited calibration laboratory and meets international specifications:

  • CISPR 16-1-1 for a measuring receiver (EMI receiver or spectrum analyzer)
  • ANSI C63.5 for antennas

If no standard is available to calibrate a piece of test equipment (e.g. for spectrum analyzers or signal generators), MET uses the equipment manufacturer’s calibration process, per ISO/IEC 17025.

Since the calibration of measuring receivers has caused confusion in the EMC community, CISPR subcommittee A is in preparation of a normative annex to CISPR 16-1-1 (the future CISPR 16-1-6) to better outline the calibration requirements for measuring receivers.

In summary, EMC test results at MET Labs are subject to a strict Quality System that ensures accuracy, repeatability, and traceability.  Contact us today for a free quote for your next EMC testing need.

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UK & Australian Companies May Be Exempt from ITAR Licensing for MIL-STD Testing

by on Feb.02, 2015, under Military

ITARForeign manufacturers of products that require U.S. Military Standard (MIL-STD) testing need to comply with the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

Obtaining ITAR licensing and development of technical agreements can be a lengthy process.  Fortunately, clients in the United Kingdom and Australia can simplify the process and bypass ITAR licensing requirements using exemption programs available through Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties to which the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia are signatories.

Once recognized under these treaties, clients are part of the UK or Australian Approved Communities (AC) and are listed under the DDTC’s Treaty Reference System (TRS).  TRS is a resource operated by The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls that helps U.S. Exporters confirm whether or not UK or Australian organizations are exempt from ITAR licensing requirements.

More information can be found at the DDTC’s website for Defense Trade Cooperation Treaties.  Exemption programs for United Kingdom and Australia are also described in the ITAR regulation under 22 CFR 126.16126.17.

MET Labs is experienced in the rapid acquisition of ITAR licenses for companies in many countries.  Contact us today for a free assessment of the cost and timing of ITAR compliance for your products.

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RF Product Modifications May Be Eligible for an FCC Permissive Change

by on Jan.26, 2015, under Wireless

When an RF product is revised due to obsolete parts, cost cutting, or product improvements, how does the engineer know what the FCC requirements are for the altered product?  Will it require a new FCC filing and ID number or will a Permissive Change be allowed?

To allow products to be modified without requiring a new filing, the FCC has defined three Permissive Change options listed in Title 47 Part 2.1043, KDB 178919 D01 Permissive Change Policy v05r04.

Class I Permissive Change
This class includes modifications which do not degrade the characteristics accepted by the FCC when certification is granted. No filing with the Commission is required for a Class I Change.

Class II Permissive Change
This class includes modifications which degrade the performance characteristics as reported to the FCC at initial certification. In this case, the grantee must supply the Commission with results of tests of characteristics affected by the change.

Class III Permissive Change
This class includes software modifications of a software-defined radio transmitter that change the frequency range, modulation type or maximum output power (either radiated or conducted) outside the parameters previously approved.

In this case, the grantee must supply the FCC with a description of the changes and test results showing that the equipment complies with applicable rules with the new software loaded, including compliance with applicable RF exposure requirements.

Class III changes are permitted only for equipment on which no Class II changes have been made from the originally approved device.

For any of these changes, modified equipment cannot be marketed under the existing grant of certification prior to acknowledgment by the Commission that the change is acceptable.

In summary, changes to a modular radio or product will result in either a Permissive Change or a new FCC filing and ID number. The degree of change will determine both the process and the amount of supporting data required to illustrate compliance.

With few exceptions, a new FCC ID and a new equipment authorization application will be required in the event of changes to the basic frequency (including clock and data rates), frequency multiplication stages, basic modulator circuit, or maximum power or field strength ratings.

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Q4 Product Safety Recall List Filled with Electronics & Electrical Products

by on Jan.19, 2015, under Product Safety

In the last three months of 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada maintained their torrid pace of recall announcements.  Here is a list of electrical/electronic products that were recalled in the 4th quarter of 2014, per the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Recalls are expensive.  Keurig took a $10M charge in December when 7 million of its UL-listed single-serve brewers were recalled.

Beyond the recall cost, there is the risk of regulatory penalties to watch out for.  In 2014, CPSC levied over $12M in civil penalties, a record.

Avoid the steep cost and hassle of recalls.  MET Labs is the experienced alternative to UL for product safety certification.  The first OSHA Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), MET has 55 years of product safety testing experience, and a stellar track record of clients that have avoided costly recalls.

Beyond safety recalls, electronics manufacturers are increasingly engaging in reliability testing to prevent product returns and warranty claims.  HALT testing is the quick and sure way to prove product reliability.  HALT testing helps you discover defects in your product design, guarantees a much lower product infant mortality rate, and reduces development costs.

Contact MET to ensure the safety and reliability of your product before it’s on the market.

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FDA Adds 4th edition of IEC 60601-1-2 to EMC Consensus Standards List

by on Jan.12, 2015, under EMC, Medical

In July 2014, the FDA recognized the 4th edition of IEC 60601-1-2 as a standard that can be used to show EMC compliance for medical electrical devices and systems.

The complete standard is recognized with the following exception:

In Subclause 8.9, Table 8 on Page 39: The citation of Note b) under “Conducted disturbances induced by RF fields” (4th Row) is not recognized.

Starting on April 1, 2017 the FDA will no longer accept declarations of conformity in support of either IEC 60601-1-2 Edition 3:2007 or ANSI/AAMI/IEC 60601-1-2:2007.  This recognition affects all electrical medical devices, except for active implanted devices.

However, a new FDA publication “Design Considerations for Devices Intended for Home Use – Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff” suggests using the 4th edition of IEC 60601-1-2 for Home Healthcare environments now (not 2017!) to cover test levels which may not be properly addressed in the 3rd edition.

Some of the changes to the 4th edition from the 3rd edition of IEC 60601-1-2 are:

  • With regards to electromagnetic environments, the “life supporting equipment” category has been removed
  • CISPR 15 has been removed as an option for lighting features, replaced by CISPR 11
  • ESD test levels were increased for both air and contact type discharges
  • RF susceptibility test levels are now specified based on the intended use environment
  • Transient tests on DC input power ports in accordance with ISO 7637-2 have been added
  • New conducted RF disturbances requirements are based on location of intended use
  • Test levels for power frequency magnetic fields increased tenfold, to 30 A/m
  • Testing is now at multiple phase angles for the half-cycle, 100% voltage dip

There are many other changes in the 4th edition, contact MET Labs to schedule a new product discovery or existing product ‘gap analysis.’

MET is a leading independent test lab for medical equipment approvals for product safety, EMC and performance.  Learn more about Medical Compliance Testing.

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