Author Archive

UL 508A 2nd Edition Now Required for Industrial Control Panels

by admin on Dec.18, 2014, under Product Safety

The requirements for Industrial Control Panels have been recently updated to the 2nd edition.  The second edition changes made to UL 508A will take effect this month.

Changes in the new edition are extensive.  They include:

  • Air conditioners installed in panels need to comply with UL 1995 and clause 26.3
  • When protectors (fuse, breaker, etc.) are in a DC circuit above 32 volts, they must be evaluated to appropriate product standard and have a rating equal to or greater than the operating circuit voltage
  • Type 4 or 4X enclosure/compartment that is ventilated must now also comply with clause 62.4
  • New requirements for control panels intended to control fountains
  • New requirements to address power factor correction circuits/capacitors that do not need to be specifically described
  • New requirements to address components provided that are configured as autotransformer- and resistor-type reduced-voltage motor controllers
  • New requirements for control panels intended to control irrigation equipment

MET Labs’ Industrial Control Panel Certification Program delivers a responsive cost-effective product safety certification for manufacturers who custom-build or mass-produce ICPs.

Contact us today for a quote to the 2nd edition of 508A, or for a ‘gap analysis’ of an already-certified panel.

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Environmental Testing – Like HALT – Improves Product Reliability & Ruggedness

by admin on Dec.15, 2014, under Military

McKinley Air Force Lab can reduce air temperature to -80°F

Environmental testing has nothing to do with an evaluation of the earth’s environment.   Not the environmental testing we’re writing about here anyway.

Also known as environmental simulation, environmental testing involves putting your electronic product through environmental extremes and then determining what hardware failures occur.   This process is crucial for pinpointing design flaws for ensuring the reliability and ruggedness of your equipment.

Environmental testing is split into two types: climatic and dynamic.

Climatic testing is performed in climatic test chambers.  They range in size from desktop to hangar-sized.   The McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida is 55,000 square feet, and accommodates a hulking Lockheed C5 Galaxy transport aircraft.

Dynamic testing is performed on shakers and similar devices.  It includes testing for shock, vibration, and earthquake/seismic.  See a video of MET’s MIL-S-901D Hammer Shock rig being constructed and deployed.

Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) is a form of environmental testing that combines climatic and dynamic components.  It integrates vibration into the chamber environment, where temperature and humidity extremes can also be applied simultaneously.   HALT is a faster, more effective version of the old environmental stress screening (ESS).

Testing should be conducted during the development of your hardware, so that all failures can be determined before the design is finalized.   It is much better to fail during environmental testing than to fail in service, possibly causing user harm and often leading to warranty or recall expense.

With HALT, failure is a good thing, although it might not feel like it.  It serves as a catalyst for redesign that improves the durability and ruggedness of the device, allowing you to lower your product’s infant mortality rate and reduce claims under your product warranty.

MET Labs owns and operates dozens of environmental test chambers and an impressive shock/vibe/seismic capacity in multiple locations across North America, as well as 24-hour HALT Testing on both coasts.  Contact us for a free fast-response quotation.

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How to Request FCC Confidentiality for Proprietary Product Information

by admin on Dec.08, 2014, under Wireless

On October 16, 2014 the FCC published 726920 D01 Confidentiality Request Procedures, a new document that details the steps required to ensure proprietary information about your device will be held confidential.

To be granted confidentiality, your application must include a reference to 0.457(d) and 0.459 of the FCC Rules, the reason why the information should be held from the public, specific confidential information by exhibit type, name, and description, an indication if the information is a “trade secret,” a signature, and the type of confidentiality requested.  Confidentiality Letters must specifically reference the documents you wish to withhold from the public.

The two types of confidentiality are long term and short term.

Under long term confidentiality, the following exhibits are held private without filing a request:

  • Software defined radio,  cognitive radio attachments submitted into the SDR software, security info exhibit type
  • Scanning receiver information included in one of the exhibits noted as “commonly held confidential” and scanning receiver internal photos

Under long term confidentiality, the following exhibits can be held private upon request:

  • Schematics
  • Block diagrams
  • Operational descriptions
  • Parts list/tune up info

Under short term confidentiality, exhibits held private are the same as long term confidentiality, plus:

  • External photos
  • Test set up photos
  • Internal photos
  • User manuals

Short term confidentiality can only last up to 180 days. If you request short term confidentiality but market your device before the 180 day period is over, you must notify your Telecommunication Certification Body (TCB) so your confidentiality request can be removed.

If you are seeking confidentiality for an exhibit not listed above, you are able to petition the FCC and all approvals are made on a case-by-case basis.

MET Labs is a leading provider of FCC Testing and FCC Certification. Contact us today for a free fast-response quotation.

Read about how Some Electronic Devices Are Exempt from FCC EMC Testing.

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New EMC Directive 2014/30/EU Will Soon Replace 2004/108/EU

by admin on Dec.02, 2014, under EMC, Europe, Product Safety, Wireless

The European Union EMC Directive 2004/108/EU has been revised to the new Directive 2014/30/EU. After April 2016, the new directive will be required for all applicable electrical products being sold in the European Union.

Requirements listed in Annex I of the directive remain the same. But 4 key changes have been made:

  • The directive now applies to distributers and importers, not just manufacturers
  • Additional information is required in the technical file
  • DoCs now need to be multilingual
  • Notified Body requirements have been updated

In order to maintain EMC compliance, a few steps can be taken. First, be sure that all harmonized standards listed on the reports are current. Review your technical file and ensure that all operators’ information and technical instructions comply with Article 18. Your updated DoC should reference 2014/30/EU and clearly identify the product you wish to sell.

Selling electrical products in the EU?  MET Labs is a leading 3rd party laboratory for testing to support CE marking.  Contact us for a quote.

Also, read about the new Radio Equipment Directive for CE marking radio equipment.

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For New Technologies – Like 3D Printers – What Product Safety Standard Applies?

by admin on Nov.24, 2014, under Product Safety

Product safety compliance for equipment that falls into an established product category is straightforward.  But what about new technologies – how are these products evaluated? 

As a case example, let’s look at 3D printers.  3D printers aren’t new, but they are just now entering the mainstream, with many more manufacturers developing new small desktop versions for consumers or larger industrial versions for businesses.  Also called additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping, 3D printing is the process of using specialized equipment to build a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by layering many successive thin layers of a material, such as plastic polymers or powdered metal or even food ingredients.

This post contains guidelines for selecting the appropriate safety standards for equipment associated with 3D printing and additive manufacturing, and can serve as an example for other new technology products that can’t be easily categorized.

The intent is to associate 3D printing and additive manufacturing equipment with relevant, existing safety standards for the various current uses of this technology, including commercial, consumer, food processing and medical equipment.  Generally, existing standards that cover similar types of equipment used in similar operating environments may be used for equipment associated with additive manufacturing.

Here are the standards that cover 3D printing and additive manufacturing equipment for various potential uses:

Home/Commercial
International:
IEC 60950-1 Safety of ITE or IEC 62368-1 Safety of AV & ICT Equipment
US: UL 60950-1 Safety of ITE or UL 62368-1 Safety of AV & ICT Equipment
EU: Low Voltage (LV), 2006/95/EC, 2014/35/EU

Food Preparation – Household
International:
IEC 60335-2-14 Kitchen Machines
US: UL 982 Motor-Operated Household Food Preparing Machines
EU: Low Voltage (LV), 2006/95/EC, 2014/35/EU

Food Preparation – Commercial
International: IEC 60335-2-64 Safety of Commercial Electric Kitchen Machines
US: UL 763 Motor-Operated Commercial Food Preparing Machines
EU: Low Voltage (LV), 2006/95/EC, 2014/35/EU

Medical
International:
IEC 60601-1 Medical Electrical Equipment
US: ANSI/AAMI ES60601-1 Medical Electrical Equipment
EU: Medical Devices (MDD), 93/42/EEC

When the equipment involves technologies, materials or methods of construction not specifically covered by the standard, the equipment should provide safeguards not less than that generally afforded by the applicable standard and the principles of hazard-based safety engineering, as found in standards like IEC 62368-1.

Of course, there are additional compliance requirements for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) – FCC & Industry Canada in North America, the EMC Directive in the EU, and other EMC requirements around the world

Contact MET, a leading 3rd party test laboratory, to determine what requirements apply to your equipment.

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GR-3160-CORE is NEBS Lite for Data Center Equipment

by admin on Nov.18, 2014, under NEBS

GR-3160-CORE, NEBS Requirements for Telecommunications Data Center Equipment and Spaces, is sometimes described as ‘NEBS Lite.’  It includes important reliability and safety requirements, without the full set of hurdles found in the NEBS telecom standards, like GR-1089-CORE and GR-63-CORE.

But what exactly are the differences for equipment evaluation?  Following is a basic overview.

The test requirements are the same for NEBS and GR-3160 in these areas:

  • Acoustic Noise
  • Airflow
  • EFT
  • Energy Efficiency
  • ESD
  • Handling Shock
  • Illumination
  • Surface Temperature

In other areas, the test requirements for GR-3160 are looser or non-existent:

Bonding & Grounding
NEBS
– Requirements for reliable ground methods as well as short-circuit tests
GR-3160 – Requirements for reliable ground methods, but no short-circuit tests

Corrosion, SSPI, DC Potential Difference
NEBS
– Required
GR-3160 – No requirement

DC Power Compatibility
NEBS
– Requires transient tests as well as DC noise emissions and immunity
GR-3160 – Requirements for grounding of return conductor of centralized sources and DC-I configuration of loads

Earthquake & Office Vibration
NEBS
– Full scale tests in all cases
GR-3160 – Checklist review for redundant or non-critical sites; test for others

EMC – Emissions
NEBS – Only NEBS method
GR-3160 – FCC or NEBS

EMC – Immunity
NEBS – Testing from 10kHz to 10GHz
GR-3160 – NEBS only from 30MHz to 10GHz or EN 55024

Filtration
NEBS
– Required
GR-3160 – An Objective

Fire Resistance – Materials
NEBS
– Materials level fire resistance tests required
GR-3160 – No test if facility has suppression, detection, and disconnection means and equipment is listed

Fire Resistance – Spread
NEBS – Full scale fire spread tests required
GR-3160 – No test if facility has suppression, detection, and disconnection means and equipment is listed

Heat Dissipation
NEBS
– Objective Limit
GR-3160 – No Objective Limit

Intra-building and AC Power Port Lightning
NEBS – Only NEBS method
GR-3160 – NEBS or EN 300 386

Mixed Flowing Gas & Hygroscopic Dust
NEBS
– Required for all hardware
GR-3160 – No requirements

Operating Temperature
NEBS
– Short-term -5C to 50C; 7 day test
GR-3160 – Narrower range requirement; 2 day test

Safety
NEBS
– NEBS specific
GR-3160 – Listing to EN 60950

Transport & Handling Temperature & RH
NEBS
– -40C, +70C, 40C+93% RH
GR-3160 – No requirement

GR-3160 was created with input from 19 participating companies, including Verizon, AT&T, Telcordia, Dell, Intel, Juniper Networks, and Brocade.  The committee’s goal was to focus on critical, high-value areas, relying on popular commercial standards when possible, and encouraging the use of well-designed and robust COTS equipment.  Where testing can be avoided (e.g. earthquake), alternatives like the checklist are utilized.  This approach takes advantage of data center infrastructure and network architecture redundancy.

MET Labs is a pioneer in NEBS testing, and we are equally skilled in testing data center equipment for reliability, energy efficiency, and safety.  Contact us today to determine if your equipment is best suited for full NEBS or a more limited program.

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UL Safety Standards for Lighting Undergoing Revisions

by admin on Nov.17, 2014, under Product Safety

The only constant?  Change.  Product safety standards are almost always in some state of being updated.  Here is a summary of changes afoot for some of the most popular UL lighting safety standards:

Chauvet & Sons' MET-certified Sweeper LED Luminaire is sold at Guitar Center, Amazon.com & Newegg

UL 1598 – Luminaires (Tri-national standard)
The next 2-year revision cycle has started.  CSA (the Publication Coordinator) sent proposals to the Technical Harmonization Committee (THC) Chair and the proposals were reviewed and discussed during the February 2014 CANENA meeting.  Contact MET for the status of UL 1598A (Marine Vessel Installation) or UL 1598B (Reflector Kits).

UL 1993 – Self-Ballasted Lamps and Lamp Adapters (Tri-national standard)
The next revision cycle has started.  Multiple proposals went out, and comments have been sent to the THC for review and input.  Here is a summary of topics.

UL 935 – Fluorescent-Lamp Ballasts (10th edition)
Proposals went out for 1) the addition of requirements for ballasts intended to be dimmed using solid-state dimming controls electrically wired in series with the mains supply and 2) revising the arcing test method in Section 30.  The revisions were published on August 7, 2014.  For the tri-national standard, the draft of Part 1 (covering general construction and test requirements) is being reviewed by the CANENA Harmonization Committee (THC34/SC34C). The Part 2 documents, which will include specific requirements for the various product types, still need to be developed.

UL 1786 – Direct Plug-In Nightlights (Bi-national standard)
The next revision cycle has started.  Multiple proposals went out.  Here is a summary of topics.

UL 1838 – Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Systems
A proposal went out for a revision to ambient temperature measurement method.

UL 48 – Electric Signs
Proposals went out for 1) clarification of drain opening requirements, 2) grounding and bonding marking, 3) addition of requirements for laminated or organic-coated glass and revision to test method, and 4) addition of requirements for signs with photovoltaic systems or modules.  Three out of the four topics gained consensus – grounding and bonding marking did not.  Revision pages will be issued in the near future.  In development is a proposed 1st edition for UL 48B (Changing Message Signs and Displays).

MET Labs is OSHA-accredited to product safety test and certify to all of these standards for the U.S. NRTL program and SCC-accredited for many additional CSA lighting safety standards for Canada.  Find out why MET has a reputation as the Better Service Alternative to UL – Contact us today.

Attend our free webinar on Safety Certification for Electric Sign Shops.

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Top 20 Non-Compliance Findings for Panel & Motor-Operated Equipment

by admin on Nov.10, 2014, under Product Safety

Here at MET Labs, we’ve been product safety testing electrical/electronic equipment in the field for over 55 years.  Naturally, we see the same failures over and over again.  We hope this list of Top 20 Field Failures for Panel & Motor-Operated Equipment will help inspectors identify and contractors fix the most commonly observed non-compliances.

1. Supplementary Protector Usage – Supplementary Protectors are used incorrectly as branch circuit protection. When used incorrectly, these components are known to fail – welding closed and causing fires/short circuits. These can either be replaced by UL 489 listed circuit breakers or branch circuit fuses (suitable for the circuit rating).

2. Risk of Electrical Shock – Covers over live electrical parts are not secured properly. A tool or key is required to access areas that pose a risk of electrical shock.

3. Dedicated Ground – The main incoming grounding conductor is not terminated at its own dedicated point (e.g. there were two wires in the grounding terminal).  The secondary ground must be moved to another grounding terminal.

4. Motor Overload Protection – Overload charts are not provided in the panel to verify the rating of the overload protection.

5. Protection of Power Supplies – The manufacturer’s instructions for overcurrent protection are not followed.

6. Strain Relief – An internal terminal strain relief device is not provided.

7. Working Space – Control panels are located too close to the wall and are not able to be serviced properly.  The panel doors must be able to open at least 90 degrees.

8. Emergency Stop – Emergency stops are not provided at control and operator stations where shutdown would be required. These E-stops are required to override all other functions and operations in all modes (unless it creates another hazard).

9. Protection of Motor Drives – Motor drives are improperly protected per the manufacturer’s installation instructions. These frequency drives require specific size and type primary fuses or listed circuit breakers depending upon the size of the drive.

10. Power Transformer Protection – Power Transformers are not properly protected on the primary or secondary, based on the appropriate tables in the related standards.

11. Control Transformer Protection – Control Transformers are not properly protected. In some cases, only primary protection was found when secondary protection was also needed.

12. Termination of Wiring – Some wires are not terminated or were improperly terminated. Improper multiple terminations is a common issue and could create overheating at the terminal.

13. Conductor Ampacities Based on Termination Ratings – Conductor sizing is done improperly. Conductors are sized based on conductor ampacity without consideration to termination ratings.

14. Wire Bending Space for Main Connections – Control panels don’t have adequate wire bending space for the main connections, risking snapping the termination completely off.

15. Component Information – Components are not marked as certified (MET, CSA, UL, FM, ETL, VDE, JIS, etc.).  Some components have CE marking, which is not acceptable.

16. Flexible Cords – Flexible cords are used improperly per NEC Article 400, which restricts the use of flexible cords for specific applications.

17. Multiple Power Sources – Panels that are fed with more than one source of power are not marked with a cautionary marking to protect the individual servicing the panel. This marking is required: “Caution, more than one disconnect, disconnect all before servicing.”

18. Area Classification – The environment where the product is installed is inappropriate. For example, a product intended for Ordinary Locations cannot be installed in a Class 1 Division 2 location.

19. Panel Only Certification – A control panel is certified but the load served by the panel is not.

20. Equipment Markings – Marking labels are not suitable for the surface material and temperature applied or text is not of adequate size and of good contrast.

What electrical equipment field failures do you see most often?  Please leave a comment.

MET Labs has been skillfully and efficiently conducting independent field evaluations for over 55 years.  Contact us to get your field safety certification questions answered or for a free quotation.

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UL 1995 4th Edition Requires Retesting of HVAC/R Equipment

by admin on Nov.03, 2014, under Product Safety

The requirements for HVAC/R equipment safety have changed. UL 1995/CSA 22.2 No. 236 has been updated with the release of the 4th edition. This new edition came into effect October 14, 2014. If your products are currently certified to the 3rd edition, you must have your file updated to reflect 4th edition changes.

UL1995 covers a broad range of HVAC/R equipment, including both residential and commercial fan coil units, heat pumps, liquid chillers and more.

Following are some of the significant new testing requirements in the 4th edition:

  • Loading test for ceiling/wall suspended equipment
  • Electric heat back-up protection tests for free air discharge units
  • Hydrostatic pressure test for hot water/steam coils operating at 93°C and below
  • Short-circuit test for some conductors of crankcase heaters
  • Wire flexing tests for high voltage/safety circuit conductors that are periodically moved

Here are important revisions to the motor section of the standard:

  • With exceptions, ungrounded conductors must open on controllers for motor compressors to interrupt current
  • UL 60730 may now be used as a component standard in conjunction with UL 991, UL 1998 and UL 508C for electronically protected motors
  • With exceptions, electrically protected motor circuits must comply with their applicable UL/CSA standards

And here are new testing requirements that apply specifically to components:

  • Air filters and media wheels/plates must comply with flame test requirements of UL 900, which is now spelled out further
  • Contactors used in pressure-limiting circuits must have an endurance rating of 100,000 cycles or more
  • Interlock mechanisms must comply with UL 353/CSA C22.2 No. 55 or meet new cycling requirements

MET Labs is U.S. NRTL OSHA-accredited for UL 1995 and Canada SCC-accredited for CSA 22.2 No. 236, with a reputation for quick and hassle-free safety testing and certification

For new products, contact us for a free Lunchtime Review to discuss the new testing requirements as they apply to your equipment.

For existing equipment safety certified to Edition 3, contact us for a Gap Analysis.  This service evaluates a current file to determine where it stands with respect to the new requirements. The fee varies depending on the complexity of the file to be reviewed.  A portion of this fee can be applied to a project that is opened as a result of a completed gap analysis.

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Electric Meter Testing Requirements Updated in ANSI C12.1-2014

by admin on Oct.27, 2014, under Meters

Three weeks ago, MET Labs joined other C12 Accredited Standards Committee members in St. Louis, MO at the EEI Transmission, Distribution & Metering Conference to discuss revisions to ANSI C12.1, which provides the basic requirements for all kilowatthour metering devices, both electronic and electromechanical. 

This post highlights changes from the ANSI C12.1-2008 revision to the soon to be released ANSI C12.1-2014, as presented at the meeting by Jim Reed, MET’s Meter Accuracy Lab Manager.  ANSI C12.1 was modified in several sections to keep pace with industry trends and to provide clarity for tests.

Section 2
A number of definitions were added.

Section 3
3.10.2.2.2 (Performance requirements) – Tightened the % errors for portable and reference standards at reference conditions including a specific voltage and current.
3.10.2.2.3 (Variation for reference condition) – Gave additional percent errors for Portable and Reference Maximum Percent Errors @ 23°C over the designed range of voltage and current.

Section 4
4.7.1 (Test conditions under performance requirements) – Adds some clarity for the calibration level of the meters prior to entering into testing.
4.7.2 (Accuracy tests – internal influences) – A host of changes in this section, including the addition of a 0.5% accuracy classification.   Contact MET for all of the changes in this section.
4.7.3.15 (Insulation) – A few changes, including the addition of a requirement to disconnect components providing a path in parallel with the insulation to be tested.
4.7.3.17 (Effect of high voltage line surges) – Adds an allowance for performing the accuracy performance check once after the completion of both a ring wave test and combination wave test.
4.7.3.30 (Effect of operating temperature) – A few changes, including ramp timing change from 6 to 5 hours.
4.7.3.31 (Effect of relative humidity) – A couple changes, including specifying test current between light load and class amps (same as 4.7.3.30).

Section 5
A number of changes in this section, including:

  • Restructuring to provide clarity, guidelines and generally better reflect updated practices within the industry for in-service and new meter deployment.
  • A test plan must be in place for metering devices at various set intervals (periodic interval plan, variable interval plan or a statistical sampling plan).
  • Provides details for corrective actions that must be taken for any metering device or group of metering devices failing to meet performance criteria.
  • Added recommendations on test data that should be recorded for the annual performance test programs.
  • An Acceptable Quality Limit or AQL of 1.0% or less will be used to develop the acceptance criteria for all metering devices.
  • Service switches to fall under a statistical sampling plan.
  • Performance tests for integrated communication devices.

Appendices
Appendix D (Periodic testing schedule) – Recommended periodic test program cleaned up to reference AMI meters specifically, and then all other meters.
Appendix F (Variable interval plan) – Includes an example of appropriate test rates based on failed meters.

Questions about the changes?  Ask Pat, our meter approvals expert.

Contact us to discuss your electricity meter testing requirements.

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