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6 Steps to Successful FCC Testing & Certification of Electrical Products

by on Feb.04, 2016, under EMC

Electrical/electronic equipment manufacturers planning to sell their products in the United States must ensure that their equipment won’t electromagnetically interfere with other products or cause harm to the public.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees and enforces this requirement, per Title 47 of CFR.

Acer FCC LabelMost products that can emit radio frequency energy need to be tested and certified to be marketed or sold in the U.S.  The best rule of thumb is that any electronics device with the ability to oscillate above 9 kHz must get an FCC authorization, but there are exceptions.  When manufacturers sell equipment without the appropriate approval, they can be fined and could have their products and profits seized.

Products that need authorization are either intentional or unintentional radiators of radio frequency energy.  Intentional radiators are devices – like a smartphone – that must broadcast radio energy as part of their operation.  Unintentional radiators are electronics – like a digital camera – that can create radio signals and broadcast them through space or power lines, as an unintentional byproduct of their operation.

Digital devices are broken down into two testing classes: Class A and Class B. Class A covers devices that are used primarily in industrial, commercial and engineering settings. Class B is reserved for consumer devices and it has stricter limits.

The FCC authorization process is begun once your product is ready to be mass-produced and sold to consumers.  Your device is tested to see if it may cause interference with other equipment, broadcasts in the correct radio frequency range, and meets other telecommunications requirements.

The FCC has three options for authorization:

  • Verification
  • Declaration of Conformity
  • Certification

Verification
This procedure is used for Part 15 digital devices that either do not contain a radio, or that contain a radio that has been preapproved and is being integrated within the guidelines set forth in its grant of authorization.  These devices can be tested by the manufacturer or laboratory to see how much radio frequency energy is radiated by the device. When these devices are found to be compliant, they can be marketed and sold without FCC approval.  An example of a device that may only require verification is a TV receiver.

Declaration of Conformity
This stricter procedure is typically required for Part 18 devices, or devices that are considered a personal computer or personal computer peripherals.  It requires an accredited laboratory like MET Laboratories to measure radio frequency energy from your device to ensure that it meets relevant technical standards.  A compliant product features the FCC logo on its label.

Certification
The most stringent authorization is FCC certification. This procedure is for equipment that is most likely to interfere with other equipment, signals, and emergency information.  FCC Certifications are issued by Telecommunication Certification Bodies (TCBs) like MET Labs.  A compliant product features an FCC ID on its label.

Obtaining FCC certification is straightforward if you are careful and take it step by step.

Step 1: Select Radio Frequency and Design Equipment
Start by learning about what frequencies are legally open to you and your equipment by referencing the FCC’s current guidelines on radio spectrum allocation.  Factors you’ll want to consider: radio range, propagation, size, power consumption, and optimization.

Step 2: Test During Development
As the product is being developed, perform as many ‘pre-compliance’ tests in-house as you can, or utilize a 3rd party lab like MET.  These tests don’t ‘count,’ but they ensure that there won’t be any major (read: expensive) surprises later on.

Step 3: Register with FCC
You need a free FCC Registration Number (FRN) if you want to obtain certification authorizations for devices that use the radio spectrum. Go to the FCC’s CORES page to provide your business address and contact information. You’ll get a FRN and the ability to request a mandatory grantee code (nominal fees apply).

Step 4: Select Test Lab
Once you have your FRN and grantee codes, it’s time to contact an FCC-registered testing facility.  Your lab partner should be experienced, responsive, and able to handle all of your testing needs.  Lab quality, testing facilities, and capabilities can vary significantly, so we recommend working with MET, the responsive choice for FCC testing and certification.

Step 5: Compliance Test
Deliver a production-ready prototype and its technical specifications to your lab partner. You might want to have a representative witness the tests, but it is not necessary.  Testing can run from a couple days to a couple weeks, depending on product complexity.

Step 6: Certification & Filing
After completing testing successfully, a TCB will review the test documentation and issue your certification on behalf of the FCC.  Once the TCB uploads your information to the FCC database, the FCC will list your product on its approved list. The TCB will send you a Grant of Equipment Authorization, which allows you to legally market and sell your product in the U.S.

Have questions about the FCC authorization process or requirements?  Ask Pat, our electrical testing compliance expert.

MET Labs is accredited for both FCC testing and FCC certification, and deeply experienced in RF approvals for global market access.

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IEC Developing Test Standards for Wireless Power Transfer Products in Two Committees

by on Jan.18, 2016, under Product Safety

Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) technology has been around since the early 1900s (Nikola Tesla), but it has become increasingly more popular within the last decade.  Consumer awareness of wireless charging doubled to 76% in 2015, according to IHS Inc.  The company predicts that by 2019, wireless charging for wearable technology alone could be worth USD $1-1.2 billion.

Due to this increase in popularity, two consortia are developing industry specificationbigstock-wireless-charging-of-smartphon-73253140s and standards for wireless power transfer systems, as explained in a recent Compliance Today blog post.

Independently, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is developing international standards in two separate WPT Technical Committees (TCs), because of the wide variation in the power demands of various devices and systems ranging from cars to smartphones:

An IEC Subcommittee (SC) 21A was also developed to create test and measurement standards for  secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes used in mobile applications and electric vehicles.

Learn more about the Emissions & SAR Requirements your Inductive Wireless Charging Products must comply with or request a free quotation for WPT product testing today

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How the Hoverboard Industry Could Have Dodged a Product Safety Crisis

by on Jan.11, 2016, under Product Safety

Hoverboard-FireOnce, the hoverboard was the hot new toy.  Now, all too often, it is too thermally hot – catching on fire and destroying homes and property.  According to a recent CPSC tweet, there are 28 fire investigations in 19 states attributed to hoverboards.

Like your laptop, tablet or phone, hoverboards use lithium ion batteries as their power source.  These types of batteries are highly volatile, and can explode or start a fire if there is a short circuit.

So why does your phone not catch fire while your hoverboard might?  Because smart phones have been advance engineered over a number of years, and are subject to safety testing and certification by MET Laboratories or another Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).

Hoverboards have been rapidly engineered due to their sudden popularity, and because they are a new product, there is no safety standard designed for it.  And because hoverboards are not generally utilized in the workplace, there is no U.S. requirement for them to be safety certified; OSHA only requires safety certification for workplace products.

Retailers, on the other hand, may have much stiffer requirements than OSHA.  Amazon stripped most hoverboards from its website, only allowing a few that had demonstrated some level of safety to remain.

There are a couple strategies that a hoverboard manufacturer could take to reassure consumers and retailers that their toys are safe.

One approach is to safety test and certify components (batteries, power supplies, etc.) of the hoverboards but not the assembly.  Note: This does not count as a full product safety certification, but it is better than nothing.  Here are some safety standards that would be relevant for hoverboard components:

  • UN/DOT 38.3 Transportation Testing for Lithium Batteries
  • UL 1012 Standard for Power Units Other Than Class 2
  • UL 1310 Standard for Class 2 Power Units
  • UL 1642 Standard for Lithium Batteries
  • UL 2271 Light Electric Vehicle Batteries

A second approach is to safety test and certify the hoverboard assembly to a similar product category standard.  Here are some safety standards that are relevant for this approach:

  • UL 73 Standard for Motor-Operated Appliances
  • UL 2595 General Requirements for Battery-Powered Appliances
  • UL 60950-1 Information Technology Equipment – Safety – General Requirements

Want to demonstrate the safety of your hoverboard or other electrical product?  MET is accredited to NRTL safety certify products in over 180 product categories and to perform many types of battery safety or performance testingContact us to get your questions answered or for a free quotation.

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For ITE KC Approvals in Korea, KN32/KN35 Replacing KN22/KN24

by on Dec.21, 2015, under EMC, Korea

Korea, political mapBeginning on January 1, 2016, Korea standards KN32 and KN35 will be replacing KN22 and KN24 for KC EMC approval of IT equipment. After December 31, 2015, KN22/KN24 will no longer be accepted by Korea.

For customers with products that have been KN22/KN24 approved previously, no action is required.  Permissive change applications using KN22/KN24 reports will still be accepted until the end of 2017.

For customers expecting to have testing done in 2016, testing will have to be conducted according to the KN32/KN35 standards, test methods and limits. This typically requires a modest amount of additional testing to meet the new requirements:

  • Radiated immunity: Additional spot frequencies
  • Conducted Immunity: Test Levels are lower in some frequency ranges
  • Surge I/O: Only applies if EUT has outdoor cables

Note: Any product or products containing audio ports and/or containing TV broadcast receivers, FM receivers or modulators are not considered IT products; however, they will still fall under KN32/KN35 as MME, and will require more testing than an IT product.

Now is the time to reserve January 2016 lab time.  Contact us today to guarantee your preferred schedule.  MET Labs is a long-time trusted provider of Korea KC certifications, as well as approvals for over 65 other economies.

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ENERGY STAR Large Network Equipment Version 1.0 Specification Effective March 2016

by on Dec.07, 2015, under ENERGY STAR

Tnetwork-switches-banner (1)he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the Final Version 1.0 ENERGY STAR Large Network Equipment (LNE) Specification.  The effective date of the new spec is March 1, 2016.

EPA designated large network equipment as a new category to help IT and data center operators select products that will save them money on their energy bills, assist manufacturers of efficient equipment in increasing sales, and drive down the energy use of data centers and server closets – estimated to be more than 2% of total U.S. electricity consumption.

The ENERGY STAR Large Network Equipment Specification enhances the suite of ENERGY STAR data center specifications which currently includes Computer Servers, Data Center Storage, and Uninterruptible Power Supply specifications – all of which MET Labs is EPA recognized to test and/or certify for.

In its LNE letter to manufacturers, EPA further notes that the spec:

  • Allows for certification of a wide range of enterprise grade switches and routers not covered in the ENERGY STAR Small Network Equipment Specification
  • Introduces an approach to product families for modular products that allows both homogenous and heterogeneous module configurations to be certified
  • Includes requirements focused on power supplies, energy efficiency features, and standard performance data measurement and output

This final specification includes a modest change in scope regarding products with numerous high speed ports and finalizes the revisions to the test method discussed during EPA’s November 16 webinar.

Next Steps:

Manufacturers new to the ENERGY STAR program should submit a Partnership Agreement to join@energystar.gov to initiate the application process for the Large Network Equipment program.

Existing partners should Contact MET to schedule testing and certification.  Don’t delay – available lab time is expected to fill early.

MET Labs is your efficient one-stop-shop for energy efficiency approvals, including ENERGY STAR, Natural Resources Canada, California Energy Commission, EU Directives, and U.S. Department of Energy requirements.

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Wireless & Telecom Regulatory Compliance for Top 5 African Economies

by on Nov.23, 2015, under Wireless

This africa-flag-mappost is an overview of the wireless and telecom compliance requirements for the 5 largest population countries in Africa.  As with any electrical product compliance issue, regulations can change rapidly, so check in with MET’s Global Market Access Group for the latest requirements.

Nigeria
The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria accepts EU R&TTE Directive reports and CE Declarations of Conformity (DoCs) as proof of compliance.

  • Required: Local company representative, regulatory marking
  • Not required: Product test samples

Certificates have no expiration date, but they must be updated if the approved product is modified.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) website is available in English.  It lists what categories of telecom and wireless technologies are affected.

Ethiopia
The 2nd most populous country in Africa, Ethiopia accepts FCC grants and test reports or EU R&TTE Directive reports and CE DoCs as proof of compliance.

  • Not required: Product test samples, local company representative, and regulatory marking

Certificates have no expiration date, but they must be updated if the approved product is modified.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) website is available in English.  It lists what categories of telecom and wireless technologies are affected.

Egypt
The 3rd most populous country in Africa, Egypt has compliance requirements for EMC, health and safety, wireless, and telecom.  The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) accepts EU R&TTE Directive reports as proof of compliance.

  • Required: Product test samples (telecom only)
  • Not required: Local company representative

Certificates have no expiration date, but they must be updated if the approved product’s critical components are modified.

The NTRA website is available in English.  It includes information on type approvals and categories of products covered.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
The 4th most populous country in Africa, DRC accepts FCC grants and test reports or EU R&TTE Directive reports as proof of compliance.

  • Required: Local company representative
  • Not required: Product test samples, regulatory marking

Certificates are valid for 10 years, assuming no change to the product.

The Congolese Post and Telecommunications Agency website is in French only and has limited information.

Note: The U.S. government places some restrictions on certain ‘dual-use’ (military and non-military application) technologies for export to DRC.

South Africa
The 5th most populous country in Africa, South Africa accepts FCC grants and test reports or EU R&TTE Directive reports and CE DoCs as proof of compliance.

  • Required: Local company representative, regulatory marking
  • Not required: Product test samples

Certificates have no expiration date, but they must be updated if the approved product is modified.

The Independent Commissions Authority of South Africa (ICASA) website is available in English.  It provides information on relevant regulations and certification programs.

Our dedicated Homologations Team and extensive network of international labs can help you get your products certified in over 65 countries.  Contact Us today for a free quotation or to ask a question.

To learn more about gaining approvals to sell your product around the world, register for a free webinar on Global Market Access.

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FDA Issues Guidance on EMC of Electrically-Powered Medical Devices

by on Nov.18, 2015, under EMC, Medical

The U.S. me-300x240Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a draft guidance document containing a list of recommendations for medical device companies who want to claim electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of electrically-powered products for premarket submissions. Typically, the review of EMC information in a submission is based on the risk associated with EMC malfunction or degradation of the device, as well as the use of appropriate FDA-recognized standards.

EMC as defined by FDA includes immunity to electromagnetic disturbance (interference), and being free of excessive electromagnetic disturbances (emissions) that might interfere with other devices.

In premarket submissions, manufacturers of electrically-powered medical devices typically reference IEC 60601-1-2 (read about the new 4th edition here) or the equivalent U.S. version. In addition, there are device-specific consensus standards, or “particular” standards (e.g., IEC 60601-2-X, where X denotes a particular device standard). These particular standards may augment or supersede the requirements in the IEC 60601-1-2 standard. There are also other consensus standards for electrically-powered medical devices that include information on EMC (e.g., ISO 147083 for active implantable devices).

According to FDA’s guidance, a claim of EMC for a device should be accompanied by this information:

  • Summary of the testing that was performed to support EMC
  • The specifications of the standard that were met
  • The device-specific pass/fail criteria used
  • The specific functions of the device that were tested (including essential performance) and how these functions were monitored
  • The performance of the device during each test
  • An identification of and a justification for any of the standard’s allowances that were used
  • A description of and justification for any deviations from the specifications of the referenced standard
  • The device labeling and evidence of compliance with the reference standard’s labeling specifications
  • A detailed description of all changes or modifications that were made to the device in order to pass any of the EMC tests.

FDA will accept written or electronic comments and suggestions on this draft through mid-December.  Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov

FDA’s guidance documents do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidances describe the Agency’s current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited.

Have questions about this guidance, or any other electro-medical device regulatory issue?  Ask Pat, our compliance expert.  Pat (and MET) have been skillfully performing medical product testing and certification for decades.

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Inductive Wireless Charging Products Must Comply with These Emissions & SAR Requirements

by on Nov.11, 2015, under Wireless

power.480Manufacturers of new technologies often struggle to determine what electrical compliance regulations apply to their products.  Here is a basic guide for inductive wireless power products, like the wireless mobile phone chargers that are gaining more market penetration.

This post is derived from an Intel Corporation presentation given at the recent FCC TCB Council Workshop in Baltimore, MD.  As a leading FCC TCB, MET Labs attends this workshop annually.

With the merger last week of the Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance into the new AirFuel Alliance, the inductive wireless power product industry has been reduced to two competing technologies. (Wireless Power Consortium, owner of the Qi wireless standard, controls the other one).  These two technologies sometimes vary in their compliance requirements, as noted below.

Emissions: 6.78 MHz Emissions: 100-400 KHz RF Exposure (SAR)
United States FCC Part 18 FCC Part 15C or Part 18 FCC Part 1.1310
Canada RSS 216 RSS 216, RSS gen or RSS 210 RSS 102
Europe EN 55011 EN 300 330 or EN 55011 1999/519/EC, ICNIRP
China MIIT No. 423, Type C MIIT No. 423, Type A or D No
Korea RRA Notice 2013-9 RRA Notice 2013-9 FCC Part 1.1310
Japan In development In development ICNIRP

 

In many of these markets, standards and regulations are in transition, so contact MET to determine the latest requirements.

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Global Electricity Meter Sales Will Accelerate in 2016

by on Oct.29, 2015, under Meters

Global electricity meter sales (excluding China) will exceed 173 million units in 2015, accelerate in 2016 and hit a 22% increase by 2020, according to a report by UK-based research firm Statplan.

According to the company, 99% of global electricity meter stocks were electromechanical in 1985, declining to 66% this year.  By 2020, it is expected to decrease to 44%, as utilities replace legacy meters with prepayment and smart metering systems.

The report forecasts an increase in the global sales of low
DSC_0097-voltage (LV) smart meters from the current 35.4% to 45.7% in 2020.

Prepayment meter sales – for use where electricity theft is common – will rise from 11.2% in 2015 to 14.9% in 2020

According to a September Market Forecast report from Northeast Group, smart meter sales are growing especially fast in Mexico.  The country has recently issued a number of tenders for installation of smart meters, with vendors being shortlisted for the supply of 30.2 million smart meters from 2015-2025.

In parallel with this activity, recent Mexico CFE meter standards revisions have transitioned toward general harmonization with IEC requirements:

  • CFE G0100-05 (April 2015) – Advanced Metering Infrastructure System (AMI)
  • CFE GWH00-09 (January 2015) – Interactive System Infrastructure and Measuring Electricity

The Mexican movement toward IEC requirements is a drift away from U.S. standards, which rely on ANSI C12.1 and C12.20.

Meter manufacturers rely on MET Labs for the meter approvals they need to sell in different markets around the world, including Mexico and the U.S.

Utilities rely on MET Labs for an objective independent assessment of meter failures in the field, or meters they are considering for purchase.

To find out more about MET’s #1 meter certification program, contact us today.

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