Author Archive

Marijuana Farms Skirt Laws – EMC & Product Safety Laws, That Is

by on Apr.20, 2015, under EMC, ENERGY STAR, Product Safety

grow3According to a recent article by a San Francisco-area police officer, indoor marijuana grows are proliferating and many of them are illegal.  Due to their frequent use of uncertified equipment that is manufactured overseas with little to no regulatory oversight, there has been a significant amount of radio frequency interference (RFI) that leaves these operations vulnerable to discovery.

To grow marijuana indoors, you need supplemental lighting necessary for photosynthesis. These lights may be fluorescent, LED, and for larger operations, high pressure sodium (HPS) or metal halide (MH).  The HPS and MH lamps may be 1,000W per lamp and require a ballast for proper operation.  These ballasts were originally magnetic but in the past few years have become electronic.  These devices are subject to FCC Part 18 rules, but many have not undergone FCC testing and certification.

Because of this, the lighting equipment is causing electromagnetic interference (EMI) with nearby electronics. As an example, one grow next to a CalFire station — California’s state fire agency — caused a continuous hum over the station’s callbox speaker and interfered with radio broadcasts over their station’s PA.

Many ham radio operators can locate a grow simply by taking a radio and portable antennae out into their neighborhood and using the radio to triangulate the exact location of the operation.  One amateur radio operator located five marijuana grows near his house due to RFI alone!

We can’t help illegal pot growers.  On the other hand, legal U.S. indoor marijuana farms should verify that grow equipment has:

Are you a grower with uncertified equipment?  Contact us for a quick and easy field evaluation.

Are you a marijuana industry electrical product manufacturer who wants to exploit the growing legalization of pot?   Contact us today to discover what regulations apply to your product.

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RSS-102, Issue 5 Now in Force for RF Exposure Compliance in Canada

by on Apr.15, 2015, under SAR

industry canadaLast month, Industry Canada published Radio Standards Specification RSS-102, Issue 5, Radio Frequency (RF) Exposure Compliance of Radiocommunication Apparatus (All Frequency Bands), which sets out the requirements and measurement techniques used to evaluate radio frequency (RF) exposure compliance of radio equipment designed to be used within the vicinity of the human body.

RSS 102, Issue 5 is immediately in force for certifying new equipment to be sold in Canada.  All devices currently certified must be in compliance with the revised standard 180 days after its publication on the Industry Canada website. Some requirements will not be in force immediately as outlined in Notice 2015-DRS001.

Noteworthy changes:

Section 1: Clarification related to the scope of the standard.

Section 1.1: The definitions of limb-worn devices and separation distance have been added, and the definition of RF exposure evaluation and controlled use has been revised.

Section 2.2: Clarification related to the RF exposure technical brief.

Section 2.5.1: Exemption limits revised for routine evaluation -SAR evaluation.

Section 2.5.2: Exemption limits revised for routine evaluation -RF exposure evaluation.

Section 2.6: Clarification related to the user manual.

Section 3: Clarification on test reduction and fast SAR methods and on the priority list of documents has been made.

Section 3.1: Clarification on the following items:

  • Devices with push-to-talk capability
  • On the test distance for certain types of devices
  • For devices with a very low transmission duty factor
  • On the test channel to first be tested in a SAR evaluation

Section 3.1.1: The SAR measurement method revised for body-worn devices.

Section 3.1.2: The SAR Measurement of Devices Containing Multiple Transmitters has been revised.

Section 3.1.3: Clarification has been made on the SAR measurement for specific technology and other types of devices.

Section 4: The Safety Code 6 limits have been revised and clarification on the averaging time for SAR evaluation.

Annex A: Clarification has been made related to the standard(s) and/or procedure(s) used for the evaluation and an addition of the Industry Canada (IC) Certification Number and the name of the SAR/RF exposure testing laboratory has been entered.

Annex B: A revision has been made to add the Product Marketing Name (PMN), Hardware Version Identification Number (HVIN), Firmware Version Identification Number (FVIN), Host Marketing Number (HMN) and the IC Certification Number.

Annex C: A revision has been made to add the PMN, HVIN, FVIN, HMN and the IC Certification Number; clarification has been made related to the submission.

Annex E: Clarification has been made related to operating tolerance and the local SAR measurement; additional reporting requirements for test reduction and fast SAR methods were added.

Have questions about the new requirements or need a free quote for continued IC compliance?   Contact us today.

MET Labs is accredited for, and deeply experienced in, Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) Testing for the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, and Europe.

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FCC Incorporates ANSI C63.4-2014 and ANSI C63.10-2013 into Rules for Unintentional and Intentional Radiators

by on Apr.06, 2015, under EMC, Wireless

FCC logoOn December 30, 2014, the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issued a Report and Order in ET Docket No. 13-44, updating the Commission’s radiofrequency (RF) equipment authorization program to expand the use of FCC-recognized Telecommunications Certification Bodies (TCBs) like MET Labs as a faster and less expensive way to certify equipment. The new rules outsource the entire certification process to TCBs, in order to speed the introduction of new and innovative products to the market while ensuring that they do not cause harmful interference.

Updating Measurement Procedures

The FCC is updating equipment measurement requirements by incorporating references to ANSI C63.4-2014 and ANSI C63.10-2013 into the rules, for determining the compliance of unintentional and intentional radiators, respectively.

The new rules go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, but the FCC is providing a one year transition period for ANSI C63.4.  During this transition, parties may continue to comply with either ANSI C63.4-2003, ANSI C63.4-2009 or with the new ANSI C63.4-2014.  After the transition period, only compliance with ANSI C63.4-2014 will be accepted.  The FCC will apply the same one-year transition period for use of the new edition of ANSI C63.10-2013.

The FCC continues to believe that there is insufficient evidence that rod antennas, artificial hands or absorber clamps produce accurate, repeatable measurements, and that short-duration emissions can produce as much nuisance to radio communications as continuous emissions.   Therefore, the FCC will continue to exclude ANSI C63.4-2014 sections that allow for these methods.

The FCC also addressed the so-called “2 dB rule,” which is a method used to limit the amount of testing needed by determining the worst-case equipment configuration.   ANSI C63.4-2009 included a change from ANSI C63.4-2003 that revised this procedure, but some industry stakeholders were concerned that this change would lead to substantial increases in costs.  To reduce potential burdens on equipment manufacturers, the FCC will continue to accept the use of the 2 dB method in ANSI C63.4-2003 for demonstrating compliance with the requirement in Section 15.31(i), at least until the FCC adopts further revisions to the standard.

On a related matter, the FCC remains unconvinced that it should allow the use of the measurement procedures in CISPR 22 for unintentional radiators, as an alternative to the ANSI-ASC standards being incorporated into the rules at this time.  The FCC also noted that the use of the ANSI C63.4-2014 standard is an improvement over the 2009 standard, in that it provides a means for the use of hybrid antennas that is appropriate and reliable for providing accurate radiated emissions measurements.

Post-Market Surveillance

The new FCC equipment authorization program also includes a new surveillance element for already-certified equipment.  This is something that has been integral in other product compliance programs, like the U.S. NRTL product safety program.

Manufacturers need to maintain methods for ensuring that their equipment continues to meet the specifications certified under the new procedures.  The FCC codified the guidelines currently appearing in its Knowledge Data Base (KDB) for conducting post-market surveillance, placing them into Section 2.962 of the Commission’s rules as mandatory requirements.  In addition to performing post-market surveillance on devices selected by the TCB, the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) may select samples for the TCB to test.  This is designed to prevent a manufacturer or TCB from selecting “golden samples” that may misrepresent the actual behavior of the equipment.

Have questions about the new requirements or need a free quote for continued FCC compliance?   Contact us today.

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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Top 12 Facts about CE Marking of Electrical and Electronic Equipment

by on Mar.30, 2015, under EMC, Product Safety, Regulation

CE markEarlier this year, the European Commission released the latest references for the harmonized standards used to demonstrate conformity with the EU EMC Directive 2004/108/EC and the new R&TTE Directive 1999/5/EC requirements started on January 1, 2015.  (R&TTE is replaced in June 2016 by the Radio Equipment Directive (RED) 2014/53/EC).

Placed on many categories of products, CE Marking is mandatory for machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, medical devices, hazardous location equipment, and other products. So if you are looking to sell an electronics product in the EU, you will need to apply a CE mark.

Here’s a Top 12 list of interesting facts about CE marking:

  1. The CE mark, or formerly EC mark, is a mandatory conformity marking for certain products sold within the European Economic Area (EEA) since 1985
  2. CE stands for Conformité Européenne (French), which means European conformity
  3. CE marking is a self-declaration where a manufacturer proves compliance with EU health, safety and environmental protection legislation and confirms a product’s compliance with relevant requirements
  4. With a CE mark, your product can be sold in the EU and in Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway
  5. There are six steps to CE marking: 1. Identify the relevant directives and standards, 2. Verify the product’s specific requirements, 3. Identify whether an independent conformity assessment (Notified Body) is necessary, 4. Test product, 5. Create technical documentation, and 6. Add CE mark to the product
  6. CE marking is not evidence of compliance – your technical documentation/technical file is
  7. The manufacturer or authorized representative must keep technical documentation for a number of years (the number is dependent on the product type) after the last product has been placed on the market
  8. Each EU country is responsible to enforce CE marking, by banning products and levying fines for non-compliance
  9. Unsafe products are shared in the EU via RAPEX – a rapid alert system on measures taken to prevent or restrict the marketing or use of products posing a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers
  10. There is a very similar logo where the CE stands for Chinese Export or China Export – this has nothing to do with European conformity
  11. The size of the CE mark must be at least 5 mm high.  If the appearance or size of a product do not allow for the CE marking to be affixed on the product itself, the marking has to be affixed to its packaging or accompanying documents
  12. Pre-testing early in the product development process can reduce cost and time to market

MET Labs has tested thousands of products to support CE Marking Declarations of Conformity (DoC) for product safety, electromagnetic compatibility, and energy efficiencyContact us today to tap the experience and skill of the MET engineering team.

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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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