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.
Product safety certification to UL 913 Intrinsically Safe Apparatus and Associated Apparatus for Use in Class I, II, and III, Division 1, Hazardous (Classified) Locations is a unique situation. There are currently two active editions of the standard: 5th and 7th. (The 6th Edition was withdrawn in April 2008 in the sense that the standards writing body did not think any further certifications should be issued to it.)
While both cover the fundamentals of intrinsic safety, there are significant difference between the two; the 7th edition is harmonized with the international requirements of the IEC 60079 series. This results in a more stringent edition of the standard that employs enhanced requirements. A few major enhancements in UL913 7th edition are as follows:
- Electrostatic discharge (ESD) testing on non-metallic enclosures
- Options for reduced spacings (utilizing annex F)
- More detailed guidance on the infallibility of traces
- Incorporates impact and drop testing from 60079 Series
- More detail-oriented battery testing, including: Guidance on the internal energy limiting componentry of the batteries during testing; Electrolyte leakage testing; and conditioning of battery sampling when rechargeable
- Outdoor use products require at a minimum IP 54 testing
Manufacturers must comply with the 7th Edition of UL 913 by July 31, 2016, but are encouraged to transition earlier, especially if selling in international markets.
Join us for our biggest event of the year: MET’s 2013 Annual Global Product Compliance Seminar & Crab Feast
Early Consideration of EMC & Product Safety Compliance in Product Development Saves Time and Headaches
When developing a new electrical product, early consideration of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and product safety compliance issues will pay major dividends later.
If compliance is not engineered in from the start, expect to endure this pain:
- A major delay as the product is redesigned, jeopardizing time to market and product viability
- Significant extra costs for rework and increased product cost
- Team dissension and rock-bottom morale
What’s the best way to integrate compliance into a new product? First, get buy in from senior management, then:
- Buy and read the relevant safety and EMC standards and train your design engineers in the basics of compliance
- Have your compliance engineers work side by side with the designers, providing deeper expertise when needed, and information about the latest changes to standards and regulations
- Perform early design reviews and early testing on the first prototypes to lower the risk during final compliance testing
Don’t have a compliance engineering team? We can help. In addition to testing and certification, MET Labs offers compliance assistance, with controls in place to prevent a conflict of interest, as required by our accreditation agencies.
On February 15, 2013 the national Russian certification system GOST R and national Russian technical regulation “On Safety of Machinery Equipment” (Russian government order N 753 of September 15, 2009) were withdrawn.
Simultaneously, the new Customs Union Technical Regulation (CU TR) for most electrical products was enforced in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Earlier issued GOST R certificates will be valid until March 15, 2015. After that, the new EAC mark must be used.
There are a number of changes in the CU TR for manufacturers of mass-produced products. Here are a couple of the most significant:
- The certification applicant must have a formal relationship (contract) with a Russian representative legal entity. With GOST, this was not required.
- Mandatory factory audits are performed by a Russian certification body. With GOST, a test lab could do this.
Following is a list of new Customs Union Technical Regulations for electrical products (all in Russian):
- On the Safety of Low-Voltage Equipment
- Electromagnetic Compatibility
- On Safety of Machinery Equipment
- On Safety of Equipment for Explosive Atmospheres
- Safety of Lifts
- On Safety of Equipment Operating on Gaseous Fuels
What is IEC 62368-1?
It is the new safety standard for Information Technology Equipment and Audio/Video Equipment. It is intended to replace IEC 60950-1 and IEC 60065. It is a hazard-based, performance-oriented standard.
Is IEC 62368-1 a risk-based standard?
No! Unlike IEC 60601-1, 3rd Edition, risk analysis is not required. Neither is it a simple merger of IEC 60065 and 60950-1.
Why are IEC 60950-1 & 60065 being replaced?
Technology is changing, and IEC 62368-1 is technology independent. It also minimizes the need for national/regional differences.
Is IEC 62368-1, Edition No. 1 being adopted internationally?
The United States (ANSI-UL 62368-1), Canada (CSA C22.2 No 62368-1), Denmark, Netherlands, & South Africa adopted national versions. Edition No. 1 was not supported by Europe (CENELEC), which wanted further refinement of requirements before adoption. In Asia, multiple countries are doing a close study of it. For the IECEE CB Scheme, IEC 62368-1 has been activated under OFF/TRON. OFF & TRON account for over half of CB Scheme certifications.
What is the status of IEC 62368-1, Edition No. 2?
Edition No. 2 of IEC 62368-1 (108/495A/CDV) was distributed in December and has a closing date for voting by TC108 National Committee Participating members of March 1, 2013. The U.S. TAG TC108 will reportedly submit an affirmative vote on the CDV. The IEC target publication date is the second half of 2013. Then, it is expected that Europe will adopt EN 62368-1, 2nd edition, with a likely 5 year effective date. The target publication date of Edition No. 2 of CSA/UL 62368-1 is summer 2014, with a likely 5 year effective date.
When will IEC 60065 & 60950-1 be transitioned out?
It is expected the last versions of IEC 60065 (8th edition) and IEC 60950-1 (2nd edition,
Am. 2) will be published in 2013. In Europe, the final versions of EN 60065 and EN 60950-1 are expected to be published in 2013 with a likely 3 year effective date. For the U.S. & Canada, final versions of CSA/UL 60065 & 60950-1 are expected to be published in 2014, with a likely 3 year effective date. For the EU & North America, new certifications of A/V, IT & CT Equipment are likely to be required to comply with an IEC 62368-1 based standard beginning around 2018.
Have additional questions about the change? Ask Pat, our compliance expert.
Need testing for IT or A/V equipment? Request a quote.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted new materials that aid in the testing and certification of lighting products for ENERGY STAR:
Certifying Luminaires – Utilizing the Certified Subcomponent Database (CSD)
This document helps luminaire manufacturers select components for ENERGY STAR fixtures. Items listed on the CSD have already been tested for photometric, life and/or electrical performance at EPA-recognized laboratories. Using the CSD can help reduce testing costs and time associated with the ENERGY STAR certification process for luminaires.
Certifying Luminaires – LED Light Engines and GU24 Base Lamps
This document helps explain the nuances and benefits of these two light sources and how to get these products listed on the CSD. Using these products in lieu of built-in LED systems can help reduce engineering and testing costs, and time to market. EPA’s latest ENERGY STAR specification for Luminaires provides a straightforward pathway for qualifying fixtures with these products.
Certifying Luminaires – Maximizing Testing Investment�
This document explains how testing costs can be minimized by utilizing allowable variations to group product together into a family. As an EPA-recognized certification body (CB), MET Laboratories can help determine the appropriate groupings.
Time to Certification
This document visually shows the process to qualify a luminaire and also provides estimates for lifetime testing.
For questions regarding testing and certification, contact MET Labs.
We received so much positive feedback on our blog posts for EMC Compliance Links and Product Safety Compliance Links, that we decided to dedicate a post to spotlight the top blogs for electrical product developers.
With a few exceptions, these blogs are from independent sources, like industry associations, publishers or consultants. What are we missing? Leave a comment with a link to it.
Aerospace & Defense Blog Military and aerospace electronics news and information.
ANSI International standards and accreditation activities.
Buzzblog Intelligence and insight for Network and IT Executives.
CertAssist Consulting Product Safety information, especially regarding 60950-1 and 61010-1.
Circuit Advisor Circuit design and troubleshooting.
Compliance Today Electrical testing and certification news and information.
DfR Solutions Forum Reliability design and testing.
Digital Dialogue From the Consumer Electronics Association, sponsor of the Consumer Electronics Show. (Side note: You can meet with MET at CES next week)
EDN Network 59(!) blogs for the electronics community on various topics.
EE Life Blog Electrical engineering topics from EE Times.
EleBlog Frequently updated blog on the electrical industry.
Electronics Weekly Blogs 15 blogs, including Certification & Test and Directive Decoder.
EMC Zone Issues affecting engineers working in the EMC industry.
Emergo Group Global medical device regulatory updates.
EPN Automotive Electronics Blog Automotive electronics issues from a European perspective.
EPN Industrial Automation Blog Industrial automation and controls topics from a European perspective.
EPN Renewable Energy Blog Info on electronic components and technologies related to solar power, wind power, and other renewable energy sources from a European perspective.
EPN RF & Wireless Blog Updates on RF/microwave and wireless technology, systems, standards and events from a European perspective.
IEEE Spectrum 5 blogs on nanotech, robots, risk analysis, general tech, and energy.
IEEE Standards Insight Promotes technology standards and their development.
Instruments for Industry Information to help RF EMI and EMC test engineers, from an amplifier manufacturer.
Medical Electronics Design A resource for medical electronics OEMs.
Microwave Journal A handful of blogs concentrating on microwave and RF technology.
NEMA Currents Information on electrical grid, safety, energy efficiency, smart grid, and regulation.
Nick’s Fire, Electrical Safety & Security Blog Common sense security, fire & electrical safety.
OnSafety Official blog of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Pradeep’s Point A resource for semiconductors, solar PV, telecom, electronics, infocom, components, nanotech, and IT.
Product Safety Blog Product safety legal issues from Miles & Stockbridge.
Regulatory News Blog Telecom regulatory news.
Reliability Blog Electronics reliability engineering.
RFID Journal Blog RFID industry news and information.
Smart Grid Sherpa Information on smart grid technologies, from DNV KEMA.
Test and Certification Blog Product test and certification from an EU perspective.
Test & Measurement World 14 blogs, including The EMC Blog and Eye on Standards.
WeMakeItSafer Product safety regulations and recall information.
What are your favorite electrical product development blogs? Please leave a comment with a link to it.
Need testing? Contact Us.
New Requirement for Dimmable CFLs and LEDs
The meeting agenda began with a roundtable, which was focused on dimmers. EPA has encouraged consumers to transition to CFLs and LED bulbs to save energy, but their performance with dimmers has sometimes been less than optimal. Some dimmers are exhibiting flickering, noise and limited dimming. As a result, consumers are getting frustrated and switching back to incandescent bulbs.
The EPA is establishing a working group to introduce some basic requirements for all ENERGY STAR-labeled dimmable lamps/bulbs. It will include requirements for:
- Dimmer level
- Noise level
The test method is based on recommendations from NEMA and LRC (Lighting Research Center). The EPA is also considering a proposal to have building codes include dimmers for both CFLs and LED bulbs.
Lighting Certification Update
There are also updates on some new standards being developed for lighting certification, which are as follows:
- LM-84: To measure lumen and color maintenance of LED lamps, light engines and luminaires
- LM-85: To measure electric and photometric measurements for high power LEDs
- TM-26: To project rated life for LED packages
- TM-28: To project long term lumen maintenance of LED lights based on LM-84 data
Consumer Electronics Expansion
For consumer electronics, EPA intends to expand the product category in 2013 to include:
- Small Network Equipment
- Climate Control
- IP Phones
- Game Consoles
In 2013, there will be standard revisions for:
- Set-Top Boxes
- Battery Charging Systems
Touch and voice activation functionality will also be evaluated to implement as a function of energy for products with such features.
See other ENERGY STAR testing updates from MET Labs.
Utilize MET for Energy Efficiency testing and/or certification.
This post is the second of two posts on hazardous location product safety testing and certification. The first post explored testing for UL/CSA, ATEX & IECEx.
This post looks at certification requirements for particular markets/countries.
In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) governs the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) program, and accredits laboratories like MET Labs to product safety certify products. Hazardous location products must meet normal location and hazardous location requirements.
In Canada, Standards Council Canada (SCC) accredits labs to certify hazardous location equipment.
European Union (EU) Member Countries
The CE Marking, which includes the ATEX Directive and any other applicable Directives, is mandatory for equipment offered for sale or use within the EU. Equipment must bear all applicable markings (EN 60079 Series) and must be accompanied by a Manufacturer’s Declaration of Conformity.
Other Directives may also apply, such as PED for pressure equipment, Machinery Directive and EMC.
Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore
These countries require an IECEx Certificate of Conformity issued by an accredited IECEx Certification Body (ExCB), and equipment must bear the applicable markings outlined by the IEC 60079 series of standards.
Note also that for mining equipment, some jurisdictions within Australia require the IECEx Certificate of Conformity to be issued by an Australian ExCB.
For above ground (non-mining) hazardous location equipment, China has an IECEx Certification Body and will accept an Ex Test Report (ExTR) and/or an ATEX Report as a basis for issuing Chinese national certification. Generally, hazardous location equipment which is approved under the ATEX or the IECEx Scheme can be reviewed and issued a certificate by NEPSI (National Supervision and Inspection Center for Explosion Protection and Safety of Instrumentation) or CQST (China National Quality Supervision and Test Center for Explosion Protected Products).
Some products may also need metrology approval, MA mining certification, fire safety approval or CCC marking for general electrical safety.
Russia has an IECEx Certification Body and will accept an Ex Test Report (ExTR) and/or an ATEX Report as a basis for issuing national certification.
A GOST-R certificate is required for most electrical products shipped through Russian customs. For products intended for hazardous locations, the GOST-Ex certificate is required. The IECEx or ATEX certificate and ExTR or ATEX Report can be used to obtain the GOST-Ex. In addition, a permit for use from the Federal Ecological, Technological and Atomic Supervision Service (Rostekhnadzor) is required for the intended installation.
Korea accepts an Ex Test Report (ExTR) and/or an ATEX Report as a basis for issuing national certification. There are three main certification bodies: KGS, KOSHA and KTL. Applications must be made in Korean.
India is a member of the IECEx Scheme, but there are no Indian certification agencies currently accredited as ExCBs. There are a number of certification agencies within India, and an ATEX or IECEx Certificate and Report will help in obtaining National Certification for India.
Find out more about testing products for different world markets.
Get a quote for hazardous location product safety certification for one or multiple markets.
Safety testing and certifying products for hazardous locations is complicated, especially when a manufacturer is exporting to multiple markets. Following is a basic primer. For more detailed information or questions, contact MET Labs.
In countries with formal certification and a 3-zone system, the IEC60079 series of standards is commonly used, adopted as National Standards as they are written or with some National Deviations that ensure compatibility with local installation codes.
Most all other countries that produce their own National Standards base them on the IEC 60079 series. Some countries, like the U.S. and Canada, have dual standards systems: National Standards, plus adoption of the IEC60079 series as an alternate system.
CE Marking/ATEX Directive
All EU countries require CE Markings, which involves the ATEX Directive for products used in hazardous locations. The use of harmonized EN standards gives the manufacturer the “presumption of conformity” to the “Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs)” and a basis on which to issue a declaration of compliance for the ATEX Directive.
The ATEX Directive requires:
- ATEX EC Type Exam Certificate, which documents the evaluation and testing of the subject equipment, performed to the applicable EN 60079 Standards, which are an adoption of the IEC 60079 Series with National Deviations for ATEX markings. The certificate is issued by a Notified Body (NB).
- ATEX Quality Assessment Notification (QAN), which documents the suitability of the manufacturer’s QA system, performed to the EN13980 Standard. The notification is issued by a NB.
- Declaration of Conformity (DoC) stating compliance with all applicable Directives. The DoC is issued by the manufacturer for Zone 2 certifications. Zone 1 and Zone 0 DoC certifications are issued by the NB.
For certain types of equipment (non-electrical for Zone 1 or both electrical and non-electrical for Zone 2), it is possible to self-declare compliance.
The IECEx Scheme is the CB Scheme for electrical equipment used in explosive atmospheres (hazardous locations). It consists of three elements, all issued by an IECEx Scheme Certification Body (ExCB):
- IECEx Test Report (ExTR), which documents the evaluation and testing of the subject equipment, performed to the applicable IEC 60079 Series Standards
- IECEx Quality Assessment Report (ExQAR), which documents the suitability of the manufacturer’s QA system, performed to OD 005 (EN13980)
- IECEx Certificate of Conformity (IECEx CoC), which can be issued to a manufacturer holding an ExTR and an applicable ExQAR.
In alliance with UK-based TRaC Global, MET offers testing, certification and product inspection services under the ATEX Directive and the IECEx Certified Equipment Scheme, via an innovative Harmonised International Ex Testing Program. Read more about it.