Tag: product safety
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.
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Counterfeit electrical products are a huge and growing problem. Counterfeit products worth billions of dollars enter the U.S. each year. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 13% of all counterfeit products seized are electrical products, ranking them second among all category totals.
The manufacture of counterfeit electrical products is popular because the profits are outsized, and it’s difficult to pinpoint where bad products are originally made, and who is responsible for exporting them.
Generally, counterfeiters don’t go to the expense of having products tested and verified by an approved third-party testing lab designated as a nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL) such as MET Labs, but they will sometimes produce fake approval logos.
To lower costs, counterfeit products typically have substandard design, materials, and/or manufacturing quality. Counterfeit electrical products present serious health and safety risks to consumers and to the electrical industry. These products can overheat or cause short circuits, leading to fires, shocks or explosions that can kill people and produce considerable property damage.
Manufacturers, distributors, and installers of electrical products also face legal risks for trading in counterfeit products — even if they are victims of counterfeiters.
To protect yourself from the purchase of counterfeit electrical products, observe these 5 guidelines. If you are an electrical product manufacturer, encourage your customers to do the same – you never know when one of those bogus products will have your brand name on it.
- Buy from a reputable source. Purchase products from the manufacturer’s authorized distributors or a known retailer.
- Examine labels, documentation and packaging. Check for certification marks from organizations that certify the quality and performance of electrical products. Avoid products that lack any identifying branding label or have poor-quality labels, missing owner’s manual, out-of-date product codes, and suspect packaging.
- Verify authentication. Use tools provided by the original manufacturer or certification organizations to verify electrical products are authentic. For a MET-safety-labeled product, verify authenticity in the MET Labs Online Safety Certification Database.
- Examine the product. Quality control is often lacking in counterfeiting operations, so you may be able to spot a counterfeit based on its workmanship.
- Avoid bargains. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
If a product is suspected to be counterfeit, contact the brand owner and report your concern to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement: 1-866-347-2423.
Read about how the MET safety mark compares to UL.
In the event of a power failure on the electric grid, it is required that any independent power-producing inverters attached to the grid turn off in a short period of time. This prevents the DC-to-AC inverters from continuing to feed power into small sections of the grid, known as “islands.” Powered islands present a risk to workers who may expect the area to be unpowered, and they may also damage grid-tied equipment.
A single inverter operating independently can easily detect the presence or lack of a grid source. However, if there are two inverters in a given island, things become considerably more complex. It is possible that the signal from one can be interpreted as a grid feed from the other, and vice versa, so both units continue operation.
Since 1999, the standard for anti-islanding protection in the United States has been UL 1741, harmonized with IEEE 1547.
The requirement for a unit under test is to detect an island condition and cease to energize the area electric power
system (EPS) within two seconds of the formation of an island. This disconnection time is measured from the point that the switch is opened up disconnecting the grid but leaving the islanding circuit connected and the point that the unit ceases exportation of current to the grid.
The island load is adjusted to ensure a power quality factor (Q) of 1.0 (+/- 0.05) and the “central” balanced load condition. In addition, the output current flowing to the grid through the switch (S3) is limited to a maximum value of 2% of the rated output current and the Q=1.0 balanced load condition of the unit under test.
In addition to testing at the balanced load condition of Q=1.0, The test is to be repeated with the reactive load (either capacitive or inductive) adjusted in 1% increments from 95% to 105% of the initial balanced load component value. If the unit’s shutdown times are still increasing at the 95% or 105% points, additional 1% increments shall be taken until trip times begin decreasing.
The anti-islanding test is repeated for 3 output power levels: 33%, 66%, and 100% of the rated output power of the unit under test.
The test is considered complete when one of two situations occur:
- When disconnect times illustrate a pattern of decreasing times with respect to a balanced load condition yielding the longest disconnect time
- When the resultant tank circuit frequency is such that it is past the frequency trip point of the unit under test such that the unit under test is tripping offline due to a frequency fault
UL 1741 has other performance requirements as well, including power quality, interconnect integrity, and operating voltage and frequency parameters. For information about testing inverters to any of these requirements, contact us.
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.
In the U.S. workplace, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that all electrical equipment be safety certified. Many state, county and local jurisdictions also have similar requirements.
However, equipment is sometimes installed that has not been certified or has been modified after installation.
Then, a field evaluation may be necessary, as determined by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).
OSHA has an accreditation program for Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs), but no similar program exists for organizations that evaluate products in the field. Therefore, there are dozens of testing companies that claim competency to conduct field evaluations of electrical equipment.
NFPA 790, Standard for Competency of Third-Party Field Evaluation Bodies
This standard establishes minimum competency requirements for organizations that perform field evaluations, including:
- Using nationally recognized standards
- Demonstrating technical expertise on the equipment being evaluated
- Barring conflicts of interests, such as being owned by a manufacturer
- Barring modifications required for a product to achieve compliance
- Personnel are required to meet competence criteria
- Maintenance of records related to technical staff qualifications, training and experience
NFPA 791, Recommended Practice and Procedures for Unlabeled Electrical Equipment Evaluation
This standard was developed to describe recommended field evaluation procedures for field evaluation bodies, including:
- Field evaluations should be drawn principally from the applicable nationally recognized product safety standard
- Equipment must be capable of being installed in accordance with the NEC
All deficiencies are identified in a report that is provided to the client and the AHJ. Corrective actions may be taken to resolve these deficiencies, and when all issues are satisfactorily resolved, a label is applied by the field evaluation body to the equipment.
MET Labs is now operating a NFPA 790 & 791 Quality Management System.
Get information about the steps MET Labs takes during a field inspection.
Inquire about NRTL product safety certification for a new or modified product.
Audio/video equipment and information technology equipment intended for sale in China must meet new China Compulsory Certification (CCC) product safety requirements starting in November and December, respectively.
In February, the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China (CNCA) Technical Committee for High Tech Industry finalized the certificate update instructions for both GB8898 (Audio, Video and Similar Electronic Apparatus – Safety Requirements) and GB4943 (Safety of Information Technology Equipment). The updated standards are GB8898-2011 and GB4943.1-2011. The official change announcement was made April 10.
GB8898-2011 for A/V Equipment
After November 1, 2012, the China Quality Certification Centre (CQC) will only accept A/V equipment applications for the CCC Mark to the new GB8898-2011 standard. From November 1, 2012 onwards, non-compliant products will not be permitted to be imported into or sold in the China market.
For A/V products marketed under existing certificates, manufacturers are required to update their certificates according to the new standard by November 1, 2013, with an additional grace period extending to February 1, 2014. All suspended certificates will be withdrawn by the CQC after February 1, 2014.
GB4943.1-2011 for IT Equipment
After December 1, 2012, the CQC will only accept IT equipment applications for the CCC Mark to the new GB4943.1-2011 standard. From December 1, 2012 onwards, non-compliant products will not be permitted to be imported into or sold in the China market.
For IT products marketed under existing certificates, manufacturers are required to update their certificates according to the new standard by December 1, 2013, with an additional grace period extending to March 1, 2014. All suspended certificates will be withdrawn by the CQC after March 1, 2014.
For more information about these changes, contact MET China.
To learn about accessing many countries with a single certification, register for our CB Scheme Webinar.
Effective last month, Brazilian National Certification Bodies (NCBs) and CB Testing Laboratories (CBTLs) have been suspended from the IECEE CB Scheme. This is the first time that the IECEE has suspended a member.
The suspension is attributed to additional accreditation requirements of Brazil’s regulatory authority, the National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (INMETRO). INMETRO requires that CB test reports and certificates come from a testing laboratory accredited by INMETRO or an Accreditation Body that is a signatory of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation Mutual Recognition Agreement (ILAC MRA). This requirement is not in line with the requirements of the IECEE, which is based on a Peer Assessment System between members of the IECEE CB Scheme.
The suspension prevents IECEE members from accepting test certificates and test reports from Brazil.
The IECEE CB Scheme is an international cooperation between 65 NCBs with hundreds of testing laboratories located in 50 participating countries. It is based on the principal of mutual recognition of test results for obtaining national safety certification of electrical equipment and components.
According to the IECEE Executive Secretary, Pierre de Ruvo, the suspension will be cancelled and full membership reinstated as soon as an agreement is reached with INMETRO and/or the Brazilian Committee of Electricity, Electronics, Lighting and Telecommunication (COBEI).
Laboratories – Learn how to become a CBTL of a U.S.-based NCB.
Manufacturers – Get a CB Scheme test report or test certificate.
Register for a free webinar: Using the CB Scheme to Access the World Marketplace.
For Medical Electrical Equipment product safety compliance in Canada, Health Canada currently recognizes both the second edition of IEC 60601-1, published in 1988, and the third edition, published in 2005. In October, 2008, Health Canada published a notice indicating that until June 1, 2012, conformity to the second edition of IEC 60601-1 and its related collateral and particular standards would be accepted. After June 1, 2012, conformity to the third edition would be required.
New editions of particular standards (specific to a particular device type and designated as IEC 60601-2-X) harmonized with the third edition of IEC 60601-1 have, in many cases, not yet been published, or have been published only recently, making a full transition to the entire family by the June 1, 2012 deadline impossible.
To address this, on March 22, Health Canada issued Additional Guidance on Transition from the Second to the Third Editions of the IEC 60601 Family of Standards on Health Canada’s List of Recognized Standards. It states:
- If there is not a particular standard that is directly applicable to the device as of June 1, 2012, it should conform to IEC 60601-1 3rd edition and its applicable collateral standards (that is, IEC 60601-1-X).
- If there is a particular standard that is directly applicable to the device and the version that harmonizes with IEC 60601-1 3rd edition was published by IEC before June 1, 2009, then the device should conform to IEC 60601-1 3rd edition and its applicable collateral standards in addition to this particular standard.
- If there is a particular standard that is directly applicable to the device and the version that harmonizes with IEC 60601-1 3rd edition was published by IEC after June 1, 2009, a three year transition period from the date of publication by IEC will apply. During this transition, Health Canada will accept conformity to both editions and related collateral standards.
These transition rules will not be applied retroactively. If the manufacturer currently holds a license for a device that was tested according to IEC 60601-1 2nd edition, you do not need to submit additional data, unless there is a significant change to the product as defined in the Guidance for the Interpretation of Significant Change of a Medical Device.
Keep in mind that provincial or territorial electrical safety requirements are separate and distinct from the requirements of the Health Canada regulations. For further information regarding these requirements, contact the applicable regulatory authorities. A listing of some of these authorities is available here.
The Health Canada website should be consulted for the most current List of Recognized Standards.
For the 3rd edition implementation schedule for the United States, see this Compliance Today post.
Later this month, MET is hosting a free Medical Equipment Regulatory Compliance Seminar in Texas. It features presentations on 60601-1 for product safety and EMC compliance, as well as CE marking.
Following are recent and near future changes to electrical product regulatory requirements in South Korea.
Effective January 1, 2012, the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) requires radiated emission measurements at the limit, above 1GHz, by the highest internal source of the device and also conducted disturbance testing for devices with telecommunication ports. The limit is the same as CISPR 22:2006.
Effective July 1, 2012, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) will assume responsibility for regulating safety of electrical products sold in Korea, a role currently carried out by KCC. After July 1, KCC will only regulate IT/RF/Telecom products.
Effective January 1, 2013, KCC plans to expand its existing SAR requirements for mobile phones to include all radio equipment that is used within 20 cm of the human body. This harmonizes the Korean SAR requirements with FCC and other international standard requirements. Low powered radio devices (below 20mW) are exempt from this new requirement.
Learn how to gain certification for the Korean market using a Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) under Phase I of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Mutual Recognition Agreement for Conformity Assessment of Telecommunications Equipment (APEC Tel MRA).
Participate in a free International EMC Homologation webinar on April 10, 2012.