In the first half of 2014, the European Union’s EMC Administrative Cooperation Working Group (EMC ADCO) performed a cross-border EMC market surveillance campaign to assess the compliance of grid-connected solar panel inverters (and optimisers) intended to be used by consumers. Inverters allow electricity generated by solar photovoltaic (PV) modules to be fed into the mains electrical supply of a building, or directly into the public electricity grid.
The primary purpose of the campaign was to assess the compliance of inverter samples randomly taken from the market, with the provisions of the EMC Directive (EMCD). EMC ADCO is not a regulatory body, so there were no penalties assessed as a result of non-compliance.
Fifty-five products were assessed between January 1, 2014 and the 30th June 2014. In general, the level of compliance with the administrative and technical requirements was considered very low. Overall, only 9% of the Equipment Under Test (EUT) were assessed as compliant.
The results of the assessment of EUT showed:
- Approximately a third (38%) were administratively compliant (related to CE mark use and Declarations of Conformity)
- A third (33%) were technically compliant with an applicable harmonized standard
For emissions, 38% were compliant to EN 55011 Table 8 limits at mains terminals in the frequency range 9 kHz-150 kHz. For the DC side (optional), 43% were compliant to EN 61000-6-3 emission requirements to the DC power port. Immunity aspects were not assessed.
Fourteen European countries participated in the campaign. The majority of EUT – 58 % – were of EU/EFTA origin.
EMC ADCO concluded: “The EUT represented a large sample of the products available on the market and it is clear that much remains to be done by manufacturers in terms of compliance.”
MET Labs is a leading 3rd party evaluator of inverters for Europe, North America, and Asia. Contact us today for a free quote for inverter testing and certification for product safety and/or electromagnetic compatibility (including anti-islanding).
No new certifications to Version 3.0 are allowable, although existing Version 3.0 certifications will remain valid for the purposes of ENERGY STAR qualification until December 19, 2014. At that time, any product shipped with an ENERGY STAR label must meet Version 4.1 requirements.
The 4.1 specification covers the full suite of cable, satellite, internet protocol (IP), terrestrial, and over-the-top STBs and keeps pace with a quickly evolving market by adding requirements for displayless gateways as well as enhanced functionality like high efficiency video processing (HEVP) and ultra high definition (UltraHD) content transmission, both of which support transmission of richer content.
The 4.1 specification also adopts the EPA’s approach to incentivizing energy saving multi-room configurations and deep sleep and establishes a test method for ENERGY STAR that harmonizes with the Voluntary Agreement for Ongoing Improvement to the Energy Efficiency of Set-top Boxes (VA).
Note: The new spec says STBs must be tested under worst case in terms of configurations and service provider networks. ENERGY STAR Partners may certify STBs that cannot meet the ENERGY STAR requirements in some configurations or on some networks if they assign a unique model identifier to the STBs that do meet them.
MET Labs is an EPA-recognized lab and certification body for 15 ENERGY STAR product categories. Get a free quote now to evaluate your product to the STB 4.1 specification or any other energy efficiency standard, including the Version 6.0 ENERGY STAR specification for computers.
Most electrical product testing is to a published standard, but not always. MET Labs has a rich history of developing custom test plans that meet manufacturers’ specific needs.
One reason for developing a custom test plan is to check equipment performance against marketing claims made by the equipment manufacturer, or to check the performance of your product against a competitor’s product. Performance can include reliability, accuracy, safety, energy efficiency, or other factors.
A recent customer example comes from a large industrial solutions company that asked MET to test the performance of its noise isolation transformer against its own marketing claims. The transformers are sold to schools, hospitals and small offices (especially in high lightning strike areas) to protect against transient overvoltage, spikes/surges and other undesirable noise.
The company asked us to measure the capacitance and the common and normal mode noise attenuation between the primary and secondary of their transformers. We found that there was no established test procedure standard to refer to, so we developed one and had it approved by the customer.
Here is the basic setup we developed to measure the transformer’s capacitance: The transformer and test equipment was wired according to the accompanying diagram. At each test frequency, the signal generator was set to output Vrms (Vin), and the spectrum analyzer was set to measure Vrms (Vout). The following formula was used to calculate the capacitance:
C = [Kf((Vin/Vout)-1]^-1, where K=2π*50Ω and f=frequency in Hz.
The accuracy of this test method and our test equipment was checked by measuring a range of known capacitors prior to measuring the transformers under test.
Similarly, we developed test methods to measure common and normal mode noise attenuation.
What were the results? Customer test results are confidential so we can’t say, but the customer is satisfied and we are looking forward to the next non-‘standard’ testing challenge they have for us.
Have a challenging application? Tell us about it – we can help.
To determine whether your product needs Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) testing, there are a few items to consider.
First, is the device operated within 20cm (7.87”) of the head or body? If no, then SAR does not apply. If yes, then SAR does apply, but testing may be excluded based on the device’s output power.
The maximum conducted output power is the average conducted power at the antenna port plus any production tolerance. When calculating output power, keep in mind the device’s duty-cycle. For SAR, the on and off time-averaged power is to be considered. So if not already accounted for, the duty cycle factor may be applied directly to the output power.
To determine whether the output power is below the threshold for testing, it depends on where the device is being certified for. Here are some common jurisdictions:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) utilizes a formula to determine SAR test exclusion in KDB 447498 D01v05 Section 4.3. For separation distances of <50mm if the following equation results in <3.0 then test exclusion for 1g SAR applies: (Output power, mW) / (separation distance, mm) x (sqrt(freq), GHz). Use 5mm for separation distances <5mm.
Industry Canada stipulates the exclusion threshold in RSS-102. For 3kHz – 1GHz it is 200mW, for 1GHz – 2.2GHz it is 100mW, for 2.2GHz – 3GHz it is 20mW and for 3GHz – 6GHz it is 10mW. Note that per Industry Canada, output power is always the higher of conducted or equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP).
In the EU, the threshold is given in IEC/EN 62479:2010. A simple formula is used: Pmax = SARmax * m.
For each jurisdiction, if the devices output power is less than the threshold, SAR testing is not required. However, in most cases, a statement showing why it is excluded and how it still meets the requirements must be submitted.
Sign up for one of our upcoming complimentary wireless product testing seminars in Silicon Valley, California:
Last month, a U.S. House of Representatives committee asked the Missile Defense Agency to consider the use of Highly Accelerated Life Testing and Highly Accelerated Stress Screening (HALT/HASS) for identifying possible reliability issues in critical ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems and components.
The committee also believes HALT testing can help ferret out unreliable counterfeit parts that enter into the missile defense supply chain.
From the report:
“Effective utilization of modern methods and equipment for highly accelerated life testing and highly accelerated stress screening (HALT/HASS) during early design stages has been demonstrated to yield significant improvements in reliability and more effective product designs, as well as cost savings. Through modern HALT/HASS testing, key components and subcomponents are subjected to overstresses, revealing latent design flaws (including those based on the use of faulty or counterfeit parts) that can go undetected with legacy testing approaches.”
The House committee asks the Director of the Missile Defense Agency to conduct an assessment of the value, feasibility, and cost of greater utilization of modern HALT /HASS testing equipment and processes to:
- Shorten design and development timelines
- Reduce system and component testing and lifecycle costs
- Enhance reliability of critical missile defense systems and components
- Help address the growing problem of detecting and preventing the introduction of counterfeit parts
The Missile Defense Agency Director is asked to provide his recommendations regarding use of HALT/HASS by January 15, 2014.
Learn why HALT tests are superior to traditional reliability tests in a free HALT webinar next week.
Ask to tour MET’s HALT testing setup in one of our environmental simulation labs.
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
This week, MET’s Product Safety Lab Director Rick Cooper is attending a meeting of a newly-convened standards committee in Long Beach, CA to discuss the creation of a new medical equipment safety of interoperability standard(s) tentatively known as AAMI/UL 2800. The meeting is well attended by interested parties consisting of certification agencies like MET Labs, and manufacturers, consultants, researchers, and medical professionals.
The topic is a very complex one, but essentially a need has been determined that medical equipment shall be designed, tested and certified to be interoperable while maintaining a specified level of safety.
The problem of interoperability is significant. There are so many different makes and models of so many different types of products to consider – e.g. pulse oximeters, blood pressure monitors, EKGs, and on and on. Each has its own unique needs and features. For example, with EKG filter settings, how do you assure this is communicated to connected equipment? What protocol is to be used? This is just one example of many possible scenarios.
This initial meeting will move into a standards development process jointly managed by AAMI and UL via UL’s Collaborative Standards Development System (CSDS).
No firm deadline exists for when this process might result in a standard or set of standards, but everyone in attendance agrees it needs to be as soon as possible. Any resulting standard will be voluntary and not mandatory.
Official minutes of the meeting are due to be released to participants in early July.
For more information, contact Rick Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org with “AAMI/UL 2800” in the subject line.
Register for a free Overview of 60601-1 3rd Edition Webinar for safety certification of electro-medical devices.
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.
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.