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Applying EMC Directive Harmonised Standards Is Not Enough

Applying EMC Directive Harmonised Standards Is Not Enough

Keith Armstrong, global EMC expert at EMC Standards, a partner of the 2022 EMC and Compliance International exhibition, explains why selecting harmonised test standards under the EU’s EMC Directive is no longer sufficient for legal compliance.

If you are still choosing the most relevant test standards listed under the EMC Directive in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU), then passing those tests and listing them on your Declarations of EMC Conformity, you are five years out of date and your products might suffer costly delays in EU and UK customs.

Instead, since the EMC Directive 2014/30/EU — as well as the UK EMC Regulations — came into force in 2016, we have been required to perform and document an “adequate analysis and assessment of the risks” of our products complying with the Directive’s Essential Requirements.

The purpose of these ‘risk assessments’ is to specify which — or which parts of — EMC standards, specifications, guidelines, etc. we should apply to our products, to help ensure their EMC compliance. There are resources available on EMC Standards that explain what is covered in the new EMC Directive.

An important issue is that we are almost certain to find ourselves having to apply test standards that we are not familiar with, and are often not listed in the OJEU. This is especially true for frequencies below 150 kHz, which has historically been neglected by EMC test standards because it is below any European broadcasting frequencies.

However, a great many activities have recently started to develop that can mean products causing or suffering electromagnetic interference (EMI) at frequencies below 150 kHz — and of course the EMC Directive covers frequencies from “DC to Daylight”, so this is a growing risk.

One of the harmonised standards that has been developed to help deal with EMI <150 kHz is IEC 61000-4-13, an immunity test standard that addresses the increasing distortion of AC mains supply waveforms. I wrote a guidebook on this standard a few years ago, which is free to read and download. IEC 61000-4-13 has been updated since I wrote it, but I expect the basics described in my guide to still be relevant and helpful.

Designing products that comply with the specifications of the latest EMC Directive is one of several EMC and interference topics that will be addressed at next year’s EMC and Compliance International trade show. The event, taking place at Newbury Racecourse on May 18 and 19 2022, is the UK’s only independent EMC conference and will feature practical workshops and insightful expert sit-down sessions. Registration to attend and exhibit at the event is open now.

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