Product Certification – Consumer/Industrial Applications

Any electronic device for consumer/industrial application needs to be certified as per standards mandated by the country’s regulatory authorities before going into market. Passing the required certification tests is one of the important steps of product design life cycle.

There are different certification standards such as –

  • FCC – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent United States government agency which defines the standards that devices needs to pass to get the FCC certification.
  • CE – The European commission defines the standards which are applicable in Europe
  • UL – UL is a American safety consulting & certification company which defines the safety requirements for electronic devices

The certification standards vary from country to country, but most of the tests are similar to FCC/CE & UL standards. Thus if a device passes the above certification tests, device can mostly pass certification standards of other countries with no or minor tweaks.

In addition, IEC (International Electro-technical Commission) prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic & related technologies. Usage of IEC standards is not mandatory, but IEC standards are often referenced in the regulations around the world such as FCC, CE & other regional standards.

In general, the standards usually specifies two kinds of tests.

  • Emission tests – These tests will measure the amount of signal emitted either through radiations or conduction. The limits for the amount of emission depends on the application of the device. Generally, Class A limits are applied on devices which are intended for Industrial use & Class B limits are applied on consumer electronic devices. Class B requirements tend to be stricter than Class A requirements.
  • Immunity tests – These tests are conducted to make sure that device performs reliably under influence of external disturbances such as Radiated/Conducted emissions from other devices, ESD, Electric Fast Transients, Power DIPS, Lightning etc. Amplitude of the induced disturbances vary & are defined as 4 levels. The level & the performance requirement during the immunity tests are finalized based on the end application of the electronic device under test.

Product certification is never an afterthought, the cost of design iterations being high will jeopardize time to market. It’s a good practice to finalize the certification standards & applicable test cases before design. With this, designers can take necessary design choices for the design to comply with required certification standards.

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