How to overcome challenges with EMC compliance

Keith Armstrong, global EMC expert at EMC Standards, a partner of the 2022 EMC and Compliance International exhibition, explains why the relevant harmonised standards are no longer sufficient for compliance with the EMC Directive and why most people must now apply IEC 61000-4-14 too.

Since the new EMC Directive came into force in 2016, EMC experts have often found themselves needing to apply test standards they are unfamiliar with, and which are not harmonised by being listed in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU).

In fact, if you are still declaring EMC compliance by selecting the most relevant test standards listed under the EMC Directive in the OJEU — then passing those tests and listing them on your Declarations of EMC Conformity — your operations are five years out of date. This means your products could suffer unnecessary and costly delays at EU and UK customs as a direct result.

Since the EMC Directive 2014/30/EU, and the equivalent 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 the EMC risk assessments is to specify the EMC standards, specifications and guidelines that apply to our products to help ensure their EMC compliance in real life situations. To help our industry better understand these requirements, EMC Standards has published a free guide on its website.

These new assessments are particularly needed for issues of mains power quality (PQ), which are often neglected by the generic and product-family EMC test standards. Unfortunately, PQ problems are increasing, which creates more risks to the correct operation of our products and equipment.

Worryingly, many people believe that PQ problems are not an EMC issue at all — but clearly it is, because of the standards on immunity to PQ issues published in the IEC’s 61000-x series of EMC test method standards.

IEC 61000-4-14 is a set of tests for immunity to mains voltage fluctuations. I have written a guidebook on this standard, which is available for free on the EMC Standards website. This guidebook includes discussions on how mains voltage fluctuations arise, where they should be expected, and what they can affect, to help industry create, and document, correct EMC risk analyses.

This is one of many topics that will be discussed at this year’s EMC and Compliance International trade show, taking place at Newbury Racecourse on May 18 and 19 2022. The show is the UK’s only independent EMC conference and will feature practical workshops and insightful sit-down discussions with leading industry experts. Visit EMC and Compliance International’s website to register to attend, or exhibit at, this year’s event.

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