You cannot display your electronic products in the market until you have complied with necessary certification requirements electronics. These certifications are necessary to assure consumers of your product’s quality and make sure it has passed international standards. Other reasons for certification requirements are safety, legalities and public relations. These certification requirements vary from one country to another but are dependent on the country you are importing from or exporting to. It is important to coordinate the certifications before developing or buying from electronics manufacturers.
Types of Certification Requirements for Electronics
There are different types of electronic product certifications such as FCC requirements for electronics, CE standards for electronics, RoHS, WEEE, and UL. The electronics product certification required will depend on the country the electronics product is exported to. For example, if the electronics product was manufactured for the US, then essential certificates needed are FCC requirements for electronics and UL. All European countries require CE standards for electronics, with WEEE and RoHS.
1. CE Standards for Electronics
CE stands for Conformité Européenne which is the French translation of European Conformity. The CE standards for electronics are prerequisite for electronic products manufactured and sold in and around the EEA (European Economic Area). The EEA includes all of the EU member countries such as France, Germany, Italy and a lot more.
Electronics products who underwent CE testing and has its seal means it has passed the standards of the EEA and the product conforms to its requirements. The usual directives for electronic products are:
a. Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive (EMC) – this directive requires the electronic product to attain the right levels of electromagnetic radiation and emissions. It is much like the USA’s FCC standards but includes the device’s immunity towards electromagnetic emissions.
b. Low Voltage Directive (LDV) – this directive is for electronic products with voltage rating of 50 VAC to 1000 VAC or 75 VAC to 1500 VDC. As long as an electronic product utilizes the following voltages to their input and output, they must be ensured they are safe to use. Electronic products which do not fall under these voltages are exempted from the low voltage directive while electronic products with voltages lower than 50 VAC or 75 VDC are required to conform to General Product Safety Directive (GPSD).
c. Radio Equipment Directive (RED) – electronic products which contain radio and telecommunications equipment need to connect with public telecommunication networks and follow their directive. This directive covers EMC standards and frequency allocations which are not covered by the EMC directive.
2. RoHS and EEE
RoHS and EEE are certificates which fall under the CE standards for electronics as directives. Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) is the directive for restricting usage of hazardous materials and components in electronic products. The standard requires to allowed level of these hazardous materials on a maximum parts-per notation. Here is the list of hazardous materials covered by the RoHS under CE testing;
- Lead (<1000 ppm)
- Mercury (<100 ppm)
- Cadmium (<100 ppm)
- Hexavalent Chromium (<1000 ppm)
- Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) phthalate (<1000 ppm)
- Polybrominated Biphenyls (<1000 ppm)
- Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) (<1000 ppm)
- Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) (<1000 ppm)
- Polybrominated Biphenyls (<1000 ppm)
- Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (<1000 ppm)
- Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) (<1000 ppm)
The mentioned hazardous materials are common substances found not only in electrical components but can also be found on regular everyday items such as plastics, paints, light bulbs and batteries.
On the other hand, Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) is a directive which commands custom electronics manufacturers to produce and develop products which are recyclable and environment-friendly. WEEE also makes sure electronic products have least possible electronic waste. Both WEEE and RoHS work alongside each other to cover pre-production standards up to the product disposal process.
3. UL Certification
UL is a type of certification requirement for electronics issued by an American company called Underwriters Laboratories who specializes in electronic product testing in the US. UL certification is widely recognized certification if your electronic product is manufactured or sold in the US. All products which may require electrical power to function are required to apply for a UL certificate.
In order to acquire a UL certificate, your electronic product has to pass UL standards including safety tests performed in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which is also a certified testing laboratory. UL certification is not a mandatory certification requirement for electronics unlike CE, but it further legitimize your electronic product and show consumers it is safe to use.
4. FCC Standards for Electronics
FCC stands for Federal Communications Commission and they are responsible for testing products which radiate electromagnetic signals at a frequency range of at least 9 kHz. They are in charge of classifying electronic products as intentional or non-intentional radiator. Intentional radiators are products which emit radio waves via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LoRa etc. while unintentional radiators are electronic products which emit radio waves but do not use it as part of its functionality.
The FCC certificate is not mandatory but if you intend to sell your electronic product in the US then you should acquire this certificate. You have to keep in mind intentional radiators are much harder to pass compared to non-intentional products. The FCC testing process measures electromagnetic emissions inside an anechoic chamber and will charge you for $1000 an hour for the process. This can be costly for small-time electronic manufacturers and you might as well hire third-party electronic companies who have previously passed the FCC testing and put your product under their company.
You have to acquire the right certification requirements for electronics before you take your product into the market. Learning the ins and outs of certificate acquisition is a must for electronic manufacturers as each type of certificate could differ from one and another. It should be addressed early with the manufacturer or product development company. You also have to be aware of the costs involved in doing these safety testing processes to make sure they fight right on to your budget. All of the expenses accumulated for electronic product certification should reflect on your electronic product’s final price in the market.