What is CE marking and why is it so important?

28 Nov 2019

When working with electrical products, it’s important to understand how and why they work and which standards apply. Otherwise, you leave yourself open for investing in products that don’t conform to health, safety and environmental law and so will ultimately be unusable.

Within Europe, the mark that clarifies exactly which products meet those standards is known as the CE mark and it is a mark you are probably used to seeing on your home appliances. The CE mark has been used throughout the European Union since 1985 and is a sign of conformity, confirming that an electrical product meets relevant EU standards, the electromagnetic compatibility directive (EMC) and the low voltage directive (LVD).

EMC and LVD compliance

Both EMC and LVD directives set the principles, explain the desired methods of implementation and determine the responsibilities and actions required to comply with health, safety and environmental standards. They also outline the penalties that apply in cases of non-compliance.

EMC - The EMC directive states that an electrical product should be able to operate without electromagnetically disturbing its surroundings above a certain threshold. It must also maintain a level of immunity from other electromagnetic disturbances

The EMC came into effect in 1996, but was repealed in 2004 so that manufacturers are no longer required to have a third-party assess their conformity as long as the directive has been followed.

LVD - The LVD directive takes measures to protect the people, animals and goods the product will be operating around by ensuring electrical products operate within certain voltage limits. 

The LVD covers safety hazards that might arise due to the misuse of electrical equipment and also states that all equipment operating between 50-1000 VAC or 75-1500VDC must be safe to use when installed and maintained properly. The LVD has been a part of UK and EU law for over fifteen years now and though it was also repealed in 2006, products still have to meet the protection requirements of the directive.

What it means for you

In the professional audio and video industries, electrical safety standards are of paramount importance and the EMC and LVD reflect those standards perfectly. If you are a supplier of electrical goods or utilise electrical goods in your day-to-day operations then all products made or used should conform to the basic electrical safety requirements.

When it comes to larger LED displays, it is of vital importance that they are CE certified, otherwise they may not only be unsafe, but they could also have a detrimental effect to other electromagnetic devices in the vicinity and could land you with a sizeable fine.

While it is no longer a legal requirement, third parties can still be used to verify that a product is compliant. Tests will typically cost around £10,000, with most of this going towards the lab testing and the rest taking care of the paperwork. 

This may seem unnecessary, but if you are ever required to prove product compliance it could save you a lot more in the future. A product recall can prove completely devastating to a business, but if you are 100% confident in your product’s compliance then that’s one headache you’ll luckily never have to endure.

Photo via wikimedia

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