Understanding Electromagnetic Compatibility and Applying Standards

Understanding Electromagnetic Compatibility and Applying Standards

Consumers and businesses are increasingly relying on a number of electronic devices on a daily basis. We keep more gadgets in our homes and offices than ever. As a result, electromagnetic interference that impedes the performance of these devices has become a serious concern.

Government agencies around the world adopt standards to reduce electromagnetic interference on various devices. Manufacturers and other related parties are expected to meet these compliance standards and apply each to products sold to consumers. Still, some level of interference is inevitable in some cases.

How to Evaluate the EM Compatibility of Your Electric Equipment

The average household has a set of electric appliances that they use on a daily basis. These appliances are used to heat, cool and perform other functions.

In this section, we will be talking about the compatibility of different electric appliances with each other. The aim is to help you make the right decision when it comes to buying an appliance for your home or office.

Here is a brief guide for understanding electromagnetic compatibility, finding solutions to interference problems, and meeting regulatory standards:

What is Electromagnetic Compatibility?

In basic terms, electromagnetic compatibility refers to a device’s ability to reduce interference or at least filter it out. When an electrical device issues a radio frequency signal, sometimes undesired signals in the environment interferes with the desired ones. This is interference and electromagnetic compatibility standards aim to reduce it to ensure the optimal functioning of devices.

Interference has two main types: radiated and conducted interference. Radiated interference refers to a device issuing low-frequency signals that would cause interference elsewhere. With conducted interference, the device becomes the “victim” of undesired signals from elsewhere. Device owners can use testing equipment, such as those produced by Teseq, to identify the source of interference.

Electromagnetic interference can cause visual or auditory distortions with devices. Most of these distortions may seem only annoyances, such as crackling sounds coming from a speaker. But in serious cases, interference can completely drown out emergency signals or cause severe issues with the visibility of radars.

The Aim of Electromagnetic Compatibility

What electromagnetic compatibility standards ultimately aim is to make devices immune to interference and also prevent radiation of interference. Too much interference on a large scale can even cause brownouts so meeting these standards is crucial.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) sets the EMC standards in the country that businesses and relevant entities must comply with. The standards are available on the ACMA website.  Unlike in the US, Australia only considered emissions under the EMC standards. However, keep in mind that emissions apply to all electrical products, including consumer gadgets.

Meeting EMC Standards

Not meeting the EMC standards set by ACMA can result in severe penalties and lawsuits. Companies and individuals must ensure that electronic devices are compliant with the standards on a consistent basis. To apply standards, first test products for emissions and immunity. It should be noted that high-volume products will need to be sample tested on a regular basis to ensure the universal application of standards.

Companies can either do the testing in-house or use a test lab. It’s recommended to perform at least 5 of these tests on an annual basis. To save up on costs, conduct the testing early on in the development process. If a problem is found, it would not be too late to apply fixes without losing money.

If a device is found not to be compatible with the standards required, first check the wiring system for interference emissions. Faulty wiring or dangerous arcs are very common reasons for radiated interference.

Once you follow through with all of the above steps, it will be possible to design and develop electronic gadgets that meet ACMA standards.

Albert John

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