electrician who verifies the electrical safety of appliances and components with measuring instruments

Electrical Safety

The basis for all market approvals

For detailed information on this subject, please refer to our white paper »Electrical safety – Fundamentals, Directives and Tests« – completely free of charge.

DAkkS
DAkkS
All accreditations
All accreditations

Electrical safety overview

The risk to people, animals and property from devices must be minimized. This requires compliance with certain safety standards.

The normal and fault operation of electrical devices has to meet various requirements to ensure electrical safety – they are harmonized throughout the EU by the Low Voltage Directive 2014/35/EU, which must always be adhered to.

The appropriate safeguards must be operational at all times so that the device poses no danger during its entire service life. The tests do not necessarily have to be performed according to a standard if the person marketing the device complies with the EU Directive. However, we recommend applying the harmonized standards that refer to the Directive.

Safeguards include, for example, the protection against direct contact through insulation (e.g. from current cables) and against indirect contact using conductive systems or housing parts.

Electrical safety tests

Plugs that require testing for electrical safety according to international standards

Certification regimes NRTL and CB

Electrical safety is subject to various certification regimes: While the NRTL (Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory) certification covers regulatory testing for the US and Canada, the so-called CB (Certified Body) scheme is an international system concerned with the safety of electrical and electronic components, devices and products. The latter serves the mutual recognition of test reports and certificates among the approximately 50 participating countries.

Low Voltage Directive 2014/35/EU

The Low Voltage Directive 2014/35/EU applies to electrical devices with a rated voltage of 50 to 1,000 V (AC) or 75 to 1,500 V (DC). It covers all safety-related objectives for the devices, including any mechanical hazards. For this reason, with some exceptions, non-electrical hazards must also be considered.

Standard DIN EN 62368-1

The standard DIN EN 62368-1 Audio/video, information and communication technology equipment – Part 1: Safety requirements is a product safety standard, which

  • defines users.
  • identifies energy sources.
  • classifies energy sources and defines their classes or limit values.
  • describes and provides guidance on protective measures against these energy sources.
  • recommends a test that validates the safeguards as effective.

EN 62368-1 was introduced in 2021 and covers over 40 % of all existing Certified Body schemes as well as some earlier standards.

Various test scenarios

Depending on the certification objective, various test scenarios are considered for the devices. Regardless of the certification regime, the required electrical safety tests can be divided into the following groups, among others:

Measurement of the protective conductor resistance

This test measures the low-resistance passage through the protective conductor. Even just a momentary high protective conductor resistance indicates an interruption of the protective conductor or a fault in a protective conductor path.

Measurement of leakage current and touch current

This test measures the possible flow of a harmful current through the human body, if necessary, also through the protective conductor resistance.

High voltage tests

These tests measure the insulation resistance of electronic components in the low-voltage range (Protection Classes I and II).

Temperature tests

The devices are tested for their responses at extreme temperatures in a so-called climatic chamber.

Performance measurements for testing the mechanical strength

In accordance with the specifications, the robustness of the test object under a mechanical load is tested as part of the performance measurement.

Our accreditations

The European part for electrical safety is covered by the respective EN/IEC standards. The European part for electrical safety is covered by the respective EN/IEC standards. We are accredited by the German Accreditation Body (DAkkS) to perform electrical safety tests according to the following norms and standards helping you navigate the path to market approval:

  • EN/IEC 60950-1 for information technology equipment
  • EN/IEC 62368-1 for audio/video, information and communication technology equipment
  • EN 61010-1 Safety requirements for electrical equipment for measurement, control and laboratory use – Part 1: General requirements
  • AS/NZS 62368-1 und AS/NZS 60950-1 for products such as audio/video equipment and IT and communications technologies used in Australia and New Zealand.
Power plug in a wall socket being dangerously on fire

In cooperation with our partner laboratories, we also offer electrical safety tests for non-European target markets. This allows you to quickly complete the regulatory tests for electrical safety as part of the market approval.

Should your product require electrical safety tests that are not covered by our accreditations, we will perform the measurements in one of our partner laboratories. This means you will continue to receive efficient service from a single source.

Accreditations in detail

DAkkS

German Accreditation Body (DAkkS)

Our laboratories in Düsseldorf and Essen are accredited, by the DAkkS according to DIN ISO 17025 to perform a wide range of electrical safety tests.

Please refer to our accreditation overview for detailed information on our lab’s accreditation services in Germany.

Expertise in electrical safety

Why is electrical safety important?

Electrical safety prevents dangers posed by electric currents and their effect on the human body – an electric shock is the worst case scenario, which even small electrical appliances can cause. This makes electrical safety a basic requirement for the market approval of electronic devices.

Are electrical safety tests mandatory?

In general, each certification regime uses its own standards to test the electrical safety of technical devices. For this reason, it is crucial to learn about the respective requirements.

What information does CETECOM need to perform electrical safety tests?

The following information, among others, is required to select the appropriate test or tests:

  • Mains supply: What type of power supply system is the device designed for? (Only for AC or DC, both?)
  • Are batteries or rechargeable batteries installed in the device?
  • General functional description of the device
  • Who has access to the device (regular person, instructed person, children)?
  • Operating temperature range of the device
  • Software version and hardware version (approval is granted only for the existing software in combination with the existing hardware).
  • Information about the device, applicant and manufacturer
  • Degree of contamination: 1 to 3
  • Overvoltage category: 1 to 4
  • Range of application of the device
  • Information from the user manual and the device identification
  • Block diagram
  • Circuit diagram
  • Parts list (Bill of Materials, BOM)
  • Layout printouts (PDF)
  • Schematic diagram
  • Illustration of the layer stacking

A complete list with the following content is also required:

  • Safety-relevant components
  • Components that ensure a safe disconnection (e.g. for a high-voltage operation)
  • Safety-relevant material (printed circuit board, housing)
  • Component parts located in the mains inlet

The following additional information will help to ensure a smooth process:

  • Apps and description of the application
  • Declarations if source code is needed for Wireless LAN etc.
  • Laptop/mobile phone with software
  • Passwords for network portals
  • Brief instructions on required software settings
  • IP test report
  • Old safety test report (if available)
  • Battery test report
  • Settings for operation with maximum power consumption

What is the difference between the NRTL and the CB scheme?

The main difference is the regional availability of the two approval systems NRTL and CB scheme: Products tested by NRTL-certified laboratories are approved for the US and Canadian markets. The CB scheme, on the other hand, is a multilateral agreement that emerged from the European Commission for Conformity Testing of Electrical Equipment (CEE). Certified products may be traded in the markets of the member states of the International Commission on the Rules for the Approval of Electrical Equipment (IECEE).

List of member states

Why does the EN 62368 require a 1500 V test voltage for Ethernet?

The 1500 V are assumed as the transient voltage from external circuits.

Cable type Additional requirements Transient voltages
Conductors arranged in pairsª – shielded or unshielded The building or structure may have but does require potential equalization. 1500 V 10/700 μs

Only differential, if a conductor in the device is connected to earth

Important: This requirement only applies to interfaces that are not in-house interfaces.

Is the Low Voltage Directive sufficient for AV equipment with a fan as the only mechanically moving component or does the Machinery Directive then also apply?

AV equipment must meet the requirements of the EN 62368-1, which also includes moving parts in chapter 8 (mechanics). Fans are classified accordingly and safeguards are required. The Machinery Directive is therefore not necessarily used for approval purposes.

What is a CB Scheme?

The CB scheme simplifies access to numerous markets by avoiding duplicate testing. It can be a difficult, time-consuming and expensive process to obtain the necessary international certifications for market access. The CB scheme created by the IECEE (International Electrotechnical Commission for Electrical Equipment) allows for faster and easier access to global markets. This process allows for the mutual recognition of test results among participating countries. Usually, no additional tests are required. A CB test report from a CBTL (CB Testing Laboratory) and a corresponding CB Certificate from an NCB will help you meet various international safety requirements and gain market access in over 50 countries.

What is a battery documentation?

A data sheet and a certificate are required if batteries are installed in the device. The installed batteries are then tested for compliance with the EN 62368-1 and checked whether it is possible to overcharge the batteries. The battery is shorted, charged with reversed poles (if possible) and faults are produced in the charging and discharging circuit.

What is new in the 2015 and 2017 EN 62368-1 annexes?

Only one change was made to the EN 62368-1:2014, AC:2015 to EN 62368-1:2014 and AC:2015+A11:2017: The Italian variation in Section F.1 was deleted in Annex ZC.

If the approval applies only to the latest software version, does the device have to undergo the entire approval process when the manufacturer releases its firmware updates? Does the test has to be repeated with each new software version?

No, not necessarily. However, a risk assessment must be made to determine whether the FW update will affect the existing conformity declaration. The DoC (Declaration of Conformity) must also be completed for the new SW/HW combination. The risk analysis will determine whether new tests are required.

Is there any information available about the new “2020” version of the EN 62368? Apparently, it involves more and stricter tests.

The 2020 version is only available in the IEC version. The Committee has rejected a harmonization, which means that this version will not be written into European law. So the EN 62368-1:2014 + AC:2015 + A11:2017 is currently the valid version for EN.

Does the Low Voltage Directive apply to battery-powered devices (< 50 V DC)?

The Low Voltage Directive only applies to voltages exceeding 75 V DC. The Low Voltage Directive automatically applies if your device falls under the RED Directive (voltage limits are reduced to 0 V.). If the RED does not apply to your device, the Low Voltage Directive will not, in fact, apply to your device either. However, the Product Safety Act will apply, which stipulates that unsafe devices must not be put on the market. As the manufacturer, you can either guarantee the safety yourself (not recommended) or you can still test your product according to the Low Voltage Directive. We recommend that you test your device according to the Low Voltage Directive to prove compliance with the Low Voltage Directive in your manufacturer’s conformity declaration with a valid test report.

Do I need to, for example, test a battery-powered flashlight according to EN 62368? The range of application falls, after all, under the EMC and not the LVD.

The LVD does not cover battery-powered flashlights. The Product Safety Act applies, which stipulates that unsafe devices must not be put on the market. You should install only certified batteries. If you are not sure whether you are complying with the Product Safety Act, we would still recommend testing the device according to the LVD. However, the EN 62368-1 does not apply in this case.

Is there a checklist available that allows me to consider the items already during the development process?

Unfortunately, there is no checklist available. We recommend buying the standard and then to address the safety aspects. Every device is unique, and so are the safeguards. There is no-one-size-fits-all application.

Are there any comparable standards to the 62368-1 in other countries around the world that need to be complied with?

There are no known comparable standards to the 62368-1. However, industries may require compliance with other safety standards that are not mandatory for certification (CB Scheme, NRTL Scheme or UL Certification, to name a few).

What is the criterion that requires EMF testing? I understand it is the radiation output – are there any threshold values above which testing becomes necessary and below which testing can be considered unnecessary?

In essence, this requirement is also part of the RED (Radio Equipment Directive) under the item “Health” but may also be subject to the LVD, depending on the circumstances. First, you have to distinguish between body-worn devices with radio interfaces and devices that are not worn on the body. Body-worn means that a device is more or less permanently worn or used within 20 cm from the body. It is then about the output power (radiated) for devices with low transmission power

  • Evaluation of compliance with the low power exclusion limit according to EN 62479
  • Frequency range 10 MHz – 300 GHz
  • ≤ 20 mW for exposure of the general population
  • ≤ 100 mW for exposure in professional use
  • Compliance with the exclusion limit

In general: Health protection (RED 3.1a) can be ensured through different evaluation/testing methods depending on the type of device:

  • Devices with a distance of use > 20 cm → evaluation via MPE calculation
  • Devices with a physical range < 20 cm → evaluation via SAR measurements if the output power (radiated) exceeds 20 mW.

What are the differences for consumer and enterprise products in the required documentation?

The Directive does not distinguish between end-users. This will be the case in the 62368 inly. The safety assessment considers the user who will be working with the device and whether it is safe for that user to operate the device. For the time being, the documentation is the same for all users. It may be written in a different way for the inexperienced user than for the professional user, but this is not mandatory.

Can certain safety instructions be omitted if one assumes that professional users (electricians) operate the device?

The safeguards vary according to the user. Depending on the device, safety instructions can be omitted if it is obvious to a skilled person. However, it is also true that increased safety risks are unacceptable, even for skilled workers.

Is it okay to perform difference tests for devices that had already been tested according to 60950-1 and 60950-22 or do I need to carry out all of the tests in the 62368-1?

This standard has a completely new approach; all tests must be performed for the device. The EN 62368-1 6 accepts the 60950-22, which does not require re-testing.

Does the switch from 60950 to 62368 also apply to power tools with Bluetooth interfaces (operated by trained employees)?

Yes, because the Bluetooth interface turns the product into a radio device, so it also has to be re-certified according to 62368-1.

Which Directive applies to the electrical safety of electrical devices < 75 V DC?

The LVD does not apply in this case. The Product Safety Act applies, which stipulates that unsafe devices must not be put on the market. As the manufacturer, you can either guarantee the safety yourself (not recommended) or you can still test your product according to the Low Voltage Directive. We recommend that you test your device according to the Low Voltage Directive to prove compliance with the Low Voltage Directive in your manufacturer’s conformity declaration with a valid test report.

What are the advantages for the end device if its components have already been tested according to the safety standard?

The biggest advantage is, of course, the cost factor. The device might, for example, incorporate power supply units, transformers, VDRs or similar. In that case, they will only be tested for their range of application according to 62368-1. Safety-relevant components must be certified according to certain standards. Otherwise, these components would have to be tested separately.

What do I need to know about motherboards with regard to the 62368 (assumption: motherboards are to be incorporated into a PC or device)?

Generally, it is not necessary to test the integrated component parts directly. However, it would definitely be sensible to comply with the LVD requirements for end devices. This applies, for example, to the temperature application range as the motherboard and its component parts are tested together with the end device. A pre-test can therefore be performed, but it is not a “must” as the board cannot operate on its own. A pre-tested motherboard will certainly save costs for the end product to be tested.

What are the requirements for the component parts, e.g. fans?

The requirements are the same as for other components, plus everything that has to do with the fan’s rotation.

If a device has a voltage rating of, for example, 12 V DC – 10A, what does that mean exactly? Under what conditions is this voltage not allowed to be exceeded – normal use or fault conditions?

The device’s voltage and current ratings apply under any circumstances and status, as these are the normal operating conditions. The ratings are listed to prevent a device from operating, for example, with 110 V. Fault conditions are not considered in this case.

What will happen to products (e.g. modules) certified according to the EN 60950 after December 2020? What is the quickest way to “update” to the new standard?

These modules must be certified according to 62368-1 if they are newly manufactured or brought onto the market after December 2020.

Where can I find a list of the DIN standards?

Does the Low Voltage Directive cover passive loudspeakers? The input signal is usually an audio signal and not a power/mains signal as mentioned in the LVD Directive.

No, they are not subject to the Low Voltage Directive as they are not actively powered.

The RED does not refer to the 62368-1 safety standard. Does this mean that I can continue to use the old safety standard (60065/60950-1)?

No, that is not permitted. The RED Directive will sooner or later refer to the 62368, as the 60950-1 will no longer be in effect as of December 2020.

Does aviation equipment has to undergo a safety test according to EN 62368, and how do you define aviation equipment?

Aviation equipment does not fall under the Low Voltage Directive but must meet aviation requirements.

Is it possible that a device passes the EN 62368 but does not meet the requirements of the CB scheme?

Yes, a device can pass the EN 62368 and not meet the requirements of the CB scheme, although this is rather unlikely.

The EN 62368 (...2017) is used for safety requirements according to RED (3.1a.) The IEC has issued the IEC62368-1 2018-10; why is this standard not used for tests in the EU?

The IEC 62368-1: 2018 has not yet been harmonized in the EU. The 2017 version is the relevant standard for the time being.

Are you interested in more details on this topic? Are you looking for answers to urgent questions?
Please feel free to write to us. Our experts will support you with all the challenges related to the market approval of your products.

Further topics

News on the topic of electrical safety

Stay up to date.
The CETECOM™ newsletter is sent out about once a month. No constant follow-up mails. Only selected content from our experts.