Electronic Design

A Database for Power Supply Safety Standards

An engineering trade group is building a database of safety standards for power supplies. It is the latest attempt to keep engineers updated on such regulations, a task that has been relegated to companies and safety agencies for years.

The group, the Power Source Manufacturers Association, announced the general availability of its Safety and Compliance Database, which can be accessed for free on its website. The group said that it would update it to reflect the latest power supply standards, including ones for current leakage, wire insulation, and material toxicity.

The purpose of the database is to help engineers to sort through the growing number of safety regulations that exist for power supplies, since failing to meet these standards can have negative consequences. If products are not certified to standards in multiple countries, they can be disqualified from being sold internationally.

“As companies design their new products for global markets, they have to grapple with current, new – and sometimes conflicting – safety standards and regulations,” said Kevin Parmenter and James Spangler, the chairs of the PSMA Safety and Compliance Committee, in a statement.

Complying with these standards is not for nothing: The standards ensure that power supplies will not burst into flames or electrocute the people handling them. That is extremely important for equipment used in hospitals, for instance, where doctors and patients are in close proximity to medical devices.

The International Electrotechnical Commission and the International Organization for Standardization are responsible for defining electrical safety standards. But there are regional variations between standards, meaning that power supplies sold within the United States might have to follow additional safety regulations to be sold in Europe.

To deal with that, the PSMA said that it would regularly update the database and organize it based on application. The group also plans to include links to news releases and industry meetings related to different standards. The list will also contain links to safety agencies, like Underwriters Laboratories, that certify products.

At psma.com, anyone can register for free access to the database. Users can subscribe to receive emails alerts when standards change. Users can also request to add emerging standards to the database, so that it can continue evolving.

The safety database is not the first list of regulations compiled by the PSMA. In 2009, it established the Energy Efficiency Database, which follows changes to power supply efficiency standards, as well as the industry groups and government agencies that draft regulations.

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