Routes to EMC Compliance: You Have Choices

Although the European Union (EU) EMC compliance process is more complex than it may first appear, actual product EMC compliance is rather straightforward. The keys to success are a good understanding of the regulations and standards and a cradle-to-grave product-compliance process.

Regulations and Standards

Since EMC regulations are here to stay and directives will continue to evolve, it’s important to know what areas of product development and compliance are important. Begin by addressing these questions:

Which directives apply?

Are new directives on the horizon that will apply to your products?

What routes to compliance are available?

Which compliance route makes most sense for your products?

What is the intended environment for your product?

What standards apply to your products?

Are there product-specific standards adopted that affect your product?

Are there nonregulated standards or specifications expected or demanded by the market?

Are there areas of the directives or standards that you need to clarify for application to your products (product classification, Class A vs Class B, test conditions, EUT modes of operation, system aspects, immunity performance criteria)?

Routes to CE Compliance

Figure 1 provides a flow chart that can help you determine the compliance route suitable for your products. Radio communications transmission apparatus must use the type examination route and receive approval from a European Notified Body.

Other electronic products may demonstrate conformity by using a technical construction file (TCF) with approval of a European Competent Body or by self-certifying to standards. The TCF route generally is used when deviations from set standards are needed because of special product circumstances. The self-certification route is the most widely used.

In addition to the generic standards, a manufacturer or test lab must know the product-specific standards, the product-family standards and the evolving basic standards. An abundance of standards is available with many more on the horizon. But determining the test standards to be used for particular products can be somewhat confusing.

Table 1 lists product-family standards developed or in process. You will have different sets of EMC standards to use depending on your types of products. Table 2 depicts a number of published EMC product-specific and basic standards.

Standards Process

Some background information may be helpful to understand the European Union process for the adoption of new standards to support the EMC Directive. The European Commission gave responsibility for adopting standards to the European Committee on Electrotechnical Standardization, better known as CENELEC.

CENELEC includes members from the European Community (EC) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Several EFTA countries have merged with the EC countries to be part of the newly formed EU. When adopting new standards, CENELEC first considers international standards and secondly the European national standards. Then if none exist, it develops new standards.

Generic sets of EMC emission and immunity standards were the first developed. The generic emission standards are EN 50081-1 for residential, commercial and light industrial products and EN 50081-2 for heavy industrial products. For immunity, the generic standards are EN 50082-1 for residential, commercial and light industrial products and EN 50082-2 for heavy industrial products.

Today, the concentration is more toward the development of product- family standards and product-specific standards.

Product-Compliance Process

A manufacturer should have an EMC product-compliance policy and process in place for product development and manufacturing. An EMC policy can simply state that products will comply to all regulatory requirements within the countries in which they will be sold. For example, an EMC compliance process for a product should begin with the design concept and continue to the end of its product life cycle.

An awareness of the EMC requirements is needed from the onset of the theoretical design, and an EMC design plan must include compliance to regulatory and nonregulatory standards. The plan should indicate evaluation milestones, compliance margin objectives, regulatory filing, product labeling and documentation strategy, and post-production auditing expectations.

Preliminary EMC testing of critical components at the earliest prototype stages provides early EMC control to prevent product delays. For regulatory filing, a serial-numbered production product should be tested to the full set of EMC plan requirements.

Schedule a regular EMC audit test plan to assure continual compliance. Also, use a procedure for review of product modifications to determine if EMC retesting is needed.


This article is from “Routes to EMC Compliance: A Manufacturer Has Choices” by Henry Benitez of Tektronix, which appeared in the IEEE International Symposium on Electromagnetic Compatibility, Santa Clara, CA, Aug. 19-23, 1996, pp. 515-517. ©1996 IEEE.

About the Author

Henry Benitez is a senior EMC engineer at Tektronix. He has 18 years experience in the field of EMC, is a member of the IEEE EMC Society, and currently is contributing to the development of IEC 1326 product-family standard for control measurement, and laboratory equipment via the joint TC 66 WG1 and IEC SC 65A WG4 committees. Benitez received a B.S.E.E. degree in electrical engineering degree from the University of Portland. Tektronix, P. O. Box 500, Beaverton, OR 97077-0001, (503) 627-1217.

Table 1


Electromagnetic Phenomena

Product Family

EN 60601-1-2

(IEC) 601-1-2)


Medical Devices

pr EN 55024


Information Technology Equipment

IEC 1326-1 Draft


Measurement, Control and Laboratory Equipment

pr ETS 300386


Telecommunications Equipment



ISDN Terminal Equipment



Audio, Video, Audio-Visual and Entertainment Lighting Equipment


Table 2.


Electromagnetic Phenomena

Product Family

EN 55011 (CISPR 11)


Industrial, Scientific and Medical Equipment

EN 55013 (CISPR 13)


Broadcast Receiver Equipment

EN 55014 (CISPR 14)


Household Appliances and Portable Tools

EN 55015 (CISPR 15)


Fluorescent Lamps and Luminaries

EN 55020 (CISPR 20)


Broadcast Receivers and Associated Equipment

EN 55022 (CISPR 22)


Information Technology Equipment

EN 61000-3-2 (IEC 1000-3-2)


Power Line Harmonics

EN 61000-3-3 (IEC 1000-3-3)


Power Line Voltage


IEC 1000-4-2


Electrostatic Discharge

IEC 1000-4-3


RF Fields

IEC 1000-4-4


Electrical Fast Transient

IEC 1000-4-5


Electrical Slow Transient

IEC 1000-4-6


Conducted RF

IEC 1000-4-8


Power Frequency Magnetic Field

IEC 1000-4-9


Pulsed Magnetic Field

IEC 1000-4-10


Demped Oscillatory Magnetic Field

IEC 1000-4-11


Voltage Dips, Short Interruption and Voltage Variation

Copyright 1997 Nelson Publishing Inc.


March 1997

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