A Progress Report on the EMC Directive

The EMC Directive 89/336/EEC is one of many pillars that form the foundation of the European Union (EU). The standards that comprise the directive, however, are not static, unchanging documents. They are living sources—which means you need to keep abreast of revisions and upcoming changes.

This list of EU harmonized standards represents the primary documents used to meet the CE Marking requirements of the directive. These standards are requirements for 95% or more of the products tested today for the EU.

There are misconceptions, problems, and potential changes to all of the standards. We will discuss some of the more significant concerns. If your product has a different function or environment than those described by these standards, look up some of the little used standards for direction.

When no standard can be found or your product has special requirements or does not fit a harmonized standard, the EU has established a special procedure called the Technical Construction File (TCF). A TCF allows you to choose your requirements with the stipulation that the approach must be agreed upon by a competent body.

To stay up to date on the many requirements, discuss your test plans with your testing facility. And to keep abreast of continuing changes, become active in industry groups.

Conventions and Definitions

We will use these conventions and definitions of terms in the accompanying presentations:


Standard Reference #: the numbering system used by the EU for harmonized standards.

Title of the Harmonized Standard: the formal title given to the standard and may refer to the original basic standard and date.

Year of Ratification: date recommended for publication in the Official Journal (OJ).

OJ: the date the standard was published in the OJ.

DoW: date of withdrawal. This is the latest date a product can be placed on the market or offered for sale using a previous standard. After the DoW, it cannot be sold until the testing is updated.

Comment: general comments about the standard.

Common Problem: problems seen by the author.

Future: possible changes to this standard.


Standard: document that describes the requirements, typically covering the scope, definition of terms, reference documents, limits, and exceptions for the product being tested.

Scope: this explains what product or environments are covered.

Harmonized: a standard that has been published in the OJ of the EU and by at least one of the countries as a national norm.

OJ: similar to the Federal Register in the United States. When something is published in the OJ, it becomes a legal document.

Standard Reference #: EN 50082-1

Title: Electromagnetic Compatibility Generic Immunity Standard Part 1: Residential, Commercial and Light Industry

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1994/4-92

DoW: 1-1-1996

Common Problems: This standard refers to the old IEC 801 series of basic standards. If the new IEC 1000-4-x series is released, many manufacturers and test labs feel that they should automatically upgrade the test using the new standard. The standard does not allow for this. Also, products used in the heavy industrial environment must be tested to this standard and EN 50082-2. As immunity product standards develop, some products must be retested. See EN 55104 and EN 60601-1-2.

Future: This standard should be upgraded in the near future. The DoW is expected to be 2001.

Standard Reference #: EN 55022

Title: CISPR 22: 1993 Limits and Methods of Measurements of Radio Disturbance Characteristics of Information Technology Equipment (ITE)

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1992/9-95

DoW: 1-1-96

Comments: Use this standard for ITE.

Common Problems: This standard often is invoked if a product has a microprocessor as in FCC Part 15. Many other standards are used in Europe for radiated emissions. Many manufacturers feel the A limit is the most desirable because it is the easiest to meet. But if the product is used in a light industrial environment, then it should meet the B limit.

Future: This standard is not expected to be replaced in the near future, but it has been and will continue to be amended. The next amendment will add conducted testing on signal lines for telephone equipment.


Standard Reference #: EN 50082-2

Title: Electromagnetic Compatibility—Generic Immunity Standard Part 2: Industrial Environment

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1994/9-95

DoW: 1-1-96

Comments: This is the heavy industrial environment requirement with levels higher than EN 50082-1.

Common Problems: Products used in the 82-1 environment and the heavy industrial environment should be tested to the worst case of both standards.

Future: Many updates have been attempted and defeated. No changes are expected.

Standard Reference #: EN 55011

Title: CISPR 11 (1990) Edition 2/Amendment 2 Limits and Methods of Measurement of Radio Disturbance Characteristics of Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) radio Frequency Equipment

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1989/9-92 for Edition 2, 1996/9-97 for Amendment 2

DoW: 1-1-96

Comments: This standard addresses products using a digital system in industrial or medical equipment. The limits are the same as EN 55022/CISPR 22, and the argument of whether a product is 22 or 11 is generally academic. The exception is when a product has a high-level ISM frequency that is exempted in 11 but not 22. Amendment 2 added low-frequency radiated magnetic testing for induction cooking appliances.

Common Problems: Many manufacturers consider the A limit is the most desirable because it is the easiest to meet. But if the product is used in a light industrial environment, for example, then it should meet the B limit.

Future: No significant changes are expected except possibly adjusting the test distance for A.

Standard Reference #: EN 55014

Title: CISPR 14 (1993) Edition 3 Limits and Methods of Measurement of Radio Disturbance Characteristics of Electrical Motor-Operated and Thermal Appliances for Household and Similar Purposes, Electric Tools, and Similar Electric Apparatus

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1993/2-94

DoW: 1-1-96

Comments: This is one of the oldest standards. It limits the emissions of a product used in appliances and similar purposes. This standard also has click requirements that are transient events on the power line.

Common Problems: The “phase similar purposes” in the title is the problem. When you see a cooker in a restaurant, it is considered similar to one used in the home. Video games also are covered by this standard. This is a holdout from past requirements when products were electromechanical. Today, with 50- and 100-MHz microprocessors causing radiated emissions of 500 MHz or higher, testing radiated emissions from the power line cord fails to meet the spirit and, possibly, the letter of the EMC Directive. I suggest that electronic games and similar high-frequency EN 55014 products meet EN 55014 and EN 55022.

Future: No major changes are anticipated at this time.



Standard Reference #: EN 55104

Title: Electromagnetic Compatibility—-Immunity Requirements for Household Appliances, Tools, and Similar Apparatus—Product Family Standard

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1995/9-95

DoW: 1-1-96; some products 1-1-97

Comments: These are the immunity requirements for product generally tested to EN 55014 for emissions. This standard was harmonized in September 1995 and mandated on Jan. 1, 1996.

Common Problems: This is a good standard with flexibility of tests based on the type and frequency of the equipment or apparatus. It is one of the first truly modern standards written for the EU. Low-frequency RF immunity requirements are performed via conducted injection into the wires and cables. This test presents the most challenges.

Future: There is no need to change the standard at this time.


Standard Reference #: EN 60555-2

Title: IEC 555-2 (1982) Edition 1 + Amendment 1 (1985) Disturbances in Supply Systems Caused by Household Appliances and Similar Electrical Equipment Part 2: Harmonics

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1996/9-92

DoW: 1-1-96

Comments: This was the original harmonic requirements from 555-2.

Common Problems: This standard has been replaced by EN 61000-3-2, but a transition until 2001 is allowed before retesting is mandatory.

Future: This standard will be replaced by EN 61000-3-3 in 2001. Until then, either EN 60555-2 or EN 61000-3-2 can be used.


Standard Reference #: EN 60555-3/A1

Title: IEC 555-3 (1982) Edition 1/Amendment 1:1990 Disturbances in Supply Systems Caused by Household Appliances and Similar Electrical Equipment Part 3: Voltage Fluctuations

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1986/9-92, 1991/9-95

DoW: 1-1-96

Comments: This is the flicker requirement for products used in the home. The standard limits the effects of varying current on lighting in a home. Flicker can cause epileptic seizures in people sensitive to flickering light. The repetition rate most likely to cause these seizures has the most stringent limit.

Common Problems: Few products fail this standard; but when they do, it can be difficult to fix. It is impractical to filter because you change the approach used by the design.

Future: The standard is being replaced by EN 61000-3-3 and cannot be used after 2001.



Standard Reference #: EN 61000-3-3

Title: IEC 1000-3-3 (1994) Electromagnetic Compatibility Part 3: Limits—Section 3: Limitation of Voltage Fluctuations and Flicker in Low-Voltage Supply Systems for Equipment With Rated Current <16 A

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1994/9-95

DoW: 1-1-96

Comments: This is the replacement standard for EN 60555-3.

Common Problems: It is not hard to meet. See EN 60555-3.

Future: The implementation date is still in question, but it can easily be met by most products.


Standard Reference #: EN 60601-1-2

Title: IEC 601-1-2 (1993) Medical Electrical Equipment Part 1: General Requirements for Safety; Part 2: Collateral Standard: Electromagnetic Compatibility Requirements and Tests

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1992/9-95

DoW: 1-1-96

Comments: This standard lists the EMC emissions and immunity requirements for medical devices.

Common Problems: These requirements apply to medical products shipped to the EU, even if EN 60601-1-1 is not applied. It is an old standard and less stringent than household-appliance requirements. It requires radiated immunity from 26 MHz, not 27 MHz as does EN 50082-1 or 80 MHz in EN 50082-2.

Future: This standard will be replaced by a more stringent requirement. Also, the U.S. FDA is expected to adopt the new standard.


Standard Reference #: EN 61000-3-2

Title: IEC 1000-3-2 (1995) Electromagnetic Compatibility Part 3: Limits—Section 2: Limits for Harmonic Currents Emissions (equipment input current < 16 A per phase)

Year of Ratification/OJ: 1994/9-95

DoW: 1-1-96

Comments: This lists the harmonized requirements for all products of 16 A or less.

Common Problems: This standard has generated the most controversy. When first harmonized, it was mandatory immediately. This was a ridiculous requirement, so the standards organization issued an amendment that did not make the standard mandatory until June 1998. Then, the commission never published it. The commission has been attempting to extend the date to 2001, but nothing official has been published.

Future: This standard is mandatory today but ignored by most. This standard will be mandatory in either June 1998 or 2001. Most likely, 2001 will win out because the companies that have procrastinated in meeting the requirements now say they cannot meet the June 1998 deadline.

Remember that the standards presented here are not all inclusive. There are many more, but their uses are limited to a few products. Some examples are EN 50081-1 and -2 generic emissions requirements used prior to the publication of the EN 55011, 13, 14, 15, 20, 22, etc.

These standards should not be used except on rare occasions:

EN 50013 Emission Requirements for Audio Equipment.

EN 50015 Emission Requirements for Electrical Lightning: for fluorescent and neon lighting systems.

EN 50091-2: for uninterruptable power supplies.

EN 50199: for welding equipment.

EN 55020: immunity requirements for broadband receivers and associated equipment.

EN 61131-2: for programmable controllers.

EN 61547: for general-purpose lighting immunity.

EN 61800-3: for adjustable-speed controls for power-drive systems. This probably is the most controversial standard except for IEC 1000-3-2. The Association of Competent Bodies has recommended that it be withdrawn because of its poor application of the EMC Directive.

Harmonized standards are your most important route to meeting the EMC Directive. They are well defined, available, and the quickest way to show that a product complies. It is important that you understand which standard is required by your product and when the requirements change. Keep yourself abreast of your industry, and your EMC concerns should be minimized.

About the Author

Donald Sweeney is the owner of D.L.S. Electronic Systems. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Department of Electrical Engineering and a certified EMC engineer through NARTE. Currently, Mr. Sweeney teaches at the University of Wisconsin, serves on the Board of Directors of the IEEE EMC Society, chairs the Chicago chapter of the EMC Society, and is founding chairman of USCEL. D.L.S. Electronic Systems, 1250 Peterson Dr., Wheeling, IL 60090-6454, (847) 537-6400.

Copyright 1998 Nelson Publishing Inc.

March 1998

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