Generally, standards and regulations have their own classifications and levels for electronic products. It can be confusing to some readers especially someone in the initial phase of their careers in Product testing and compliance. Nisha Lad, Compliance Project Manager at “C-PRAV Labs & Certifications” has tried to explain the differences and make it easy for you to understand.
1. EMC Classes: (Class A & Class B) as defined in most EMC Standards
In the context of EMC (Electromagnetic Compatibility), Class A and Class B refer to two different levels of electromagnetic emissions limits for electronic devices.
Class A: Devices that comply with Class A standards are typically intended for use in industrial environments, where there are fewer restrictions on electromagnetic interference. Class A devices are expected to have higher emission levels of electromagnetic emissions compared to Class B devices. Class A compliant devices are not meant to use in class B environment.
Class B: Devices that comply with Class B standards are intended for use in residential, commercial, and business environments, where there are stricter regulations on electromagnetic interference. Class B devices are required to have a higher level of electromagnetic interference suppression compared to Class A devices to minimize their impact on other electronic systems operating in its close vicinity. Class B compliant devices can be used in class A environment.
Under the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), most electronic products are regulated to mandatorily comply with prescribed Standards for EMC, Telecom, Radio and Telecom Safety.
2. Electrical Safety Classes (Class I, Class II & Class III)
Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 are classifications used to define different levels of electrical safety for electrical/electronic equipment.
Class 1: Class 1 equipment is considered the most basic level of electrical safety. It includes devices that have basic insulation and rely on a protective earth connection (grounding) for user safety. This class of equipment typically has a three-wire power cord, with two conductors for line and neutral, and the third conductor for grounding. Class 1 equipment must be connected to a properly grounded electrical system to ensure safety.
Class 2: Class 2 equipment, also known as double insulated equipment, provides an extra layer of protection against electric shock. Unlike Class 1, Class 2 equipment doesn’t rely on a protective earth connection for safety. Instead, it incorporates additional insulation or other means of protection to prevent electric shock hazards. This class of equipment is commonly identified by a double-box symbol 回 on its labelling. Class 2 equipment is designed to be safer even if the grounding is faulty or absent.
Class 3: Class 3 equipment represents the lowest level of risk among the three classes. It includes low-voltage equipment that operates at extra-low safety voltages (typically 50 V AC or 120 V DC or less). Class 3 equipment is often powered by a separate power supply that converts higher voltage levels into these Safe Extra-Low Voltages (SELV). While Class 3 equipment reduces the risk of electric shock, it is still important to handle these devices properly to maintain safety.
3. In Scope electrical Equipment Levels (Level 1, Level 2 & Level 3) in Australia
If you are selling electrical equipment in Australia, it is important to comply with the regulations set by the regulator coordinator ERAC (Electrical Regulator Authority Council of Australia). The regulations set forth by various individual States/Territories/NZ is called the Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS). The electrical equipment offered for sale is categorized as risk levels of Level 1, 2 or 3 so they are electrically safe with the aim of enhancing consumer safety. EESS classifies electrical equipment’s into two categories based on the environment of use i.e.,
- In-Scope Electrical Equipment
- Not In-Scope Electrical Equipment
In-Scope Electrical Equipment
The EESS applies to In-Scope Electrical Equipment which is defined as equipment:
- Rated at a voltage greater than 50 V AC RMS or 120V ripple-free DC, and
- Rated at a voltage less than 1000V AC RMS or 1500V ripple-free DC, and
- Designed or marketed as suitable for household, personal or similar use.
If your electrical equipment falls under in-scope electrical equipment, to legally sell electrical equipment under the EESS, the following applies household electrical equipment’s (e.g., Consumer devices, domestic appliances etc.,):
|In scope Electrical Equipment
|Equipment registration in the EESS
|Evidence of compliance with the relevant standard
|Certificate of suitability
|Certificate of Conformity
|Marked with the RCM
PS: Level 3 equipment have most stringent safety rules to follow while Level 2 are less onerous, and Level 1 is voluntary but the equipment must still be electrically safe for consumer use.
Not In-Scope Electrical Equipment
If your electrical equipment is classified as Not In-Scope Electrical Equipment, here’s what you need to know to legally sell it under the EESS:
- Certification and ERAC Registration: Getting certification and registering with ERAC (Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council) is voluntary.
- Essential Safety Criteria: Your equipment still needs to meet the essential safety criteria specified in the AS/NZS 3820 standard, regardless of certification and registration. This standard outlines the fundamental safety requirements for electrical equipment in Australia and New Zealand.
- Accreditation Testing: You are not required to conduct accreditation testing for your equipment
4. ACMA Compliance Levels (Level 1, Level 2, Level 3)
ACMA stands for the Australian Communications and Media Authority, which is the regulatory body responsible for the regulation of telecommunications and radiocommunications in Australia.
ACMA compliance refers to adhering to the rules, regulations, and standards set by the ACMA.
Regardless of the prescribed regulations or compliance levels set by ACMA, no electronic product in its operation must cause interference to other products working in its vicinity.
ACMA holds the right to pull such a product off the market if it is causing interference.
ACMA has established different compliance levels to categorize the regulatory requirements based on the type of service or activity being regulated. Here’s an overview of ACMA compliance levels:
- Level 1 Compliance:
- Level 1 compliance is typically associated with low-risk devices.
- These devices may not require to undergo any testing or evaluation, however, the product must comply with the standards and not cause interference.
- For Level 1 compliance, you need to submit a Self-Declaration of Conformity (SDoC) stating that the product complies.
- Although testing is not mandatory, you have the option to obtain a test report from a test lab as evidence of proof to demonstrate compliance. Accredited test reports to ISO 17025 are not mandatory.
- Level 2 Compliance:
- Level 2 compliance applies to medium-risk devices.
- The manufacturer or supplier must maintain a Compliance folder, technical construction file, SDoC and test reports are necessary.
- Accredited test reports to ISO 17025 are not mandatory.
- Level 3 Compliance:
- Level 3 compliance pertains to high-risk devices.
- The manufacturer or supplier must maintain a Compliance folder, technical construction file, SDoC and accredited test reports to ISO 17025 are necessary.
- In addition to the existing reports you may already have, It is possible that some local testing also may be required. This depends on product and further investigation is required to determine if any additional gap testing is required.
- Energy Efficiency: This is an additional requirement applicable to some products.
When it comes to energy efficiency, there are certain regulations and standards that govern the energy performance of products. Here are the key points simplified:
- Greenhouse and Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS) Act: The GEMS Act, established in 2012, along with the GEMS regulator, oversee energy efficiency. They ensure that products meet specific requirements to conserve energy.
- Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and Energy Rating Labelling (ERL): Products regulated under the GEMS Act must adhere to MEPS, which set the minimum energy performance levels they must meet. Additionally, these products need Energy Rating Labels that display their energy efficiency rating. In Australia and New Zealand, several products have mandatory MEPS, and they must be registered on the GEMS portal to ensure compliance with energy efficiency standards.
As a follow-up article don’t miss our “Myths of RCM Approval” document published by C-PRAV.
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