A new product’s market journey starts right at the moment when it gets its last screw tightened. However, you just cannot take it out as it is. You definitely need certifications. A well-scripted proof that calls out to the world that this product is ready to hit its intended ecosystems. Such affirmations should come from reliable sources, otherwise, which it loses credibility, next to nothing. Specific organizations have qualified themselves to check the boxes that state whether a product is right or needs improvement. If they say a yes, that’s certification.
How do they do it?
These organizations conduct constant assessments, tests, and verifications to conclude whether the product has achieved minimum quality based on international standards to construct a reliable, safe, and compliant networks. The top priority is to check product quality, after which safety, legal status, and public relations follow.
There are different certificates which are specific to countries and the type of products. However, certification from one organization may be valid in various other nations. A product’s certification depends on which country it’s made and the country to which it exports.
US and Canada share similar certification requirements that enable selling products in both places with a single set of certifications.
Let’s see the different types of certifications and what they do.
CE is Conformité Européenne, the French expression for European conformity. Many products that are manufactured or sold within the European Economic Area (EEA) need CE certification. It is valid across 28 member countries of the European Union and five other countries, including Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Turkey, and Switzerland.
CE qualifies products based on directives like
Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive (EMC): To ensure electromagnetic radiations and emissions stay within safe measures.
Low Voltage Directive (LVD): To decide products with a voltage rating of 50 to 1000 VAC or 75 to 1500 VDC are safe to use.
Radio Equipment Directive (RED): Any radio and/or telecommunications equipment that connects to public telecom networks need to follow this frequency allocation and EMC standards directive.
UL certification is issued by Underwriters Laboratories for products manufactured in the US. This certification from the private American company is preferred for products that draw power from an electrical outlet. Any product should also pass safety tests performed by OSHA certified testing laboratories to get UL certified. OSHA is the abbreviation for Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
UL certifications are different depending on the type of products.
- UL60950 for information technology equipment
- UL60601 for medical products
On an additional note, some certifications, such as UL60950, demands prior UL certifications of also the sub-parts that comprise a system.
FCC certification is mandatory for any device that has a radiated emission. It classifies products into intentional radiators and non-intentional radiators based on the device’s behavior in emitting electromagnetic radiation. Cellular phones or IoT devices are intentional radiators in which radiation is the prime subject in their functioning. Non-intentional radiators are products that don’t intentionally emit radiation. However, almost every electronic product emits electromagnetic radiation unintentionally as part of its functioning.
Any electronic product that oscillates at 9 kHz or higher needs FCC certification in the US. In Europe, CISPR 22. takes up this role to regulate RF/electromagnetic emissions.
CSA is the abbreviation for Canadian Standards Association, a non-profit organization in Canada. Among its various functions, CSA develops standards and compliance directives for the safety and well-being of the public community. It is also the equivalent to UL mark in the USA, and enterprises can avail compliance requirements in the US and Canada with a combined C-UL certification.
CEC Certification (California Energy Commission)
Any product that contains a battery charger needs a CEC certification that needs to be marketed and sold in California. That means all types of AC Adapter in every product undergoes testing or is certified to the Californian Department of Energy (DOE) energy efficiency level VI. The regulations and standards under this certification are mandatory for federally-regulated and non-federally-regulated appliances sold in California.
WEEE is the abbreviation for Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) and mandates the treatment, recovery, and recycling of EEE. It monitors and encourages environmentally safe product designs and primarily aims at regulating the disposal of EEE. This directive, therefore, also supervises the creation and collection methods of EEE, where it directs the consumers to return their WEEE free of charge.
RoHS aims at reducing the number of hazardous chemicals used in electronics manufacturing. It strictly regulates hazardous substances, like lead, cadmium, and mercury, used in the manufacture of EEE, encompassing everything including screws and enclosures. Products sold in the EU and the state of California necessarily needs RoHS certification.
ElectroStatic Discharge or ESD is produced when electrical or electronic appliances work. ESD penetrates other systems by coupling into cables and printed circuit boards (PCBs) and may cause system upsets, lock-ups or unwanted resets, lost data, and risks of permanent damage. Therefore, ESD Immunity tests a product’s ability to stay safe, usually at areas accessible to human touch, when exposed to electrostatic discharge. ESD immunity prevents your products from encountering problems, especially in a field with lots of other products. The standard ESD Immunity test protocol is the IEC 61000-4-2, with a minimum of Level-2 passing.
If the product in question incorporates Bluetooth capabilities, a Bluetooth SIG certification is a test worth undergoing to use it without legal encounters. It is a non-profit organization that monitors Bluetooth standard and the Bluetooth technology trademark licensing. Bluetooth SIG, unlike other certifications, is an international certification accepted globally.
Enterprises manufacturing lighting products can apply for DLC certification. DLC is the abbreviation for DesignLights Consortium, a non-profit organization, specific to the lighting industry, to promote high-performing commercial lighting solutions.
It qualifies whether commercial LED luminaires, retrofit kits, linear replacement lamps, or other lighting products comply with minimum performance standards, including high levels of energy efficiency.
For a DLC certification, the manufacturer should submit the new product to be tested by an Accredited Laboratory, and present the results directly to the DLC.
These are among the most prominent certifications common to many products we see every day. There are other certifications qualified enough to make products legal in defined markets in different places.
Though expensive, these are vital for the well-being of everything, and everyone around a product’s functional environments. Enterprises spend top capital to rollout certified products to the market, so that safety is assured and brand reputation remains unaffected. It empowers consumers to purchase quality goods and mandate manufacturers to produce the best quality products at all times. That’s reason enough to embrace these certifications and put a smile on our face the next time we see them on our products.