Protection against electromagnetic effects

Specific IECEE EMC programme ensures safety and reliability of electrical and electronic devices

By Claire Marchand

Lightning is a huge natural electrostatic discharge between electrically charged areas within a single cloud, from one cloud to another or between a cloud and the earth. The discharge is accompanied by a flash or strike, can result in serious injuries or fatalities when people are exposed to it, and can cause serious damage to equipment, installations and buildings when it hits the ground.

Lightning strikes can cause serious damage to equipment, installations and buildings

Keeping safe in a thunderstorm

We have all learned from an early age what we have to do in a thunderstorm. When outdoors, keep away from trees, tall objects, metal and water; try to find shelter in a building; spread out if in a group. When driving, stop at the side of the road or on a motorway’s hard shoulder, stay in the car and avoid touching metal. While indoors, stay away from windows, stop using phones and electrical equipment and unplug appliances and computers.

Electrical damage

Telephones, modems, computers and other electronic devices can be damaged by lightning, as harmful overcurrent can reach them through the phone jack, Ethernet cable, or electricity outlet. Close strikes can also generate EMPs (electromagnetic pulses). All electronic devices are highly susceptible to these electromagnetic effects.

As the market in electronic goods has increased rapidly and steadily over the past 30 years, so the need for protective measures against such effects has grown.

Lightning protection standardized

In 1979, the IEC established TC (Technical Committee) 81: Lightning protection, to prepare International Standards and guides for lightning protection for structures and buildings as well as for persons, installations, and contents in or on them.

TC 81 has provided other IEC TCs with guidance on the protective measures to be taken against electromagnetic effects produced by lightning.

EMC tested and certified by IECEE

As part of its CB (Certification Body) Scheme, IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components), has put in place the mechanisms to ensure, through assessment, testing and surveillance, that products conform to the specified requirements of the appropriate EMC standards. The service provides testing and certification in compliance with IEC International Standards prepared, among others, by IEC TC 77: Electromagnetic compatibility, and CISPR: International special committee on radio interference.

The main features of the IECEE EMC compliance services as provide by the CB Scheme and the CB FCS include, as appropriate:

  •  Third-party testing and certification for products based on IEC International Standards
  •  Testing of products by internationally approved laboratories
  •  Regular surveillance of quality systems and products through factory inspection to ensure that quality products comply with the relevant IEC International Standards•

Using the IECEE EMC programme and obtaining IECEE  certificate of compliance offers multiple benefits for manufacturers. Among them are faster access to market, cost and time saving, a competitive advantage at the national, regional and international level, and ultimately customer confidence that the product purchased meets all safety and reliability requirements.

Depositphotos_3838905_original Lightning strikes can cause serious damage to equipment, installations and buildings
EMP Close lightning strikes can also generate electromagnetic pulses
emc_chamber2_philips EMC chamber (Photo: Philips)