If you’re a manufacturer, importer or distributor of electronic devices, you’ve likely heard about the importance of complying with government regulations for electronic equipment, such as the rules set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and European Union (EU).

A key part of compliance for electronic devices is electromagnetic compliance — the process of demonstrating that your device demonstrates sufficient electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). 

EMC refers to your device’s ability to work alongside other devices without causing interference, as well as its ability to avoid being affected by interference from other devices. EMC is assessed as part of a process called electromagnetic compliance testing.

Electromagnetic compliance testing is a key step in bringing your electronic product to market. If your device fails to meet EMC requirements and doesn’t undergo testing, you may be subject to penalties from regulators, such as fines issued by the FCC.

As an accredited electronics testing lab, we help companies of all types and sizes complete lab testing for their electronic devices and verify that they’re compliant with EMC laws in the United States, EU and other markets. 

You can find more information about electromagnetic compatibility testing below, including what it is, common electromagnetic compatibility standards that are important for compliance, and the basics of how the testing process works.

To learn more about EMC compliance, or to request a quote for our accredited lab testing and compliance services, contact us online or call us at 866-540-5287 to talk to our team. 

What is Electromagnetic Compliance Testing?

Electromagnetic compliance testing involves assessing electronic devices to check that they’re compliant with regulatory standards, such as the FCC Part 15 rules. It’s an essential aspect of bringing any electronic device that exists within a regulated category to market.

Electromagnetic Compliance Testing vs. Electromagnetic Compatibility

Electromagnetic compliance testing sounds very similar to electromagnetic compatibility testing, or EMC testing. However, while these two terms do have a lot in common, they refer to different things. 

Electromagnetic compliance testing is a broad term that means testing that a device meets the regulatory standards for EMC testing within a specific market. For example, if you’d like to sell your device in the USA, you’ll complete compliance testing for the related FCC regulation.

EMC testing, on the other hand, is a specific range of tests that are used to measure how your device emits and tolerates electromagnetic emissions. It usually involves testing your device’s emissions (meaning its electromagnetic output) and its immunity.

This can sound confusing at first. In simple terms, electromagnetic compliance testing involves carrying out the appropriate electromagnetic compatibility tests to make sure your device meets the regulatory standards for your target market. 

Think of electromagnetic compatibility testing as the lab tests that assess your device’s ability to work with other electronic devices, and electromagnetic compliance testing as an umbrella term for all of the EMC tests you’ll need to carry out to achieve legal compliance. 

Common Electromagnetic Compliance Standards

FCC Part 15

In the US, the FCC is responsible for regulating electronic devices that use the radio frequency spectrum. As such, FCC Part 15 is the key standard that affects most electronic devices, such as consumer electronics and many types of industrial equipment.

Part 15 regulates unintentional radiators (devices that aren’t intended to emit RF radiation) and intentional radiators (devices such as radios and Bluetooth devices, which intentionally emit RF as part of their normal operation). 

Compliance with FCC Part 15 is mandatory for almost all electronic devices sold in the United States. Our team can inform you about Part 15 standards and requirements that apply to your device, as well as the best way for you to complete testing and achieve compliance. 

FCC Part 18

FCC Part 18 is a standard that addresses devices and equipment used for industrial, scientific and medical purposes. It’s used to verify the electromagnetic compliance of medical equipment such as MRI machines, as well as industrial machinery. 

CE EMC Directive

In the European Union, the EMC Directive is the fundamental standard. This standard requires electronic devices to meet certain standards for emissions and immunity to ensure they are not at risk of causing interference or malfunctioning in a shared environment.

Compliance with the EMC Directive is mandatory for receiving the CE mark, which is necessary to sell your device in the European Economic Area (EEA).

CE Radio Equipment Directive

The Radio Equipment Directive (RED) is another European Union standard for electromagnetic compliance. Unlike the more general EMC Directive, the Radio Equipment Directive focuses on devices that use the radio spectrum. 

The RED covers a broad range of electronic devices, from simple radios to more complex radio frequency devices such as smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi equipment and wearable devices. 

Compliance with the Radio Equipment Directive is mandatory if your device falls under its scope and you plan to sell the device in the European Economic Area. 

Tests Used for Electromagnetic Compliance

A variety of tests are used to assess electromagnetic compatibility and ensure devices comply with EMC regulations. Common test types include:

  • Emissions testing. This type of testing measures electromagnetic emissions from your device. It ensures that your device’s emissions are within the limits set by the standards that apply to your device. Emissions testing involves measuring both radiated emissions (emissions that travel via air) and conducted emissions (electromagnetic emissions that travel via power lines and other connections).
  • Immunity testing. This type of testing measures your device’s immunity to interference from other devices. In other words, it assesses how well your device is able to continue operating when it’s subjected to electromagnetic emissions from other sources. Immunity testing measures immunity to electromagnetic fields, electrical discharge and other forms of disturbance, such as electrical surges.
  • Electrostatic discharge (ESD) testing. This type of testing measures how your device tolerates electrostatic discharge — sudden, brief flow of electrical current from one object to a differently-charged object.
  • Magnetic field immunity testing. This type of testing measures your device’s ability to continue operating normally when exposed to interference from magnetic fields.
  • Other tests. In some cases, other tests may also be performed to assess your device’s electromagnetic compatibility and compliance with regulations. 

Specific testing requirements can vary between compliance standards. Contact us to learn more about the testing process for standards such as FCC Part 15, FCC Part 18, European directives and others. 

Contact Us About Electromagnetic Compliance Testing

Completing electromagnetic compliance testing is a vital step in bringing your electronic device to market. In the United States, this typically means achieving compliance with FCC Part 15 or 18. In Europe, it means complying with the relevant directive and receiving a CE mark. 

As an accredited testing lab, we’ve helped hundreds of companies throughout the United States and worldwide complete testing and achieve FCC, CE and other forms of legal compliance.

To ask our team of engineers and compliance experts a question, or to request a quote for your device, contact us online or call us at 866-540-5287.