Electromagnetic compatibility - EMC

The emissions from electrical devices and equipment and their immunity to disturbances must comply with the requirements. All electrical devices and equipment affect each other when they are in close proximity or connected. The purpose of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is to ensure that electrical devices or equipment do not create disturbances that would affect other devices or equipment and are immune to disturbances caused by them.

The manufacturer of the electrical device or equipment is responsible for ensuring that the device or equipment is compliant with the requirements of the EMC Directive. The EMC Directive regulates electromagnetic compatibility. 

What is an EMC disturbance?

Disturbances in electrical devices or equipment include all electromagnetic phenomena not intended for practical use. Disturbances spread from equipment or a device to other equipment or devices either through cables or via radiation. For example, lines in a television picture, static on the radio or computer malfunctions are often due to disturbances caused by other electrical devices or equipment.

Scope of application of the EMC Directive

The EMC Directive applies to all electrical devices or equipment that may cause electromagnetic disturbances or whose functioning may be affected by electromagnetic disturbances.

The EMC Directive does not apply to

  • radio equipment
  • aeronautical products
  • radio equipment used by radio amateurs
  • Custom-built evaluation kits destined for professionals to be used at research and development facilities
  • installations or equipment which are inherently benign in terms of electromagnetic compatibility.

If the EMC requirements of electrical devices or equipment are provided for in another directive in whole or in part, the EMC Directive shall not apply in that respect.

How to ensure the conformity of electrical devices

  1. Check the requirements
    Check the essential requirements concerning electromagnetic compatibility specified in the EMC Directive. The manufacturer can demonstrate that the electrical device complies with the essential requirements by testing the electrical device in accordance with harmonised standards.
  2. Check conformity
    The manufacturer must check and test that the electrical device fulfils the requirements of the EMC Directive in accordance with the conformity assessment procedure included in an annex to the Directive.  As the conformity assessment procedure, the manufacturer can use either the internal production control set out in Annex II, or the EU-type examination that is followed by the procedure concerning conformity to type based on internal production control set out in Annex III. The manufacturer must also assess the risks presented by the device.
  3. Is a Notified Body required?
    Whether a third party, a Notified Body, needs to be involved in assessing the conformity of an electrical device depends on the conformity assessment procedure used by the manufacturer.
  4. Prepare the required documents
    The manufacturer must draw up technical documentation for the electrical device. In addition to technical documents, the EU Declaration of Conformity and the necessary instructions must also be prepared, so that the end user can use the device in accordance with its intended purpose.
  5. Attach the CE marking and other labels
    In addition to the CE marking, the manufacturer must also attach the other markings required by the Directive to the electrical device, such as the traceability requirements. If the device is not intended for use in a residential area, a clear indication of such restriction of use must be included with the device and also on the packaging, where appropriate.


Obligations of the manufacturer, importer and seller

In addition to product requirements, the EMC Directive creates a number of obligations for the manufacturer, importer and seller of the product.


How to ensure the conformity of electrical equipment

The EMC Directive includes different regulations on electrical equipment from those on electrical devices, because electrical equipment cannot move freely within the European Union.

The manufacturer of electrical equipment must design and build the equipment in accordance with good engineering practices so that when maintained and repaired correctly, the electrical equipment is electromagnetically compatible. Electromagnetic compatibility means that the installation fulfils the essential requirements of the EMC Directive concerning electromagnetic compatibility as well as the specific requirements for fixed installations.

The manufacturer of the electrical equipment must document the engineering practices applied and hand the documentation over to the possessor of the electrical equipment.


An electrical device incorporated in a specific fixed installation

If an electrical device is incorporated in a specific fixed installation and is not available for sale otherwise, the manufacturer of the device does not need to carry out a conformity assessment procedure on the device in accordance with the EMC Directive. However, the product may not compromise the EMC characteristics of the fixed installation. The manufacturer does not need to draw up an EU Declaration of Conformity for the device or affix a CE marking.

In the documentation of the electrical device, the manufacturer must

  • identify the fixed installation in question
  • indicate the precautions to be taken for the incorporation of the device into the fixed installation in order not to compromise the conformity of that installation
  • provide the information and markings required by the EMC Directive.

See also