CE and UL Certification

Thread Starter

Khisraw

Joined Nov 14, 2020
33
Hi all,
I am at the production stages of my design and it needs to have CE and UL certification. Can someone help me with the followings;
1. An organization that carries out the CE and UL certification at which is cost-effective for a startup like ours?
2. We are planning to change the MCU in the next version, will it lose its certification if we changed the MCU?
3. Any good web source to learn about certification?

I have got quotes from few sources here in the UK and one in the Netherlands and the prices were far too expensive. We found one in China which was still over $1200.

Appreciate your feedback.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
7,551
I haven't been involved in anything like this in a long time but the $1200 price sounds too good to be true. Make sure whomever you go is qualified to perform the testing.

After changing the MCU you may need to submit a sample for testing. Your consultant (independent or at the testing lab) should be able to help you.
 

Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
16,492
Nobody that I know of will do the job for you at a reasonable price. When it comes to UL certification it is the gift that keeps on giving. In addition to the upfront charge which is substantial there a 90-day renewal charge. That's' right you have to send UL a 'tribute' every 90 days just to maintain the listing. Change the MCU and the process starts all over again. When my company was faced with this problem we quoted two prices for the customer. One with UL certification and one without. They took the price without. We were able to put the decision on the customer as to whether it was a requirement or not.
 

Irving

Joined Jan 30, 2016
1,862
You can self-certify for CE Marking (its not a certification as such). See https://www.productapprovals.co.uk/ce-certification (this is the site of Product Approvals, a commercial organisation I have no affiliation or involvement with, but have found their site to be useful in guidance for CE Marking)

" CE marking is not a certification, an approval or a quality mark. The term ‘CE compliance’ is a more accurate description, since in the majority of cases, this can be achieved by self-certification. "

Its easier if you've kept extensive documentation from product inception as this becomes the basis of the "Technical Construction File". If you need to meet EMC or other requirements that require 3rd-party testing because you dont have the facilities/expertise these can be done piecemeal which can keep the cost down compared to having it all done by outside assessors. The official documentation from UK Gov is here.

UL is much more difficult certification. I've used TUV in the distant past, they were much cheaper than BSI.
 

Hymie

Joined Mar 30, 2018
983
CE compliance is basically the manufacturer’s declaration that the product meets all applicable EU Directives. Depending on what the product is, the most likely directives are the Low Voltage Directive (LVD), EMC Directive (or possibly RED directive if the product includes deliberate rf transmission) and the RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances).

Compliance with the LVD is normally achieved through test to the relevant harmonised product safety standard (EN 62368-1 for IT equipment).

Compliance with required EMC standards requires test by an EMC test facility.

RoHS compliance can be achieved by declaration from the manufacturers of the component parts that make up the product – that they are RoHS compliant.

Even for a simple product, LVD & EMC tests are likely to cost the best part of £10k.

Changing the micro-controller is unlikely to impact the LVD compliance, but might have a significant effect on EMC performance. A good EMC test facility should be able to advise based on the micro-controllers in question.

UL certification is likely to cost of the order of £5k (depending on the complexity of the product), with ongoing fees of the order of £5k/year to maintain the certification.

You should have budgeted for the above costs within the development of your product. Given that money is tight, I suggest you have the necessary testing done for CE marking and use the profits from sales within the EU to fund the UL certification.

Below are a couple of links to organisation offering assistance/consultation on CE marking. I’ve no experience of either, so before parting with any money make sure of what you are buying; but both provide useful information foc.

https://cemarking.net/

https://www.conformance.co.uk/ce-marking-for-products/ce-marking-basic-information
 

andrewmm

Joined Feb 25, 2011
1,626
Just remember that you are self certifying in CE that your product meets all the regulations,
Strongly suggest that you set up a ltd company, which designs and makes this item an is responsible for the CE marking.

UL, is a major paper work exercise,
And will cost GBP 10K plus to have a test house read all your docs and sign them off,
UL can cover all sorts of things including fire and intrinsic safety,
all depending what type of equipment you are making, and does it include radio such as WiFi or Bluetooth
all of which need an independent UL approved test house certificate for.
 

Ian0

Joined Aug 7, 2020
2,646
Not many years ago, I could get EMC and LVD testing done for £450 per half day at a certified laboratory. I could achieve this by understanding exactly what was required and simply specifying which tests were to be done and being given the results. I could then self-certify with enough evidence to back it up if any authorities came around asking for proof.
The same lab, if asked to provide certification, would have charged far more.
I don't know about UL, because our insurer wouldn't cover us for supplying goods to USA, unless we paid a much higher premium.
 

rsjsouza

Joined Apr 21, 2014
331
In principle, you can self certify anything under any regulatory norm from the regulatory agencies (EU, FCC, IC, KC, CCC, Anatel, etc.), provided you are following the norms applicable to your product for that region/country. You also do not need a listing (more on this later).

The trick of this certification game is to cover your ass with either very solid design and testing documentation (if self-certifying) or pay someone (a certification company) to do the tests for you and provide a document that states conformity with the standards you told them to test.

The certification companies (UL, TÜV, Intertek, etc.) will work per hour - either for testing or consulting services. The charges of testing are straightforward, but you want to be sure to pre-certify your product (test the heck out of it in-house) before you send it, so you avoid expensive extra hours in case your product fails compliance. The charges of consulting are a bit harder to account for - the various regulatory agencies across the world have some procedural differences and the certification company can provide suggestions on what regulations are needed based on your product (as mentioned before: LVD, RED, ROHS, Conflict minerals, etc.) as well as the need to apply compliance marks to your product and the necessary documentation to meet the legal requirements. You can study the heck out of the EU and FCC regulations and ask the certification company to test for exactly what you want - the burden is on you to properly choose the test required.

Regardless of using a consulting service or not, the certification company starts from the principle they know nothing about how your product operates: the manufacturer (you!) always needs to provide a test procedure that exercises the DUT (your product) to run all modes of operation. This is a step that is the entire responsibility of the manufacturer: create a good test routine to cover any possible worst case scenarios.

About listings. The "UL certification" you mentioned is simply a product from the certification company UL (Intertek, TÜV and others have similar products). This "UL certification" assigns your own product a number and creates an entry on a public website (a listing) that allows you and other businesses to consult which regulatory agencies and norms your product follows (that is why it is called a UL listing). The long term financial commitments to the certification agency are necessary due to the process of annual re-certification to verify if your product still conforms with the regulatory agencies it shows in its listing. This listing is 100% optional as no regulatory agency in the world can force you to contract a certification agency and mandate you have a listing, no matter what the certification company says so. In other words, your obligation to sell in the US is to meet FCC regulations applicable to your product and that is all - you can hire UL to do the test for you and pay once. However, it may make financial sense if your customers care about this listing. You need to decide.

Anyways, if you are confused, you wouldn't be the first one. Just know that you are testing to be compliant with the regulatory agency (FCC, IC, EU, etc.) and not for the certification companies (UL, Intertek, TÜV, etc.). Good luck.
 

Sensacell

Joined Jun 19, 2012
2,851
If you are opening this can of worms at the "production stage" of your design - watch out!!
You may need to make significant changes to your design to meet EMC and other requirements.

If these certifications are necessary, starting the design with this in mind can save $$$1000's and months of lost time.
 
Top