Technical

The regulations that lights in Europe must meet

Many products sold in Europe have to be assessed to meet high safety, health and environmental requirements. So that you know that a product you are specifying or buying complies with all the regulations relevant to it, the CE logo (above) will be prominently located.

Of course, an immoral supplier might put the CE mark on, even though the product does not comply. So a Declaration of Conformity ("DoC") will always be available. Often in the box, it can also be asked for in advance so that you know that what you are specifying complies.

The maker can self-certify (i.e. it is not necessary to use an independent laboratory), but their Declaration of Conformity MUST be supported by the test data. You won't need to see them: they are kept on file in case law enforcement, trading standards or customs authorities ask for them.

The DoC will unambiguously identify the specific model. It will show the name and address of the maker. The particular harmonized standards with which it complies are indicated, and it is signed by a senior representative of the maker.

The harmonized standards potentially relevant to a light are:

-    for safety: for mains powered lamps, the Low Voltage Directive ("LVD")

-    to prevent interference with other electrical equipment by control gear or electronics in the light: the ElectroMagnetic Compatibility Directive ("EMC")

-    for EcoDesign: the Energy Related Products Directive ("ERP")

-    energy labelling*: this, for example:

EU energy label

-    to control hazardous chemicals: the RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and the REACH Regulation* (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of CHemicals)

-    to prevent waste: the WEEE Directive* (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment); for batteries, Directive No. 2013/56/EU*; and for all products, including packaging, Directive No. 94/62/EC*.

*not applicable to CE marking

EN60598

The core requirement of the Low Voltage Directive is that products must be safe. Compliance is demonstrated by meeting the harmonized European safety standards. For lights, this includes EN60598. It is in two parts. Part I applies to all lights, and is 216 pages long. Part II is in twenty three sections, each one dedicated to a particular type of light (e.g. "portable general purpose luminaires") and adds requirements specific to it.

EN60598 goes into great detail about: methods of construction; wiring; earthing; protection against electric shock; resistance to dust, solid objects and moisture; insulation; resistance to heat and fire; and terminals; amongst other things.

There is a section on marking that defines not just what information should be on the light, but also where it should be put, so that it is seen when it is needed. It includes the CE mark, the name and (from April 2016) the address of the maker, the model name, and details of the lamp types that can be used. So if you can't see this information, you already know that the luminaire does not comply, and in the most obvious way! Don't use it. Send it back.

It is no good making a light and then reading the Directive to see if it complies. It won't (there are too many details). Instead, read it first and see it as an invaluable, very specific indicator of what you have to do in order to create a luminaire that is safe – and that could be proved safe in court.

The extraordinarily good thing about EN60598 is that, if your light complies, it can be sold all over the world, except north America! For it is based on the global standard IEC60598 (IEC = International Electrotechnical Commission). There are necessary minor differences between states (e.g. the fused plugs required by UK electrical wiring practices) and these are included in the text of the Directive.

Note, though, that the standards in north America are completely different, which is why lights made to American standards cannot be used elsewhere in the world, and vice versa. As you can now appreciate, a lot more is involved than just "rewiring"! Please read my post Why bother to rewire?!here.

WHY DOES ALL THIS MATTER TO YOU?

If a light does not comply, it is illegal and potentially dangerous!!!

Whether you are a manufacturer, a retailer or a specifier, it would be unprofessional to make/sell/specify anything that is illegal and potentially dangerous.

And it would say something unpleasant about your attitude not only to your customers, but also (bearing in mind the environmental requirements) to the planet.

If you ran a restaurant, would you do nothing about the rats running around its kitchen? And how do you think your customers would feel if they found out about them? Or if they died (a faulty light can kill; a rat just passes on diseases).

Note that there are no exceptions. If you only make/sell/specify one light, it must still comply, even it is a "work of art".

And ignorance is no defence. It is clear that some makers have never read the standards (whether they think they comply with them or not) and the syllabuses for training interior designers do not cover the law as it relates to what they specify!

So, specifiers and retailers, ask for the Declarations of Conformity. And, makers, there will be a professional association in your country specifically designed to support your ability to comply. In the UK, we are fortunate to have the Lighting Industry Association ("LIA") and its Laboratories.

Finally, to keep this post short, note that many of the statements above are over-simplified.

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