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    Low Voltage directive

    Summary

    The Low Voltage Directive (LVD) 2014/35/EU (formerly 2006/95/EC) ensures the free circulation of electrical products (in the voltage range between 50 V. AC/ 75 V. DC and 1000 V. AC/ 1500 V. DC) provided that these comply with essential safety requirements for all users, whether consumers or workers.

    The LVD, which was first established in 1973, was the first European Directive to adopt the so-called ‘New Approach’ regulatory model.  This approach consists of essential requirements – on health and safety mostly – set in the law, corresponding compliance procedures proportionate to the product risks and a presumption of conformity with the law where harmonised standards cited in the EU Official Journal are used.

    Under the LVD, manufacturers should assess the risks inherent to their products against the essential safety requirements with the aim of preventing electrical shocks, fires, emission of toxic substances, etc… As a result, manufacturers are allowed to affix, the CE marking on the product or its packaging.

    Scope

    The Directive applies to all apparatus operating on any AC supply between 50 and 1000 volts or DC supply between 75 and 1500 volts. Recent guidance from the European Commission has made it clear that the voltage limits referred to are the supply voltage or any voltage generated which appears at an output terminal, and not voltages generated within and confined internally to the equipment.

    Equipment listed in Annex II are excluded from the scope of the Directive:

    Electrical equipment for use in an explosive atmosphere

    Electrical equipment for radiology and medical purposes

    Electrical parts for goods and passenger lifts

    Electricity meters

    Plugs and socket outlets for domestic use

    Electric fence controllers

    Radio-electrical interference

    Specialised electrical equipment, for use on ships, aircraft or railways, which complies with the safety provisions drawn up by international bodies in which the Member States participate.

    Custom built evaluation kits destined for professionals to be used solely at research and development facilities for such purposes.

     

    In the main, these are items which are covered under other more specific directives or which are subject to international legislation outside of the jurisdiction of the EU.

    Equipment manufactured for the manufacturer's own use is not excluded from the Directive, but does not need to carry the CE logo. (NB: this is not a universal principle under the CE marking directives - in fact most directives do require equipment made (or imported) for the maker's (or importer's) own use to be CE marked.)

     

    Requirements

    The requirements of the Directive can be divided into essential protection requirements and administrative requirements.

    The essential protection requirements are contained in Annex 1 to the Directive. In essence they are extremely simple - equipment must be safe, it must bear the manufacturer’s name and address and it must be supplied with any necessary instruction to permit it to be used safely.

    The administrative requirements are no less straightforward. The manufacturer must:

    Compile technical documentation - the manufacturer must produce a file of evidence which describes the product and how it is shown to comply with the Directive. This will typically include information on how to identify the equipment, a copy of the instructions, a wiring diagram, reports of tests and records of assessment to applicable standards.

     

    Control of production - although tests may be performed on a sample of the equipment, the Directive requires that all units produced comply with its requirements. The manufacturer will need appropriate quality control procedures accordingly.

     

    Sign a Declaration of Conformity - the manufacturer must sign a document to identify the equipment and confirm the steps they have taken to comply with the Directive. This document is kept on file by the manufacturer - it does not need to be sent to any official body (although sometimes customers may ask to see it).

     

    Put the CE logo on the product - it must be put on the equipment, or on its packaging or instructions.