Questions about CSA/UL certification of a commercial fully built amp.

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Questions about CSA/UL certification of my commercial fully built amp.

Hello

It's being about two years that I've work on various amps schematics and prototypes and I would like to commercialise, in a small scale, a fully built amp (not the ones I've posted in the forum), not a kit.

The CSA/UL certifications could cost thousands of dollars, that's a lot wen you want to start a small business, and they don't say a lot about that in the CSA web site.

If I would use an external power supply who are allready CSA certified, from another company, do my amp, who would use this external power supply, will still need a CSA certification ?

Any inputs and ideas about certifications and commercialise my amp are welcomes.

Thank you

Bye

Gaetan
 
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taj

diyAudio Member
Joined 2005
Hi Gaetan,

I will ask our local CSA inspector when he comes into our facility next. He's usually here a few times a month doing field tests. He's a very friendly, helpful guy that enjoys good chats to enliven his boring tests.

Did you plan to export your product to different countries? US, Europe, etc? You will need their certifications too, which requires a lot of research.

..Todd
 
Disabled Account
Joined 2006
I don't know the legislation in your country, but my guess is that you are looking at it from the wrong direction.

If a company wants to make 10,000 kettles then they need to prove to the public they are safe... it's the accepted way to go, so certification will be required. But for a few amplifiers? Very unlikely.

This is my understanding...

Here (in the UK) low volume manufacturers have to keep a file of all the design details, testing, component specifications, etc.. It's called a Technical File. When the file is full the company can say "We have gathered the details and verified the product design and believe it to be safe". Then they can put a 'self-certified' CE sticker on the equipment. They have to be confident that their file and the testing is complete and reasonable.

The Technical File must be kept on the premises for inspection upon the demand of the Authorities. However they almost never inspect the files because they only have time to attend to the mass manufacturers who put more people at risk (... 10,000 kettles).

My guess is that your legislation will be quite flexible on low volume manufacturing, and 'self-certification' is likely to be possible in some way.

:)
 
CSA, unlike CE, does not allow self-certification. They do not trust us!

Having been through this process several times it is not worth it unless the production numbers are there.

Initial test costs $5k to $10k, quarterly plant (field) inspections at $1k to $3k.

Independent test labs can save you some money ther.

A fully enclosed approved external PS will solve your problem (as long as the amp does not produce over 48V out) but it will limit optput power to the capacity of the PS

E
 
I have gone through this a few times professionally, although not for audio.

Getting CSA certification for yourself, forget it, it's just too expensive as has been said already.

Your cheapest option might be to have a CSA shop do a portion of the work for you, subject to an agreement that they will certify the device with their number. Essentially you are "renting" their certification.

The other cheap option is to get a CSA inspector to do a one-time certification. He basically comes, hi-pots it, inspects the grounding detail, and puts a CSA sticker on it. We did this a couple of times in Calgary 10 or so years ago and it was about $500 each time IIRC.
 
CSA and UL are certifications by notified bodies that you pay for, an independent badge saying your product is good and safe. They are not mandatory to put electronic goods on sale in the US.

You will however have to comply with electrical safety regulations which involve details about how the equipment is constructed and insulation tests etc, and evidence that you can meet EMC standards. You can do most if not all of this yourself with a little study and time. Well actually a lot of.
 
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CSA and UL are certifications by notified bodies that you pay for, an independent badge saying your product is good and safe. They are not mandatory to put electronic goods on sale in the US.

You will however have to comply with electrical safety regulations which involve details about how the equipment is constructed and insulation tests etc, and evidence that you can meet EMC standards. You can do most if not all of this yourself with a little study and time. Well actually a lot of.

richie00boy is correct, CSA, UL, ETL are third party and not mandetory for most goods. (There are instances where local law, state or federal law require a certified good, for example a circuit breaker for your house.)

For an amplifier, I would suggest keeping a technical file in line with CE regulations. Without a digital device at 8kHz or higher, I don't think you have to prove you can meet EMC standards...FCC-Part15 or CSPR-22

Scott
 
AFAIK the last 2 comments are irrelevant for Canadian law. If you sell a product without CSA or ULc certification and it causes harm such as electrocution, shock, or fire, then you are liable. Insurance companies love to sue here too.

Oh it's the same way in the US too, and frankly even *if* you have the CSA or UL cert you can still be sued. (They may not be successful, but they always have the right to try.)

Take a good look at the back panel of the CA-2300...

Classé Audio manufactures Delta and CT (Custom Theater) Series home theater and hi fi systems for audiophiles and videophiles including digital tuners, surround sound processors, DVD players, and multi-channel amplifiers.

There is only a CE marking on the panel, at a minimum, they *should* have tested for safety, conducted emissions, etc and self declaired compliance with EU laws for electronic products.

There is no ULc, UL, CSA, TUV or ETL marking on that amp....

Scott
 
If I would use an external power supply who are allready CSA certified, from another company, do my amp, who would use this external power supply, will still need a CSA certification ?


This IMO is the most economical approach, but will only be acceptable if the supply voltages are deemed SELV ( safety extra low voltage ). AFAIK This was an approach used by RANE Inc. using wall warts (UL listed) and telephone jacks. Although this approach was dropped later on, if memory serves, mainly because of customer complaints. It's much easier to get a sticker if you use a more stringent "Listed" component, because each "certified" component needs to re-evaluated by its final use for your products safety evaluation.
 
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Without a digital device at 8kHz or higher, I don't think you have to prove you can meet EMC standards...FCC-Part15 or CSPR-22

Scott

My familiarity with standards in the US is based around medical devices (which do indeed have processors in them), but I'm fairly sure that just because it's a fully analogue amp you are not exempt from EMC as I've not seen anything in the standards I've looked at that makes that distinction.

Certainly in the UK I have been involved in CE compliance with a pro audio company and we had some small EMC fixes to do to our amps, which were totally analogue. From my experience your main worry is likely to be conducted emissions, so try and find a local company that will let you use their EMC test kit for a small fee in their lunch break or something. Remember you only need to test that particular configuration once then you can make a production run the same way.
 
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Oh it's the same way in the US too, and frankly even *if* you have the CSA or UL cert you can still be sued. (They may not be successful, but they always have the right to try.)

Take a good look at the back panel of the CA-2300...

Classé Audio manufactures Delta and CT (Custom Theater) Series home theater and hi fi systems for audiophiles and videophiles including digital tuners, surround sound processors, DVD players, and multi-channel amplifiers.

There is only a CE marking on the panel, at a minimum, they *should* have tested for safety, conducted emissions, etc and self declaired compliance with EU laws for electronic products.

There is no ULc, UL, CSA, TUV or ETL marking on that amp....

Scott

Hello

I'm a bit surprise, Classe Audio are not a small company, they are a canadian based company, they do a good job so I presume that they do complied to CSA standard anyway. I live in forest far from cities, so I would need to go in Montreal for those tests.

Looking at all your reply guys, maby I could just have a CE marking on the panel by going on their web site. Ican't afford paying few K$ for the CSA testing and

But anyway, for now I look at the audio market and this business are not an easy one.

At least I'm confident in my design since after blind tests it sound better the a Linar 10 amp and few other cosly amps.

My ideas are for a very small size business, I will by happy to sell 20 amps a years.

Thank

Bye

Gaetan
 
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Hi Gaetan888,

I’ve worked in test and certification for over ten years and although based in the UK the global market is something I’ve had some dealings with over the years. Most of my experience has been with industrial products but the rules apply across all North American markets (sorry but us Brits rope Canada and USA together). :)

The CSA/UL mark you speak of is a certification mark issued by an NRTL (National Recognised Testing Laboratory) and is not a mandatory requirement. It happens to be a safety mark that buying departments of major retailers look for to demonstrate the product is ‘safe’. I have always been led to believe that a Customer can choose to accept an ‘unmarked’ product at their own risk. In fact I know of government departments in the US that have accepted laboratory equipment with no North American approval only European.

The route to gaining a certification mark is very expensive because the issuing authority (in the case mentioned above UL or CSA) will carry out safety testing against UL and/or CSA Standards in a test lab and then impose at least two factory visits per year (mandatory minimum) to make sure all subsequent products match what they tested in the lab. And you have to live with the yearly visits each year to maintain the label. :eek:

There are ways of reducing the yearly cost by applying for a fixed batch approval, where they will issue a batch of labels for you to attach, but it’s still expensive and there are all sorts of strings attached to this route.
My advice is always to consider your target market, see what similar manufacturers are doing and take some independent advice from a test house that doesn’t have a vested interest in certification marks.

If you decide to submit your product to a test house make sure you make use of a preapproved power supply because that can have a big impact on the cost of testing. From a testing point of view the test house doesn’t care how good the product functions, they just care about insulation, earth straps and the power side of things. A bit simplistic but in essence true.

Just my quick thoughts...

Jeff
 
maby I could just have a CE marking on the panel by going on their web site. Ican't afford paying few K$ for the CSA testing and

But anyway, for now I look at the audio market and this business are not an easy one.

To affix a CE mark you will still need evidence of compliance with EMC standards, the only way to reliably achieve this is through testing.

If you cannot get to a proper lab then try some DIY experiments with things like sensitive short wave radio receivers (emissions) and mobile phones (immunity). Record what you did and the results in your technical file.

Remember that you personally will be responsible for the CE mark declaration and also liable for any legal action.
 
Remember that you personally will be responsible for the CE mark declaration and also liable for any legal action.

Sorry, not strictly true. :(

For manufacturers outside the Economic European Community the responsibility remains with the official importer or distributor. It is these guys the authorities will chase if there is a problem. Policing :cop:of infringements varies from country to country and whistle blowing is encouraged across industries. If you take a short cut on your design and one of your competitors gets wind of it they will inform the authorities. Believe me, I’ve seen all sorts of issues...
 
In the US product liability is generally a strict liability standard: if someone gets hurt because of a defective product everyone in the distribution chain is liable. Having a UL certification helps show that the design was not negligent and may avoid that additional liability, but is no guarantee. The good news is that the lawyers who would come after you would fairly quickly see that your pockets probably aren't as deep as they would like and aren't as likely to prosecute the case on a contingency basis.

Talk to a lawyer about protecting yourself by incorporating a business to sell your amps and purchase a small general liability policy for the business. In the US business owners are not liable for their corporate obligations as long as they take steps to behave as a corporation and provide enough assets/insurance to show that the corporation isn't a sham.

Unless you are in the business of manufacturing electronics in your day job, it is probably a good idea to pay a Professional Engineer to take a look at the safety aspects of your design before unleashing it on the public. Although UL certification may not be required, there may be legal requirements.

Be sure to put the lawyer label on the amp - "Do not open. No user serviceable parts inside."
 
Geatan, it is possible and acceptable to self certify your equipment if your design complies with that required by the authorities.

All of the documentations are available from these authorities, but the trick is usually what you have to comply with. It is therefore in your interest just to get a quotation from such an authority because this will list all of the standards that will be applicable to the product as well as the paragraph and sub-paragraph.

It is then just a matter of getting hold of these specifications and design the equipment in conformance with what they require.

In almost all cases they will also indicate the test method that they use to determine compliance. As an engineer you will easily interpret what they require and design your product in such a way that you know would exceed expectation.

One must also keep in mind that a competitor will not draw you into compliance testing if he is not absolutely sure that you fail, because if you do not fail, the person requesting the test is liable to pay for it. Compliance testing is just that test to establish whether the minimum requirement is achieved.

Look luck Geatan
 
This why I dont sell complete equipment, I just sell amplifiers modules.

Then it is up to the final user to get it certified if it goes into production.

I worked for a company for 6 months on EMC and the kit they had was worth £30,000.
They had a faraday cage and all the sensors to read conducted and radiated emissions.

Thye had a pc program that ran through the test and gave diagrams and data of whether the equipment had passed or not.

I designed an EMI filter for their equipment and the kit was useful for checking that it worked within boundaries. It cost about £10 for a home made EMI filer compated to £50 for bought in ones.
 
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