LVD 2006/95/EC ( Low Voltage Directive) of the European Parliament and of the Council of December 12, 2006 on the harmonization of the laws of Member States relating to electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits (codified version) was published in the OJEU L 374 on December 27, 2006, p. 10-19. It entered into force on the 20th day following that of its publication, i.e. on January 16, 2007. The old directive 73/23/EEC was repealed on the same date.
The Low Voltage Directive (LVD) 2006/95/EC ensures that electrical equipment provides a high level of protection for European citizens in the European Union.
The Low Voltage Directive 2006/95/EC requires electrical equipment to have protection against hazards that could arise from within the electrical equipment itself or from external influences. The directive covers all risks arising from the use of electrical equipment, including mechanical, chemical (such as, in particular, emission of aggressive substances) and all other risks. The directive also covers noise and vibration, and ergonomic aspects which could cause hazards within the scope of the directive.
The term “electrical equipment” is not defined in the directive. It is to be interpreted according to the internationally recognized meaning of this term. The definition of electric equipment in the International Electro Technical Vocabulary of IEC (International Electro Technical Commission) is: “item used for such purposes as generation, conversion, transmission, distribution or utilization of electrical energy, such as machines, transformers, switchgear and control gear, measuring instruments, protective devices, wiring material, current-using equipment.” “Domestic” plugs and sockets may also be used in commercial or industrial premises for uses which do not require specialized industrial features.
The general requirements of the directive are:
- The equipment satisfies the essential health and safety requirements of the directive
- The appropriate conformity assessment procedure has been carried out, supported by drawing up a Technical Construction File
- An EC Declaration of Conformity has been issued by the responsible person
- CE marking has been affixed, showing that the manufacturer has complied with these essential safety requirements
- The electrical equipment is safe
The directive covers electrical equipment designed for use with a voltage rating between 50 and 1000 V for an alternating current and between 75 and 1500 V for a direct current. These voltage ratings refer to the voltage of the electrical input or output, not to voltages that may appear inside the equipment. For most electrical equipment, the health aspects of emissions of electromagnetic fields are also under the domain of the Low Voltage Directive.
However, the following are excluded from the scope of the “Low Voltage” Directive:
- Electrical equipment for use in a potentially explosive atmosphere
- Electrical equipment for radiology and medical purposes
- Electrical parts for lifts
- Electricity meters, which are covered by other Community directives
- Plugs and socket outlets for domestic use
- Electric fence controllers
- Radio-electrical interference
- Specialized 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, which so far are not covered by any Community directive and therefore must not be CE marked
Article 8 and Annex IV of the directive describe the procedure by which the manufacturer
or his authorized representative established in the Community ensures and declares conformity of the electrical equipment with the provisions of the directive. This includes three main elements:
- Technical documentation-Before electrical equipment is placed in the European Economic Area the manufacturer puts together the technical documentation which makes it possible to assess whether the electrical equipment complies with the requirements of the directive.
- Declaration of Conformity-The manufacturer or his authorized representative established in the Community is also required, and are the only ones authorized to do so, to draw up in writing a Declaration of Conformity before placing the electrical equipment on the market.
- CE marking-Before it is placed in the EEA, the electrical equipment must have the CE marking affixed. Only the manufacturer or his authorized representative established in the Community are authorized to affix the CE marking.
This must include details of the design, manufacture and operation of the electrical equipment in so far
as these details are needed to assess the conformity of the electrical equipment with the requirements of the directive.
Accordingly, it contains:
- A general description of the electrical equipment
- Design and manufacture drawings plus diagrams of components, subassemblies, circuits, etc.
- Descriptions and explanations needed to understand the above mentioned drawings and diagrams plus the operation of the electrical equipment
- A list of the standards used, in full or in part, and a description of the solutions employed to meet the safety aspects of this directive when standards have not been applied
- The results of design calculations and of checks carried out, etc.
- Test reports (in fact, the test reports which may be available, either established by the manufacturer or a third party)
The CE marking is placed by the manufacturer, or his Authorized Representative established
in the Community, on the electrical equipment or, where this is not practically possible, on the packaging, the instructions for use or the guarantee. The CE marking declares conformity of electrical equipment with the essential requirements and conformity assessment procedures set out under the “Low Voltage” Directive and all the other directives applicable to it.
The CE marking must be affixed visibly, legibly and indelibly. The affixing of markings which are likely to deceive third parties as to the meaning and form of the CE marking is prohibited.
Declaration of conformity:
Annex III.B of the directive describes the content of the Declaration of Conformity as follows:
- Name and address of the manufacturer or his authorized representative established within the Community
- A description of the electrical equipment
- Reference to the harmonized standards
- Where appropriate, reference to the specifications on which conformity is declared
- Identification of the signatory who has been empowered to enter into commitments on behalf of the manufacturer or his authorized representative established within the Community
- The last two digits of the year in which the CE marking was affixed (for the first time)
The Declaration of Conformity must be drawn up at least in one of the official languages of the Community.
For non-EU manufacturers: Appoint a European Authorized Representative established within the European Community.
The directive portrays European Law enforced within the European Economic Area (EEA); non-compliance with the directive’s requirements will result in the removal of the apparatus from the market and the revoking of the CE marking affixed on the electrical equipment.