So you sell lighting in Europe and put a CE mark on it but….. I get almost on a daily basis questions regarding CE marking on products, many people ask for CE certification and on the other hand I get questions from end-users who expect a lot when a product does have a CE mark. Does this mark have value or is it highly overrated? Good question, I think it is safe to say that the marking is not living up to expectations. So what is CE and what does it really say.
First of all in lighting CE is based on 4 basic directives, currently being the low voltage directive, the EMC directives, the RoHS directive and the ErP directive. These directives give the minimum requirements for a manufacturer to comply with before he marks his product with the actual CE marking. Without this marking the products can not be sold to end-users in the European union. Many importers are not aware of the fact that they are responsible for the compliance with these directives. The manufacturer does not have this responsibility when he is outside of the European Union. This is already one the first issues to consider.
Second problem is how serious is the manufacturer/importer. If he takes his responsibility he will make sure that the products are in compliance however I also get many questions from importers that already sell their products on the EU market and but are not aware of the requirements. This is for sure a big problem when the products are unsafe. Needless to say that Rapex does have more and more products listed that are being recalled due to safety or other non compliance issues.
Is it so difficult to comply? No it is not. Simply follow the standards when starting your design. If you do not do it in that way your products will have difficulty in complying. Making adjustments when your products are already final can be a costly procedure that you do not want. So better start right to prevent this from happening.
Back to the actual value of the marking. If the manufacturer/importer takes his responsibilities as he should the marking can also be taken seriously however if he does not how can we take this marking as a confirmation that the products is safe. I would not question the issue when the government inspections would be up to a level that would more or less guarantee this. This is not case at the moment. I know they work hard on checking and improving but you have to consider the fact that everybody has been cutting back and the number of regulations where compliance is needed has only been increased. So it is a problem and how can we solve this. Currently I do not have the answer however the market is changing and the risks are being slowly reduced to to the different technics that are being used. Also new hazards are being introduced of which some are not yet sufficiently recognized like for example the stroboscopic effect on PWM dimming of LED products.