Directive 2014/35/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council - dated 26 February 2014 and implemented in Italy by Legislative Decree no. 86 of 19 May 2016 - harmonizes the legislation of the Member States in relation to electrical equipment intended to be used within specific voltage limits. The directive is aimed at ensuring that the electrical equipment involved has adequate protection against electrical dangers of various kinds. Referring to IEC/ISO EN technical standards - which manufacturers of electrical products must comply with - the Directive explains the expected risks for health and safety, defining the parameters for which the devices are safe with respect to their intended use.
This directive falls within the legislative framework for the free movement and marketing of products in the European community. Its ultimate aim is to avoid the risks associated with a product or phenomenon, thus defending a common interest of European citizens and companies.
The English name for this directive is: Low Voltage Directive;
Its abbreviated acronym is: LVD;
Its code is: 2014/35/EU;
The previous directives on this topic, which are no longer in force today are: 2006/95/EC, 73/23/EEC.
It is useful to know the references of the old directives because they are often found in the documentation of products or components, but also in European laws and regulations if they have not been recently updated.
Field of application: Directive 2014/35/EU (LVD) concerns alternating current and direct current electrical equipment with nominal voltage between 50 and 1000 V and between 75 and 1500 V respectively.
Essential requirements: the products involved in the scope of the directive, to be placed on the European market, must comply with the essential requirements described in Annex 1 of the directive. Generally speaking, the essential requirements of the Directive concern a high level of protection of the health and safety of people, domestic animals and property, while ensuring the functioning of the internal market.
Main contents of the directive
- Field of application
- Essential requirements
- Manufacturer's obligations
- Obligations of other economic operators
- Free movement
- Presumption of conformity and harmonized standards
- Conformity assessment
- Notified bodies
- CE marking
The motivations that led to the writing of the directive itself are understood as "Premises".
Field of application
The scope defines the categories of products or phenomena regulated by the directive. Often a general criterion is expressed accompanied by explicit lists of products/phenomena that are subject to the directive and of products/phenomena that are excluded from the directive in order to clarify particular situations.
The "Definitions" section includes all specific explanations of the main terms used in the directive, useful for fully understanding the field of application.
The essential requirements are the requirements with which the product must comply in order to be placed on the market. Often the essential requirements are found in Annex I of the Directive.
The manufacturer (or his authorized representative in the European Community) is primarily responsible for placing a product on the market. This chapter describes the obligations and procedures that he must follow, referring to the annexes of the directive for more detailed explanations and regulations.
Obligations of other economic operators
Distributors and retailers are also responsible and liable if they trade in items that do not comply with European directives. They must check that the manufacturer has had the electrical safety test carried out, that the product has the EU declaration of conformity and that it bears the CE mark.
The potential importer must ensure that the procedures for verifying the conformity of the product have been carried out, must verify the presence of the CE marking and ensure that the technical documentation of the product is available to the competent national authorities.
Member States must presume that products bearing the CE marking comply with all provisions of the applicable directives requiring its affixing. They cannot therefore prohibit, limit or prevent the placing on the market and putting into service on their territory of products bearing the CE marking, unless the provisions relating to CE marking have been applied improperly.
Presumption of conformity and harmonized standards
The directives of our interest are associated with a list of harmonized standards which is published in the European Official Journal. Harmonized standards make it much easier to verify the conformity of a product with the requirements of a directive. These standards describe in detail how the tests or other types of assessment necessary for electrical safety verification must be carried out.
If harmonized standards are available for a product to cover all the requirements of the directive - if these standards are applied in a complete manner and the product passes all the tests required by the standards themselves - then it can be assumed that the product complies with the safety requirements. that directive. In the absence of harmonized standards suitable for the product, the path is more complicated and expensive.
Equipping a suitable laboratory to carry out the tests required by the Harmonized Standards is quite expensive. For this reason, manufacturers often rely on external testing laboratories for electrical safety testing.
In Europe it is the body that can carry out a conformity assessment by acting as a third party or evaluate whether the one carried out by the manufacturer and its trusted laboratories is correct. In most cases, however, the use of a notified body is not foreseen or in any case not necessary.
Products that comply with all provisions of the applicable directives requiring the CE marking must bear it. This marking is, in particular, an indication that the products comply with the essential requirements of all applicable directives and that they have undergone a conformity assessment procedure provided for by the directives themselves. Member States are also required to take the necessary measures to protect the CE marking.
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