HV safety cannot be overlooked

By Dr. Min Zhang, the EMC consultant

One of my frequently visited websites is the UK government product safety alerts, reports and recalls website. Link is provided here https://www.gov.uk/product-safety-alerts-reports-recalls .

A quick browse on the website, you will find lots of recalled products due to safety failures. Among which, the high voltage (HV) safety failures have taken a large proportion of the total cases. What is more interesting is that the number of the hair care products shown in the list. It is quite concerning if we find a “good hair day” turns into a nightmare due to the safety issues. I have friends who experienced leakage current issue with a counterfeit hair dryer product and I will not be surprised if some of these products could cause fire.

One of the products that have HV safety issues

The products that are forced to be recalled often present serious risks of electric shock. These products often either do not meet the requirements of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 or the plugs & Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994 (BS1363). Some common failure modes are summarised:

  1. Failure to comply with the creepage and clearance requirements (including poor quality soldering).
  2. The wire diameter is too thin, i.e. not rated for the suitable current.
  3. Wrong/no fuse is fitted.
  4. Lack of general safety design, for instance, lack of power interrupting mechanism.
  5. Insufficient insulation.
I have seen some HV design in the past which pose serious health and safety hazards

If the safety operation of these products cannot be guaranteed, I cannot imagine if they have done any EMC tests. Yet, some of these products have a CE marking label. We should not allow products like this appear in the market.

Many of these products are imported from Asia into the EU market, and some of them are even sold in big platforms such as Amazon, the Range and TKMAXX. Clearly this shows a sign of lack of expertise in quality control within these organisations.

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