Low Voltage Directive: Everything You Need to Know
What is the Low Voltage Directive (LVD)?
The LVD 2014/35/EU is a set of product safety requirements that apply to electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits across the EU. It outlines a set of health and safety measures and harmonisation of equipment regulations across the single market. It was brought into force by the European Commission on 20 April 2016 and applies to all member states.
You can read the rules in full here. Be warned, they are 18 pages long. In this guide, we’ll cover the parts you need to know.
The Low Voltage Directive, also known as the LVD, covers health and safety risks relating to equipment in the following voltage ranges for input or output:
- 50 and 1000 volts for alternating current
- 75 and 1500 volts for direct current
Within these voltage brackets, the LVD applies to most items of electrical equipment, including; cable management systems, cables, fuses, household appliances, laser equipment, plugs and plug outlets, pole voltage detectors, power supply units and switches.
The LVD is applicable to anything connected to the public supply network.
Who enforces the rules?
In the UK, the LVD is officially implemented by The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and enforced by two UK bodies. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforces the rules when LVD-relevant equipment is used in the workplace or non-domestic premises. The Trading Standards Service enforces regulations when LVD-relevant products are used at home.
What are the penalties for non compliance?
Businesses not complying with LVD safety objectives are committing an offence and risk a fine, imprisonment, or both. The HSE can ask for equipment to be withdrawn from the market if it is not LVD-compliant. Notifications of these withdrawals are then made to the European Commission by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.
In scenarios where CE marking – which is marking used to display that a piece of equipment is LVD-compliant – is seen to have been wrongly affixed, a compliance notice may be issued.
Compliance notices are used in cases such as when a piece of electrical equipment meets safety conditions but does not meet other points of compliance. They offer another opportunity for organisations to achieve compliance. If the notice is not acted upon, enforcement action can then proceed.
Key LVD responsibilities for manufacturers
Manufacturers are responsible for design and production which ensures LVD-relevant equipment is compliant.
The LVD includes four key responsibilities for manufacturers that apply to equipment in the ‘LVD bracket’:
- Safe - there should be minimum risk that the product will cause death or personal injury to any person or domestic animal, or damage to property
- Constructed in accordance with good engineering practice in relation to safety matters
- Designed and constructed to ensure that it protects against electric shock through protective earthing, double insulation or equivalent
- Designed and constructed to conform with the principal elements of the safety objectives, which are in Schedule 3 of the regulations
For manufacturers of goods to be sold in or supplied to the European market, CE marking is a means of making a visible declaration that electrical equipment complies with the LVD, implemented in the UK via the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.
CE marking is a required form of LVD compliance, and involves relevant marking to be affixed to the electrical equipment itself, as well as to packaging and guarantee certificates. Clear CE marking is necessary to ensure that products are seen as meeting LVD requirements and are entitled to free circulation in the European Economic Area.
CE marking can still be challenged by the HSE if there is evidence to suggest that LVD regulations have been infringed.
Additional documentation required for the LVD
In addition to appropriate CE marking, the LVD requires at least two more important forms of documentation:
Under the LVD, electrical equipment must be supplemented by technical documentation before it can be released onto the market. This documentation must:
- Include a description of the equipment
- Offer information on its design, how it is manufactured, and how it is operated
- Detail procedures which can be used to confirm that the equipment conforms with LVD safety requirements.
In order to fulfil the requirements outlined above, this documentation can include; conceptual designs, schemes of components, relevant descriptions, lists of standards applied, details of solutions used to meet safety requirements and test reports.
EC Declaration of Conformity (DoC)
An EC DoC is a written declaration - from a manufacturer or other notified bodies which they have appointed – that a piece of electrical equipment is compliant with LVD. The EC DoC identifies the manufacturer or authorised representative, describes the equipment, specifies harmonised standards, and includes the year in which the equipment was CE marked.
Low Voltage Directive testing for electrical equipment
We can help you ensure that your products conform with the harmonised standards outlined in the LVD. IES provides consultancy and support throughout your Low Voltage Directive testing process:
- On-site conformity assessment at your premises
- Written report detailing any non-compliance issues
- CE marking support including construction of your Technical File
- Guidance and solutions for any corrective actions
- Provision of clear project timeline and pricing expectations
- Vast experience of working with non-European suppliers
- Exemplary health and safety standards
We can supervise you in the compilation of the technical documentation which you need to achieve LVD compliance including equipment descriptions, details of design and operation, and low voltage testing procedures.
We can also guide you through the whole self-certification process, up to and including your Declaration of Conformity, meaning that you can minimise the time you spend on compliance activities, and maximise the uptime of your electrical equipment.
Looking for LVD advice?
For more details on our low voltage directive compliance solutions, call us on +44 (0)117 938 0600 or get in touch via our contact form.