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The phenomenon of electromagnetic interferences

Depending on the kind of coupling of electromagnetic disturbances the phenomenon are divided into two different groups. In case the disturbance signal is air-borne one speaks of radiated interference while in case of disturbance signals are line-carried one speaks of conducted interference.

Where the coupling is radiation

Stationary and non-stationary radio transmitters (Electrical Field)

Both stationary high-power radio transmitters and non-stationary walkie-talkies or mobile telecommunication devices operating in the immediate vicinity of systems or equipment lead to uncontrolled electromagnetic radiation into vulnerable electronic equipment.
Parameters: Narrow-band, continuous electromagnetic interference (modulated).
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-4-3

HV power supply transmission lines (Magnetic Field)

In the close vicinity to these lines high magnetic fields can be generated and coupled into other electronic or electrical systems.
Parameters: Narrow-band with 16 2/3Hz or 50/60Hz, continuous electromagnetic interference
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-4-8

Indirect lightning effects (pulsed Magnetic Field)

Lightning strokes into HV voltage power distribution systems are causing high electromagnetic fields which are able to cause induced voltage in any low voltage distribution system, such as power mains systems. Also telecom networks, due to the extended distribution of cabling, are threatened by indirect lightning effects.
Parameters: Range of voltage some tens of kilovolts, range of current some hundreds of amps, high-energy pulses with rise times in the microsecond range.
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-4-9


Where the coupling is conduction

Inductive load switching results in Electrical fast transients (burst)

Electromagnetic influences produced in the neighborhood by rapid variation of voltage and current as a result of the abrupt change of a switch from a non-conductive to a fully conductive status or vice versa, e.g. switching inductive loads with mechanically moved contacts between which arcing occurs before they separate.
Parameters: Broad-band pulse interference, rise time of pulses of a few nanoseconds, small energy content and high repetition rate.
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-4-4

Switching inductive or capacitive loads in power mains supply system

Switching heavy inductive or capacitive loads in low voltage power mains supply systems are causing transients of high energy and high voltage, depending on the installation category.
Parameters: Range of voltage some up to tens of kilovolts, range of current some tens of kilo amps, high-energy pulses with rise time and duration in the microsecond range.
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-4-5

Atmospheric discharges such as lightning

Lightning strokes into high voltage power distribution systems are causing transients in low voltage power mains networks. Via coupling these transients can also be detected in data bus systems, I/O lines and any cabling in the industrial area.
Parameters: Range of voltage some tens of kilovolts, range of current some tens of kilo amps, high-energy pulses with rise times in the microsecond range.
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-4-5

Power Mains supply failures

Voltage dips and short interruptions are caused by faults in the network, in installations or by a sudden large change of load. In certain cases, two or more consecutive dips or interruptions may occur. Voltage variations are caused by continuously varying loads connected to the mains supply network.
Parameters: These phenomena are random in nature and can be characterized in terms of the deviation from the rated voltage and duration.
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-4-11

Electrostatic discharge

ESD occurs when the static electric field between two objects exceeds the dielectric strength of the air between them. The discharge is a complex event involving a local transfer of charge at the point of discharge, electromagnetic near field coupling between the objects involved, induced current flow in the object receiving the discharge and radiated electromagnetic energy from the charged object as well as from the arc of the discharge. All of these phenomenon are capable of causing malfunctions and, in some cases, damage in electronic equipment.
Parameters: The major effects are generated by the discharge current (< 100A) and voltage (< 30kV) with rise times in the nanosecond and even in the picosecond range.
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-4-2

Conducted disturbances, induced by radio-frequency fields

Conducted radio-frequency disturbance occurs from intended rf transmitters affecting cables such as mains supply lines, signal lines or earth connections between different parts of an electrical or electronic systems.
Parameters: The interference signal is a an amplitude modulated or pulse modulated signal, typically in the frequency range between 9kHz and 80MHz, sometimes extended to 230MHz.
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-4-6

Harmonic current emission

With an increasing number of electronic power supplies used in a wide range of products the aim to limit the harmonic current emission has become more and more important. It is a specific interest of the power distribution companies to keep the harmonic current emission to a considerable low level as harmonic current causes unnecessary loading of the power distribution infrastructure. This again may affect both quality and reliability of the power supply.
Parameters: Harmonic currents are measured up to the 40th harmonic of the fundamental. Limits for each harmonic are specified depending on the type of product.
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-3-2, IEC/EN 61000-3-12

Voltage changes, voltage fluctuation and flicker

During an entire duty-cycle of a product sudden voltage changes, voltage fluctuations or flicker might occur. This may effect the quality of the mains supply voltage. Flicker can be visually recognized as the illumination strength of a lamp may drop significantly even for a very short time. To keep such phenomenon to the minimum limits have been introduced for the impact of load variations to the public mains supply network.
Standard reference: IEC/EN 61000-3-3, IEC/EN 61000-3-11


Additional Phenomena - EMC in Vehicles

Apart from the basic phenomena as described here above a wide range of additional requirements can be found for special electrical and electronic systems such as vehicles. These requirements are based on the fact that within a vehicles supply system a large number of sub-systems and components are installed generating interference and at the same time being exposed to interference. Some of the phenomena that can be found on-board vehicles look similar to the ones that are specified in the basic standards of IEC. Some are specific for thes systems.

Many vehicle manufacturers have set up their own EMC requirements for both conducted and radiated immunity and emission testing. These requirements supersede the national and international standards existing for EMC testing on vehicles (e.g. ISO7637, SAE J1113, JASO).



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