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How to eliminate electromagnetic interferences (EMIs)?

ICES-005, Issue 4

LED and controls are becoming more and more popular in the lighting Industry. They are providing a lot of benefits such as longer life expectancy, higher performance and controls. However, they generally require more electronics, which are mostly active/switching electronics components.

With the growing presence of active/switching electronics components, the risk of having Electromagnetic Interferences (EMI) has become predominant. These devices can create emissions that could potentially affect electrical grid or local electrical devices. EMI consists of an electrical noise that can produce harmonics and can be propagated affecting a wide range of frequencies. Therefore, if these frequencies are used for communication, the noise added to these frequencies will certainly affect the communication signals. In other words and to give a realistic example of the consequences of EMIs, if a lighting equipment creates noise on the same frequency than your best FM broadcasting radio channel, there is a big chance that you will end up with radio statics. These EMIs are also known as Radio-Frequency Interference (RFI) when they affect specifically the radio frequency spectrum.

Here are some common examples of EMI’s effect in our daily life: interference with navigation signals, audio and video signals disturbance, flickering monitors, etc. These issues are either consequences of conducted emissions or radiated emissions.

Conducted emissions consist of an electromagnetic energy generated by an electronic device that can be transmitted or coupled to the AC power cord. Since power cords are wired to the power distribution network, there is a high risk to affect all the electronics equipment connected to it. On the other hand, radiated emissions are also electromagnetic energy generated by an electronic device, but the propagation is through air.

It becomes a necessity for lighting systems manufacturers to take the EMIs into consideration when designing luminaires. The objective behind that is to eliminate or lower to a reasonable and viable level of interference, in order to supply the market with products harbouring a good Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC). Multiple standards main goal, such as CISPR and IEC, is to standardise products performances for EMC.

Industry Canada came up with ICES-005. Issue 4 came in effect in December 2016, targeting the lighting equipment. The scope covers all lighting products that are capable of generating unwanted EMIs. In other words, passive lighting equipment or lighting equipment that does not include any active/switching electronic components, are considered to comply with the ICES-005.

In conclusion, Interference-Causing Equipment Standard ICES-005, Issue 4, details the methodology, the measurement and the limits of radiated and conducted radio frequency emissions generated by lighting equipment. It also details the administrative requirements for this lighting equipment, such as labels and markings, which represent the manufacturer’s or importer’s self-declaration of compliance.


As per the ICES-005 Issue 4, each lighting equipment that is declared as compliant with the standard should have one of the following markings, depending on the test methodology, instrumentation and/or limits used:

  • CAN ICES-005 (A) / NMB-005 (A)
  • CAN ICES-005 (B) / NMB-005 (B)
  • CAN ICES-005 / NMB-005


“1)” is for lighting equipment classified as class A, which means they are highly unlikely to be used in a residential environment and for which the test methods used is the one described in the ANSI C63.4

“2)” is for lighting equipment classified as class B, which is basically any equipment that cannot be classified as Class A. Like “1)”, test methods used is the ANSI C63.4.

“3)” is when the test methods used are the one in accordance with the requirements set out in CISPR 15

To conclude, Electromagnetic Interferences are the new “necessary devil” that the Canadian lighting industry needs to deal with. Although it will be invisible to the public eye, the ICES-005 issue 4 is going to push lighting system designers to rethink the way they develop their products.


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