August 20, 2012

China Safety Standard- Higher Clearance for Power Supplies

We used to think that if our power supply design meets IEC or corresponding UL requirements for a given application, we would automatically meet most national standards of other countries. Now, the main ITE Standard in China GB 4943.1-2011 appears to set more stringent requirements to ITE equipment. Although in general, GB 4943.1-2011 is based on IEC 60950-1 2nd addition, it includes certain deviations. Particularly, par.1.1.2 states that unless specified by manufacturer, the equipment is to be used up to 5000m altitude above sea level. Therefore, in the absence of the marking of par. specifying the altitude below 2,000 m, the equipment shall comply with the requirements for 5000m altitude. For such equipment, the minimum electrical clearance has to be multiplied by the factor of 1.48.
In many offline SMPS the minimum UL required creepage between primary and secondary circuits is 6.4mm. If both primary and secondary circuits are located on the same side of PCB, this number also determines the spacing (clearance) between the circuits. With the new China standard that goes into effect December 1, 2012, this spacing will now have to be greater than 9 mm. Note that GB 4943.1-2011 will apply to not only the devices for use in the China, but to all those produced there too. So, if you manufacture power supplies in China, in my understanding, you either need to redesign the PCB and replace certain surface mount optocouplers (if any), or add a warning label showing that your PSU is not for use above 2000m.