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Safety Fact Sheet 7

The following information was kindly provided and compiled by


Ken Lawrence - Electrical Safety Consultant
(Tel: 01564 777914 Mobile: 07802 577764 Email: ken.lawrence@btinternet.com)

The Low Voltage Directive – Key points


All electrical equipment supplied in the European Economic Area must comply with the Low Voltage Directive
(LVD). In UK law this is implemented through the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 and it is a CE
Marking requirement. It is not essential that testing for the LVD is carried out by a third party test house if the
manufacturers are sufficiently confident of doing it themselves.

The safety standard covers equipment in normal use or in foreseeable misuse conditions and also applies to
equipment built for own use by the manufacturer. It also covers prevention of access to hazards without the
use of special tools or a key. The regulations do not apply to explosive atmospheres, medical equipment,
aircraft, ships, railways, lifts, electricity meters, domestic plugs and sockets or components. However, there are
other Directives or Regulations that apply to these items

Voltages covered by the LVD are 50 – 1000 Vac (rms) and 75 – 1500 Vdc. However, there is some discussion
at the moment about reducing the minimum to zero volts.

General requirements
Additionally the following should be considered
Voltages greater than 30 Vac or 60 Vdc are normally considered to be hazardous
Voltages greater than 2V with available power greater than 240VA are considered to be hazardous energy
levels.
It must not be possible, under normal or single fault conditions, to make contact with hazardous voltages or
hazardous energy levels.

Accessibility to Electrical Hazards


There must be two levels of protection between hazardous voltages and “safe” voltages. This can be made
up of one layer of insulation plus earth or two layers of insulation.
The first layer of insulation is known as Basic Insulation. There will be Basic Insulation between hazardous
voltages and earth or earthed parts.
If there is not an earth a second layer of insulation is required and this is known as Supplementary
Insulation.
A combination of Basic Insulation and Supplementary Insulation is known as Double Insulation.
Often there is a single layer of insulation between hazardous and “safe” voltages which has the same
insulation properties as Double Insulation, this is known as Reinforced Insulation.

Types of Insulation
Reinforced Supplementary Operational
Basic Insulation Insulation Insulation
Insulation

Primary Circuit Secondary Circuit Secondary Circuit


(mains) Earthed Metal
(ELV) (SELV)
Case

page 1 of 3

To see lots more fact sheets like this one, or to register for our
series of informative mini guides on related key topics – go to
www.reo.co.uk.
The small print: Every effort has been made to ensure the integrity of the information in this data sheet, which has been provided in good
faith and the authors do not accept liability for any loss or damage caused by omissions, errors or the interpretation of the reader.
Safety Fact Sheet 7

Insulation Distances

Insulation distance through air is known as the Clearance Distance.


Insulation distance along a surface is known as the Creepage Distance.
Assuming the hazardous voltage is 230V single phase mains, the following table shows the normal
insulation distances:

Clearance Creepage Distance through insulation Stress Voltage


1.5 kVac
Basic Insulation 2.0 mm 2.5 mm Not Specified
(2.1 kVdc)
Double or reinforced 3.0 kVac
4.0 mm 5.0 mm 0.4 mm
insulation (4.2 kVdc)

Examples of Creepage Distances and Clearances

Creepage Distances Creepage Distances


and Clearances (1) and Clearances (2)

≥1mm <1mm

Clearance Clearance
Creepage Distance Creepage Distance

Creepage Distance (1) Creepage Distance (2)


L F1 R2
L F1 R2
C1 C1
N N
RL1 RL1

F2 F2
T1 + +
T1 + +
D1 D2 D3 D4 +
+ R1
R1 D1 D2 D3 D4
C2
OC1 + +
C2
OC1 + +
R3

R3
R4
L1
R4
L1

Basic insulation - creepage distance at least 2.5mm


Basic insulation - creepage distance at least 2.5mm between protective earth and hazardous circuitry.
between protective earth and hazardous circuitry.
Note: There must still be a creepage distance of at least 5mm to maintain
Reinforced insulation - creepage distance at least 5mm reinforced insulation between hazardous circuitry and selv circuitry
even though the earth track separates the two circuits.
between hazardous circuitry and selv circuitry.

To see lots more fact sheets like this one, or to register for our
series of informative mini guides on related key topics – go to
www.reo.co.uk.
The small print: Every effort has been made to ensure the integrity of the information in this data sheet, which has been provided in good
faith and the authors do not accept liability for any loss or damage caused by omissions, errors or the interpretation of the reader.
Safety Fact Sheet 7

Clearance Distance Distance through


Insulation
Creepage
Distance

Mains Mains

at least
4mm selv circuits
SELV SELV
T1
F1 R1 R4
OC1
Insulation in
thin layers
Distance through 2 or 3 layers
Solid Insulation of tape
hazardous circuitry

Reinforced insulation - clearance distance at least 4mm


between selv circuitry and hazardous circuitry.

Other important considerations

Earthing Rating Plate


z Earth wiring must be green/yellow (bare or transparent covering is allowed
for earth braiding).
A rating plate must be affixed to the
z The resistance between any point that requires to be earthed for safety equipment in a visible position
reasons and the earth terminal must be less than 0.1Ω.

z The primary earth connection must be marked , subsequent earths


should be marked . ®
SMITHEN ACH-6X
z The primary earth should preferably be connected to a separate terminal,
subsequent earths being taken from another terminal. If this is not possible INPUT AC 100 - 240 V
the primary earth should be connected first Primary 180 mA 50 - 60 Hz
To other
Earth OUTPUT DC 10 V, 740 mA
and held in place with a nut, subsequent earth points
earths can then be added and held in place
Indoor
with a second nut. The reason for this is to use only

prevent the main earth from being disturbed Made in Germany


during servicing.
SN 00074884/CD11/560

To see lots more fact sheets like this one, or to register for our
series of informative mini guides on related key topics – go to
www.reo.co.uk.
The small print: Every effort has been made to ensure the integrity of the information in this data sheet, which has been provided in good
faith and the authors do not accept liability for any loss or damage caused by omissions, errors or the interpretation of the reader.