How find what approvals and certifications needed for a new product?

by mr_silas. Posted on Sep 14, 2020    4    19


Hello!

Like many of you guys im just starting out, and questions i thought would be easy to solve are faring not to be. Without getting into the weeds too much, im designing a product that will interface with an American homes utilities. Does anyone have a resource to find compliance's that one would need? Does anyone have experience designing IOT devices that interface with utilities that meet American standards? ie NEC, UL...etc

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Thanks!


Comments

raiedhasan 1

Part of my responsibility is dealing with product regulation and certification and if you product involves power and utility, there is a very good chance that you will need some form of NRTL certification (UL, CSA or ETL). Iot will need FCC too. If you are not too familiar with these, I suggest you get help from a consultant; should be much cheaper than hiring an engineer who is familiar with these (trust me, much much MUCH cheaper). Regulations can be a nightmare and a consulting company will be able to guide you. Plus depending on the NRTL rep looking at your file, it can be a nightmare dealing with them, especially if you don’t know what you need. Once you are comfortable, you can try to navigate it yourself (or hire someone) but remember, every UL/CSA code document costs $500-$1000 and depending on your product, you may need to buy several of these; that along will probably cost you more than hiring a consultant. And then the cost of certification: depending on which NRTL and what kind of product you are making, the cost can be enormous. Remember to use NRTL listed components. And if you are lucky, your product may fall into the exception category (like cellphones and laptops) that doesn’t require any NRTL certification. Bottom line: definitely hire a product regulatory consultant (startup turnkey solution provider) right away; this is very important at the early stage of product design so that you can design based off of the path of least regulatory resistance. All the best!

  mr_silas 1

wow thank you so much for all that great insight. that really helps me understand it better. someone mentioned that if i try to source as many components that are already UL/FCC approved etc, that it would help save alot of steps. my question is if i source a dozen devices that all have their own approvals, does that still apply when they are together? for example if you sold a server cabinet with ups, switch, pc etc installed already.

AdamKyleWilson 1

I’ve worked as a product designer on a number of IOT projects. It can be notoriously tricky to integrate with utilities of any kind. I would recommend finding a consulting company specializes in this or employ someone with deep experience in this area and not trying to navigate it yourself.

caleedubya 2

Sorry for the naive question but can you explain the roles and responsibilities of a product designer?

AdamKyleWilson 1

Sure thing.
Traditionally it’s a term used for industrial designers who take an idea, business need, or modification and create a physical artifact based on the technical input from several stakeholders.

Example.

A lighter company wants to make a more ergonomic lighter. Their product designer would be responsible for doing research or ergonomics, drafting designs for the physical lighter that meets the criteria of not only the ergonomics request, but also the criteria of their manufacturing production already in place, the parts like flint and striker they already use, and the final price point for the lighter. With all of these factors in mind they will design, prototype, and finish technical designs for this new ergonomic lighter that will then be manufactured by the company. Then based on feedback from people who use it, manufacture it, distribute it, or the business team, they will improve upon that design ongoing.

Lately this term has been making its way into the digital world, but the concept is the same. Designing software instead of physical goods with development, distribution, price point, and users in mind. And then continually improving it over time based on feedback.

caleedubya 2

Awesome, thx! This seems like a large, multi disciplinary scope. Do you lead a team of engineers in this effort?

AdamKyleWilson 1

Yes designers always work along side engineers who actually build the thing. Software or physical goods. But they don’t lead the engineers. We collaborate on the design, then collaborate on the development or engineering. Then once it’s in production it’s out of both their hands and they move on to making the new version of the thing.

caleedubya 2

Awesome, thx again!

  mr_silas 2

did you use a consulting company? have you tried doing it yourself? if so how did you find out the information? im currently at a loss, and am just thinking of talking to the local utility companies and see how far i can get. thanks for your suggestions. i might very well have to hire someone with this knowledge. before i do, i want to take a stab at it :)

AdamKyleWilson 2

Yes we have used guys from Deloitte and McKinsey in the past. I’m just the product designer for hire, it’s the responsibility of the startup founders we work with to sort that out. Any company who didn’t know this stuff going into the project failed through. So I would sort it out first. Red tape is the ultimate project killer in energy, healthcare, insurance and other industries in the trenches of state bureaucracy.

  mr_silas 2

alright i just checked out their sites, very impressive. so im guessing something like that is pretty expensive. in your experience, do most people hire people like that before or after funding?

AdamKyleWilson 1

Totally out of reach for a startup pre-seed fundraise (and sometimes after too). Those guys are the best of the best in the consulting world. We work with them when we work with Nike or Disney or Shell on products.

We work with independent, local consulting groups with startups, though they’re never as effective.

It can also be a good strategy to find someone who works as a compliance person at a bigger iot company and see if they will consult to you on the side. If you’re not competing with the product they work on. Still will cost 10’s of thousands of dollars though.

  mr_silas 1

man you got my gears turning! where would someone find someone like this :)

tvgraves 3

You need to either pay for consultation or hire an engineer who has navigated regulatory testing and approval on a similar product.

You’ll eventually need that engineer anyway so I’d go that route rather than hiring a consultant

  mr_silas 2

i agree that is my preferred route. ill have to do some digging and see if i can afford someone like that pre funding. but until then do you know where one could start looking into what certifications i need? UL etc

_just_a_random_boi 3

Look into CSA, UL and ETL certifications.

  mr_silas 2

oh those are great! thank you! alright down the rabbit hole i go.

tvgraves 3

Without knowing the product it’s hard to say. Google UL testing services. Some of those companies may be able to get you started.

  mr_silas 2

awesome thank you