Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) equipment

ISM equipment

The term Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) generally refers to equipment or devices that utilize radio frequency energy to perform work. The IEC defines the term;

“Qualifies equipment or appliances designed to generate and use locally radio frequency energy for industrial, scientific, medical, domestic or similar purposes, excluding applications in the field of telecommunications”

Some Examples of common ISM equipment are medical diathermy equipment, industrial heating equipment, and magnetic resonance equipment. Equipment making use of RF energy in a similar way, but used for domestic purposes, also comes under the definition of ISM equipment, if they utilize RF energy to perform work; some examples of typical devices are microwave ovens, jewelry cleaners, and ultrasonic humidifiers.

It should be noted, that while ISM devices utilize specific ISM frequencies within defined ISM spectrum allocations, the fact that a devices makes use of an ISM frequency does not define the product as an ISM device. For example, the commonly used 2.4 GHz spectrum for wireless networking, centered on 2.450 GHz and ranging from 2.4 – 2.5 GHz, is a designated ISM frequency band. In the case of wireless networking, the frequency is used for telecommunication, and telecommunication use is excluded under most definitions of ISM equipment. In that case, the wireless networking device would be classified under other rules, designed for unlicensed intentional radiators. Telecommunication equipment usualy comes under the definition of Information Technology Equipment (ITE).

In the United States, C.F.R. Title 47, part 18 covers electromagnetic interference requirements for Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) equipment. Some product types require certification prior to marketing or selling in the U.S..

With respect to the European EMC Directive, the product family standard EN (European Norm) 55011, a modified version of CISPR 11, covers emissions requirements for ISM equipment. This product family standard is for equipment that fits the IEC definition above.

Product family standards are easy to identify, such standards will mention “Product Family standard for.X.” directly in the title. The precedence of harmonized standards follows an informal ranking based on the type of standard;

  • Product Specific

  • Product Family

  • Generic or Product Environment

  • Basic (or Phenomenon)

The most commonly applied standards are Product Family standards. Very few product specific standards are available. Basic standards, although on the list, are generally not applied directly, but via reference from one of the other three types. Exceptions to this include examples such as power line harmonics and voltage fluctuation and flicker, as these basic standards are referenced in the Official Journal directly.

The applicable versions are listed on EMC Directive list of harmonized standards published on the European Commission web site.


         CISPR 11 / EN 55011

         IEC 60050


         C.F.R. Title 47, part 18

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