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Radio Frequency Standards

Updated on July 8, 2020
tamarawilhite profile image

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, an industrial engineer, a mother of two, and a published sci-fi and horror author.

While radios and wireless communication systems are the most obvious source of radio frequencies, ultrasound equipment, industrial heaters, RFID systems, power lines and some types of welders also generate radio frequencies. There are even Radio Frequency or RF intrusion alarms. What standards apply to radio frequency (RF) and RFID systems?

IEEE RF Standards

The IEEE is a leading American standards organization, and IEEE issues standards on radio frequency emitting products and devices.

IEEE standards range from recommended practices to minimize radiation exposure to strict limits on RF emissions. For example, IEEE C63.9 outlines recommended limits so that office equipment will not suffer from interference from low power transmissions. You do not want someone’s office phone or monitor suffering interference as someone with a mobile phone or walkie talkie goes by.

IEEE standard C95.1 gives the safety levels for exposure to RF at 3 Kilohertz to 300 Gigahertz. This standard is not related to medical standards, and its safety limits have no impact on those undergoing radiation treatments for cancer. IEEE 1654 describes the RF protection measures to be followed when people are working around wireless communication antennas near power lines, which greatly increases their RF exposure over simply working on an antenna or near power lines.

Radio frequency generators like radios and signal generators can “leak” radiation into the environment. These leaks are called radio frequency emissions. IEEE 139 describes how radio frequency emissions are to be measured. IEEE C63.4 describes how emissions are measured from low voltage equipment.

UHF RF antenna
UHF RF antenna | Source

IEC RF Standards

The International Electrotechnical Commission or IEC sets a number of standards for American companies that apply to RF applications. IEC 6275 gives recommendations on how to use radio frequency Bulk Acoustic Wave or BAW filters. IEC/IEEE standard 21457-2 sets the standard for smart transducers in RFID systems. Some IEC standards like IEC 15963 have been adopted by the ISO.

RFID Tags in Inventory and Production Control

ISO 15963 is the standard for the unique identification of radio frequency tags used in item management and product inventory management. ISO 15962 gives the data encoding rules for RFID devices. ISO 17365 gives the supply chain applications of returnable transport items, or RTIs for short. ISO 17367 applies to product tags, such as anti-theft devices on items like pregnancy tests and high dollar apparel.

ISO 24729 gives recommendations by the ISO on how to implement RFID tags in inventory management systems and how to recycle them. The ISO 18000 covers several frequency ranges used for active air RFID systems. Each dash number of the ISO 18000 standard, like ISO 18000-6, applies to a different frequency range. ISO 29143 applies to mobile RFID interrogators. ISO 22536 describes the communication protocols used in RF interface testing.

RFID is not limited to tags on small items. ISO 10374 is the standard for RFID sensors used on large cargo containers, allowing companies to count the number of cargo containers on a ship and locate individual ones if required. ISO 18185-3 describes the environmental characteristics of seals used on RFID devices on cargo containers, since they must be protected from weather and sea spray while still working after months at sea.

RF Standards and Your Vehicle

ISO standard 21609 gives ISO’s guidelines on installing aftermarket RF transmitting equipment like portable radios and location devices. These guidelines are intended to minimize electromagnetic interference between the installed RF devices with the car’s electrical equipment.

ISO standard 11452-7 outlines the test method for radios and RF equipment used inside of cars to determine whether or not it interferes with electrical components in the car.


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