An Introduction to EMC

Quick Definitions

EMC - Electromagnetic Compatibility
The ability of a device or system to function without error in its intended electromagnetic environment.
EMI - Electromagnetic Interference
Electromagnetic emissions from a device or system that interfere with the normal operation of another device or system

Many other acronyms are used to describe different EMC-related phenomena. A glossary of EMC acronyms is available to help you sort them out.


Examples of EMC problems:

your computer interferes with FM radio reception
operating your vacuum cleaner causes "snow" on your TV
your car radio buzzes when you drive under a power line
a helicopter goes out of control when it flies too close to a radio tower
you pick up CB radio conversations on your stereo
your telephone is damaged by lightning-induced surges on the phone line
the screen on your video display jitters when the flourescent lights are on
your new memory board is destroyed by an unseen discharge as you install it
the clock on your VCR resets everytime your air conditioner kicks in
your laptop computer interferes with your aircraft's rudder control
the airport radar interferes with your laptop computer display
your pacemaker picks up cellular telephone calls
a hospital's EKG machine picks up Channel 5

The Three Elements of an EMC Problem