How to Choose a SAR Testing Lab

How to Choose a SAR Testing Lab

Manufacturers that produce wireless devices will most likely need to ensure their products meet SAR testing standards before these devices can be placed on the market. Unfortunately, most manufacturers aren’t familiar with SAR regulations and requirements. In addition to this, they most likely don’t have the equipment required to conduct SAR testing and prove compliance. This requires finding a SAR testing lab to work with in order to ensure their products meet FCC regulations. The problem is that choosing the wrong SAR testing lab can mean that the testing process may take longer than necessary, unnecessary testing may be performed, or the product may fail to prove compliance.

Here are some of our tips for making sure that the lab you choose to work with will get your device through the SAR testing process quickly and accurately.

What does a SAR testing lab do and why do I need one?

What is SAR?

SAR stands for “specific absorption rate” and it’s the unit of measurement for the quantity of radiofrequency (RF) that is absorbed by the human body when a wireless device is used within 20 cm (8 in) of the body. Specific absorption rate refers to both the amount of RF energy absorbed by the body from a wireless device as well as the rate at which it’s absorbed by the tissue exposed to it.

SAR provides a very simple way to measure the RF exposure characteristics of wireless devices to guarantee that they meet the FCC’s safety guidelines. Wireless devices are required to be evaluated to ensure that they meet the RF exposure limits determined by the FCC and other federal governmental agencies around the world.

Explaining SAR Testing

When conducting SAR testing, testing labs use regulated models of the human head and body that are filled with liquid to mimic the way RF energy is absorbed by different bodily tissues. Using these models, wireless devices are tested in ways that simulate how users will hold these devices. While they are tested in these various positions, the devices are also operated at their highest power level in all the frequency bands in which they operate. As the device is placed in different positions, a robotic probe measures the electric field at specific locations within the models.

Following testing, a report of the data collected is submitted to the FCC to prove that the device conforms to the FCC’s RF exposure guidelines.

Determining whether or not SAR testing will be necessary for your device can be a complicated process. However, you can check the FCC’s SAR regulations, listed in the FCC Rules, to find out what applies to your product. Keep in mind that FCC SAR regulations are very detailed and are updated often, so keeping up with what is required for your device may be more easily accomplished by SAR testing experts.

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How do I choose a SAR testing lab to work with?

When choosing a SAR testing lab to work with, it’s important to make sure that the lab has the appropriate knowledge and expertise. Working with a lab that lacks knowledge of SAR regulations and requirements can lead to your device failing to prove FCC compliance. This will require follow-up testing, added time, and added money. You can avoid all this by keeping the following in mind.

How can I be sure it’s a good testing lab?

A2LA Accreditation

A great way to ensure that the SAR testing lab you’re considering will provide you with accurate results is to make sure that it is accredited by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) or other nationally recognized Accreditation Body. Working with an A2LA accredited lab will provide you with confidence in the accuracy of your product’s test report. In addition to this, A2LA has mutual recognition arrangements with many other laboratory accreditation systems. This means that member labs from around the world recognize test data from A2LA accredited labs. This reduces technical hurdles for manufacturers that market their products abroad and reduces cost by avoiding retesting in the country the product is exported to. You can learn more about the benefits of working with an A2LA accredited lab here.

Worldwide Compliance Standards

It’s also important to work with a SAR testing lab that has the appropriate expertise and knowledge to efficiently and cost-effectively perform compliance testing for the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, South Korea, and more. If knowledge of these worldwide compliance standards isn’t demonstrated on the lab’s website, you may want to ask them about it directly if you plan to sell your product abroad. 

Case Studies

If the lab you’re considering provides case studies of their work with past clients, you should take the time to read them and see how this lab has helped previous clients. While most labs probably won’t have reviews that you can go through and they won’t be able to disclose details about their clients for you to speak with them, case studies are a great way to get familiar with a SAR testing lab.  

How do I know if the lab can properly test my product?

If the SAR testing lab that you’re considering has a website, they will likely list the products they most commonly test, but if you’d like to get more details or your product isn’t specifically listed, you should not hesitate to reach out to the lab and ask. Let them know the details of your device, such as the size and how it functions, because this will affect the SAR testing requirements. You may also want to ask the lab if they have tested a device similar to your product in the past.

Final Questions

Here are some final questions you may want to ask the SAR testing lab you’re considering working with.

  • Is there a guide for testing requirements?
  • Is it possible to do pre-screening? Pre-screening will tell you if there are any concerns with your device and can allow you to correct any large issues before beginning the full certification process.
  • Is there on-site mitigation help? If testing does uncover an issue, it will be helpful to work with a SAR testing lab that has the knowledge to help you work through the issue.
  • What is the filing process? There’s a significant amount of paperwork involved in proving SAR compliance. The lab you work with should have a defined process detailing who fills out which forms, what documentation you’ll need to provide, and how the registration process is managed.

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Choose Expertise, Speed, Accuracy, and Integrity at RF Exposure Lab

The bottom line is that each wireless device that you manufacture needs to be tested according to its specific requirements. Working with a SAR testing lab with proper expertise will help you avoid the headache of being unable to prove compliance to the FCC.

We go above and beyond to make sure our clients understand what we do and assist them in understanding how SAR testing standards will affect the testing that needs to be done for your device. Through our unique expertise and commitment to our clients, we guarantee accurate SAR testing and results.

We offer SAR testing services for a multitude of wireless devices including cell phones, laptops, tablets, medical products, survey equipment, wireless modems, and much more.

If you’re looking for SAR testing help that is provided with speed, accuracy, expertise, and integrity, contact us to get a quote for our services.