The FCC regulates Radio Frequency (RF) devices contained in electronic-electrical products that are capable of emitting radio frequency energy by radiation, conduction, or other means. These products have the potential to cause interference to radio services operating in the radio frequency range of 9 kHz to 3000 GHz.

Radio Frequency Devices are grouped under the following categories:

1. Incidental Radiators  (Part 15, Subpart A)

An incidental radiator is an electrical device that is not designed to intentionally use, intentionally generate or intentionally emit radio frequency energy over 9 kHz. However, an incidental radiator may produce byproducts of radio emissions above 9 kHz and cause radio interference. Examples of incidental radiators: AC and DC motors, mechanical light switches, basic electrical power tools that do not contain digital logic.

2. Unintentional Radiators (Part 15, Subparts B and G)

An unintentional radiator is a device that by design uses digital logic, or electrical signals operating at radio frequencies for use within the product, or sends radio frequency signals by conduction to associated equipment via connecting wiring, but is not intended to emit RF energy wirelessly by radiation or induction. Examples of unintentional radiators are coffee pots, wrist watches, cash registers, personal computers, printers, telephones, garage door receivers, wireless temperature probe receiver, RF universal remote control and thousands of other types of common electronic-electrical equipment that rely on digital technology.  This also includes many traditional products that were once classified as incidental radiators – like motors and basic electrical power tools that now use digital logic.

Coffee Pot

3. Intentional Radiators (Part 15, Subparts C through F and H)

An intentional radiator is a device that intentionally generates and emits RF energy by radiation or induction that may be operated without an individual license. Examples of intentional radiators are wireless garage door openers, wireless microphones, RF universal remote control devices, cordless telephones, wireless alarm systems, Wi-Fi transmitters, and Bluetooth radio devices.

Bluetooth RF Device

4. Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) Equipment (Part 18)

When electronic-electrical products are used for providing RF energy for other than telecommunications applications, such as for the production of physical, biological, or chemical effects, such as heating, ionization of gases, mechanical vibrations, and acceleration of charged particles, these devices fall under the FCC rules 47 CFR Part 18. Examples of ISM equipments are fluorescent lighting, halogen ballasts, arc welders, microwave ovens, and medical diathermy machines.

Microwave Oven

5. Equipment Operating in Licensed Radio Services

Products that use licensed radio spectrum, from fixed microwave links to cellular telephones to mobile broadband services, are considered RF devices and are subject to equipment authorization. Examples of licensed radio equipments are low power TV transmitters, cell phones/smart phones, base stations, licensed point-to-point microwave radios, private land mobile transmitters, aviation and marine radios. 

Smart phones

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