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Understanding the Stability Test

The "Understanding the Product Safety Tests" Series

Stability Testing is just as the name suggests – testing on the tip-over stability of a product. And while the basis for this test is easy for all to understand, there are many variables that must be considered in determining a product stability test program.

The Purpose of the Test:

  • To verify that the product remains stable when used in a reasonably forseeable manner

Test Method: The basic stability test involves putting the product at a specified incline angle to verify that the product does not become unstable. The tip angle and tip direction can vary by type of product. Additional test criteria is dependent on whether the product has feet or wheels. In some cases, a force is applied to the product in an attempt to push-over or flip the product.

Test Parameters & Variables: The basic test involves tipping the product to determine if it becomes unstable. The specific test methods and test parameters can vary by product/standard. Be sure to confirm the specific test parameters indicated in the product safety standards applicable to your product.

A) Tip Angle: Most standards require that products, weighing over a specified minimum, be able to withstand a 10° tilt without tip-over

B) Tip Direction: Products are required to be tested in all directions unless there is a repeatable, reliable method for preventing tip in a particular direction.

C) Doors & Drawers: Any doors or drawers are placed in the most unfavorable position during stability testing.

D) Adjustable Feet: Products with adjustable feet are positioned in the most unfavorable position.

E) Wheeled Products: Wheeled products by nature may be rolled down a ramp. As such, wheeled products in some standards can be required to be tilt tested at a steeper incline – usually a 15° tilt. In addition, wheels are placed in the most unfavorable position and locked or blocked.

F) Additional Push-Over Stability Test: Floor supported products are also subjected to push-over stability test. This stability test involves applying a horizontal force to the product at a height that could lead to the product becoming unstable. The force is applied to the sides of a product, at any height up to a specified maximum – in many standards the force is to be applied at any height up to 2 m from the floor. The amount of force applied is usually based on the product weight – for example, some standards specify a force of 20% of the weight of the product, up to 250N. The product is on a flat surface during this test.

G) Additional Step-Up Stability Test: This test involves applying a downward force to a horizontal surface while insuring the product remains stable. This test is applicable to products that have a horizontal surface of sufficient size and height (i.e. up to 1 m from the floor). The concern is that such a surface could be used as a step (i.e. impromptu step-up to change a ceiling lightbulb). The specified force is high to account for a person’s body weight (i.e. 800N). The surface size must be large enough to get a foothold (i.e. 125 x 200 mm). The product is on a flat surface during this test and all doors and drawers are closed.

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