Just the other day, I looked at the back of a power supply we use and found no less than eleven, yes, eleven certification marks printed in tiny little letters on the back. Confused, I looked up a few of them only to find out they were certifying the same thing, just for different countries. Who would ever have known that a 12 VDC, 1.5A output power supply could be so different to so many different people? “PSE” for Japan, “UL” for the USA, “CUL” for Canada, “TUV” for Europe and the list goes on and on, and on again.
It is not just Power Supplies, my lawn mower clearly says not for use in California or Australia presumably because the certification requirements there are different. Try buying a car in Europe and importing it to the USA. You will need waivers and approvals and exemptions because their safety rules are different from ours. Perhaps their asphalt is different or the sun is brighter or, the available steel to make guard rails is a little more brittle, but who knows, why something required in one country is not good enough for another.
In 2011 I was invited to Germany to discuss new standards for R-1234yf. I came loaded with previous experience, examples, data and informed opinions. I left there bewildered at the response to my presentation and wondering what the group I met with was thinking. Was it a language barrier? Was it my attitude? How about an outside influence that presented before me, could that be it? To this day, I can only surmise that I was viewed as the pompous American before I had even walked in the door and if I said the grass was green and the sky blue they would insist it was the opposite. But I digress. After multiple visits to Europe and numerous prototypes designed to meet the letter of their requirements, we had our European certification despite the flaws in the specification and the challenges posed by it in the real world. Then came the SAE where I was in more familiar territory and a significantly more receptive audience to the same previous experience, examples, data and informed opinions. In this group, a standard was formed that required the development of a practical tool for use in the real world. So today we sit with different standards for AC Service Machines, Refrigerant Analysis and Leak Detection between Europe and the USA. Different components, different software, different servicing and maintenance and last but certainly not least, higher cost for all.