The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) develops global standards for electrical and electronic products. IEC standards are often included or referenced in other mandatory standards, for example, UL standards and EN standards.
In this guide, we explain what importers and manufacturers must know about IEC standards, covered products, international recognition, and much more.
What are IEC standards?
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) develops and publishes IEC standards, which are based on a global consensus. IEC standards cover electrical safety, labeling, performance, test methods, and other guidelines for electrical and electronic products.
- Consumer electronics
- Household products
- Solar energy products
- Fibre optics
The IEC’s members consist of national committees, each representing its nation’s electrotechnical interests in the IEC. Such countries include the United States, UK, EU member states, and others.
Though compliance with IEC standards is voluntary, these are still used by technical experts around the world and are often adopted by countries’ legislators and technical committees. For example, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), often adopts IEC standards (in full or in part) while developing new EN standards.
IEC standards examples
The IEC has numerous technical committees (TCs), which are in charge of developing standards for different categories of products. A technical committee is allowed to establish subcommittees, each of which might have specific expertise and focuses on a specific area.
Below we list some examples of standards that are relevant to consumer products.
|TC 34||Lighting||IEC 61547 – Equipment for general lighting purposes – EMC immunity requirements|
|SC 28||Office Equipment||ISO/IEC 10561 – Information technology — Office equipment — Printing devices — Method for measuring throughput — Class 1 and Class 2 printers|
|TA 6||Storage media, storage data structures, storage systems and equipment||IEC 62702-1-1 ED2 – Audio archive system – Part 1-1: DVD disk and data migration for long term audio data storage|
|TA 5||Cable networks for television signals, sound signals and interactive services||IEC 60728-11 ED5 – Cable networks for television signals, sound signals and interactive services – Part 11: Safety|
|TC 79||Alarm and electronic security systems||IEC 62676-2-11 ED1 – Alarm systems – Video Surveillance Systems (VSS) for use in security applications – Part 2-11: Interop profiles for VMS- and cloud VSaaS-systems for safe-cities and law-enforcement|
|TC 62||Electrical equipment in medical practice||IEC 60050-880 ED1 – International Electrotechnical Vocabulary (IEV) – Part 880: Electrical equipment, electrical systems and software used in healthcare|
|SC 61D||Appliances for air-conditioning for household and similar purposes||IEC 60335-2-40 ED7 – Household and similar electrical appliances – Safety – Part 2-40: Particular requirements for electrical heat pumps, air-conditioners and dehumidifiers|
|SC 59L||Small household appliances||IEC 63399 ED1 – Household and similar use electrical rice cookers – Methods for measuring the performance|
|SC 59F||Surface cleaning appliances||IEC/ASTM 62885-7/AMD1 ED1 – Amendment 1 – Surface cleaning appliances – Part 7: Dry-cleaning robots for household or similar use – Methods for measuring the performance|
|SC 23B||Plugs, socket-outlets and switches||IEC 60884-1 ED4 – Plugs and socket-outlets for household and similar purposes – Part 1: General requirements|
Is IEC standards compliance mandatory?
According to the IEC, its standards are voluntary. However, given the fact that IEC standards are based on global consensus, importers and manufacturers can still benefit from complying with these standards – especially when no other relevant standards exist for their products. This could be the case if an IEC standard is published before a corresponding EN or UL standard is published.
Also, countries might decide to incorporate IEC standards into their own national standards.
For example, IEC standards make up a majority of the European Union’s EN standards for electrical and electronics products such as
- Ceiling lights
- Office printers
- Heartbeat monitors
EN standards might in turn be harmonized under a specific directive or regulation and – though also voluntary – provide the presumption that tested products conform with relevant technical requirements under the directive or regulation.
The following standard is harmonized under the Low Voltage Directive:
EN IEC 60335-2-43 – Household and similar electrical appliances – Safety – Part 2-43: Particular requirements for clothes dryers and towel rails
Are IEC standards recognized in the European Union?
The CENELEC and the IEC cooperate under the Frankfurt Agreement. The CENELEC approves the EU’s adoption of the IEC standards on a case-by-case basis, which means that IEC standards are not adopted by default.
Even so, nearly 80% of EU standards pertaining to electrical items and electronics are based on IEC standards.
Are IEC standards recognized in the United States?
The US doesn’t directly recognize the IEC standards. However, they do recognize other types of standards like ASTM standards or ANSI standards.
ASTM and ANSI may cooperate with the IEC to develop new ASTM and ANSI standards, thereby referencing IEC standards. The US also recognizes UL standards, which might also be based on IEC standards.
Buying IEC Standards
IEC standards can be directly purchased on the IEC website. Websites of different standard bodies, such as BSI, also offer the same.
The IEC’s webstore provides clients a portal to access its latest standards.
a. Payment methods: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, Japan Credit Bureau, UnionPay, ChinaUnionPay
b. HQ address: 3 rue de Varembé, PO Box 131, CH-1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland
c. Website: webstore.iec.ch
The United Kingdom appointed the British Standards Institution (BSI) as its first national standards body (NSB). The BSI also represents the UK’s interests in the ISO, the IEC, and the European Standards Organizations (CEN, CELENELC, ETSI).
BSI’s online store provides clients with standards that it has developed over the years, and to IEC standards as well.
a. Payment methods: Credit or Debit Card
b. HQ address: 389 Chiswick High Road, London, W4 4AL, United Kingdom
c. Website: shop.bsigroup.com
Beuth Verlag, named after Prussian statesman Christian Peter Wilhelm Friedrich Beuth, is a publisher of German and international standards. You can purchase standards, including IEC standards, on its website
a. Payment methods: Invoice, credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express)
b. HQ address: Beuth Verlag GmbHAm DIN-Platz, Burggrafenstraße 6, 10787 Berlin
c. Website: www.beuth.de/en
Webstore.ansi.org (United States)
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides clients with a platform to purchase necessary testing standards, including IEC standards.
a. Payment methods: Deposit account, or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express)
b. HQ address: 1899 L Street, NW, 11th Floor, Washington, DC 20036
c. Website: webstore.ansi.org
What is the difference between IEC and EN standards?
The CENELEC is in charge to develop EN standards for electrical and electronic products that are placed in the EU market. The CENELEC may adopt EN standards like EN IEC 60335-2-43. However, it might also develop its own standards, independently of the IEC. The IEC may also adopt EN standards as IEC standards.
What is the difference between IEC and UL standards?
UL standards, applicable mainly to products being sold in the US, are developed by Underwriters Laboratories and are independent of IEC standards. However, UL might adopt some IEC standards or part of it. Thus, some UL standards are based on the IEC standards. Below we list some examples of the IEC Standards that the UL has adopted:
a. IEC 60065 / UL 60065 – Audio/Video and Musical Instrument apparatus for Household, Commercial, and Similar General Use
b. IEC 60335-2-40 / UL 60335-2-40 – Household and Similar Electrical Appliances, Part 2-40: Particular Requirements for Electrical Heat Pumps, Air-Conditioners, and Dehumidifiers
c. IEC 60730-2-7 / UL 60730-2-7- Automatic Electrical Controls for Household and Similar Use; Part 2; Requirements for Timers and Time Switches
IEC Standards Testing Companies
In this section, we list some lab testing companies that offer services related to the IEC standards.
Since the mid to late 1800s, TÜV SÜD has been committed to ensuring product compliance, and through that, managing and mitigating any possible risks related to a product’s technological aspect.
The company provides clients with testing, certification, auditing, and advisory services. TÜV SÜD offers services for a vast array of electrical accessories and components, including
- Audio/visual products
- ICT equipment
- Medical electrical equipment
- Home appliances
Here are some examples of IEC standards testing services offered by TÜV SÜD:
- IEC 62368-1
- IEC 60950-1
- IEC 60065
- IEC 62040-1
- IEC 62477-1
- IEC 61010-1
Since the late 1890s, Intertek has been a reliable and trusted global leader in terms of product testing and compliance.
The company offers certification and compliance testing with regard to any product’s energy efficiency, safety, performance, and more.
Intertek offers certification and testing services for products such as:
- ICT and audio/visual equipment
- Risk management
- Medical devices
Listed below are a few examples of IEC standards testing services offered by Intertek:
- IEC 62368
- IEC 60601
- IEC 61010
- IEC 62443
F2 Labs was founded in 1982 with the goal of providing safety testing and electromagnetic compatibility services.
Listed below are some examples of IEC standards testing services offered by F2 Labs:
- IEC 60065
- IEC 60529
- IEC 60745
- IEC 61010
- IEC 62233