International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

April 2011



Officers of IEC Consultative and Technical Committees

In addition to its regular Technical Committees, the IEC has a number of Strategic Groups, Sector Boards and Technical Advisory Committees which report to the Standardization Management Board. This month, e-tech announces various changes and nominations.

Power capacitors and their applications

SMB (Standardization Management Board) has announced the nomination of Esbjörn Eriksson to a third term as Chairman of IEC TC 33: Power capacitors and their applications. The new term runs from 1 May 2011 to 30 April 2014.


Power capacitors

Capacitors (formerly known as condensers) are devices that store electric charge. The forms of practical capacitors vary widely, but all contain at least two conductors separated by a non-conductor.


The most important application of power capacitors is for power factor correction. In this application, the capacitors are connected in parallel or series to low-voltage or high-voltage networks.


Series power capacitors stabilize the transmission voltage, increase the transmitted power of the lines and control the power flow in parallel lines.


Other important applications for power capacitors are as couplers and dividers for capacitor voltage transformers, for a.c. (alternating current) motors, for microwave ovens and for induction heating and melting. Capacitors are widely used in electronic circuits for blocking direct current while allowing alternating current to pass, in filter networks, for smoothing the output of power supplies, in the resonant circuits that tune radios to particular frequencies and for many other purposes.

Cables, wires, waveguides, R.F. connectors, R.F. and microwave passive components and accessories

SMB has announced the nomination of Lauri Halme to a seventh term as Chairman of IEC TC 46: Cables, wires, waveguides, R.F. connectors, R.F. and microwave passive components and accessories. The new term runs from 1 May 2011 to 30 April 2014.



The uses of waveguides for transmitting signals were known even before the term was coined. The phenomenon of sound waves guided through a taut wire have been known for a long time, as well as sound through a hollow pipe such as a cave or medical stethoscope. Other uses of waveguides are in transmitting power between the components of a system such as radio, radar or optical devices. Waveguides are the fundamental principle of GWT (guided wave testing), one of the many methods of non-destructive evaluation.

Examples of waveguides:

  • Optical fibres transmit light and signals for long distances and with a high signal rate.
  • In a microwave oven a waveguide leads power from the magnetron where waves are formed to the cooking chamber.
  • In radar, a waveguide leads waves to the antenna, where their impedance needs to be matched for efficient power transmission

Waveguides are used in scientific instruments to measure optical, acoustic and elastic properties of materials and objects. The waveguide can be put in contact with the specimen (as in a medical ultrasonography), in which case the waveguide ensures that the power of the testing wave is conserved, or the specimen may be put inside the waveguide (as in a dielectric constant measurement[6]), so that smaller objects can be tested and the accuracy is better.


RF connectors are typically used with coaxial cables and are designed to maintain the shielding that the coaxial design offers.


Passivity is a property of engineering systems. It is used in a variety of engineering disciplines but is most commonly found in analogue electronics and control systems. A passive component, depending on field, may be either a component that consumes (but does not produce) energy (thermodynamic passivity), or a component that is incapable of power gain (incremental passivity).


A component that is not passive is called an active component. An electronic circuit consisting entirely of passive components is called a passive circuit (and has the same properties as a passive component). Used without qualifier, the term passive is ambiguous. Typically, analogue designers use this term to refer to incrementally passive components and systems, while control systems engineers will use this to refer to thermodynamically passive ones.

Alarm and electronic security systems

SMB approved the nomination of Carlo Loi as Chairman of IEC TC 79: Alarm and electronic security systems, for the period 1 May 2011 to 30 April 2017.



IEC TC 79 prepares International Standards for the protection of buildings, persons, areas and properties against fraudulent actions aiming to enter in a place or to take or to use something without permission. The scope includes, but is not limited to, equipment and systems, either used by ordinary persons or by trained people in the following residential and non-residential applications:

  • Access control systems
  • Alarm transmission systems
  • Video surveillance systems
  • Combined and/or integrated systems even including fire alarm systems
  • Fire detection and fire alarm systems
  • Intruder and hold-up alarm systems
  • Remote receiving and/or surveillance centres
  • Social alarm systems

All-or-nothing electrical relays

SMB approved the nomination of Christoph Oehler as Chairman of IEC TC 94: All-or-nothing electrical relays, for the period 1 March 2011 to 28 February 2017.



The main purpose of protection relay is to detect a problem during its initial stage, and to eliminate or significantly reduce damage to personnel and or equipment. Relays can identify problems by deviation in current, voltage, resistance or temperature. As the problem started to develop severely, such as insulation breakdown, overheating or over voltage, the protective relay will interrupt power to the faulted equipment. Therefore, protection relay will isolate the faulted equipment and avoid the entire network to fail or cause more damages to personnel or equipment.

Electrical installations for lighting and beaconing of aerodromes

SMB approved the nomination of Siwert R. Wallman as Chairman of IEC TC 97: Electrical installations for lighting and beaconing of aerodromes, for the period 1 February 2011 to 31 January 2017.

airplane landing


TC 97 prepares International Standards for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of aeronautical ground lighting of aerodromes. The activity covers requirements that apply to the whole system from the incoming power to the aerodrome up to and including the luminaires used in aeronautical ground lighting.

Sector Board 4
Infrastructure of telecommunications networks


The SMB recently endorsed the nomination of Angelo Castellano, an expert in IEC TC 86: Optical fibres, as a member of SB 4: Infrastructure of Telecommunications Networks.


SBs (Sector Boards) also report to the SMB and are responsible for providing advice to the SMB on priorities and setting long-term strategy for standards in the sector concerned, looking at market relevance and developing a systems approach.


SBs may, like Technical Advisory Committees, set up ad hoc groups and develop guides and recommendations to the SMB and to TCs (Technical Committees) and SCs (Ssubcommittees) in the relevant segment. SB members are senior executives who are representative of industry and users in a broad sense.