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

May 2011



Do-it-yourself – safely

by Philippa Martin-King

With summer at the Northern Hemisphere’s doorstep, people are moving increasingly outside. Hard at work in their gardens, they're getting out the barbecues, preparing their pools and other electric outdoor paraphernalia and working on improving their homes. The DIY (do-it-yourself) market – especially in the US (United States) and Europe – is booming.


The global power tool sector is valued at USD 24.1 billion. Electric and, increasingly, cordless battery-operated tools are operated by millions of casual users.

Part of this trend is due to the “we’ll show you how” sales pitches of home-improvement retailers and television shows. Working around homes and gardens, many “DIYers” unknowingly benefit from the safety features that are built into IEC International Standards, with interrupters and sensors immediately shutting down machinery when contact is lost.

The batteries that most cordless devices use these days are made from lithium-ion. IEC International Standards help manufacturers increase their efficiency, make them more affordable, more durable and faster charging. It is now possible to find cordless tools, such as sanders and drills that are powerful enough for virtually any DIY job, while being handier and lighter than similar mains-powered tools.

Of course, all of this doesn’t replace good common sense… and users still need to be careful. After all, no sensor has yet been developed that prevents individuals from operating tools or garden appliances dangerously and hurting themselves.

IEC International Standards also apply to countless other devices and components used in equipment and installations outside the house that make life easier and more enjoyable. These include sensors and systems for lighting and heating swimming pools, operating electric gates and garage doors, and various types of alarms.


  • Do-it-yourselfThe do-it-yourself market is booming, especially in the US and in Europe.
  • IEC International Standards apply to countless devices and components used in equipment and installations outside the house.
  • Philippa Martin-King, Managing Editor e-tech.