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

News release – 2010 Number 2

Enabling safe and efficient lighting globally

Conference on Lighting Quality & Energy Efficiency


Geneva, Switzerland, 2010-03-15 Widespread commercial use of highly energy efficient lighting such as LED is recent. IEC International Standards have been instrumental in helping industry achieve high quality and safety levels for energy efficient lighting solutions, resulting in broad adoption.


light LED bulbs in different colors

Leading international experts on lighting are meeting in Vienna, Austria on 14-17 March, 2010 for the CIE (International Commission on Illumination) conference on Lighting Quality & Energy Efficiency. With more than 60 years of experience in standardization for the lighting industry, the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) cooperates closely with the CIE, and is both a participant and one of the official sponsors of the event.


Themes covered by the Conference include energy efficiency, lighting quality in the home, the workplace, public buildings, urban lighting, environment and health, colorimetric parameters, new technologies, to name but a few.


LED – the most versatile of lighting solutions

LED (light-emitting diode) technology was developed nearly 50 years ago, but widespread commercial use is quite recent. LEDs are now commonly used for automotive lighting, traffic lights and signals, emergency lighting, visual signal applications, decorative and street lighting.


LEDs are also used in non-visual applications such as remote controls and as movement sensors, i.e. for optical computer mice. They find application in machine vision systems such as barcode scanners and contour illumination in assembly lines. Because of their low heat production LEDs find application in medical lighting and with their low power consumption they help preserve battery power in many electronic and multimedia devices.


New innovations are bringing production costs down and LED light output is currently doubling every 36 months.


The IEC is keeping abreast of these developments by providing relevant International Standards. Many different TCs (Technical Committees) within the IEC cooperate to deliver Standards that help industry produce safe, efficient, high-quality products.


Lighting covers a vast number of applications and involves many different disciplines. Think power supply, batteries, wires, switches, transformers, converters, starters, enclosures, digital control systems in home networks, the colour rendering in monitors and more.


IEC International Standards for the lighting industry

IEC International Standards address the needs of the lighting industry in terms of requirements, tests, safety and EMC (electromagnetic compatibility). They cover anything from product to systems specifications, to safety and performance, interoperability and their impact on the environment both during production and at the end of their life cycle.


Billions of lamps, indicators and luminaires used in households, gardens and pools; public and private transportation; industrial complexes; hospitals, stadiums and urban environments; zoos and aquariums; film, photo and theatre production; and much more, are built, wired and connected based on IEC International Standards.


The leading TC for lighting is IEC TC 34: Lamps and related equipment. Its work is driven by rapid technological developments and changes in regulatory requirements that have to continuously be incorporated into new and existing Standards. Areas where changes are especially rapid include the automotive industry, alternative light sources such as LEDs and new government regulations in the area of EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields).


IEC International Standards, driven by industry needs, are state of the art. They are fully consensus-based, and respond to market needs in countries all around the globe. They facilitate innovation, help avoid costly mistakes, and improve quality and efficiency. They simplify production, quality control and technology transfer. They reduce costs for redundant testing, certification and homologation, reduce waste, facilitate communication and increase business efficiency.


IEC International Standards are regularly reviewed to stay abreast of latest technology developments, safety and environmental needs and regulatory requirements. Many regulators include references to IEC International Standards in their legislation to ensure ongoing relevance.


IEC International Standards also serve as the basis for Conformity Assessment and Certification. Without testing and certification, Standards remain theoretical. To complement Standards development, the IEC handles three global Conformity Assessment Systems that each covers a dedicated sector of electrotechnology:

  • IECEE is the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components
  • IECEx is the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres
  • IECQ is the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components

IEC cooperation with the CIE

The IEC has a privileged relationship with the CIE. Several experts participate in technical committees in both organizations.


A joint International Scientific Committee has been put together specifically for the CIE conference to discuss and exchange ideas about the future of lighting both from an energy efficiency, safety and technology point of view.


The IEC also works closely with CIE on fundamental colour science Standards, vocabulary, and colour imaging Standards. This allows to avoid work duplication and creates new opportunities.