What does the IEC do?
Standard development: facilitating the process
The IEC’s role is to facilitate the complicated process of reaching agreement (consensus) among the many experts from countries all over the world who volunteer to prepare the rules, specifications and terminology that allow manufacturers to build devices that work together, safely and as expected.
For this, the IEC provides a platform where representatives from industry, governments, research and testing laboratories, universities, and so forth, can meet. It also publishes the many consensus-based International Standards for electrical, electronic and related products, processes and technologies – collectively known as electrotechnology - that result from these meetings and discussions.
IEC International Standards allow companies, governments and test labs to verify that a certain product or system conforms to the requirements that are described in a Standard.
The IEC provides a standardized approach to testing and certification. A single set of rules and procedures prevents from unfair advantages for local products in a country. They help make testing transparent, predictable, comparable from one country to the next and more affordable.
The three IEC Conformity Assessment Systems
The IEC runs three CA (Conformity Assessment) Systems each of which covers a different area of electrotechnology.
IECEE (System for Conformity Testing and Certification of Electrotechnical Equipment and components) covers the safety and performance of electrical equipment used in the home, office or health care facilities.
IECEx (System for certification to standards relating to equipment for use in explosive atmospheres) is focused on hazardous areas where flammable gases, liquids, and combustible dusts may be present.
IECQ (Approval and certification system for electronic components and related materials and processes) covers electronic components and related materials and processes.
One Standard - one test - one certification
When companies use the IEC CA Systems, they often need to test a product only once, in one market, to access many markets.
Basically, the conformity assessment report that is issued by the test lab in country A is accepted by all the members of the System in all the other countries. A general rule here is that no member may require re-testing. This eliminates the need for multiple testing and reduces certification costs. One certificate is valid in many markets.