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Standards for energy efficient and safe electrical accessories
Nadine Bravais
Nadine Bravais

IEC TC 23 prepares standards for electrical accessories. Nadine Bravais is one of the few women Chairs in the IEC and she has recently been renewed in her position at the head of TC 23. She replies to a few questions on existing and future challenges for the Technical Committee.

How would you explain the work of IEC TC 23 in just a few words?

TC 23 plays a crucial role in ensuring safe interfaces between electrical installations and users whether the user is a human being or a machine. Human users range from skilled people to a non-specialized public, which includes vulnerable groups such as children or senior citizens. These different users are never far from our minds. To summarize, we prepare safety and performance standards for any electrical or electronic accessory, which is the interface between the electrical installation on the one side and the user or the machine on the other.

How important is energy efficiency as a standardization requirement inside TC 23?

It is one of the challenges we face. We are very aware of the role we can play in helping to reduce CO2 emissions and attempting to meet SDG 13. We created subcommittee SC 23K in 2016 to deal with energy efficiency systems and products, including customer energy manager systems or load and source switching equipment. Homes and buildings, which are becoming increasingly smart, will have to be sustainable, hyper efficient, resilient and digital. New standards are needed in this field. We realized we also needed a more global approach and that is why we set up Working Group 9 and published the first edition of IEC 63172 in 2020 to provide a methodology for determining the energy efficiency class of electrical accessories.

Digitalization and automation are big trends – how do they affect your work?

Automation has long been a consideration in TC 23. More than 35 years ago, we published a standard on an automatic light switch which had additional properties for communication and control. It was a precursor to connected home and building systems. Around five years ago, we set up a working group to prepare standards for electronic systems used in homes and buildings. One of the issues is to ensure safety as the voltage levels between these systems and the mains are different. Our work enables home and building electronic systems (HBES) to form a robust basis to fully deliver their sustainable and digital promises. We are also investigating new developments such as global energy management systems (integrating renewables and microgrids), product data during the product/system's lifecycle and cyber security, where automation will play a crucial role.

Looking ahead, what will be the main challenges in coming years?

As the requirement for sustainable solutions increases and the use of digital technology spreads, we must work differently and collaborate more with other TCs. We can’t find solutions to global issues and problems by working alone in a corner. That’s why the IEC Systems Committees can be of great help. Another challenge is to recruit people with new skills pertaining to the environment or digital technologies and enable them to understand electrical and electronic requirements, while also expanding the knowledge of electrotechnical experts in these new domains.

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