For many of us, switching a light on or off is such a routine task that we take it for granted. With the exception of extreme situations - major power outages - we've never had to worry about lighting in our homes offices, factories, streets, and so forth. But there are still millions of people, with limited or no access to electricity, who don't have that privilege. The United Nations have declared 2015 the International Year of Light to raise awareness on the central role played by light-based technologies in providing solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.
Access to electricity and lighting is one thing. Making sure that the equipment used is safe is another. This safety doesn't come out of nowhere. Industry, standardization bodies, testing laboratories and CBs (Certification Bodies) all work together to ensure that the lighting products we buy and use have the required safety levels.
International Standards for the lighting industry
Today, a great number of IEC International Standards support the lighting industry, covering product and systems specifications, safety, performance, interoperability, EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) impact on the environment (both during production and until disposal), and everything in between.
Lamps, indicators and luminaires are built, wired and connected based on IEC International Standards for use 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.
Modern office lighting
IEC Technical Committees - a systems approach
To produce an IEC International Standard for the lighting industry, many different IEC TCs (Technical Committees) are called upon to cooperate.
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 TC 34: Lamps and related equipment is the leading TC in lighting. Its work is driven by rapid technological developments and changes in regulatory requirements that have to be continuously incorporated into new and existing International Standards. Areas where changes are especially fast include the automotive industry, alternative light sources such as LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and new government regulations in the area of EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields).
Application designers, engineers, manufacturers and certification and testing bodies, but also retailers, consumers and government organizations need International Standards that apply state-of-the art knowledge and technical know-how.
Industry today is very conscious of the need to develop products that have less impact on the environment. A special focus is directed towards the use of less toxic materials, substances and processes during manufacturing.
Several SCs (Subcommittees) of IEC TC 34 deal with special projects in the area of new technologies: LEDs, OLEDs (organic LEDs), electronic operation of metal halide lamps, controlgear design for fluorescent dimming, digital lighting interfaces, specifications for lampholders, automotive lamps, and so forth.
LED car lights
IECEE ensures compliance with IEC Standards
Without testing and certification, Standards remain just words on paper. IECEE (IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components) has been providing a global platform for testing and certifying lighting products for many years. The IECEE CB Scheme ensures compliance with the impressive list of IEC International Standards developed for the lighting industry.
Testing and certification in that area address performance and safety issues for a wide variety of products and their accessories. Lamps and luminaires in general, single- and double-capped fluorescent lamps, floodlights, LED modules for general lighting, cords, lampholders, switches, insulation, temperature control, wiring and earthing are some examples of the elements that undergo testing.
Curves Smart TV with OLED display
Developing countries benefit from IECEE
IECEE certification is of great value to industry and consumers alike, in that it facilitates trade and helps reduce costs. In many countries, IECEE CB Test Certificates and Test Reports are proof of compliance with technical and regulatory requirements, and many retailers, buyers and vendors are happy to import electrical goods carrying an IECEE Test Certificate.
This is also true for developing countries. Most of them have little or no industry. Electrical and electronic goods - including lighting equipment - sold locally are imported from all over the world. The main issue is therefore to avoid the dumping of substandard products on such countries and to guarantee that only safe and quality equipment reaches the local market. It is therefore likely to be in governments' best interests to require compliance with Standards for all imports.
The complete list of International Standards by which IECEE testing and certification is based is available on the IECEE website: www.iecee.org