The Expert’s Corner: What is an electrical standard?


What is an electrical standard?

The IEC international standards are published and maintained by the International Electrotechnical Commission.

The European HD standards, published and maintained by CENELEC, refer to IEC standards.


Members of the CENELEC Committee:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

The national standards of the European countries (NFC, VDE, BS, etc.) refer to CENELEC standards.

Standards and Regulations

The standards are not mandatory in themselves: the field of application of a standard is defined by the regulations of the country concerned. Accordingly, the mandatory nature of a standard may be limited to a particular domain (e.g. public buildings) or to certain parts of the standard (e.g. the protection of workers and other persons).


Electrical Installation Standards

An electrical installation is defined as “the set of components between a power source and the consumers”.

The primary purposes of the installation standards are:

  • To ensure the protection and safety of property against hazards (overloads, short circuits, voltage drops).
  • To ensure the protection and safety of persons (risk of electric shocks).
  • To ensure the continued life of the installation and facilitate its use.

There may be different installation standards in the same country, depending on the conditions of use (marine standard, voltage, etc.).

For certain domains, such as exterior lighting or a photovoltaic system, a practical guide specifying particular conditions of calculation may complement or replace the standard (e.g. in France, UTE Guide C17-205 specifies the application of calculation rules, the general rules of which are defined in standard EP NF C 17-200, which itself refers to French standard NF C15-100).