Harmonized Standard: The term “harmonized standard” refers to a country standard that is primarily the same as the international standard. Product safety standards are harmonized with the IEC standard. In most cases, a harmonized standard retains the same number as the international standard. For example, UL61010-1, CSA61010-1, and EN61010-1 are each “harmonized” with IEC61010-1.

The Benefit of a Harmonized Standard: The obvious benefit of using a harmonized standard is consistency in the requirements between different countries. This can allow a manufacturer to make one product that is compliant for all countries, with perhaps the only difference being which power cord is included based on the country of use.

IEC is 1st: From an international perspective, when a new product safety standard is developed, the IEC standard is published first. Once published, countries and standards writing bodies that intend to harmonize their standard with the IEC standard develop a list of “National Differences” = requirements that replace or add to the requirements of the IEC standard. For example, after IEC60950-1 publishes a new edition, the other IEC member countries such as the United States, Canada, and EU countries publish their National Differences to IEC60950-1.

National Differences: It can vary how many months or in some cases years after the IEC standard is published that the other standards bodies publish their national differences (i.e. UL, CSA, EN). This process can take considerable time as each standard committee must go through their own review, draft, and comment periods before publishing their National Differences. Note however that not all countries that are IEC members harmonize all their standards. In addition, some countries are very slow to adopt new editions.

Particular Standards: “Particular” standards (-2 suffix) are supplemental to the General standard (-1 suffix) and apply only to certain product types or product features. Particular standards are usually not published at the same time as the general standard. In addition, new particular standards can be added at any time. This often causes a delay where the general -1 standard is harmonized but not all -2 particular standards have been harmonized. In such cases, Certification Agencies are instructed to use the IEC version of the -2 particular standard until a harmonized -2 standard is published.

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