QA | IEC Adopts Standards for Standalone Solar Energy Kits

Later this year, the International Electrotechnical Commission, a leading international standards organization, will for the first time publish quality standards for standalone solar energy kits. This development opens the door to the widespread national adoption of these standards and will boost consumer protection efforts.

In January, IEC Technical Committee 82 voted unanimously to approve publication of Technical Specification 62257-9-8, which contains quality standards for pico-solar products and solar home system kits with PV modules rated up to 350 watts. These standards are an updated version of the Lighting Global Quality Standards, developed by the World Bank Group and used widely around the world. Together with the corresponding test methods (IEC/TS 62257-9-5), these quality standards form the foundation for quality in the off-grid solar sector.

Several national governments are already using mandatory quality standards to keep poor-quality pico-solar products out of the market. Others are expected to follow suit in the near future. Because IEC standards are readily accepted around the world, we anticipate that many national governments will choose to adopt the IEC test methods and quality standards. The QA team is providing technical assistance to a number of governments that have expressed interest in using standards to protect consumers.

An internationally harmonized policy approach for these products benefits stakeholders throughout the value chain. With harmonized standards, suppliers can design, manufacture, and test their new products once, and then sell those products into multiple markets. This enables companies to get innovative new products to market more quickly and at lower cost, with big benefits to consumers.

One of the essential services provided by the Quality Assurance (QA) program is evaluating standalone solar energy kits and maintaining a public listing of those products that meet the Lighting Global Quality Standards. The QA team will begin evaluating products against the newly adopted IEC quality standards later this year. Along with the transition to the IEC quality standards, the QA team will begin providing verification services under a new brand name, VeraSol, and products that meet the IEC quality standards will be VeraSol verified.

The quality assurance team maintains the products page on www.lightingglobal.org, the authoritative public listing of products that meet the Lighting Global Quality Standards. Private companies, governments, and other institutions have relied on this list for many years.

Later this year, all quality-verified products—whether evaluated against the Lighting Global Quality Standards or the new IEC quality standards—will be listed in one place, on VeraSol.org.