Technical Standards

Illustration of the temperature distribution inside a hydrogen storage tank
Technical Standards
Sandia National Laboratory

Proper specifications using international standards allow each energy system to be tailored to meet the needs of the facility while ensuring that design best practices and installation protocols are followed.

Standards are norms or requirements that establish a basis for the common understanding and judgment of materials, products, and processes. Standards are an invaluable tool in industry and business, because they streamline business practices and provide a level playing field for businesses to develop products and services. They are also critical to ensuring that products and services are safe for consumers and the environment.

Standards come in many forms. Standard specifications define performance requirements for materials (e.g., the strength of steel), products (e.g., the light output of a lamp), and services (e.g., the installation of a battery bank). Standard test procedures are established for determining material and product specifications. There are also standards in place for practices, such as financial accounting and safety inspections. Standards also exist to define terminology referenced by other standards or used within a particular industry.

Understanding energy system standards are important when a donor, project manager, or health-care facility manager wants to commission the design and procurement of an energy system. Poorly designed energy systems, or poor quality components within an energy system, have the potential to damage property and injure people. There are international, regional, and national standards guiding nearly every aspect of the design, manufacture, installation, and safe operation of energy system infrastructure. Compliance with recognized standards should be a requirement for every project to ensure that engineers use safe equipment and installation techniques when building the energy system.

Standards-Setting Bodies

To be relevant, a standard must be widely adopted. While some standards may arise naturally from customary practices, most are formally set by an authority, or standards body. Standards bodies may include, for example, government agencies, private companies, or industry associations. Depending upon their level of authority, these organizations may issue mandatory or voluntary standards. Typically, governments issue mandatory standards for products or services used or sold in their country. National building codes are a good example of a mandatory government standard. International standards are typically voluntary but are widely adopted by governments around the world to help ensure conformity with standards in other countries.

Listed below are some of the major international standards bodies involved in the fields of energy and health. The standards issued by these bodies set best practices and performance requirements for many of the topics discussed on this site. Additional listings of individual standards specific to these topics are also provided.

ASTM International

ASTM International develops standards generally geared toward the testing and certification of materials and material properties but also sets standards relating to energy and medical devices and services. While the organization originated in the United States, it is now developing standards specifically for international use.

International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

The IEC is the leading international standards organization for electrical, electronic, and other related technologies. Virtually any technology involved in the production, transmission, or consumption of electricity is covered under IEC standards. This includes most of the energy technologies discussed on Powering Health, such as photovoltaic (PV) panels, inverters, and batteries.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

IEEE is a professional association involved in a variety of activities in addition to standards development, such as publishing research and holding conferences. Like the IEC, IEEE sets standards for electrical and electronic technologies, but it is also very active in the fields of telecommunications, transportation, and health care. IEEE and IEC routinely work together to develop standards listed under both entities, ensuring conformity between the two organizations.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

ISO is one of the major international standards-setting bodies. ISO develops standards for products, services, and best practices. ISO standards may be technical in nature, provide procedures for established best practices, or simply define common international terms. For example, ISO standards range in subject matter from ISO 25.180: Industrial Furnaces to ISO 14064: GHG Reporting to ISO 3166: Country Codes.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL)

UL is a private company that primarily specializes in product safety certification. UL labels appear on a wide variety of products, especially those that may otherwise pose an electrical or fire hazard. Aside from safety, UL standards cover other aspects of performance, such as material properties, environmental sustainability, and durability.

World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is the authority for global health within the United Nations. The organization is involved in a wide variety of health activities, including statistics gathering, program implementation, and standards setting. WHO sets standards for medical devices and procedures to be used throughout the world to promote high-quality medical care.

Additional Resources

Provided below is a summary of many relevant international standards for a variety of energy system components and health system loads. These standards lists are not necessarily exhaustive but serve as a good reference.

  • Technical Standards

    Photovoltaic System Standards

    Many organizations have established standards that address photovoltaic (PV) system component safety, design, installation, and monitoring. View the standards

  • Technical Standards

    Lead-Acid Battery Standards

    Many organizations have established standards that address lead-acid battery safety, performance, testing, and maintenance. View the standards

  • Technical Standards

    Lithium-Ion Battery Standards

    Many organizations have established standards that address lithium-ion battery safety, performance, testing, and maintenance. View the standards

  • Technical Standards

    Cold Chain and Refrigeration Standards

    The World Health Organization (WHO) provides specifications for different categories of refrigerators and freezers used by health-care facilities. It also lists the products that comply with these specifications. View the standards

  • Technical Standards

    Remote Monitoring Standards

    Remote monitoring utilizes multiple communication protocols that enable data loggers to transfer data over long distances. View the standards

  • Technical Standards

    Uninterruptible Power Supply Standards

    Many organizations have established standards that address uninterruptible power supply safety, performance, testing, and maintenance. View the standards

  • Technical Standards

    Lighting Standards

    Many organizations have established standards that address lighting design, safety, performance, mounting, and testing, as well as illumination levels. View the standards

Last updated: June 29, 2020

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