Low voltage needs high safety

Contact us:

Robert Jech Robert Jech
Business Line Director Europe, Operations Manager Czech Republic

For more information:

KEMA Laboratories
Low voltage needs high safety
Low voltage (LV) components are often seen merely as commodities. Price is the main differentiator and manufacturers are under pressure to cut costs – potentially at the risk of quality. But as dramatic failures have shown, verifying safety is as important for LV components as any other.
  • Published:
  • Keywords: KEMA Laboratories, Corporate energy users, Manufacturers, Renewables developers, Utilities

LV components are used in many applications: from feeding wind power into the grid to distributing electricity across large industrial, retail and residential sites. Because of this ubiquity and the belief that the technology is simpler than for higher voltage components, people planning and constructing such projects often assume all LV components are the same. You only need Google “wind turbine fire” to see the damage such an assumption can cause.

The risks of poor quality
Many of these disasters are caused by poor-quality LV panels causing fires at the bottom of the tower that travel up the LV cabling and destroy the turbine. All LV applications bring similar risks and it is often people’s lives in danger not just property.

If LV components do cause a problem, the contractor overseeing the project will be held liable. So, despite pressure to keep project costs down, employing LV components without verifying their safety could be a hugely costly mistake.

Verification you can rely on
Verifying component safety is best done by physical testing according to appropriate international standards. For LV panels, the relevant standard is IEC 61439-1 ed. 2 which covers the ability to withstand the huge electromagnetic stresses that panels experience in operation. This should be complemented with additional tests to establish the panel’s ability to withstand internal arcing – as defined in IEC/TR 61641. LV cables are covered by many different standards, but again additional tests to verify fire safety are advisable.

KEMA Laboratories offers specialized facilities for all these tests at our industry-leading labs around the world. Combined with our extensive testing experience and global reputation for impartiality, this makes physical testing by KEMA Laboratories the most trusted way of verifying safety for LV components. Successful testing at our facilities leads to a KEMA Type Test Certificate. This gives contractors at-a-glance reassurance of a component’s quality.

DNV GL’s quarterly newsletter of KEMA Laboratories