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ASTA Guidance on Testing to

IEC 61439 Series of Standards

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ASTA Guidance on Testing to
IEC 61439 Series of Standards


IEC 61439-1 and IEC 61439-2 have now been published. These are parts of a
series to replace the IEC 60439 standards. This is a very significant standard for
testing of low voltage equipment and the presentation has changed considerably,
although much of the testing is very similar. Intertek ASTA was represented on the
UK committee during drafting of the standard. Now that the standard is
published, we are seeking to offer guidance on understanding and applying the
standards to future testing.

This Guide is intended to assist manufacturers and laboratories when planning for
testing to IEC 61439, particularly for ASTA Certification. There are several other
sources of information readily available which provide more general information.

Overview of IEC 61439-1 and IEC 61439-2

The Part 1 document sets out general requirements for the scope of equipment to
be covered by the series. Further parts will relate to specific types of equipment
(see Table below). The requirements are more comprehensive than in IEC 60439,
although there are many parallels.

One of the most significant differences is the introduction of alternative methods

of design verification. This initially appears to reduce the requirements for actual
testing. However, this is not the case, as the alternative methods of verification
detailed are analogous with the extrapolation and justification as has been
common in the industry for relating project-specific equipment to the supporting
ASTA Certificates for tested equipment. The introduction of these methods within
the standard should enable more transparent and consistent substantiations of
designs to be offered for specific projects. The verification tests described in IEC
61439 confirm the reference design from which subsequent configurations may
be verified by the alternative methods described.

IEC 61439 also covers common questions such as: manufacture at alternative
premises and substitution of alternative functional components.

IEC 61439-2 is the first of the product-specific parts to be published and replaces
IEC 60439-1. It introduces a new term: power switchgear and controlgear
assembly (PSC-ASSEMBLY), which is likely to become the usual way of referring to
such equipment. The terms ‘type-tested assembly’ (TTA) and ‘partially type-tested
assembly’ (PTTA) from IEC 60439 are no longer used. 1
ASTA Guidance on Testing to
IEC 61439 Series of Standards

Comparison of IEC 61439 and IEC 60439 series:

New standard Title Previous standard

IEC 61439-1 General rules IEC 60439-1
IEC 61439-2 Power switchgear and IEC 60439-1
controlgear assemblies
IEC 61439-3 Distribution boards IEC 60439-3
IEC 61439-4 Assemblies for IEC 60439-4
construction sites
IEC 61439-5 Assemblies for power IEC 60439-5
distribution in public
IEC 61439-6 Busbar trunking systems IEC 60439-2

Type Testing and Verification by Testing

The industry has become very familiar with the term: Type Testing. This is used in
IEC 60439 standards and in the title of many ASTA Certificates. IEC 61439 uses
the term Verification tests, but acknowledges these are equivalent to type tests
(clause 3.9.2). The title of ASTA Certificates will change to align with the new
terminology. It should be noted that IEC 61439-1 covers general rules, hence
testing and Certificates will be to subsequent parts.

IEC 61439-1 Annex D lists the design verifications to be performed, including

verification by testing. This is a similar collection of tests as the type tests described
in IEC 60439-1 (clause 8.1.1). Appendix 1 of this document provides a table
showing the tests of IEC 61439 and relating these to the type tests of IEC 60439.

The requirements of most of the tests are similar and most testing to IEC 60439
may fulfil the requirements of IEC 61439. The most significant difference is for the
temperature rise testing. IEC 61439-1 introduces three possible methods of
performing temperature rise testing. These are described more fully below,
however, the first point to emphasise is the need for the manufacturer to specify
which method is to be used (consultation with the laboratory and ASTA can be
provided to help with this decision). The cost of temperature rise testing will
almost certainly be higher than for testing to IEC 60439, as there are likely to be
more actual tests required. 2
ASTA Guidance on Testing to
IEC 61439 Series of Standards

Complete compliance

In the same way that type testing did not cover all of the requirements described
for the design and construction of assemblies to IEC 60439, the verification tests
of IEC 61439 do not cover all requirements of the standard. For confirmation of
complete compliance, additional inspections and assessments will be required.

Marking is one area where the new standard has additional requirements and
manufacturers should ensure that their equipment complies with these.

Consideration of verification tests

1) Materials properties, lifting, impact and marking

These tests were not included in IEC 60439-1 type testing. They include
corrosion resistance, properties of insulating materials, resistance to
heat, resistance to UV radiation, lifting, mechanical impact and marking.
Laboratories will need to confirm they either have the capability in-
house or have an approved provider available to complete the testing.

2) Degree of protection
Virtually unchanged from IEC 60439.

3) Clearance and creepage distances

Virtually unchanged from IEC 60439. Impulse test may be used instead
of measurement for confirming clearances.

4) Protection against shock, protective circuit

Virtually unchanged from IEC 60439.

5,6,7) Incorporation of devices, internal circuits, terminals

No verification tests specified.

8) Dielectric properties
Virtually unchanged from IEC 60439 except that impulse test is now

9) Temperature rise
Considerable changes to test arrangements – see later section.

10) Short circuit withstand strength

Tests similar to those of IEC 60439-1 but with some clarifications of
arrangements. Testing of neutral bars may not be required (if rated
60% of main bar rating + similar construction). 3
ASTA Guidance on Testing to
IEC 61439 Series of Standards

11) EMC
Unchanged from IEC 60439

12) Mechanical operation

Similar to IEC 60439 but number of operations increased from 50 to

Temperature rise testing

IEC 61439 describes three possibilities for the methods for temperature rise testing
(clause These are as follows:

a) Considering individual functional units, the main and distribution

busbars and the assembly collectively.

b) Considering individual functional units separately and the complete

assembly including the main and distribution busbars

c) Considering individual functional units and the main and distribution

busbars separately as well as the complete assembly.

The standard requires the manufacturer to specify the method required.

A significant change is the introduction of the rated current of a circuit. This is

proven in each of the methods above and provides the rating for each outgoing
functional unit, irrespective of the rating of devices incorporated within it.

Identification of “critical functional units” is required for subsequent verification by

design rules for similar equipment.


IEC 61439 is a very important, new standard. The application and testing has
changed from the familiar IEC 60439, and we expect that all users, including
ourselves, will require a familiarisation period before feeling as comfortable with it
as with IEC 60439. Therefore, we encourage feedback from clients, laboratories
and anyone else who has an interest (e.g. specifiers). We will seek to respond to
specific questions as well as gather feedback to forward to the committee
responsible for the standard.

Please send any questions or comments to: 4
ASTA Guidance on Testing to
IEC 61439 Series of Standards


What should we do to ensure compliance with IEC 61439 standards?

ASTA Comment:
1) Buy a copy of the appropriate parts of the standards. These can be
obtained from IEC web store (

2) Read the standards, together with any guidance material available.

3) Discuss any requirements for verification by testing with preferred ASTA

Test Laboratory alternatively directly with ASTA. Appendix 1 of this Guide
could be used to clarify testing requirements.

4) Use Annex C of the standard to clarify specification of assemblies with

customers and for verification purposes.

Can equipment still be tested to IEC 60439 standards?

ASTA Comment:
We would recommend that all new test work on equipment for which the
appropriate parts of IEC 61439 standards are published should be made to the
new standard. Testing can be done to the superseded standards if specifically
requested by clients.

Can ASTA issue new certificates to confirm compliance with IEC

61439 based on previous testing to IEC 60439?
ASTA Comment:
This may be possible, depending on which of the type tests were made. Each
application will be considered separately.

Can a manufacturer specify selected verification tests instead of all

of them?
ASTA Comment:
Yes, the ASTA Certificate would specify precisely the tests done and ratings
confirmed. 5
ASTA Guidance on Testing to
IEC 61439 Series of Standards

Appendix 1:

The table below includes all of the tests described in IEC 61439-1 with comparison
to the type tests described in clause 8.1.1 of IEC 60439-1. Prior testing to IEC
60439 may (or may not) fulfil the requirements for the comparable test of IEC
61439. ASTA can advise on request.

No. Characteristic to be verified Clause/ Comparable type

Sub clause test from 60439-1
1 Strength of material and parts 10.2 n/a
Resistance to corrosion 10.2.2
Properties of insulating materials 10.2.3
Thermal stability
Resistance of insulating materials to normal heat
Resistance to abnormal heat and fire due to internal
electric effects
Resistance to ultra-violet (UV) radiation 10.2.4
Lifting 10.2.5
Mechanical impact 10.2.6
Marking 10.2.7
2 Degree of protection of enclosures 10.3 8.2.7
3 Clearances and creepage distances 10.4 8.2.5
4 Protection against electric shock and integrity of 10.5 8.2.4
protective circuits:
Effective continuity between the exposed conductive 10.5.2
parts of the assembly and the protective circuit
Effectiveness of the assembly for external faults 10.5.3
8 Dielectric properties: 10.9 8.2.2
Power-frequency withstand voltage 10.9.2
Impulse withstand voltage 10.9.3
9 Temperature rise limits 10.1 8.2.1
10 Short-circuit withstand strength 10.11 8.2.3
11 Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) 10.12 8.2.8 + Annex H
12 Mechanical operation 10.13 8.2.6

For more information on specific testing and certification information, please contact Intertek at
+44 (0)1788 578435, email, or visit our website at

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prior written permission of Intertek. While due care has been taken during the preparation of this document, Intertek
cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the information herein or for any consequence arising from it. Clients are
encouraged to seek Intertek’s current advice on their specific needs before acting upon any of the content. 6