What standards to follow in USA and Canada?

Last edit: 30/07/2023

THE DOUBT: If you are a machinery manufacturer, you may be lost by the so many standards mentioned when discussing export to USA or Canada. The question you may ask yourself is therefore: what are the standards to follow when engineering a machinery or a production line, for the North American Market?


CONSIDERATIONS: Like for the electrical Installation in Europe, also in North America there is a clear distinction between the “fixed installation”, also called installation in premises, and the “electrical equipment” of a machinery.


The main standard for the electrical installation of machinery in Europe and at international level, is the IEC 60204-1. The equivalent in USA is NFPA 79, while in Canada we have to comply with the requirements of C22.2 N° 301.

Regarding the product standards for the control panel(s), in USA we have the UL 508A, while in Canada there is the C22.2 N°286. In Europe, like at international level, there is no standard for the Machinery control Panels. The panel manufacturer will use the IEC 60204-1 and will also refer to EN IEC 61439-1 if he deems that necessary. For example, if the control panel has a bus bar system, he may look at the prescriptions in part 1, 2 and part 6 of EN IEC 61439.

As you can see in the drawing, NFPA 70 and the CE Code are not applicable to machinery, unless the installation is big enough to fall under those standards. In Europe that distinction is more clear and easier to state, since the Machinery Electrical Installation falls under the Low Voltage Directive and therefore it is CE marked. In Italy, but that is valid all over Europe, since there is a CE marking, the local regulations do not interfere with the placing on the market of the machinery. That means, it is the manufacturer who decides what is part of the CE marking and, consequently, what is part of a fixed installation (falling under local regulations). In USA and Canada, who decides is the Authority Having Jurisdiction. That is the reason why, for large installations, you need to get advise from your electrical consultant, or other reliable sources.

Finally, as explained in this article, in North America, there is often the obligation to certify the electrical installation. That can be done following the product standards mentioned above or using the “Field Evaluation” procedure. For that assessment, other standards may be used, like the SPE 1000 in Canada.


CONCLUSION: The drawing shown in this page should clarify which standards to use in order to engineer a Machinery Electrical Installation. Please be aware that if your installation falls under the “electrical premises” or “fixed installation” (that judgement is made by the AHJ) you need to follow the prescription of the NEC in USA and the CE Code in Canada.

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