Technological Innovation

What are the IEEE and IEC standards for harmonics?

In the field of electrical engineering, harmonics refer to the frequencies that are multiples of the fundamental frequency. Harmonic distortion can occur when various types of loads, such as non-linear devices and electronic equipment, are connected to the power grid. To address this issue and ensure the quality and reliability of electricity supply, two prominent organizations have established standards related to harmonics - the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

IEEE Standards for Harmonics

The IEEE has developed a set of standards known as the IEEE 519 series, which specifically outline criteria for the mitigation of harmonics in electrical power systems. These standards provide guidelines for limiting harmonic currents and voltages generated by various types of equipment and systems. The main purpose is to minimize disturbances caused by harmonics and maintain acceptable power quality levels.

The IEEE 519 standard introduces limits on harmonic current injection at the point of common coupling (PCC), which is typically where a facility or load connects to the utility's power system. It defines voltage and current distortion limits and recommends techniques for measuring and evaluating harmonic content. The standard also provides guidance on harmonic modeling, simulation, and control strategies.

IEC Standards for Harmonics

Like the IEEE, the IEC also offers standards that address harmonics. One of the primary documents is the IEC 61000-2-2, which presents guidelines for harmonic phenomena in power systems. This standard specifies limits for harmonic voltages and currents for different types of electrical installations, including low-voltage systems, medium-voltage systems, and distribution networks.

The IEC 61000-3-2 standard deals specifically with harmonic emissions from electrical and electronic equipment, setting limits on the harmonic current emissions allowed in public low-voltage power supply systems. It provides measurement techniques and test conditions for determining compliance with the specified limits. Compliance with these standards helps ensure that equipment is designed and manufactured to minimize harmonic distortion when connected to the power grid.


The IEEE and IEC have established standards that play a crucial role in managing harmonics in electrical power systems. These standards help utilities, manufacturers, and engineers ensure that power quality remains within acceptable limits, reducing the risk of adverse effects on both the power supply network and connected equipment. Adhering to these standards allows for the efficient integration of new technologies into the grid while maintaining the integrity of the electrical infrastructure.



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