Technical Articles

What is the difference between Class 1 and Class 2 IEC?


The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has set standards to ensure safety and performance for electrical equipment. One such standard is the classification of equipment into different classes, notably Class 1 and Class 2. Understanding the differences between these classes is crucial for engineers, manufacturers, and users to make informed decisions about their electrical equipment choices.

Class 1 IEC

Class 1 equipment is defined as having a single layer of insulation between the live parts and any conductive surface, such as the outer casing or enclosure. This class requires a reliable earth connection through the ground pin of the power plug to protect against electric shock. The primary purpose of Class 1 equipment is to prevent electrical leakage and provide protection against direct contact with live parts.

Class 2 IEC

In contrast, Class 2 equipment incorporates additional insulation measures to provide extra protection without relying on an earth connection. It features a double or reinforced insulation system that includes both basic and supplementary insulation layers. This design eliminates the need for grounding, making it suitable for devices where grounded connections may not be practical or possible. Class 2 equipment is often marked with the symbol "Double Insulation," indicating compliance with these standards.

Key Differences

1. Protection against electric shock: While Class 1 equipment relies on an earth connection for safety, Class 2 devices do not require this connection. Double insulation in Class 2 equipment provides adequate protection even in the aBS ENce of earthing.

2. Reliance on grounding: As mentioned earlier, Class 1 equipment must be connected to the ground through the power plug's earth wire. Conversely, Class 2 equipment does not need grounding.

3. Flexibility in installation: Class 2 equipment offers greater flexibility in its installation as it does not depend on specific grounding requirements. This feature makes it more suitable for devices that need mobility or have limited access to grounded outlets.

4. Additional insulation: Class 2 equipment incorporates multiple layers of insulation, providing an extra level of protection against electric shock. The reinforced insulation ensures that even if one layer is damaged, another layer prevents direct contact with live parts.


In summary, Class 1 and Class 2 IEC standards define different levels of insulation and safety measures for electrical equipment. While Class 1 relies on grounding through an earth connection, Class 2 utilizes a double insulation system, eliminating the need for grounding. Both classes serve specific purposes based on their intended applications. Understanding the differences between them can help ensure proper electrical equipment selection and usage, promoting safety and compliance with international standards.



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