(Source: Pixel_B - stock.adobe.com)
As of this writing (Spring 2023), it has now been a little over two years since IEC 60950-1 and IEC 60065 were obsoleted in favor of IEC/UL 62368-1. Whereas IEC 60950-1 was specific to IT equipment and IEC 60065 was specific to audio video (AV) equipment, IEC/UL 62368-1 brought these categories under one umbrella. The thinking behind merging these categories was: with the increasing technological sophistication of AV equipment—much of which is now at least partially digital and much of which is networked—the lines between AV (Figure 1) and IT had blurred so much that it was sensible to treat them under one standard.
Figure 1: Previously, the IEC 60065 compliance standard was specific to AV equipment. IEC/UL 62368-1 brought AV and IT equipment under one umbrella. (Source: Neutrik)
Interestingly, stage lighting equipment (Figure 2), an essential ingredient of live AV, was excluded from the standard. The industry still waits to see whether theatrical lighting, which is currently certified in the US to UL 1598 and UL 1573, will either be folded into a future revision of 62368-1 or else see its own safety standards largely adopt the principles and specifics of 62368-1.
Figure 2: Stage and theatrical lighting equipment are currently excluded from the IEC/UL 62368-1 standard. (Source: Алексей Синельников - stock.adobe.com)
For decades, the most relevant standards for power connectors in the Audio Visual Lighting (AVL) industry were UL 498—for which components received AXUT2 recognition—and UL 1977—for which components received ECBT2 recognition. Nearly all power connectors used as components within AV equipment for the US market had historically been certified to one or both of these standards. However, a consensus view held that these standards had become outdated and limited in a number of important ways. The newer IEC and UL 60320 standards—which are similar to each other but have important regional differences such as different amperage ratings for IEC vs. UL—introduced a number of benefits not least of which are global standardization and acceptance.
Will 60320 eventually replace UL 498 and UL 1977 in all audio, video, and lighting applications (and beyond)? There are good arguments in favor of this. Certainly, global acceptance and a reduction in the number of required certifications are enticing to all concerned, be they component manufacturers like Neutrik, finished device manufacturers, or certification agencies.
Much has been made of the paradigm shift within 62368-1 to a hazards-based device review. Clauses within the standard specifically address electrical hazards such as injury and fire. Generally, 62368-1 tightens (rather than relaxes) the standards in this area. Required connector creepage and clearance distances, in particular, are carefully defined and may require significant calculations to ensure adherence.
The mechanisms by which enclosures prevent potential ignition from exiting the device in a damaging way have also been overhauled in 62368-1. Depending on the classification of the severity of the potential ignition source, the use of flame-resistant materials rated to V-2 or better may be required. For higher-level potential ignition levels, interior fire enclosures are required.
Changes in the standard relevant to connectors compared to the prior IEC 60065 AV equipment standard are, in some cases, substantial. For example, AV equipment connectors were generally produced using UL 94 HB materials for decades. HB materials had the advantage of being relatively pliable and forgiving—an advantage as the connectors were fastened to the chassis by screws or other hardware. However, their lower flame rating is no longer accepted in certain cases of relatively higher potential ignition levels. For that reason, Neutrik has updated all of its relevant connectors to offer options with V-0 material which exceeds the lower V-2 materials requirement of the specification.
Additional changes were, in some cases, required by the standard to the relatively large openings within some connectors that could allow hazards such as fire to escape. Neutrik’s re-engineering also addressed those openings. The result is that Neutrik’s connector portfolio fully meets all requirements of IEC/UL 62368-1 (Figure 3). Examples of popular components that meet all applicable standards in order to comply with IEC/UL 62368-1 are Neutrik’s XLR, powerCON® blue/grey, powerCON® TRUE1 TOP, speakON®, and etherCON® chassis connectors. Advantages include improved safety to end users and streamlined certification for device manufacturers.
Figure 3: Neutrik’s portfolio features connector series—including XLR, powerCON, powerCON TRUE1 TOP, speakON, and etherCON—which meet all applicable standards to comply with IEC/UL 62368-1. (Source Neutrik)
Neutrik’s powerCON TRUE1 TOP line was designed from the ground up for IEC and UL 60320-1 compliance (Figure 4). This line has recently been expanded with large-outlet cable connector options for raw cable like SOOW 12/3 and H07RN-F3G2.5. These new connectors are unique in being certified to IEC EN 60320-1, UL 60320-1, and C22.2 No. 60320-1:19, making them acceptable for cord sets according to IEC 60799 / UL817 and equipment according to IEC 62368-1.
Figure 4: Neutrik powerCON TRUE1 TOP Connectors are certified to IEC EN 60320-1, UL 60320-1, and C22.2 No. 60320-1:19, making them acceptable for cord sets according to IEC 60799 / UL817 and equipment according to IEC 62368-1 (Source Neutrik)
Neutrik’s powerCON blue/grey line is the original powerCON. Released in the 1990s, powerCON’s twist-lock plus latching feature made it highly desirable in the AVL industry, where it became the standard for moving-head luminaires. In 2020, Neutrik introduced the new XX-series powerCON blue/grey chassis connectors to ease 62368-1 compliance. Recently, Neutrik introduced the complementary XX-series cable connectors that provide breakability under load and meet all other requirements of 60320-1 certification (Figure 5). This makes Neutrik the only connector manufacturer to offer both of these Neutrik-original designs—powerCON TRUE1 TOP and powerCON blue-gray—with IEC EN 60320-1, UL 60320-1, and CSA C22.2 No. 60320-1 certifications for safety and ease of implementation.
Figure 5: Neutrik powerCON® XX Connectors are IEC EN 60320-1 and UL 60320-1 certified, making them accepted as a component for cord sets according to IEC 60799 and UL817 and equipment according to IEC 62368-1. (Source Neutrik)
The paradigm-changing IEC/UL 62368-1 and 60320 standards have generally been considered successful. Neutrik expects the innovations of these standards to be brought forward into other related standards in the future.
Fred Morgenstern is VP Technology of Neutrik Americas where he serves as the lead technical resource. Mr. Morgenstern is well known throughout the AV connector industry for his webinars, articles, and work with standards committees. He joined Neutrik Americas in 2010 after having worked in AVL equipment development and freelance audio engineering. He is a graduate of Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music.
Neutrik is the leading provider of professional entertainment connector systems. Neutrik has developed, produced and distributed state-of-the-art connectors for more than 40 years. The product range includes XLR connectors, plugs, jacks, speaker-connectors, data-connectors, Patch-Panels, power-connectors, BNC connectors and special connectors for industrial applications. From rock bands to lighting design, industrial equipment to broadcast studios, Neutrik products provide the robust and reliable connectivity solutions for most any industry. Quality Thinking - Quality Design, that's Neutrik
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