Switchgear and Controlgear

The term ‘switchgear and controlgear’ is officially defined within the IEC 60050-826-2022 as:

electric equipment intended to be connected to an electric circuit for the purpose of carrying out one or more of the following functions: protection, control, isolation, switching.

IEC 60050-826-2022

Note 1 to entry: The French and English terms can be considered as equivalent in most cases. However, the French term has a broader meaning than the English term and includes for example connecting devices, plugs and socket-outlets, etc. In English, these latter devices are known as accessories.

Some Requirements

  1. Switchgear and controlgear which forms part of the sauna heater equipment or of other fixed equipment installed in zone 2, may be installed within the sauna room or cabin in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Other switchgear and controlgear, e.g. for lighting, shall be placed outside the sauna room or cabin.
  2. Switchgear and controlgear shall be clearly identified and grouped in locations accessible only to skilled or instructed persons (BA5 or BA4).
  3. Switchgear and controlgear assemblies used in caravan/tent pitch supplies shall comply with the requirements of IEC 61439-7-2022.
  4. Switchgear and controlgear shall be placed in cabinets which can be opened only by the use of a key or a tool, except for those parts designed and intended to be operated by ordinary persons (BA I).
  5. Except where there is no possibility of confusion, a label or other suitable means of identification shall be provided to indicate the purpose of each item of switchgear and controlgear. Where the operator cannot observe the operation of switchgear and controlgear and where this might lead to danger, a suitable indicator complying, where applicable, with IEC 60073 and IEC 60447, shall be fixed in a position visible to the operator.


The switchgear and controlgear include a variety of switching devices, protective devices, control devices, etc. Such devices include:

  • Circuit breakers and residual current operated circuit-breakers with integral overcurrent protection (RCBO) corresponding to IEC 60947-2:2019
  • Switches, disconnectors, switch-disconnectors and their combinations with fuses that correspond to the requirements of IEC 60947-3-2020;
  • Electromechanical contactors and motor-starters that correspond to the requirements of IEC 60947-4-1:2018;
  • Switchgear and controlgear, emergency stop devices with mechanical latching function, terminal blocks for connecting conductors, as well as measuring devices, signaling devices and other electrical equipment.

Since this apparatus is not intended for use by ordinary persons, it is installed in those rooms of the building to which only electrically instructed and skilled persons have access.

Ordinary persons can operate switchgear and controlgear for so-called domestic and similar purposes. Such apparatus includes:

  • Circuit breakers corresponding to IEC 60898-1-2019 and IEC 60898-2-2016;
  • Residual current operated circuit-breakers without integral overcurrent protection (RCCB) corresponding to IEC 61008-1-2013;
  • Residual current operated circuit-breakers with integral overcurrent protection (RCBO) corresponding to IEC 61009-1-2013;
  • Electromechanical contactors according to IEC 61095-2009;
  • Portable residual current devices without integral overcurrent protection corresponding to IEC 61540.
Circuit breaker 25A
Circuit breaker – an example of switchgear and controlgear


Switching and controlgear is used in all electrical installations of buildings without exception. By means of this apparatus, electrical circuits are switched, provide protection against electric shock, protect conductors against short circuits and overloads, control the functioning of electrical equipment, as well as perform other operations in the electrical installation of buildings.

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