IEC 61850

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The standard IEC 61850 of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) describes a general transmission protocol for the protection and control system in electrical switchgear of the medium and high voltage equipment (Substation Automation). The series of standards primarily defines:

  • general specifications for switchgear,
  • the most important information for functions and devices,
  • the exchange of information for protection, monitoring, control and measurement,
  • a digital interface for primary data and
  • a configuration language.


The protocol uses TCP / IP as the basic transmission protocol and the Manufacturing Messaging Specification (MMS) defines the standard part IEC 61850-8-1 as classic client-server communication. In addition, two so-called peer-to-peer services for real-time communication are described, which are based directly on the Ethernet protocol:

  • Transmission of fast sampled values ​​according to standard part IEC 61850-9-2
  • Transmission of GOOSE messages in accordance with the IEC 61850-8-1 standard

Note: IEC 61850-9-1 describes the transmission of converter data via serial point-to-point connections and has since been withdrawn.

In contrast to the older standard IEC 60870-5-104 , which is based on a signal-oriented data model, IEC 61850 claims to offer an "object-oriented" data model. The "object orientation" must not be misunderstood with object orientation in the sense of object-oriented programming (OOP). The essential concepts of the OOP "abstraction", "data encapsulation", "polymorphism" and "inheritance" are not or only to a limited extent supported. In fact, the objects in IEC 61850 are defined tree-like structures from which a tree-like data model can be composed. The name or path of the respective tree element, which is transmitted in plain text, serves as identification in communication. Most implementations allow the query of the data model with special commands, which is also referred to as "self-describing" in this context.

The standard covers the needs of station automation. This affects the communication structures as well as the object-related data model. In principle, however, the standard is generally designed so that it can theoretically play a role for many other applications in the automation of decentralized energy systems. The basic principles are retained and supplemented by industry-specific data models:

  • IEC 61400-25 - Communication for the monitoring and control of wind power plants
  • IEC 61850-7-410 (formerly IEC 62344) - Hydroelectric power plants - Communication for monitoring and control
  • IEC 61850-7-420 (formerly IEC 62350) - communication system for decentralized energy generation - defines object models of specific information that can be exchanged between distributed energy resources and the corresponding monitoring and control systems.

In contrast to IEC 60870-5-104 , IEC 61850 is only defined for the station bus. From a technical point of view, however, IEC 61850 is also suitable for process data transfer between the stations and the network control system. This would enable a consistent system architecture from the process to the station control system to the network control center without complex gateways.

Parts of the IEC 61850 standard

  • Part 1 - Introduction and overview of the standards of the IEC 61850 series
  • Part 2 - dictionary, collection of terms
  • Part 3 - General requirements, quality requirements, environmental conditions, auxiliary services and other standards and other rules of technology
  • Part 4 - System and project management, engineering performance requirements, system usage cycle and quality assurance
  • Part 5 - Communication requirements for functions and device models, the principle of logical nodes, logical communication links, the concept of assigned information elements for communication (PICOM), functions, performance requirements, and "dynamic scenarios"
  • Part 6 - Configuration language, formal description of the single-line scheme, of devices and system structure and their assignment to the single-line scheme
  • Part 7 - Basic communication structure and object model, communication principles, description of the abstract interface for communication services and their specification, server database model, abstract common data classes, definition of logical nodes
  • Part 8 - Specific mapping of communication services, there in Part 8-1 mapping to MMS, mapping for communication within the entire station, client-server communication and GOOSE telegrams
  • Part 9 - Specific mapping of communication services, mapping for the point-to-point-like unidirectional (9-1) as well as for the bus-like, flexible communication of sample values ​​of the transducers (9-2).
  • Part 10 - Conformity test, defines the technology for testing the conformity of client, server, measurement evaluation and construction tools. As well as the measurement techniques that can be used for the performance parameters.

In Germany, the IEC 61850 is published as DIN standard DIN EN 61850, but only partially translated, the German title is "Communication networks and systems for automation in electrical energy supply".


  • PRAXIS PROFILINE special issues (2005, 2007): IEC 61850 - Global standard for automation in the energy sector
  • Karlheinz Schwarz et al .: Open communication according to IEC 61850 for protection and station control technology . VDE Verlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-8007-2788-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  2. DIN EN 61850-3 , accessed on February 13, 2015