UL and ETL Certifications: What Are They, and Why Should You Care?
May 15 2019
The lights or lighting products you buy from superbrightleds.com are built not just to provide light but to be safe options for doing so. Two of the certifications our products have that demonstrate safety are UL and ETL Listings. Not all products have both of these certifications as it is not necessary. Having just one of them tells you that your light has been evaluated for safety by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). And while safety is what it boils down to, there are many more reasons to care about having products with UL or ETL certifications. So what exactly are UL and ETL, and what’s the full scope of what they do? Let’s find out.
What is UL?
The tiny UL logos that can be found on over 22 million products worldwide are from Underwriters Laboratories. This not-for-profit certification agency has been providing a sense of security and comfort to people since 1894. As an Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recognized Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, their goal is to create safe living and working environments. This is accomplished by making sure that every product they test meets certain safety and quality requirements. They do more though. According to UL, “Our comprehensive services include certifications of a product, facility, process or system to industry-wide standards and requirements recognized by UL.”
UL currently has over 40 types of certifications; safety, for which they have 1,614 set standards, is included. They provide certifications, such as ECOLOGO®, that benefit the environment and certifications that benefit life and health such as the Wellness certification, which ensures that tested products meet WELL Building Standard requirements. Manufacturers apply for product testing and receive certain safety marks, which include UL Listed, Classified, or Recognized.
These marks indicate that product samples meet UL’s set safety requirements for electrical and fire risks as well as other hazards. Anything with these marks is an end product or complete component. After initial testing, UL representatives make unannounced visits to ensure that products still meet requirements.
When a product is UL Listed, it is listed for either dry, damp, or wet locations.
Dry locations are indoor areas that are not subject to direct contact with water. Products can be used in areas that are temporarily exposed to dampness so long as moisture cannot accumulate on them. Examples include bedrooms and kitchens.
Damp locations are indoor or outdoor areas that are subject to condensation but don’t come in direct contact with water. Examples include shower ceilings and pool areas.
Wet locations are indoor or outdoor areas where products come into direct contact with water. However, this does not mean that the item is submersible. A product’s IP rating will tell you the degree to which it is waterproof. Wet locations include patios, gardens, and more. Products are sealed to keep water out. If they purposely do allow water to enter, they will have drain holes.
Products that have these marks are tested with respect to certain characteristics, hazards, or their performance under special conditions. UL’s Follow-Up Services apply to products with these marks to verify they still meet requirements.
These marks are seen on components that are, or will be, part of a complete product. Examples include power supplies, switches, and circuit boards.
What is ETL?
An ETL certification means that products have been tested to set safety standards. The certification comes from Intertek’s Electrical Testing Labs. Like UL, Intertek is an OSHA Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory with the goal of creating safe working and living environments. They provide assurance, testing, inspection, and certification services. On their website, Intertek states, “. . . we can help to ensure that your products meet quality, health, environmental, safety, and social accountability standards . . . .”
The long-standing company has more than 1,000 laboratories in over 100 countries. It’s common for lighting products to have an ETL mark as it’s usually easier and quicker to get than a UL certification. Like UL, Intertek does do unannounced visits to ensure that products are still meeting requirements. Intertek tests to various standards, including UL, ULC, ASME, ASTM, ANSI, CSA, NFPA, NOM, and NSF. The company has 24 different marks/certifications to indicate anything from safety to health and environmental benefits. Examples include the Clean Air Indoor Air Quality and Green Leaf marks.
Both UL and ETL certifications are acceptable proof of a product’s safety. Having these certifications means that you can rest easy knowing that what you’re installing in your home or business won’t cause safety issues. Check for these marks when you’re shopping for electrical, mechanical, or chemical products. You won’t regret it.
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