According to Wikipedia, "UL, LLC is a global safety certification company headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois. It maintains offices in 46 countries. Established in 1894 as the Underwriters' Electrical Bureau (a bureau of the National Board of Fire Underwriters), it was known throughout the 20th century as Underwriters Laboratories and participated in the safety analysis of many of that century's new technologies."
Founded in 1894 by William Henry Merrill, Underwriters Laboratories Inc. was born after William, then 25 years of age, was working at the 1890 Chicago World Fair's Palace of Electricity to assess fire risks. It was while he was there that he presented his idea for an electrical testing laboratory. The Western Insurance Union and the Chicago Underwriters Association decided to fund his idea and formed what would become Underwriters Laboratory, now referred to as UL.
Today, the UL lab offers services ranging from the certification of personnel, products, facilities, processes, and systems, to identifying and closing regulatory gaps, confirming compliance, and maintaining customer certifications. The company also partners with its customers to help them sustain best practices across their companies and value network.
The company has 64 laboratories that handle the testing and certification of over 22 billion different products annually on behalf of its customers in over 143 countries, with a current workforce of over 14,000.
2.1. WHY IS A UL CERTIFICATION IMPORTANT?
The UL mark is usually seen on industrial equipment and home appliances. These include fuses, electrical panels, circuit breakers, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinklers, to mention a few. UL testing makes sure that standards are met, in terms of material and performance specifications, and that those devices are constructed in a manner that ensures the highest levels of safety for personnel and end-users.
While many believe that UL tests every product themselves, that isn’t always the case. More often than not, UL authorizes a manufacturer to test the product themselves against UL standards, after which follow up regularly to ensure the testing is being done in accordance with the laid-down guidelines.
The following are the major reasons why UL certification is highly respected by industry and consumers alike:
- High Standards: A UL mark on a product means the product has undergone rigorous testing to ensure it meets UL's high level of standards for performance. This assures consumers and regulators that the products will function as described.
- Safety: UL certification signals to consumers that the manufacturer has put their products through severe testing to ensure they are safe to use. This reassures the consumer of safety while the product is in use. In the case where accidents or disasters occur, it also assures third parties, like Insurance companies and regulators, that low quality devices (and the manufacturer responsible for producing them) aren't to blame.
- Value: UL certification enables companies to invest more capital in producing high-quality products, and to appropriately and comfortably charge consumers in ways that allow them make profits. Consumers are also willing to pay because they have a guarantee that they will receive value for money spent. Third-parties also benefit through taxes and reduced insurance claims.
- Peace of Mind: Manufacturers can invest in UL Recognized equipment with confidence, knowing that breakdowns and repairs due to low-quality will not be an issue. And consumers can rest easy, knowing that more money won't need to be directed towards the purchase of the same products due to low performance or safety issues.
3.1. TYPES OF UL CLASSIFICATION:
There are a variety of UL certifications. However, in this article, we will only be looking at the major ones which are listed below:
3.2. UL CERTIFIED MARK AND PROMOTIONAL BADGE FOR PRODUCTS
The UL Certified Mark for products is part of the enhanced Mark system. This system consists of the UL Certified Mark plus special promotional badge. The UL Certified Mark can be used for products certified under UL’s Listing and Classification services and for UL certifications for certain geographies.
Except in certain limited circumstances, promotional badges may not be used unless a product is also carrying a UL Certified Mark. UL also offers the UL Certified Mark and promotional badge with optional QR codes.
3.3. UL LISTED MARK (ALL VARIATIONS)
UL Listing means that UL has tested representative samples of a product and determined that the product meets specific, defined requirements. These requirements are often based on UL’s published and nationally recognized Standards for Safety. In some cases, UL has also evaluated products for compliance to additional requirements including those covering energy efficiency; functional safety; use in gas-fired equipment and marine environments; and use in plumbing, security and signaling applications. For packaging, the appropriate variation of the UL Listed Mark may be used alone as long as the product (as opposed to any Listed component in or connected to the product) bears the complete UL Mark. Except in certain limited circumstances, products using any variation of the UL Listed Mark are ineligible to use a promotional badge.
3.4. UL CLASSIFIED MARK (ALL VARIATIONS)
UL Classification typically means that UL has tested and evaluated samples of a product with respect to certain properties of the product. UL classifies products to:
- Applicable UL requirements
- Standards of other organizations
It is important to use the UL Classified Mark accompanied by a statement indicating the specific scope of the Classification. For packaging, the appropriate variation of the UL Classified Mark may be used alone as long as the product bears the complete UL Classified Mark. Except in certain limited circumstances, products using any variation of the UL Classified Mark are ineligible to use a promotional badge.
3.5. UL RECOGNIZED COMPONENT MARK (ALL VARIATIONS)
UL Component Recognition means that UL has evaluated components or materials intended for use in a complete product or system. These components are intended only for end-use products that may be eligible for UL certification.
Because UL Recognized Components are intended for specific applications, Marks or symbols using the letters “U-L” can never be used in connection with the advertising or promotion of UL Recognized Components. The appropriate symbol for promoting a UL Component Recognition is the UL Recognized Component Mark. Products using the UL Recognized Component Mark are never permitted to use a promotional badge.
3.6. UL PERFORMANCE VERIFIED MARK
UL performance Verification means that UL has tested and evaluated samples of a product, typically against a specific performance standard. UL performance Verifies products to meet:
- National or international industry performance standards
- Manufacturer’s proprietary (internal) standards
- UL requirements
It is important to use the UL performance Verified Mark only in conjunction with a statement indicating the specific scope of the UL performance Verification. Except in certain limited circumstances, products using the UL performance Verified Mark are ineligible to use a promotional badge.
3.7. UL CERTIFIED MANAGEMENT SYSTEM PROMOTIONAL BADGE
A UL promotional badge can be used by customers with a UL certified management systems to promote a certification. A UL Certified Management System badge may never appear on a product, and may not be used to imply that a product has been certified by UL.
3.8. UL CERTIFIED PROCESS PROMOTIONAL BADGE
A UL promotional badge can be used by customers with a UL certified process to promote a certification. A UL Certified Process badge may never appear on a product, and may not be used to imply that a product has been certified by UL. Ensure that the text on any promotional badge matches the scope of UL certification.
4.1. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN UL RECOGNIZED AND UL LISTED?
UL RECOGNIZED: UL Recognition is usually seen on the factory-floor. It is usually applied to the devices that are used to power other machinery (circuit boards, etc). UL Recognition verifies that machines used by workers are safe to use, properly housed, efficient, and sustainable. UL Recognized stamps are easier to attain than UL Listed because manufacturers can choose which components to certify within the system, and because UL recognition is also not as rigid in its industry standards.
UL LISTED: The UL Listed symbol is for stand-alone products, so it is featured on a variety of consumer goods, which makes it the more recognizable of the two. The UL Listed certification requires far more testing than the UL Recognized certification. It means the product has undergone rigorous testing by UL against nationally recognized safety, longevity, and sustainability standards and has been certified to be free from significant risk (of fire, electric shock) in a Division 2 environment (area where ignitable concentrations are used).
The UL Mark is trusted because UL is a third-party inspection and certification service. Unlike some other forms of certifications which are purely for marketing purposes, consumers of your products will repose confidence in the ability to perform, longevity, and safety of the products.
The rigorous testing and certification process required to attain certification by UL also positions your brand as a trustworthy and consumer-focused brand that is concerned about satisfying the consumer's performance requirements, ensuring consumer safety, and ensuring the consumer derives maximum value for money spent.
At Dynamic, we are always staying up to date on innovations and new technology. We hope you found our information about UL certification and why they are important useful. If you are considering giving this a try and need assistance, contact us. To further boost your knowledge of UL, its application and why it is important, you can get additional info from other resources such as UL 489: When to apply the UL 489 devices and UL 508A: Why there is a widespread misapplication of UL 508A devices. You can also stay in touch with us by signing up for our newsletter, and following us on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages to receive updates when we have promotions, snackable content or new blog posts.