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As consumers’ awareness of product safety is getting increasingly strong these days, more and more people are paying their attention to all kinds of product safety certification.
And the market, including the online marketplaces such as Amazon, has brought some new demands for product safety certifications too. In this article, we are going to talk about one of the most widely recognized safety certifications – UL Certification.
UL stands for Underwriter Laboratories, it is the most authoritative institution engaged in safety testing and evaluation in USA. UL is an independent, non-profit, and professional institution that conducts testing regarding public safety.
UL confirms whether all kinds of materials, devices, products, equipment, or building are hazardous to human lives and properties. And it can determine, compile, and issue relevant standards that facilitate reducing and preventing loss of lives and properties. In the meantime, it also carries out relevant fact-finding study.
UL certification is not a mandatory certification in USA, it mainly covers the testing and certification related to product safety performance. Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing is not included in UL’s testing scope.
The information should be submitted in writing and should include the following items:
After receiving your application information, UL will determine what UL standards they’ll apply to your product and the cost, time, and samples in need. Then, they will send you the formal application form and the follow-up service agreement to you.
The cost cap for the testing, determined according to the maximum workload of the project, will be specified in the application form. UL can’t exceed the cost cap without your company’s written authorization.
Click here to read our article about more specific details of the cost that may occur during the process of UL certification.
You need to sign up the application form and send it back to UL. And you have to send back the required samples as well. The samples should be sent with details include product name and product type.
The application form and the samples should be sent separately. UL will designate a unique project number to every project. And you should indicate the project number whenever you send remittances or samples to facilitate UL’s collection.
After UL receive your remittance, application form, and product samples, it will inform you when the project will be completed. Normally, the product testing will be carried out in the US, the samples can be returned or destroyed at your request.
If the test result meets the UL standards, UL will issue a test report and initiate the follow-up service procedures. The test report will elaborates on the testing status, the standards that the samples meet, the product structure, and the safety marks that are suitable for the tested products.
The UL Inspector deployed to your local region will carry out the initial production inspection. The inspector will inspect your product lines and inventory of the tested product and its components to see if they are in line with the follow-up service procedures.
If the results of the initial production inspection meet UL’s requirements, the applicant will be authorized to use UL marks. If the results fail to meet the requirements, UL will inform the existing problems for further optimization. When the issues are solved, you can re-apply for another inspection.
Lised below are some of UL’s most commonly used services and the related marks and labels.
Products that met UL’s requirements can carry one of the many UL marks. Those marks are applicable to complete products and components or devices that can be replaced and installed by qualified personnel on filed.
Product categories covered by UL’s Listing mark service include household appliances, medical equipment, computers, commercial equipment and various electrical products used in buildings such as power distribution system, fuses wires, switches and other electrical components.
For UL’s listing service, there are 2 variations available:
1. UL Listing Marking that consists of:
2. UL Enhanced and Smart Marks that consists of:
And if a product is in compliance with UL’s follow-up services in all 3 regions, namely the United States, Canada, and Europe, it will be eligible to a combined UL Mark for all 3 markets.
There are 2 variations for the combined UL Mark:
1. The combined UL mark that consists of:
2. The Combined UL Enhanced and Smart Mark that consists of
Products that have passed UL’s evaluation in regard to specific properties, limited range of hazards, or suitability for use under special conditions, will be able to bear a UL Classification Mark.
Product bearing these marks will be subject to UL’s follow-up service program, under which the relevant products will be inspected to be continuously manufactured in compliance with UL’s requirements.
There are 2 variations for the UL Classification Mark:
1. The UL Classification Marking consists of
2.The UL Enhanced and Smart Mark that consists of
UL can conduct functional safety investigations over products with regard to their software, hardware, or environmental stress factors. The factors included in the UL functional safety standards are safety integrity level, performance level, and automotive safety integrity level.
There are two variations for UL Functional Safety Certification Marks:
1.UL Functional Safety Listing Mark that consists of
2.UL Enhanced and Smart Mark for Functional Safety Certification:
When a product has been successfully certified for safety by UL, it can be further certified to gain the UL Energy Mark. The UL Energy Marks are applicable to products like refrigerators, water heaters, furnaces, dishwashers, cooking equipment, dryers.
There are 3 variations for the marking of UL’s energy verification service:
1.The UL Energy Mark
2.The UL Enhanced and Smart Marks for energy certification
3.UL Energy Component Recognition Mark
UL can also carry on evaluations over food equipment and determine if the products meet the environment and public health standards.
There are 2 variations of the marking for UL’s environmental and public health certification services:
1.The UL EPH Mark
2.The UL Enhanced and Smart Marks for environmental and public health certification
This service is particularly targeted at drinking water products such as water treatment additives, water filtration units, and other drinking water system components and materials.
There are 2 variations of the marking for UL’s water classification service:
1.The UL Classified Water Quality Mark
2.The UL Enhanced and Smart mark for water quality classification
Certification can be made on gas-fired appliances and equipment by UL to make sure they are in compliance to the nationally recognized standards. Products with theses marks have been evaluated in regards to their foreseeable gas and electrical hazards.
There are 2 options of the making for UL’s gas-fired equipment certification service:
1.The UL Gas-Fired Mark
2.The UL Enhanced and Smart Mark
Marks under UL’s marine certification service are applicable to products for marine use, such as alternators, navigation lights, filters, and fuel tanks, that have been evaluated according to UL’s published marine safety standards and codes.
There are 2 variations for UL’s marine certification service:
1.The UL Classified Water Quality Mark
2.The UL Enhanced and Smart Marks
UL provides this service to plumbing-related products to make sure they are in compliance with the relevant health-effects and plumbing performance standards, requirements, and codes.
Product categories that can carry the UL mark for plumbing certification include bath and shower supply fittings, lavatory supply fitting, kitchen sink.
There are 2 variations of the marking for UL’s plumbing certification service:
1.The UL’s Plumbing Marks
2.The UL Enhanced and Smart Marks for plumbing certification
This service is provided for security products like burglar alarms, access controls, anti-theft alarms, intrusion detectors, and surveillance systems. UL conducts certifications to these products under the national security products standards.
There are 2 variations of the marking for UL’s security certification service:
1.UL Security Mark
2.UL Enhanced and Smart Mark for security certification
For products integrated with security features and signaling features such a combination fire and burglar alarm system, UL provides security and signaling certification.
There are 2 variations for the marking for UL’s security and signaling certification service:
1.The UL Security and Signaling Mark
2.The UL Enhanced and Smart Mark for security and signaling certification
For products that have been significantly modified after manufacture, UL can provide special testing and evaluation under appropriate safety requirements in the field instead of UL’s laboratories.
The UL Field Evaluation Product Mark labeled on such products will be like the one below:
The best way to ensure that your items are carried in retail stores is to ensure that your items have UL certification. Consumer electronics safety standards are not required in the U.S. but ensuring product safety is crucial.
A UL-stamped product is insurance for the producer and the retailer because it means the maker has their money back if the product is deemed unsafe.
When liability is a problem, most businesses opt for UL-listed items. However, an additional study could be required to determine if UL is expected in your market or specialty.
Do not confuse compliance with UL standards with being legally compelled to obey them. It is up to the importer to guarantee that the product is safe when bringing in electronics from abroad.
To meet that goal, an organization might choose to follow UL’s guidelines or any other standard set by another entity. Therefore, in the United States, UL is the “de facto” mandated set of electronics safety standards.
Enforcement of environmental and safety regulations varies by city or region. UL listed products must be compliant in all major US cities.
To sustain compliance and keep abreast of the location’s applicable codes, collaborating closely with the local government is crucial. You can identify UL-rated goods that meet local criteria when you do this throughout the planning stages.
That’s the best part about it: many Chinese manufacturers are pretty experienced with UL standards.
While they may either point to European Union legislation such as the Low Voltage Directive or RoHS, or UL standards, these businesses will most likely rely on third-party information.
While it is technically possible for electronics manufacturers to comply with UL standards, the significant challenges lie in obtaining the necessary PCB drawings, writing diagrams, and getting a Bill of Materials (BoM).
Therefore, only choose companies that have manufactured UL compliant products before.
The fees charged to UL, which are generally between $5,000 and $15,000, are standard. However, this does not include the product development expenditures associated with UL.
To ensure that your product complies with all applicable standards, you most likely use a UL consultant during the development process. This service might run you anything from $150 to $200 an hour.
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