Many consumers feel a sense of reassurance when they see that a product has a logo or a seal of approval. However, few know what the information on these seals actually represents, and many brands are unsure whether they need these certifications. If you are unsure whether the product your company is manufacturing needs a seal, you are not alone.
For many brands, it’s important to understand UL certification, what these seals mean and the advantages they can offer. Though certifying products can be costly, the safety of consumers and staff should always be prioritized. Safety can help ensure brand loyalty and can be a key factor in your brand’s long-term success.
What requires a UL listing? Though not every product needs to be UL listed, there are several reasons to list your products. Below, we cover the differences between becoming UL listed, UL certified and UL recognized to help you determine the right next steps.
What Is UL Listed and UL Certified?
UL refers to Underwriter Laboratories, which is a third-party certification company. There is no general UL approval category. Instead, products can either be UL certified, listed, recognized, classified or performance verified. Though the tiers are relatively similar, there are key distinctions. Understanding these differences is crucial in determining which is the best avenue for a business. Listing or certifying your products may be right for your brand.
What Is UL Certification?
UL certifies products with the intent to make the world safer for consumers and workers. Along with product safety testing, UL sets the industry standards for companies to follow during the process of innovating new products. UL continually checks products to ensure they meet standards and are constructed properly for the highest level of safety. For instance, UL testing will review whether devices can handle the proper amount of current and whether wire sizes are correct.
Though UL tests some products themselves, the organization also authorizes manufacturers to test products themselves with the UL stamp. UL then follows up regularly to ensure manufacturers are testing their products and following the proper guidelines. As such, many businesses find UL certification attractive.
Equipment that UL addresses tends to fall into the following categories:
- Cable and wire
- Signaling alarms
- Electronic equipment
- Electrical components
- Equipment to be used in hazardous areas
- Fire suppression and protection equipment
What Does UL Listed Mean?
The seal for UL listed products is highly recognizable and featured on many consumer goods. This mark features a “UL” inside of a black circle. What requires a UL listing? This UL listing mark is most often seen on:
- Life jackets
- Smoke detectors
- Sprinkler systems
- Electrical appliances
- Bullet-resistant glass
- Computer equipment
- Carbon monoxide detectors
For a product to be UL listed, it must be a stand-alone product. UL listed is used to ensure the safety of products that are consumer ready and go on the market. To become UL listed, more product testing is involved than for UL recognized products. When a product is adorned with the UL listed seal, this means the product was tested by UL and met standards of sustainability and safety. Being UL listed also means a product is free of a reasonably foreseeable danger or risk of fire.
A UL listed product ensures the longevity and safety of many consumer items under normal wear and tear that comes with everyday use. This is an advantage for both the consumer and the manufacturer.
The Difference Between UL Listed vs. UL Certified
For some UL marks, the term “certification” is used to communicate that the organization has successfully tested the manufacturer’s sample product against certain standards and specifications. The term “certification” does not imply “approval” of the use of the component or product in all potential applications. UL certification is essentially an umbrella term in which UL listed and UL recognized fall.
In contrast, UL listing can refer only to stand-alone products that have a specific function and were tested against UL’s nationally recognized safety standards of a specific category of equipment.
What Is the Difference Between UL Listed and UL Recognized?
What sets UL recognition apart is that a seal of approval is not applied to end products. A service for UL recognition is less consumer-facing, and thus, focuses more on the machinery and the parts that create other products. UL recognition certifies that a component in a larger mechanism adheres to UL standards.
UL recognition is seen most commonly in factories in the form of circuit boards or power supplies that power other machinery. When a product is UL recognized, this ensures the efficiency and safety of the machinery and allows companies to implement more sustainable practices. Since UL recognition focuses on components, UL can ensure that equipment is housed properly, which may require additional precautions for installation to protect the product from liquids or chemicals during the manufacturing process.
Attaining a UL recognized stamp is typically easier than becoming UL listed, as manufacturers can select which components within a larger system are certified. Additionally, becoming UL recognized tends to be easier because the industry standards are less rigid for UL recognition.
Any component or barrier material can receive UL recognized certification. For the UL logo to be added to stand-alone products, however, a UL listed seal of approval must be obtained.
The Difference Between UL Certification vs. CE
You may have seen logos similar to UL in other countries. In the EU, a similar organization is CE, which sets the standards for common electronics. CE refers to Comformité Européenne, which translates into English as “European Conformity.” CE is quite similar to UL. In fact, the main difference between the two organizations is their location — the country in which the product is being manufactured and sold.
Is CE as good as UL? Similar to UL, CE provides companies the advantage of being able to sell their products anywhere in the EU and market the CE logo. As a result, many companies choose to become CE certified to help expand their marketing capabilities.
There are some differences between CE marks and UL listing. While the UL listing is optional in the U.S., this is not the case for the CE mark in Europe. Instead, the CE mark is legally required for products that will be used in construction. A product that is UL listed does not automatically qualify for the CE mark. A product must receive a Declaration of Performance certificate and a CE mark before being used in Europe. Similarly, a product that has received the CE mark is not automatically considered UL listed.
Is UL Certification Required?
UL certification is a thorough process that can be lengthy and costly. Each component of a product will need to be individually tested to ensure its durability and safety and whether it meets the intended design purposes. This can mean testing products under specific conditions that involve:
- UV resistance
Additionally, any changes in a product’s design may require retesting or using pre-tested components.
Do You Need UL Certification to Sell in the USA?
Anyone who intends to sell products in a retail store should understand that most retailers won’t carry products that are not UL certified. Though there are no mandatory safety standards that need to be followed for consumer electronics in the U.S., for example, ensuring the safety of a product is essential.
When you have the UL stamp on a product, this is essentially an insurance policy for the manufacturer and the retailer. Most companies choose UL listed products to avoid liability issues. You may also want to do further research into your market or niche to determine if UL is expected.
Do You Need UL Certification to Import Products?
When importing products, compliance with UL standards is typically not mandated by law. However, importers are responsible for ensuring a product is safe, and the best way to ensure product safety is by following the standards set by UL.
Though UL certification is not legally required, to sell to many retailers, imported products need to be UL certified. Some retailers will not consider products that are not UL listed.
Is UL Listed Important?
Although you can choose alternate testing labs for safety certification, the standards set by UL are the benchmark all other testing labs adhere to. However, UL certification may be more challenging to obtain, as the process is more comprehensive and rigorous. Getting UL listed is important, as it offers the following benefits:
- Stricter requirements for certification: UL certification is the world’s top-rated safety certification because the testing process is more comprehensive and rigorous and the requirements are stricter. UL first tests for electrical safety and mechanical safety and then performs more extensive testing for durability, resistance and longevity. Durability testing is typically performed under adverse conditions so consumers know they are getting a safe, high-quality product. UL also applies strict quality control, requiring that each individual component is tested separately.
- Ongoing third-party safety verification: Local field representatives from UL visit manufacturers several times a year to serve the ongoing safety certification, ensuring the UL mark is applied only to products that meet the UL requirements. Visits are unscheduled and unannounced to verify the manufacturer maintains all the required safety and quality standards.
- Superior track record: Compared to other safety certifications, UL has a superior track record. The organization has a long-standing reputation after more than a century of work. Each time a manufacturer certifies a new product, they benefit from UL’s reputation that accompanies their seal of approval. UL is the most well-known Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, and it is also the only testing lab that is recognized worldwide and operates in various countries.
- Reliability and consistency: UL certification is also more reliable and consistent in comparison to other safety certifications, as UL is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring consumer safety. Manufacturers do not need membership in a trade organization or professional relationships to get UL certification.
UL Standards List
Standards set by UL encompass the extensive scientific expertise and research in safety conducted by UL. The organization is an accredited developer of standards in both the U.S. and Canada and has developed more than 1,500 standards. To extend its mission for global public safety, UL partners with standards bodies in other countries internationally to create a more sustainable, safe world.
UL is accredited in the U.S. as an audited designator by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In Canada, UL is accredited as a nationally recognized Standards Development Organization by the Standards Council of Canada. The Standards Technical Panels of UL serve as the consensus body for the National Standards of Canada and the American National Standards.
How Are Standards Developed by UL?
UL develops standards under a process that allows for comment and participation from the industry and the affected public. A survey of needs, opinions and known existing standards is taken into consideration during UL’s process. Many in the industry provide UL with input, including manufacturers, government officials, inspection authorities, consumers and industrial and commercial users.
How Are UL Standards Used?
UL standards are used in assessing products by testing components, systems, materials and performance. The standards also evaluate:
- Renewable energies
- Recycling systems
- Food products
- Water products
- Environmentally sustainable products
More than just products are covered by UL standards development. The testing of services and systems is also included. While UL is widely known for its work with safety standards, it also develops a variety of standards for measuring and validating sustainability, performance and environmental health.
How Do You Know Which Standard Applies to Your Product?
To determine which of the standards applies to your product, refer to the Catalog of Standards. This catalog lists UL’s standards, offers brief descriptions of what is covered by each standard and provides ordering and pricing information.
UL Listed Requirements
When a product is UL listed, this means UL has tested the product’s representative samples and determined it meets defined, specific requirements. These requirements are typically based on UL’s nationally recognized and published Standards for Safety. In some cases, products have also been evaluated by UL for compliance with additional requirements, such as those that cover:
- Functional safety
- Energy efficiency
- Use in security, signaling and plumbing applications
- Use in marine environments and gas-fired equipment
Marketing references should address when a product meets additional requirements. On the packaging, the appropriate version of the UL listed mark can be used alone, as long as the product displays the complete UL mark. Products that use any variation of the listed mark are not eligible for using a promotional badge except in certain circumstances.
UL Listing Requirements by State
Environmental and safety codes tend to vary by the municipality or geographic region. This means a UL listed product can be in compliance within one U.S. city and not be compliant in another. Working closely with the local authority is key in maintaining compliance and making sure you understand the location’s applicable codes.
When you do this during the planning stage, you can specify UL listed products that satisfy local requirements.
How to Get UL Certified
With UL certification, you can demonstrate compliance, deliver confidence and mitigate risk in markets across the world. UL can also help manufacturers maintain certifications and identify and close gaps in regulation. So how do you get UL listed? A manufacturer can obtain facility certification, process certification, personnel certification, system certification and product certification:
- Facility certification: UL can evaluate how well an operation adheres to the applicable healthcare safety standards and regulations. UL will review plans, conduct checks for safety issues, assess the performance of components and products and perform on-site evaluations.
- Process certification: UL can also work with you to make sure business processes meet the applicable requirements and standards.
- Personnel certification: UL’s personnel certification can help empower practitioners with qualifications needed to effectively and safely perform their work.
- System certification: UL offers system certification to evaluate how individual processes and products work together.
- Product certification: A product certification from UL can demonstrate that a product has been tested and meets applicable standards.
Follow the steps below to get UL certified:
- Visit the UL website: First, visit the UL website and navigate to the “Contact Us” page. Here you will find the links to all the relevant information and forms in regards to submitting a product sample for testing at UL.
- Submit a sample product: Next, you will submit a sample product for UL to test. All handling and shipping costs should be paid by the entity or organization sending the sample product. Make sure to package the sample product in a way that the product won’t be damaged in the shipping process.
- Pay testing fee: When UL receives your sample product, they will begin safety evaluation. Evaluation is based on testing that is designed to ensure the product meets ANSI and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. After UL tests your product, the product will either be deemed compliant with standards and requirements or it will be rejected based on a lack of compliance. You will need to pay a fee for the UL’s administration of these tests.
- Receive your UL certificate: After your product is verified as safe, a certificate will be issued by UL. You will then be authorized to place the UL logo on your manufactured product. Audits will be performed intermittently to make sure your product continues to follow the relevant guidelines and remains compliant with the UL standards.
How Expensive Is a UL Listing?
How much does UL certification cost? The cost of having your product tested depends on the type of product you submit and the scope of the evaluation or certification.
Once UL receives and reviews your product information to determine the complete scope of the investigation, you will work with UL to determine the time frame for product testing and certification. This may depend on when you require the product to be completed, along with the availability of samples, the availability of required information, the amount of testing and whether a visit to your facility should be scheduled.
Contact AerosUSA, Inc. for UL Listed Products
At AerosUSA, Inc., we reduce labor costs with faster installation. We also allow for cable protection in environments that require high flexibility, like robotics. Our products are long-lasting and can be used in many environments. The following products are included in our extensive product line:
- UL listed conduit fittings
- UL listed conduits
- Cable glands
- Sleeves and braids
- Cable guide chains
- Cable entry systems
- UL listed conduit connectors
We value providing you high-quality service and are quick to respond to inquiries and quotes. Contact us at AerosUSA, Inc. today to learn more about how to become UL certified or browse our UL listed products.