What is UL Certification and Why is it Important?
UL stands for Underwriter Laboratories, a third-party certification company that’s been around for over a century. UL was founded in 1894 in Chicago. They certify products with the aim to make the world a safer place for both workers and consumers. Besides testing, they set industry standards to follow when innovating new products. Last year alone, about 14 billion products with the UL seal entered the global marketplace.
In a nutshell, UL is a safety organization that sets industry-wide standards on new products. They continually check these products to ensure they’re up to these standards. UL testing makes sure that wire sizes are correct or devices can handle the amount of current they claim to be able to. They also ensure that products are constructed correctly for the highest safety.
A common misconception is that UL tests every product themselves. This isn’t always the case. Instead, UL authorizes a manufacturer to test the product themselves using the UL stamp. They then follow up on a regular basis to make sure that they are testing their products and following proper guidelines. This is one of many reasons that UL certification is attractive to businesses.
However familiar you might be with the recognizable UL stamp on machinery, it’s not as simple as it may appear. There’s no such thing as a general UL approval. Instead, it’s broken down into several tiers. These three tiers are UL listed, UL recognized, and UL classified.
While all three are relatively similar to one another, there are some important distinctions. In order to figure out what’s best for your business, or to be more informed as a consumer of UL products, it’s good to know the basic differences.
Here we’ll go over the two most basic distinctions you need to know about: UL recognized vs UL listed.
What Does It Mean to Be UL Recognized?
The biggest difference between UL recognition and UL certified or classified is that it does not apply a seal of approval to end products.
UL Recognition service is less consumer-facing and focuses more on machinery and parts that make other products. In other words, it certifies that a component within a larger mechanism meets UL standards.
UL Recognition is most often seen in factories, in the form of power supplies or circuit boards that are used to power other machinery. UL Recognition ensures the safety and efficiency of machinery used by workers. It also empowers companies to strive for more sustainable practices.
Because UL Recognized focuses on components, UL ensures that the equipment is properly housed. This may require additional installation precautions to protect the product from chemicals or liquids in the manufacturing process.
UL Recognized stamps are generally easier to attain than UL Listed. This is because manufacturers can pick and choose which components are certified within a larger system. UL recognition is also not as rigid in its industry standards and is, therefore, easier for a business to attain as a result.
UL Recognized certification can be applied to any component part, or even to barrier materials. If you want to get the UL logo on your stand-alone products, you must get a UL Listed seal of approval.
What Does It Mean to Be UL Listed?
You’ve probably heard the term UL Listed many times before. Even if you haven’t, you are very likely to recognize the seal. Even if you weren’t sure what it meant before now, the UL Listed symbol is featured on a wide swath of consumer goods today.
So what does UL Listed mean and how does it differ from UL Recognized? How does it benefit your business? The main difference isn’t in the certification itself. Rather, in what kind of product is being certified and what impression that has on the consumer.
UL Listed and UL Recognized Marks
As we learned above, UL recognition is for components and UL Listed is for stand-alone products. While they both ensure a set of industry standards, they are used for different products and in different capacities. This is why UL Listed is so much more recognizable to most people because it ensures the safety of consumer-ready products that then go to market.
Far more testing is involved in UL Listed certification. The UL Listed seal means that the product has been tested by UL to nationally recognized safety and sustainability standards. Additionally, it has been found to be free from a reasonably foreseeable risk of fire, electric shock in a Division 2 environment. Division 2 environment refers to an area where ignitable concentrations are used.
In other words, a UL Listed approval ensures the safety and longevity of many household items under normal wear and tear with everyday use. This benefits both the consumer and the business that manufactures the product. This is because of UL’s safety reputation and the inherent accountability of your brand when using the UL Listed logo.
Why Get UL Certified or Buy UL Products?
Why is UL certification and recognition attractive for businesses? UL has spent over a century building up a reputation and instilling a sense of trust. When a consumer sees the UL stamp of approval on a product, they will likely feel better about purchasing it.
For example, if someone is shopping for a new circuit breaker or contactor, UL certification might sway their decision.
If two identical products or services are side-by-side and one is UL certified and one isn’t, which one would you likely choose? It’s been shown that the UL mark can be a powerful marketing tool for businesses,
and so many of them strive to get their products approved. The UL logo gives the consumer peace of mind, and the business a public seal of approval.
When we pull back and look past the marketing aspect, it’s widely understood that machinery is the lifeblood of any business. Taking steps to protect this investment and the people that use it is essential to the long-term success of a company. Many industries have even started to design new products around UL’s safety standards.
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