UL vs ETL certifications: What’s the difference?

The main difference between UL and ETL listed products is that ETL doesn’t create its own standards for certification. UL develops standards that are used by other organizations, including ETL.

Both are Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs). They serve as non-governmental labs that operate independently. Additionally, they are recognized by OSHA as being suitable labs to test products based on safety standards. 

Why are products UL and ETL certified?

The primary reason UL and ETL ratings exist is to help ensure that products and components are safe. It is recognized that when purchasing these products there will be less issues that can cost companies money. 

These certifications are not legally required in any industry, but many are financially encouraged to get these certifications. For instance, retailers might not sell products unless they are listed with some sort of certification. Generally, higher risk products are more likely to have certifications.

What is UL listed?

UL, which stands for Underwriters Laboratory, is a leading organization that both creates standards, and performs tests on products to ensure they meet those standards. They have developed more than 1500 different safety standards that are approved for use in both the US and Canada.

This testing is used to certify a products including recycling systems, renewable energies, sustainable products, food and water products. 

The standards that they develop are used for testing by many other organizations, including ETL. They also perform their own lab tests to certify various consumer and industrial products. Most people will have seen their certification logo, which means that the product meets the standards established by UL, and that UL performed the lab tests to confirm this fact. 

What is ETL listed?

ETL listing stands for Electrical Testing Laboratories. This is the testing and certification division of Intertek Testing Laboratories, which is based in the UK. ETL tests parts and components of a wide range of products to make sure that they are in line with established standards. Unlike UL, ETL does not create their own standards for certification, but only makes sure that products meet the standards created by UL

Any product or component manufacturer that wants to be certified can choose which certification lab they work with. ETL is very popular because they tend to be less expensive and can complete the certification process more quickly than UL does. Some critics of ETL say that while they use the UL certification standards, they are not as stringent as UL is.

Getting approved for UL or ETL labels

Approval is EXPENSIVE. This is why you might see a company only certify a few product offerings. Priority usually goes to products that will be sold to companies who value the high standards for liability reasons.

Just because a product isn’t listed, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t made with high standards. If you are a consumer looking for a product, make sure to weigh reviews with certifications before purchasing.

UL and ETL approval process 

  1. Reach out to either UL or ETL. ETL’s contact information differs depending on the industry so check their website for the correct contact.
  2. Ship your product out for testing. Neither company estimates time, but if you have a deadline, make sure that they are aware.
  3. Expect a visit to your manufacturing facility. UL and ETL will need to see how your product is made.
  4. Wait for approval.

When a product has been certified as meeting the UL or ETL standards, they will be permitted to use the official labels of each of these organizations. These labels are typically placed on the component itself either as a sticker, etched into the product itself, or included in the relevant documentation that is included. This label gives the purchaser the confidence that the product they are using meets the necessary standards for safety. 

UL vs ETL certifications: What's the difference?
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UL vs ETL certifications: What's the difference?
The main difference between UL and ETL listed products is that ETL doesn’t create its own standards for certification. UL develops standards that are used by other organizations, including ETL.
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UL vs ETL listed