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Making a big purchase like a new vehicle is often approached with caution, research and brand comparisons. As you’re shopping for a new electric vehicle (EV) and accessories, safety should be at the top of your considerations. Safety standard products can give you peace of mind as you approach this new era of driving.
This article will dive into what a UL listing is and why more electric vehicle (EV) brands are choosing to go the extra mile to reach the UL standard.
UL listed explained
Underwriter Laboratories, or UL, was established in 1894 as the Underwriters’ Electrical Bureau and is based in Chicago, Illinois. UL has been reviewing and testing products with the hopes of creating a world of safety and reliability around everyday products customers need and the machinery we depend on.
You may have seen UL certified or UL listed seals on your refrigerator or other kitchen appliances. It means that the product has met defined requirements for safety, functional safety or energy efficiency. While the organization started in electronics, they have expanded their certification reach to include performance quality, food safety, environmental sustainability and new EV chargers.
When a manufacturer creates a new product, they will send it to one of the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) including UL. The item will go through months of rigorous testing. If there are any signs of non-compliance, a letter will be sent back to the manufacturer who has the opportunity to respond and then determine what needs to be done to rectify the problem.
After concerns have been addressed, the NRTL will issue the product its mark — like UL listed or UL recognized.
NRTLs will even go back to the manufacturer’s factory four times a year to ensure that the product they were sent for testing is the same.
Once a product has been UL listed, consumers know that the item has gone through rigorous testing standards backed by OSHA (the Occupational Health and Safety Administration). The certification signifies to consumers a manufacturer or service provider’s competency.
There is a difference between UL approval labeling
When a manufacturer creates a new item such as a new EV charger, it should send the product to be independently tested to UL. If you are familiar with the standard seal but noticed that some products are UL listed where others are UL certified or UL recognized, there are close similarities but key differences to note.
Generally, the difference is in the product being reviewed. A UL listed product is used for consumer goods like:
- Sprinkler systems
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Electrical appliances
Meanwhile, a UL certified product is typically used for equipment items such as:
- IT products
- Cables and wires
- Fire protection and suppression systems
- Electrical components
- Hazardous areas
Finally, there are UL-recognized items that are approved specifically for small components of an overall product. For example, this could be a new part of a circuit board or power supplies that work with a greater piece of machinery. This type of recognition from UL certifies that the part works properly with the overall piece of equipment.
Benefits of becoming UL listed
A UL listing seal is not mandatory to get a product out to market. EV chargers are easy to find online through Amazon or from other companies that aren’t UL listed. Does this mean that these products are all unsafe? Of course not, it just means that their performance and safety haven’t been tested independently and verified to meet safety standards.
Big retail stores like Walmart require the items they sell to go through a level of the third-party certification process before getting on the shelves. Amazon and online retailers do not have this level of standardization — even for their best-selling EV charging items.
When you buy a UL-listed product, you should consider the seal as an insurance policy. The industry standard signifies that the product has been tested and certified as a safe product. It means that the brand you are shopping for has gone the extra mile to ensure the product is ready for people’s homes, families and lives.
When shopping online for EV products, unlike other items like a water bottle or coffee beans, customer reviews are not the best indicator for product safety. Because of the rapid growth of EV products and vehicles, ensuring safe use and production should be the standard every customer looks for.
A UL-listed EV charger is especially important for your home because it means that the components of the product are safely assembled and will function normally. When it comes to large electrical items, you must select a UL certified product that will keep your family and all of your possessions safe from harm.
An EV charger delivers a large amount of power to charge your vehicle. If the item is defective, the result could be dangerous. A cheaper or even high rated charger online that is not UL listed has the potential to overheat, act up and cause damage to a home.
Is UL listed a requirement?
The charging stations you install in your home do not need to be NRTL certified by a third-party testing organization. However, the National Electric Code (NEC), which is a subsidiary of the National Fire Protection Agency, absolutely requires any charging station installed in the U.S. to be NRTL certified.
A product that is purchased from a retailer outside of the U.S. does not have to qualify through the NRTL and is legally allowed to sell uncertified items.
Precautionary signs to avoid
Products may even appear certified when they are not. Items with a “CE” seal, for example, are not tested and do not qualify — although this logo does look similar to the UL certified mark. CE is not independently tested nor certified for a third-party approval. It signifies that an item aligns with the guidelines set forth by EU health, safety, and environmental requirements.
Similarly, you should avoid phrasing like “built to UL/ETL/NRTL standards” or built aligned with UL/ETL/NRTL listed components. This does not mean that the product or item has been properly tested, nor certified by any of these organizations.
Items that have gone through safety testing and UL certification will prominently show the seal of approval and state clearly that the product has passed approval.
If you are even unsure if an item has been UL listed, you can always reach out to the manufacturer for proof of certification. They will direct you to an online directory where you can look up the date of certification.
Webasto products are always UL listed
All of our products have gone through UL certification standards so all of our customers can purchase our items with confidence. It is our opinion that if your refrigerator should be third-party tested, then your EV products should too.
If you have any more questions about safety and reliability we’re always happy to answer them and proud of the fact that we’re the preferred charging solution for eight of the largest automakers in the world. Always look for the UL approved label when shopping for a safe, reliable vehicle.
To shop UL-listed EV charging stations, hop over to our store.
We look forward to working with you!