Demystifying UL & CSA certifications
Ever seen certification seals like “UL” and “CSA” on electrical components and wondered what is the difference between them? Getting your facts right when it comes to electrical safety is key to helping you make the right decisions, minimise potential faults and hazards, and avoid unplanned downtime and workplace incidents.Skip to summary table for quick overview
A Mark of Excellence
Seen on electrical products and appliances, UL and CSA marks are issued by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group respectively. Both fall under the list of Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (“NRTL”) maintained by the US Occupational Health and Safety Administration; and conduct testing using the same harmonised Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) and National Electrical Code (NEC) standards.
UL has been established for over a century, and a UL mark ranks among the gold standard in electrical safety in North America. UL Listed testing assures that a device complies with their manufacturing claims, from indicated wire sizes to handling the amount of current as claimed, so you have the peace-of-mind using them safely in-the-field. Not only that, regular checks are also conducted over the years to ensure the certified products remain compliant. In addition, UL also sets industry-wide standards on new products, that become a construction benchmark for the highest safety requirements.
First recognised in 1992, CSA is another mark used in the North American market, issued by independent third-party agency CSA Group (CSA) which tests and certifies many leading US brands, ensuring they comply with applicable American National Standards.
Commonly perceived as being for use in only Canada, products with “CSA” can be tested for both US and Canada markets. In fact, both CSA and UL products can be used locally and internationally, depending on certification. Today, both UL and CSA marks are highly recognised and have become virtually interchangeable.
Within the UL certification are two variations – “UL Recognised” and “UL Listed”, describing products used in different capacities, one is for components and the other for stand-alone products.
- Component parts within a larger system
- Ensures that the equipment is properly housed
- Stand-alone products
- Often, more testing is involved
- Suitable for use in Division 2 equipment
Both symbols ensure compliance against UL standards – the distinction between them is that “UL Recognised” is less consumer-facing and focuses more on machinery and parts that make other products, thus are more commonly seen in factories (e.g. circuit boards, power supplies). UL ensures that the particular component is properly housed, with necessary additional installation precautions to protect it from chemicals or liquids in the manufacturing process.
In electric wires and cables, “UL Recognised” typically points to an AWM cable (AWM = Appliance Wiring Material) defined by UL 758.
Each AWM has a Style number, indicating compliance of wires and cables with the cable structure, temperature, material, thickness, intended use, etc. specified within that unique numbering.
Seen on consumer-facing products such as household items, the UL Listed symbol indicates safety and longevity under normal wear and tear conditions. There are additional tests involved in a UL Listed certification process, compared to a UL Recognised certification. Beyond compliance with safety and sustainability standards, UL Listed certification requires additional lab testing against the risk of fires and electric shocks in a “Division 2” environment, or harsh zones with ignitable hazards. A “UL Listed” product offers greater confidence for users as it has been made to safeguard against such risks by being hermetically sealed or energy-limited or come with simplified pressure, for example.
Wires and cables carrying the official “UL Listed” symbol can be used in construction, building infrastructure, indoor and outdoor factory equipment, control panels or machine wiring.
To recap, the table below outlines the various certification marks you may see on electrical devices and industrial products:
Product has been UL-tested to meet US standards.
Product has been CSA-tested to meet standards including those from ANSI, ASME, ASTM, ASFE, UL and NSF.
Product has been UL-tested to meet Canadian standards.
Product has been CSA-tested to meet Canadian standards.
Product has been UL-tested to meet US and Canadian standards.
Product has been CSA-tested to meet US and Canadian standards.
Shows evaluation of components or materials that are intended for use in a complete product or system.
approved connection solutions
LAPP carries a range of connectivity solutions with UL/CSA approved marks, demonstrating our commitment to quality for the global market.
Explore products and accessories that meet the rigours of your end applications below:
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