What is UL?
UL, also known as Underwriter Laboratories, is a global safety certification company known for its emphasis on product safety testing and development of industry standards. Millions of products are submitted to UL to undergo an extensive testing procedure to be inspected for safety standards compliance. With UL, enterprises can confidently determine the product’s reliability and compliance with safety standards to ensure that the product will operate according to industry standards.
UL certifications are commonly beneficial to electronic devices that can pose risks of fires and electrical shocks. Products with UL safety marks displayed allow system integrators and end users to quickly know that it has been tested for reliability against electrical and flammable events. Additionally, UL has expanded its program towards other industries such as marine, IoT security, and so on.
Why is UL certification important for industrial PCs and other industrial automation devices?
Industrial applications and deployments are continuously exposed to varying conditions such as extreme temperatures, frequent shock and vibration, or even exposure to chemicals. Detrimental downtime, maintenance, and worst of all, system failures are costly, inefficient, and break the flow of production. Enterprises have recognized the importance of product safety compliance as a critical factor for their applications which paved the way for UL certifications. Uncertified or tested products give enterprises less confidence that the product will operate safely, especially in industrial settings where highly sophisticated factory machinery is in operation. With UL certifications, enterprises can easily and quickly identify that the product has undergone testing procedures to ensure its compliance with safety standards. This minimizes the number of potential points of failure and gives OEMs confidence to integrate certain devices into their final bill-of-material builds for their commercial systems.
For example, UL certifications can be beneficial for industrial PCs and other industrial automation devices. This certification ensures that the device meets safety standards and has been tested for potential hazards and risks, such as electrical shock and fire hazards. Industrial automation systems are often used in harsh and demanding environments, so it is essential that they are durable and reliable. Additionally, UL certification can help manufacturers and users of industrial automation devices comply with safety regulations and reduce the risk of liability in the event of an accident. Ultimately, choosing an industrial PC or other industrial automation device with UL certification can provide peace of mind and help ensure the safety, reliability, and performance of the system.
Why should you always look for safety marks for industrial use cases?
As humanity pushes into the fourth industrial revolution, UL and other safety compliance certifications have become a standard in nearly every product. All the symbols and markings on the back of electronic devices, household appliances, and similar products are to ensure end users that the product has undergone a safety testing procedure before being deployed. Most industrial applications and deployments require a form of safety marking to ensure competent operations such as:
- Industrial/Factory Automation
- Medical inferencing
- NVR Surveillance
- Smart Kiosk Machines
- Vehicle Fleet Telematics
- & more
The lack of a safety mark or marks on devices, especially electronics, should be a warning that the company in question has not opted to have their products tested for safety compliance. As stated previously, system failure and downtimes are extremely costly and create unwanted problems. Safety marks are an ease of mind knowing that the product has been fully inspected under strict regulatory guidelines.
What is the difference between UL Listed and UL Recognized? (UL Listed vs UL Recognized)
UL Listed: The entire product or system has undergone and met the full UL safety standard guidelines.
UL Recognized: A component (expected to be integrated into a larger system) meets UL safety standard guidelines. However, when integrated into the larger system, the system as a whole is not UL certified.
For example, a power supply for a computer can be UL Recognized as it is a component that will be implemented into a full system, meanwhile a washing machine can be UL Listed since it is a complete system product. With industrial computers in mind, they are UL Listed because, although they can be integrated into fuller systems, they are fully functional and can operate on their own.
USA & Canada Mark
What is UL Classified?
UL classification is a unique mark because the product is evaluated on a specified attribute such as, fire resistance or impact resistance. This means that a product with a UL Classified mark has been tested for a single or a portion of the UL standards list rather than the full UL testing procedure. Because of its minimal testing standards, this certification is considered to be the most basic level of safety. UL Classified products are not evaluated on any other safety tests other than the specific property.
An example of a UL Classified product is a security door tested for resistance against bullets (UL 752) and fire resistance (UL 10C). Remember, this does not make the security door UL Recognized or UL Listed because it had not gone through the full rigorous testing procedure.
What is UL Certified? (UL Listed vs UL Certified)
Underwriter’s Laboratories has identified a pain point for end users and consumers to quickly understand UL certifications. Products are littered with multiple certifications from both UL and other testing organizations that makes it difficult to comprehend. With their latest enhanced UL Certified mark, it is easily identifiable for improved transparency and an optional QR code can be displayed for seamless access to further details. The enhanced UL Certified mark applies to UL Listed and UL Classified products, not UL Recognized. So, what are the differences between UL Listed and UL Certified? UL Certified serves as an inclusive mark that encompasses both UL Listed and UL Recognized products. This strategic approach provides end users with uniform identification of the UL mark, and can seamlessly provide additional further details through their convenient QR code.
Where Is UL Certification Accepted?
UL is primarily associated with products intended for use in the North American market, but it has a global presence through collaborations with international bodies and standards organizations. Each UL certification mark is region-specific to meet both the requirements of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards and the respective national standards of the target region.
The IEC is composed of 60 countries that have developed and established international standards that all member countries must follow. National standards are generally based on or closely aligned with IEC standards but may include variations optimized for the safety requirements of specific regions. Since each country or region has its own set of established standards, UL-Listed logos are accompanied by a regional mark to indicate which national standards the product complies with. For instance, Premio's UL-Listed industrial computers are certified to meet United States, Canada, IEC, and UL 62368-1 safety standards.
What types of tests are conducted as part of UL certification for industrial PCs?
UL certification for industrial PCs involves a variety of tests to ensure that the device meets safety standards and has been tested for potential hazards and risks. Some of the tests that are conducted as part of UL certification for industrial PCs include electrical safety testing, fire hazard testing, and mechanical testing.
Type of Testing:
Electrical Safety Testing
Electrical components are limited to produce up to certain output rating
ES1 (SELV for IEC 60950-1)
Fire Hazard Testing
Materials will stop burning under a specific time limit
Wiring and cabling components are insulated with compliant materials
Electrical safety testing involves verifying that the device's electrical components are designed and constructed in a way that prevents electrical shock and other hazards. Fire hazard testing involves verifying that the device can withstand and prevent fires caused by electrical components, heating elements, or other potential sources of ignition. Mechanical testing involves verifying that the device can withstand vibrations, shocks, and other stresses associated with industrial environments. Additionally, tests may be conducted to verify compliance with environmental regulations, such as RoHS and WEEE. Overall, UL certification for industrial PCs involves a comprehensive set of tests to ensure that the device is safe and reliable for use in industrial automation applications.
How UL Certification Can Benefit Industrial PCs?
UL certification is an important factor to consider when selecting industrial PCs. UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, is a globally recognized safety certification organization that provides independent testing and certification services to a wide range of industries, including industrial automation. UL certification ensures that the industrial PC meets safety standards and has been tested for potential risks, such as electrical shock, fire hazards, and other safety concerns.
By choosing an industrial PC with UL certification, manufacturers and users can have confidence that the device has been rigorously tested and is competent enough to be deployed in industrial settings. UL certification helps ensure compliance with safety regulations and reduces the risk of liability in the event of an accident. In addition to safety benefits, UL-certified industrial PCs can also provide improved reliability, durability, and performance, making them a worthwhile investment for industrial automation and other applications where safety and reliability are paramount.
UL Listed Industrial Computers for Edge Computing
Specific Edge Deployments Require Specific Edge Computers. The RCO Series provides reliable industrial-grade edge compute in three standardized form factors. Each RCO Series are designed for IIoT deployments and offer scalable EDGEBoost technologies for additional performance acceleration and configurable connectivity options. The RCO Series follows a fanless and cableless design for reliable operation in harsh environments/conditions where traditional desktops fail. Certified by UL, Premio’s flagship RCO series industrial computers are further proven to operate reliably and safely industrial climates.
The BCO-1000-EHL Series brings reliable performance to spatially constrained edge deployments with its ultra-compact fanless architecture. Although small and limited in I/O, it provides essential IIoT-centric I/O and is compatible with modular EDGEBoost I/O for even greater configurability and scalability. Now UL-Listed, this ultra-compact industrial computer has established a trustworthy reputation for operational reliability.
Housing Premio's industrial-grade 3.5" SBCs, the BCO-2000 Series balances rich I/O connectivity within an ultra-compact form factor for space-constrained edge deployments. Like its RCO Series counterpart, the BCO-2000 Series utilizes a fanless design to operate in harsh industrial environments/conditions. UL Listed certification under I.E.T E357184 ensures that our industrial computers have been tested for reliability and safety.
The KCO Series are fanned COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) industrial computers purpose-built for IIoT deployments. It offers extended lifecycle longevity and regulatory certifications, including UL Listed, for seamless OEM/ODM system integration processes.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):
You can check if an industrial PC has a UL certification with two methods. First, check the product website and datasheet for certifications. Second, check the physical industrial computer for a UL sticker (usually located at the bottom of the computer) where other certifications such as CE and FCC are located. Once confirmed if the industrial PC has UL certifications, verify the UL certification code through UL’s official search tool (UL Product iQ) to ensure its legitimacy.
Because there have been fraudulent activities involving the addition of UL safety marks on untested products, consumers or system integrators can verify the UL safety mark by checking the company on UL’s official search tool (UL Product iQ) and matching the mark on the product and the one listed on the website.
UL is not required but is a reliable indicator of product safety. Some enterprises utilize other third-party testing organizations such as CE, FCC, or ETL. UL certifications are costly and the high safety standards can be situational from application to application.
UL 62368-1 is a standard set by UL that defines the specifications/guidelines required to be considered safe when tested. UL Listed is a certification type that is achieved when the product has met the standards after testing. An example can be a new graduate with a bachelor's degree in computer science. The bachelor’s degree is equivalent to UL Listed and the major in computer science is comparable to the UL 62368-1 standard.
Industries that may require a UL certification typically operate with mission critical equipment such as the hospitals, assembly lines, smart transportation systems, and more. Most of these applications have extensive uptimes and require consistent reliability. UL certification ensures that the equipment, component, or product have passed UL’s safety testing and gives customers confidence on its reliability when in use or operation.
Aside from safety certifications from UL or ETL, there are a handful of other certifications/standards that are equally as important to consider. In the case of industrial automation deployment in a factory, EMC compliance, IP rating, and shock/vibration resistance compliance are some certifications that may be necessary for reliable deployment. Certifications may vary depending on the severity and criticality of the deployment. In highly specialized applications, IP Rating, NEMA Rating, and/or even Hazardous Area Certification may be mandatory.
It is incorrect to use “approved” when discussing UL since, under UL marking guidelines, products are commonly marked as “UL Certified” or “UL Listed”. For further details, visit the UL mark guidelines to understand how to properly address UL certifications.
CE is a certification mark that the EEA (European Economic Area) uses to ensure that all products are evaluated and meet safety, health, and environmental protection guidelines within the EU. This certification is a requirement before the product or system can be sold in the EU.
FCC, or Federal Communications Commission, certification mark indicates that the product has been tested and meet safety guidelines for EMI (electromagnetic interference) within the United States. This certification is strictly to regulate electromagnetic compatibility, not for quality or performance that UL and other product safety testing laboratories evaluate for.
OSHA, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, was created by the United States Department of Labor and has curated a program called NRTL, or Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. The objective of NRTL is to acknowledge a list of qualified and competent private sector organizations that cohere with OSHA’s industry standards. UL is a qualified third-party testing laboratory and is labeled an NRTL. This government intervention gives third-party laboratories credibility and can be viewed as another layer of product safety assurance. Not only is UL already a reputable testing organization, it is also listed as an NRTL by OSHA.
Similarly, ETL, or Electronic Testing Laboratories, is another product testing certification laboratory and is identified as an NRTL. Both safety testing laboratories are extremely similar since they both operate and have the same objectives, certify products with a safety mark after they have passed their testing procedures.
ETL by Intertek
ETL Listed Mark - Frequently Asked Questions