The FAQs About UL Certification for Control Panels
If you work in an industrial setting, you’ve likely seen UL (Underwriters Laboratories) Certification Marks on machinery and various pieces of equipment – including electrical control panels.
UL Certification Marks can be found in virtually every industry, but what they mean, why they are important, and how best to obtain them can be confusing. To help clear up some of the confusion, below are answers to the most common question about UL certification and marks –specifically as they relate to electrical control panels.
What exactly is Underwriters Laboratories?
Since the early 20th century, Underwriters Laboratories has been the largest and best known Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) in the United States.
A NRTL is an independent third-party organization recognized by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to provide evaluation, testing, and certification of products. All NRTLs conduct testing and certification based on nationally recognized safety standards.
In 2022, Underwriters Laboratories reorganized into three separate organizations – two nonprofit (UL Research Institutes, UL Standards & Engagement), and one commercial enterprise (UL Solutions).
UL Solutions is now the entity that offers certifications for industrial products, and controls as well as facilities, personnel, processes, products, and systems across a range of industries including automotive, construction, chemical, energy, utilities, and healthcare.
Do electrical control panels need to be UL certified?
Control panel safety and compliance is managed at both the federal and local levels. Nearly all municipalities have codes or regulations that require electrical control panels to meet certain safety standards and/or be certified for specific applications by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) such as UL Solutions.
By virtue of being the oldest and largest NRTL, certifications from UL are widely recognized and accepted by municipal inspectors in the United States and Canada. In most jurisdictions, a UL certification is the best way to facilitate and expedite the approval and installation of electrical control panels and related equipment.
What does UL certified mean?
A UL certification demonstrates that UL Solutions (or a designated partner) has tested representative products manufactured by a supplier and determined that they meet specific safety standards. These standards are published in UL’s nationally recognized Standards for Safety.
There are actually three levels of UL certification – UL Listed, UL Recognized, and UL Classified. UL Certified is a broad term that includes all three levels.
Each level has a specific identifying label (UL calls these labels Marks). UL Solutions is phasing out their various legacy marks in favor of an enhanced UL Certification Mark that combines multiple certifications into a single mark.
What UL standards apply to electrical control panels?
The UL standard applicable to most electrical control panels is 508A – the UL Standard for Safety of the Construction of Industrial Control Panels. Standard 508A covers proper component selection/usage, calculation of short-circuit current ratings, enclosure environmental ratings, wiring, motor protection, safety markings, and conformance to the National Electrical Code (NEC) and Canadian Electrical Code (CEC).
UL 508A specifically applies to industrial control panels intended for general industrial use, operating from a voltage of 1000 volts or less, where the ambient temperature does not exceed 40°C (104°F) maximum.
Are there standards other than 508A that apply to electrical control panels?
Electrical control panels designed for specific applications or locations may need to meet additional UL standards. These can include 1203 (explosion-proof and dust-ignition-proof electrical equipment) and 698a (relating to hazardous locations).
UL 698A (Standard for Industrial Control Panels Relating to Hazardous (Classified) Locations) applies to panels intended for installation and use in ordinary locations with intrinsically safe circuit extensions into Class I, II, and III, Division 1 and 2 hazardous (classified) locations.
The Standard for Explosion-Proof and Dust-Ignition-Proof Electrical Equipment for Use in Hazardous (Classified) Locations (UL 1203) applies to panels designed to be explosion proof/dust-ignition proof for installation and use in hazardous (classified) locations. *
How do you get UL certification for electrical control panels?
Some companies who source control panels take on the responsibility for certification by working directly with UL Solutions. They apply for certification and provide samples to UL or arrange for on site testing.
Even panels that are already installed can be certified on location by UL Solutions. Either way, the certification process can be both costly and time consuming for companies to manage on their own.
To make efficient use of time and contain the costs associated with directly managing the UL certification process, companies should instead look for a panel shop that participates in the UL Industrial Control Panel Shop Program.
What is the UL Industrial Control Panel Shop Program?
The most cost-effective way for companies to get their electrical control panels certified is to have them tested and labeled at the shop that manufactures them. This can be done by panel shops that are part of the UL Industrial Control Panel Shop Program.
The UL Industrial Control Panel Shop Program (ICP Program) allows control panel manufacturers who custom-build or mass-produce panels to apply the UL Marks for the U.S. and Canada right at the factory.
The program allows flexibility for panel manufacturers, in that they can label mass-produced and custom-built panels without the need for UL Solutions to examine each design or panel. The ICP Program ensures that a panel shop consistently produces panels that meet the necessary standards.
Because a panel shop’s level of knowledge and quality control measures are essential elements of ICP Program, training is required for panel shops that participate in the program. Control panel manufacturers initially entering the Industrial Control Panel Shop Program must complete mandatory training on the UL 508A industrial control panels standard and then maintain qualified staff knowledgeable of the requirements of the standard.
Does Simplex System Controls participate in the Industrial Control Panel Shop Program?
Dozens of companies rely on Simplex to meet their demand for UL marked control panels. It is just one of the many ways Simplex provides value for our customers.
As a UL Panel Shop, Simplex offers customers panel certification under Standards 508A (general industrial use), as well as 1203 (explosion-proof/dust-ignition-proof electrical equipment), and 698A (panels for hazardous locations).
* Per OSHA, “hazardous locations” include those that are “classified depending on the properties of the flammable vapors, liquids or gases, or combustible dusts or fibers that may be present therein and the likelihood that a flammable or combustible concentration or quantity is present.”
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