UL-Listed vs. UL-Certified: What Do The Terms Mean?

In this article, we will compare UL-listed vs. UL-certified because the two terms tend to cause confusion among consumers and electronics engineers. 

UL is an acronym for Underwriters Laboratory, one of the most respected and highly regarded product testing and safety certification companies. 

The organization is critical for ensuring quality PCB and electronics manufacturing, so let’s look at what the two badges mean if you see them in your devices.

What Does UL Certified Mean?

UL certified is more of an umbrella term that covers UL-listed and UL-recognized. So the UL certification program is broad because it refers to applicable standards to products, facilities, personnel, systems, and processes.

Overall, the certification helps companies reduce/avoid risk and deliver confidence to global markets by spotting and closing regulatory gaps. It does so by confirming the products meet globally acceptable quality standards.

So it makes more sense to compare UL-listed and UL-recognized. But let’s look at the former first.

What Does UL-Listed Mean?

UL-listed is one of the tier approval levels for UL certification. It applies to standalone devices that have undergone thorough testing from the global standards company.

The UL-listed tag is more known among consumers because it involves testing the finished consumer product. So you are more likely to see a UL-listed marking on standalone products on store shelves or e-commerce sites.

On the other hand, UL-recognized is an approval tag given to parts or components that make up the final product. 

For instance, you can find UL-recognized marks in circuit boards, buses, internal power supplies, and other parts for electrical devices. 

UL recognition also applies to the product housing because it is part of the final item. And it assures the user the product has a firm shell to protect it against liquids, chemicals, etc.

A PCB with a quality control sticker

A PCB with a quality control sticker

With UL listing, the products must meet stringent safety and sustainability standards. For electrical products, this certification implies the product is safe from risks like electric fire or shock.

So attaining a UL-listed badge is more challenging than getting a UL recognition badge.

In a nutshell, UL listing means products will remain safe and last longer under normal wear and tear. And the tag is typical in the following items.

A carbon monoxide detector

A carbon monoxide detector

  • Bullet-resistant glass
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Plumbing equipment
  • Electrical panels
  • Medical devices

UL Listed vs. UL Certified: Is UL Certification Necessary?

UL certification is a lengthy and expensive process that requires product testing under different conditions, such as:

  • Cold
  • UV light exposure
  • Heat
  • Intense use

So, is it worth subjecting your products to these tests? UL certification is not mandatory. But in the US market, most retailers won’t stock your product if it is not UL certified. Why? If the product misbehaves, the customer will partly blame the retailer, which can create conflict.

But a UL-certified tag acts as an insurance policy, assuring the retailer of the product quality.

An engineer in an electrical testing laboratory

An engineer in an electrical testing laboratory

Another reason to consider UL certifications from the manufacturer’s point of view is to avoid liability issues.

UL Listed vs. UL Certified: UL Certification Cost

The process is not cheap. And it can take up to a month to complete testing. Depending on these factors, it can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000.

  • Product type/category
  • Your industry
  • Number of products to certify
  • Certification scope

The fee breakdown covers four areas.

  • Product test fee
  • Follow-up service fee (for type L and type R services)
  • UL marking fee (covers marks and labels applied on your products)
  • Miscellaneous fee

As for the time frame, it depends on these factors.

  • Product sample availability
  • Testing parameters
  • If you require product completion
  • Information availability
  • If you need them to visit your facility

UL Listed vs. UL Certified: How To Get UL Certified

As a manufacturer, you can get a UL certification for your facility, personnel, product, system, or process.

Facility Certification

This certification checks how well your business premises adhere to the required health and safety regulations.

The on-site evaluation also involves testing electrical equipment and individual component performance.

An electronics production facility

An electronics production facility

Personnel Certification

UL can also verify if your personnel have the skills and qualifications to run the operations safely and effectively.

Product Certification

Product certification ensures your product meets the required safety and performance standards after rigorous testing.

You must submit one or several sample products to the organization to get this certification.

System Certification

This certification checks how processes and components in a system function together. UL tests the overall system function to verify correct operation and installation.

These checks also highlight any hidden issues that can cause problems later.

Process Certification

You can also ask UL to test and certify your business processes to check if they meet the required industry standards.

UL Listed vs. UL Certified: Is UL Listed Necessary?

UL listing requirements might be necessary but in different ways, depending on the local area (state, city, municipality, etc.).

So we recommend contacting local authorities to understand the compliance requirements.

UL Listed vs. UL Certified: UL Listed Requirements

UL listing only applies to complete products. So the UL-listed requirements depend on the internationally recognized and published UL safety standards.

But the compliance evaluation can also rely on other external factors, such as:

  • Power consumption (energy efficiency)
  • Product usage in signaling, security, and plumbing applications
  • Functional safety
  • Product usage in gas-fired and marine equipment

A marine electrical engineer working on electronic equipment

So the marketing reference on the product in such a case should include the UL mark and the additional requirements.

UL Listed vs. UL Certified: UL Listed Benefits

Getting a UL-listed badge might be expensive and challenging, but it has the following benefits.

Superior Track Record

UL has been operating for over a century and has built a reputation among consumers, industry leaders, retailers, and regulators. So a UL-listed or certified badge is a seal of approval in the market.

Unbiased, Third-Party Verification

As a third-party certification company, UL has no conflict of interest when certifying products. So the badge assures credibility and trustworthiness.

And when checking facilities, processes, systems, and personnel, UL staff visit unannounced. These unscheduled visits mean manufacturers are always on their toes, keeping everything top-notch.

A quality control engineer checks circuit boards for errors along the assembly line

A quality control engineer checks circuit boards for errors along the assembly line.

Safety Verification With Continued Testing

The certification doesn’t only happen once. Manufacturers must ensure their products, systems, processes, etc., maintain compliance to continue using the UL badge.

These audits are also unannounced, and UL selects products randomly for testing. So from a customer’s point of view, you can be sure the UL-listed badge has meaning.

Better Insurance Coverage

UL listings and certifications are indicators of high safety standards. So your business is more likely to qualify for insurance coverage or get cheaper rates from insurance companies.

Strict Standards/Certification Requirements

UL tests are some of the harshest for certification. So when a consumer product sails through, it meets all the fire, electrical, and mechanical safety standards. Therefore, consumers are sure of getting quality products.

Consistency and Reliability

Since UL conducts tests continuously, customers can expect product reliability and quality consistency. Remember, UL is a non-profit organization with the sole mandate of ensuring consumer safety.

Guidelines for Marketing UL Certifications

  • Ensure the UL badge you use in your product matches the issued certification (UL certified, recognized, listed, performance verified, or classified)
  • The UL symbol and wordings must be large and legible
  • All promotional references to UL solutions must be accurate and complete
  • Only use the UL reference after passing the tests and receiving authorization
  • If UL withdraws its listing or certification, remove all references and badges immediately
  • Do not imply any level of acceptability, protection, or safety in the promotional materials of UL-certified products, systems, facilities, processes, etc.
  • Do not use UL certification marks on products, processes, facilities, or systems evaluated to UL standards using other organizations.
  • The UL mark should not be larger or more prominent than the brand or company logo on the package or promotions
  • Don’t create misleading UL information (promotion material and wordings should only illustrate systems, processes, or products that are consistent with the UL listing or certification)

Wrap Up

As you can see, UL-listed is one of the tier testing levels under UL certification for verifying product quality. 

So the two terms are more intertwined than they are different. For instance, you can’t mention the benefits or costs of UL certifications without touching the UL listing. 

That’s it for this article. Thanks for reading!