A Know-It-All Guide on UL Rating Lights (2021 Update)
Let’s face it:
We both know that water and electricity are two rivals that cannot coexist.
And in the event of them coming into contact, several hazards are posed including:
- Damaging of the electrical appliance.
- A fire outbreak.
- Or dreadful enough, electrocuting a person or pet.
For those reasons:
It isn’t so safe to setup lighting fixtures in areas that are exposed to water or moisture.
We still need light anyway.
Even though the bathroom is a hotbed of steam and sprinkling water, you can’t take a bath in darkness because it might lead to other hazards.
Similarly, when performing kitchen chores, you’re going to need ample lighting.
That’s where UL rating lights come into play.
I know you might have bumped into a ‘UL Rated’ badge on your bulb and wondered what it meant.
Actually, this badge should be the number one consideration when purchasing a bulb.
And if your current bulbs lack the UL rating badge, it might be time to get new ones.
Well, that question is what prompted me to write this post.
Do you want to learn more about UL rating lights?
I guess you do.
So, stick with me till the end and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this lighting standard.
Without further ado, let’s get started…
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: What is UL?
Before we dive deep into the details, let’s first learn the basics.
So, what do the two letters stand for?
In full, UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories; which is an independent organization concerned with the general safety of the public.
This company is dedicated to product testing and certification; also, setting the standards and regulations for different products.
In our case:
They test bulbs and lighting fixtures to make sure they won’t malfunction and cause fire or other hazards.
And although all bulbs are not UL certified, Underwriters Laboratories sets the compliance standards which all manufacturers must adhere to.
Therefore, most bulbs are generally safe to use.
That’s it about UL and what they do. With that basic information, we can now jump into the complexities.
You have come across that ‘UL rated’ seal on your bulb and are probably wondering:
What’s the meaning behind the seal? What role does it play? Or is it just for decorative purposes?
Of course, it’s not for beauty.
Here’s all you need to know about the seal:
Chapter 2: What does UL Rated mean?
Before any lighting (electronic) product is released for consumption by the general public, it has to pass through Underwriters Laboratories for testing.
It is only after UL has approved it and declared it safe for use that it can be availed in the market.
A product with a ‘UL rated’ seal has been tested by the UL and has passed the safety requirements.
So, whenever you see this seal on any product, be it food, beverages, or electronics, it simply means that it is certified.
The seal is an affirmation that you can enjoy the product without any worries.
Since we now know what that ‘UL rated’ seal means, we can narrow down to our area of interest: UL rating lights.
Chapter 3: What is UL Rating for Light Fixtures?
Although some may refer to it as UL listing, both terms have a similar meaning.
Since we require bulbs for different locations – that is, dry, damp and wet areas – UL does not only test them; they also indicate the locations the bulbs are suitable for use.
When purchasing a UL light, consider first the area you are going to use the bulb.
Is it dry, damp, or wet?
That should guide you on the UL rating, or rather ‘UL rated’ seal to go for.
Here are the three UL ratings for light fixtures:
1. UL Rated For Dry Locations
UL rated bulbs for dry locations are the most common.
As the name suggests, these bulbs are typically meant to only be used indoors.
So, how do you know whether a bulb is listed for dry locations?
The UL rating information is always stamped on the box that the bulb comes with.
To know whether the bulb is rated for dry locations, look for a ‘yes’ on the seal.
If it’s there, your bulb can’t be exposed to water or any sort of moisture.
These bulbs are, generally, ‘allergic’ to dampness which could lead to them cracking or getting damaged.
However, this doesn’t mean that they should not be exposed to the slightest moisture; because temporary dampness can’t do any harm to these lamps.
What’s important is good ventilation.
According to an article by Underwriters Laboratory, the purpose of ventilation is to prevent the build-up of moisture at the luminaire.
Proper ventilation gets rid of moisture from the area; therefore, it is vital in dry rated areas.
The following are the dry locations in your home:
- The living room,
- Dining room,
- Study room,
- And hallway.
It is important to note that some bulbs don’t have a ‘yes’ on the seal.
Sometimes, it’s a ‘no’.
So, what about them?
Okay, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t safe to use.
But it might imply that the bulb isn’t tested by Underwriters Laboratories; or rather, its location of use isn’t specified.
UL sets the standards of manufacturing and testing in the lighting industry and the manufacturers have adhered to those regulations. Such a bulb can, therefore, be used in dry locations.
Other UL-listed lighting fixtures don’t specify the location of use, but you can also use them indoors or in areas that are not prone to moisture.
What if the area you want to light up is subject to condensation of moisture?
That takes us to the next category of UL listings.
And that is:
2. UL Rated for Damp Locations
Let’s begin from the bottom.
What’s the difference between wetness and dampness?
Here’s a good answer:
Wetness is the condition of being watery while dampness refers to moderate humidity.
That’s literally saying that dampness is a lite version of wetness.
Damp locations are areas where water doesn’t directly splash on the lighting fixture.
These include the kitchen, bathrooms, and other areas with sinks and water faucets.
Even though there isn’t direct contact between water and the lamp, there is moisture accumulation which isn’t good for typical bulbs.
Given that condition:
Only use a lighting fixture with a UL listing for damp locations for such an area. Those lamps are labeled on the packaging box as ‘Suitable for Damp Locations’.
They can be used indoors or outdoors and are particularly effective for humid and muggy areas.
Make sure that they don’t come into direct contact with water.
These light fixtures can withstand moisture but not water.
If you are using them near bathtubs, showers, or faucets, it is recommended that you shield them with water safe fixtures. These measures will prevent direct contact.
UL lights rated for damp locations are suitable for the following outdoor areas:
- Covered walk paths,
- And covered porches.
And, last but not least, we have:
3. UL Rated for Wet Locations
A lot of the times:
It’s fascinating to see a heavy downpour of water splashing on a lamp yet it doesn’t grind to a halt.
How do you know a light bulb is rated for wet locations?
It is labeled as ‘Suitable for wet locations’.
These UL rating lights are designed to be durable and withstand rain and intense wetness.
Or, in other words, they are stiff and are not shaken by the harshest of weather. They can get in direct contact with water or other splashing liquids and still keep lighting up the place.
For that reason, they are the safest bet for outdoor use.
They can, as well, be used as substitutes for damp listed lamps.
This doesn’t mean that they can’t be used indoors though. Sometimes, these fixtures often work well for lighting a living room, bedroom, study room, office, or any other indoor location.
Due to their lighting environments, these UL-listed lights tend to collect a lot of water or other sprinkling liquids over time.
Therefore, it is recommended that you wipe them often so that they can give out light to the maximum.
All in all:
They are ideal for:
- Enclosed showers,
- Open-air decks,
- Uncovered porches,
- Exterior walls
- And walkways.
A Pro Tip:
For those using wet location bulbs outdoors, it is advised that you use a lighting fixture or an outdoor wall sconce. This will noticeably boost the longevity of your UL light.
Chapter 4: What Is a UL Light?
Now that we know what UL stands for and how it works, understanding what a UL light is as easy as counting 1.2.3!
A UL light is a bulb that has been tested by Underwriters Laboratory and declared safe for use by consumers. If a light fixture has the ‘UL rated’ seal, it can be referred to as a UL light.
That is not all.
UL lights are also further rated in the following ways:
- UL listed for dry locations
- For damp locations
- For wet locations
These listings and ratings make UL lights the best bid in the market.
Depending on the location you want to put the bulb, you can use the listings to pick the best fit; so, whenever you are purchasing a lighting fixture, check for the ‘UL rated’ stamp.
I know you might be asking yourself?
Chapter 5: What Is the Difference Between UL Certified and UL Listed?
Let’s face it.
We both by now know that UL certifies products, including bulbs, with the aim of making the world safer.
Moreover, we know that products that have passed the UL test acquire the ‘UL rated’ seal.
What does the term UL certified imply?
a) UL Certified
Well, it’s as easy as it sounds.
A UL certified product meets the set standards and regulations by the Underwriters Laboratory.
To give that seal, they (UL LLC) continually test the product to ensure it is up to the standards.
Some of the things they test include the wire sizes to ensure they carry the claimed current without hitches.
Since they also ensure that products are correctly constructed, UL certified products are 100% safe.
However, Underwriters Laboratories does not test all products themselves.
They allow the manufacturers to test the products with the UL seal.
Nevertheless, they regularly follow up to ensure the manufacturer is testing and adhering to the guidelines.
b) UL Listed
On the other hand:
A product that is UL Listed has undergone more tests than a certified one.
Listing involves thorough testing of a specific product to recognize its safety and sustainability standards nationally.
UL listed products are free of all faults and hazards; and are also durable if used under normal conditions.
Also, when UL lists products, it recommends them for certain purposes.
In the case of lighting fixtures, they recommend bulbs as either fit for dry, damp, or wet locations.
Anyway, a lot of people often ask:
Chapter 6: Does The U.S. Require UL Approval?
We know that UL certification is important as it affirms that a product is safe to use and has met the set standards.
One fun fact is that most customers will be attracted to your product due to that circular ‘UL’ mark/seal.
It’s because the certification seal brings prestige to the product and makes it feel certified and legal.
Don’t you agree?
However, one dominant misconception in the wire and cable industry is that UL certification is a must.
The truth is:
Underwriters Laboratories is one of the many agencies that can be utilized to do the US government’s standardized testing.
Other testing companies include:
- Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL)
- Factory Mutual (FM)
… Whose standards are very similar to UL’s.
UL is more popular because they’ve been around for over a century and have established a sturdy reputation; similar to how some phone brands are more trusted than others because they’ve been in the industry for long.
Does it make sense now?
Your product doesn’t need to undergo UL testing.
You can go for other testing agencies which will also test your product and label it as safe for use or consumption.
All the same, as a marketing strategy, go for UL certification; people are, generally, attracted to UL-rated products.
You have learned a lot about UL and certification and probably want your product to be UL certified. If so, you are probably wondering:
Chapter 7: How Do You Get UL Certification?
Years ago before the world was made a global village by the internet, you had to physically visit UL offices.
In today’s digital era, you can get certified from the comfort of your office or home.
So, let me break down the process for you in four simple steps:
Step 1: Initiate the Certification Process
Begin by visiting the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. website.
Click on the ‘Contact us’ section on the website. This will lead you to the links and forms related to the submission of a product sample for testing by UL.
Step 2: Submit a Sample of the Targeted Product
Here, you’ll be required to ship a sample product to UL.
The shipping and handling costs are to be paid by the organization requesting testing (You). Also, use a well-established shipping company to ensure that the product reaches UL Labs undamaged.
Step 3: Wait For the Tests to Complete
Once UL receives the product sample, they will begin running tests and evaluating it for safety; while ensuring that the product is up to OSHA and ANSI standards.
After successful testing, UL will decide on whether to label your product as compliant with its standards and regulations or not.
Bear in mind:
A rejected product needs to be remanufactured or stay uncertified. Also, UL charges a fee to run tests on a product.
Step 4: Receive Your Certification
If the product is in compliance with OSHA and ANSI standards, UL issues a certificate to the manufacturer.
Moreover, they will authorize the placement of their stamp on all products manufactured as per the sample product tested.
The UL stamp is also an affirmation that the product has been tested and meets OSHA and ANSI standards.
UL representatives will pay regular visits to the manufacturers to make sure they remain in compliance with the UL standards.
And that’s that.
The last question needing an answer is:
Chapter 7: Where Or How Do I Get A UL Light Fixture?
It’s a fact:
Distinguishing between a light fixture that’s UL certified and one that’s not is easy.
Getting a UL certified light doesn’t have to be a challenge; just look out for the UL logo on the box.
- If it exists, the lamp is a UL light fixture.
- If not, the fixture may not be certified and is potentially dangerous.
The decision to take it or leave it is, however, yours.
Underwriters Laboratory has become so recognized that – last year alone – around 14 billion products with the UL seal entered the global market.
Thus, most of the light fixtures you’ll come across today are probably UL certified.
But, to make it easier for you…
Here are some of the best UL certified LED fixtures you can buy today:
1. Parkade Indoor Garage Lights
Without a doubt:
The ShineLong Parkade Garage Lights could be your next big thing if your number one preference is safety.
It goes without saying that they are UL certified and free of any hazards. Besides that, they have a high luminous flux, are strong and energy-efficient as well.
Moreover, these fixtures have a durability of up to 75,000 hours. That’s equivalent to 8 years of uninterrupted lighting.
2. Rancher LEDs
The ShineLong LED Rancher is, indeed, a one of a kind lighting fixture.
You will find it helpful if you’re looking to light up a:
- Or poultry house.
It boasts of having a UL certification and features an IP69K-IK10 protection rating.
This means that it can withstand vapor, water, and even dust.
Even when the Rancher encounters sudden impact, its sturdy exterior keeps the internal parts from breaking or damage. It’s, therefore, very robust and durable.
3. Gauls IP68 Tubular Light
Looking for high-quality, farmhouse LEDs? Try the ShineLong Gauls LED Lights.
Here’s another perfect fit for poultry sheds, farmhouses, petrol stations, garages, warehouses, and so on.
Most importantly, it is a UL-certified fixture deemed safe and danger-free.
You’ll be impressed by its cylinder design and stiff PC/PMMA materials that shield against ammonia corrosion.
Moreover, it’s waterproof, vapor-proof, and dustproof.
And as for the durability, it lasts a good 75,000 hours.
4. Alpha LEDs
The ShineLong Alpha is ideal for large indoor areas such as dining halls, churches, indoor sports arenas, and so on.
They are strong and have a high luminous flux.
And since safety matters a big deal when it comes to lighting, they are waterproof, vapor-proof, dust-proof, and also impact resistant.
5. Slice US Panel Lights
For the best and safest office and school LEDs, try the ShineLong Slice US Panels.
Just like any other good UL lights, these ones are safe and won’t lead to fires or any other hazards.
Besides that, they have an elegant design, have high luminous flux, and are durable. They also feature a #6063 aluminum frame, PMMA plastic, and alloys that prevent external damage while slowing corrosion and aging.
There are so many other fixtures you can choose from with UL certifications.
These are just a few of the best on the market.
There you have it.
At least, you know a lot more than you did earlier.
You know just about everything there is to know about UL ratings, listings, and certifications.
So, next time, while buying a lamp, be sure to check for the stamp. Also, check the UL listings to get the perfect lamp for dry, damp, and wet locations.
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