The regulation of products’ safety in the United States is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). Their main function is to test the safety of products and their individual components. UL and ETL ratings ensure that products and components are safe and effective. Both are Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) that are recognized by OSHA as being appropriate to test products based on safety standards.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between UL and ETL ratings.

What is UL Listed?

If a product is UL Listed, it’s been tested and verified to meet the “branded version” of IEC safety standards as defined by Underwriter Laboratories (UL). Plus, the product may undergo quarterly product surveillance. UL has created more than 1,500 safety standards approved for the United States and Canada. Underwriter Laboratories is a member of OSHA’s NRTL program and has been around for 127 years. They review plans, perform on-site evaluations to verify compliance with installation codes, conduct vital checks for critical safety issues, and assess the performance of building products and components.

What is ETL Listed?

ETL stands for Electrical Testing Laboratories, the certification division of Intertek Testing Laboratories, which evaluates how products meet and exceed quality, safety, sustainability and performance standards, inspect their specifications, value, and safety, and certify that the product meets all trusted external and internal standards. Intertek was founded in 1896 by Thomas Edison and has over 30 offices and laboratories around the world.

What’s the Difference?

UL and ETL tests have similar standards as all Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL). Both ETL and UL must follow the requirements set by NRTL. While UL creates its standards, ETL tests the same criteria, so you can rest assured knowing that an ETL-listed product is up to a standard.  Additionally, they operate slightly different surveillance programs. Although it isn’t a legal requirement for companies to get their products UL or ETL listed, it is an industry standard for electrical products.

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