What Is the Difference Between ETL Listed and UL Listed?

The difference between ETL Listed and UL Listed is that ETL means a product was tested and approved by Intertek Testing Services (formerly Edison Testing Laboratories), and UL means it was tested and approved by Underwriters Laboratories. Both are Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories.

In the United States, all Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) are required to follow the same testing procedures and maintain identical standards. Whether a product is tested and approved by ETL, UL, or any other NRTL makes no difference with regard to the standards it is required to meet. Therefore, when you see ETL Listed versus UL Listed on a product, both essentially mean the same thing. Either symbol indicates that the product was tested by a NRTL and was found to have successfully met a set of federally mandated standards.

While both ETL and UL indicate the same standards for safety testing, there are some reasons why a manufacturer may prefer to obtain a UL certification over an ETL certification, or vice-versa. For one, there is a certain "prestige" associated with UL, that doesn't quite exist with other NRTLs. This is because UL actually develops some of its own standards, in addition to testing to the standards that have been mandated by other agencies. Another reason is brand recognition. UL has greater consumer recognition than ETL, in spite of the fact that ETL and UL are roughly the same age.

UL's popularity comes with some drawbacks. UL has a long waiting list, with a backlog of products awaiting certification. Manufacturing companies need to keep their products moving through the production phase. There is nothing worse than preparing a new product for sale, only to have to wait months for safety certification. Having a product certified by UL is also quite expensive. Still, you will often see manufacturers place a greater emphasis on a product being UL Listed as opposed to, say, ETL Listed. You may also see manufacturers specify that a product is "ETL Listed to UL Specifications". That is just a fancy way of saying that the product was certified and approved in Intertek's Laboratory, but that it met the same specifications that it would have if it had been tested in the UL testing facility. In those cases, the manufacturer most likely didn't want to spend the time or money seeking a UL Listing, so they instead received approval from a "more accessible" NRTL. But they still want you to know that the product is safe because the standards are the same across all NRTLs.

As we mentioned earlier, a UL listing carries a bit more "prestige" than listings and approvals from other NRTLs. Even though the difference between the two could almost be considered cosmetic. But still, manufacturers tend to apply for UL approval more frequently than approval from other NRTLs. There could be a number of reasons for this. Perhaps from a manufacturing standpoint, there is a shortage of sub-assembly parts available. This will slow manufacturing anyway. In this case, since the company will already have to wait, it may make sense to go ahead with a UL Certification. The bottom line here is that whether a product carries the UL Listed mark, or the ETL Listed mark, it means that the product has been through a rigorous safety testing process, and has been found to be safe.

One example can be seen in the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS Security System. This panel was certified by ETL, and it carries the appropriate mark. However, Resideo wants to make it clear that the ETL listings are, by all standards, equivalent to UL listings. As a result, the listed certifications on the PROA7PLUS are, "ETL listed to UL specifications for Residential Burg, Residential Fire, and Commercial Burg." Again, the panel was officially tested by ETL, and it successfully received their approval. But Resideo went out of their way to specify that UL specifications were met, in part because UL helped to create the testing process for these listings. In the case of the PROA7PLUS, the Commercial Burg listing is for UL-1610, the Residential Burg listing is for UL-1023, and the Residential Fire listing is for UL-985. This panel also carries the corresponding Canadian listings.

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