Author Topic: What does UL approval cover exactly?  (Read 20880 times)

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Offline johne

  • Posts: 223
  • The Netherlands
What does UL approval cover exactly?
« on: May 02, 2008, 06:53 PM »
I have been reading about this UL approval that keeps you guys in the US from getting access to stuff like the CMS and inserts.
What exactly does this UL cover? Is it only electric appliances? For example the CMS is nothing more than an aluminium table. ( if you leave out the electric socket)
The inserts are nothing more than aluminium plates. If for instance you buy a router (any router) nothing stops you from buying parts to make a router table and hurt yourself in the process of using it. If the Parts that make up a CMS would be sold as separate pieces (for you to assemble at home or where ever) would that still need UL approval?

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Offline Matthew Schenker

  • Posts: 2619
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2008, 07:39 PM »
johne,
That's a very good question.  I've been wondering about the UL approval process for years, and my curiosity has intensified since I got involved in Festool tools.

To be honest, it seems inconsistent to me.  Some tools with better safety appear to not get approved, while tools with worse safety make it through.  Maybe it's not all about safety?

For a little while, we had a running joke about who we had to send a gift basket to at UL to help speed up the "approval process."  It was only a joke.

Matthew
« Last Edit: May 02, 2008, 07:40 PM by Matthew Schenker »
FOG Designer and Creator

Offline Ned

  • Posts: 1147
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2008, 07:53 PM »
Johne--

www.ul.com will tell you more than you want to know, if you can find it.   ???

Underwriters Laboratories is a private, not-for-profit organization.  As the name suggests, it was founded by insurance companies that wanted objective measurements of the safety of the "new-fangled" electrical appliances (this was 1894).

While UL isn't the government, in many areas local law specifies that certification is required.

From UL's FAQ:
Quote
Q: Do I need to have the UL Mark on my product in the US?
Is there a law stating that my product should have a UL Mark?
Does our product require UL testing?

A: Manufacturers submit products to UL for testing and safety certification on a voluntary basis. There are no laws specifying that a UL Mark must be used. However, in the U.S. there are many municipalities that have laws, codes or regulations which require a product to be tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory before it can be sold in their area. UL is the largest and oldest nationally recognized testing laboratory in the United States. UL does not, however, maintain a list of the jurisdictions having such regulations.

If you plan to market your product nationally or internationally, it is advisable to obtain UL Listing. If a limited marketing program is anticipated, check with the Municipal office having jurisdiction in the particular areas to learn first hand the local retail ordinances or product installation requirements applicable in that area.

Many companies make it their policy to obtain UL Listing not only to minimize the possibility of local non-acceptance, but also as a matter of corporate policy and commitment to minimize the possibility of risk in the use of their products.

Festool is wisely cautious of American trial lawyers, any of whom would quickly argue that the "simple alumin(i)um plate" that Festool sold resulted in an unsafe configuration, and that the company knew that, and that the buyer has no responsibility whatever, ...

UL certification provides a degree of defense against this kind of argument, and so Festool and/or their insurer require it for a product to be sold in the US.

What I've said is not something I learned in Henderson, and is only my opinion.

Ned

Offline vkumar

  • Posts: 363
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2008, 10:50 PM »
I deal with UL as part of my job. As far as I know it only applies to items you plug into an AC outlet (although anything that operates at over 48 V also has some requirements).

Thus as far as I know it only applies to items with an AC plug (all right sometimes a DC plug depending on voltage).  Thus router table, Workmates etc are not covered even though they may pose mechanical and thermal hazards.

And of course there is no US Federal requirement requiring UL certification, only certain municipalities, cities and local jurisdictions require them of equipment installed in their jurisdictions that require their approval.  Thus a lava lamp plugged in your home may not need a UL sticker, but a electric water heater that requires a permit may be subject to the need for UL.

Thats my story and I am sticking to it.

Vijay
Vijay Kumar

Offline Tom Bainbridge

  • Posts: 1009
  • Limey Carpenter
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2008, 04:49 PM »
everything sold in england has a CE mark on it, from kids toys to electrical goods of any voltage weather (wrong spelling?) its ac or dc current 

although i cant find one on my MFT but i assume it does. i dont know if it is the law or not or if its an an insurance company thing like UL

safety people both sides of the atlantic are serious people with which i have NO problem and have great respect for their judgements, they have OUR safety at heart


but it seems to lead to different interpretatons

for intsance a sidewinder / worm drive skill saw is permitted in america but not in england or europe

i dont know the reason why the UL accept it but the CE doesnt. BUT these is one obvious difference (to my eyes) it looks like an american worm drive saw has no riving knife




i have no axe to grind the UL or the CE they clearly have safety as their primary function


i would be happy to be prooved wrong on the worm drive saw as it would be useful in cross cutting work
Bromley, Kent. UK

aka dirtydeeds

Offline vkumar

  • Posts: 363
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2008, 09:35 PM »
To understand UL you have to understand its origins.  Originally Underwriters Laboratories came about as an aid to the insurance companies.  Main objective was to prevent fires from the then  new industry that used electrical power to run motors, appliances, machinery etc.  But it was fire safety they were concerned about along with shock hazard.

Even today these 2 are the chief reasons why UL help is sought.  This is the reason why table saws can be sold with a UL sticker with obvious other safety issues.  This is why a "skilsaw" can be sold with a UL label.

A presence of a UL label means only 2 things, electrical safety, and fire safety.  All other safeties are handled by other agencies if applicable. 

There is nothing comparable to a CE mark in the US.

Vijay
Vijay Kumar

Offline Tom Bainbridge

  • Posts: 1009
  • Limey Carpenter
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2008, 06:47 AM »
vijay thats a good explanation thanks for your time
Bromley, Kent. UK

aka dirtydeeds

Offline patrick anderson

  • Posts: 153
    • neoshed
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2008, 11:49 AM »
99% of circular saws sold over here unfortunately don't have a riving knife.

I'd be very happy if some of the other festool stuff made its way here but I'll probably end up bringing it over myself.

On a side note I noticed the dewalt plunge saw and guide on the UK site. I emailed dewalt US about if it was going to be avaialle here and the bloke said he doubted it as getting approval for it would be too much trouble.
patrick anderson
www.neoshed.com
may the festool be with you.....always

Offline Tom Bainbridge

  • Posts: 1009
  • Limey Carpenter
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2008, 01:04 PM »
neo

we both have the same idea, we both want safety................ and ALL us woodworkers want safety

i just wish a similar regime would exist......................
Bromley, Kent. UK

aka dirtydeeds

Offline johne

  • Posts: 223
  • The Netherlands
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2008, 03:55 PM »
Thanks to all who made me understand better what UL approval is about.

I still have one question. Is This UL the only reason that the CMS is not sold in the US or is there more rules and regulations that have to be met?

Offline vkumar

  • Posts: 363
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2008, 11:11 PM »
The only issue with the CMS seems to be an abundance of electrical plugs/wires.

It should be simple matter to get the UL listing unless there is some kind of laceration/cutting hazard with the live cables that I cannot see.

Vijay
Vijay Kumar

Offline Greg_R

  • Posts: 153
Re: What does UL approval cover exactly?
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2009, 01:30 PM »
Many NAINA Festool tools CAN get a UL rating... it's just that it costs a lot of money to get that product certified.  Festool needs to judge the potential market and decide if it is fiscally worthwhile.