The Importance of UL Rated Cables

As one begins to start the design process for an industrial system, one of the factors that will play an important part is UL-rated components. UL-certified products can be vital to a company’s manufacturing process and just as important to the end user. A UL rating has with it a level of quality and expectation associated with it. The purchaser of a UL-rated piece of equipment is walking away feeling a little bit more confident about the quality of their purchase.

One of the most common pieces of equipment that is likely to have undergone UL testing, is a wiring cable. Whether constructed as a cable assembly or simply utilized as a piece of bulk cable, UL-rated cables play a significant role within industrial markets. One may have to assume that you are already familiar with the UL logo. If you have purchased any number of small or household appliances, chances are you have seen this logo on the equipment’s power cord. It is usually affixed via a white sticker with black lettering. It can also be printed on the power cable itself. This UL logo means public safety requirements are met based on stringent testing standards. For international organizations, selling within the North American market is important and one way for entry is UL approval of their products. This is one way to facilitate entry into the US and Canadian markets. If you are wondering who designates the UL approval, that would be a third-party organization by the name of Underwriters Laboratories (UL). There are two types of UL approvals from this third-party organization. Those designations are UL Listed and UL Recognized.

UL Ratings from Lutze
(Lutze Inc)

UL Recognized refers to the raw components used for the construction of a larger product or system. Think of terminal and board components, connection systems, and raw wire & cable.

(Underwriters Laboratory)

UL Listed pertains to a complete standalone product that has passed third-party safety testing with its intended purpose in mind. Three examples include small consumer goods like microwaves, printers, or fuses. The main difference between the two designations is how UL performs the testing. You can only “List” a product if you assess its specific function. In doing this, the product is verified via its performance within its intended environment.

(Underwriters Laboratory)

With raw components, there is no way to know every application the component will be part of. So, this testing is more general in nature. One material that can fall under both designations is raw cable. While it may appear that raw cable should be “recognized” we know there are many cables out there that are constructed for extremely specific applications. This specificity allows for these cables to be “listed.” For example, there are flame retardant cables (VW-1 to VW-6) that undergo testing, CMP cables, known as Plenum-rated cables, used in areas where elevated temperatures and specific compositions are required, and other characteristics.

The UL Recognized designation, on the other hand, conceals hundreds of Appliance Wiring Material (AWM) Styles that can be found on the UL identity card, which identifies a manufacturer’s existing AWM Styles. Item approval is granted after a product for a machine or wired device is submitted to the UL Team with information about the application such as its voltage level, flame retardant properties, temperature ranges, etc. The UL personnel assess the product’s mechanical properties and issue an existing AWM Style if the required parameters are met. If an existing style is not applicable, a new AWM Style is issued. This is a daunting task as there are multiples of AWM Styles in existence. Whether you are an OEM, system integrator or the end-user, it safe to say that your application will operate as expected when using components that have already been vetted by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

Raw cable and cable assemblies along with other such products can lead to costlier situations and a time-consuming inspection process when not at least UL recognized. MISUMI provides cables that are UL rated and AWM Style designated to suit your many different applications. Explore the selection here.

Works Cited
Lutze Inc. Lutze Systematic Technology. April 2016. Technical Document. November 2022. <https://www.lutze.com/>.
Underwriters Laboratory. UL Mark Artwork. 2022. Label. November 2022. <https://marks.ul.com/about/ul-listing-and-classification-marks/downloadable-ul-marks/>.

About the Author

Patrick Teagues

Patrick is a Product Development Analyst at MISUMI. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biological Science, a minor in Chemistry, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Northern Illinois University. He is a Certified Six Sigma Green Belt and has worked in chemical manufacturing for seven years.

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