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What is UL and cUL Certification? Why is it Important for Structured/Network Cabling Products?

Table of Contents

Overview

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL, Inc) is a non-profit testing laboratory headquartered in Northbrook, IL (USA), with a presence in more than 40 countries, with a research focus on safety science. It provides global safety certifications, especially in the USA and Canada. Underwriters Laboratories has developed more than 800 safety standards for more than 100 years, which is used in the field of electrical engineering, fire prevention, HVAC (Heating & Air Conditioning), shipping, and various other industries.

Difference between UL/cUL

The UL and cUL certifications are concerned with providing safety in electrical environments against fire and electricity incidents to ensure safe operation. The electrical environments also include the networking infrastructure to ensure that the network elements like cables, patch panels, keystone jacks, and modular plugs are all safe to use and will not cause an electrical fire. One of the most commonly used UL standards for information technology equipment is UL60950, but specifically for networking equipment, there are standards like UL 1863, UL 1977, UL 467L, and UL 2043. The standards are defined under ANSI/NFPA.

cUL is the Canadian equivalent of UL standards. They are not exactly the same but have many similarities. The cUL certification is more inclined towards the implementation of standards prevalent in Europe. However, both UL as well as cUL certified are recognized worldwide, and not just locally in the US and Canada.

Certification Types

The UL/cUL certification is of two types as follows:

1. Listing Certification: Used for an end product.
2. Recognition Certification: Used for elements that are part of the product.

Below are the marks associated with various types for UL as well as cUL.

Importance of UL’s LAN Cable Verification Program for Structured Cabling Products

The economy and business operation all over the world completely relies on Network Infrastructure, from local office levels to international data centers. Hence, it is of utmost importance to make the network environment as safe as possible for streamlining operations. Any small or large disruption will lead to a loss of business and money. With this perspective, Underwriters Laboratories Inc. has a full-fledged program dedicated to the networking industry. It offers test services for cables and networking products like patch panels, keystone jacks, inline couplers, and modular plugs. These tests encompass all types of environmental effectiveness and compatibility results.

It helps manufacturers to certify their products as safe and reliable against hazardous fire and electrical incidents within prescribed conditions. It reduces the overall risk of any disruption and business losses where these products are used. Also, it is considered a mark of genuineness and original products by the use of labeling systems. These certifications are recognized in North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, and Asia by customs, regulators, government authorities, distributors, retailers and end users.

The fire and electrical safety norms for accessories used in signaling circuits and communication of data, audio, and video are termed as DUXR as referred under Article 800 of ANSI/NFPA 70. This includes networking elements like Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6A, Cat7, and Cat8 cables, as well as Ethernet patch panels, data keystone jacks, RJ45 couplers, terminal enclosures, terminal blocks, MTU modules, modular plugs, and other Network Interface Devices (excluding fiber optics).

Some of the UL Standards for DUXR Category

UL 1863: The elements that come under the purview of UL 1863 standard are patch cables, line cables, and other portable devices like 4-, 6- and 8-pin modular connectors, for example, RJ45 connector. Basically, it governs the standard for devices that have operating root-mean-square (RMS) voltage to ground less than 150 volts.

UL 1977: This is used for signaling-circuit accessories as well as single and multiple component connectors like inline couplers and keystone jacks.

UL 467L: It is used for the certification of grounding and bonding equipment.

UL 2043: For all non-metallic parts used in networking equipment, UL 2043 is used to ensure they are safe against heat and visible smoke installed in air-handling spaces, like above suspended ceilings and below the floors, to determine fire performance response. The test done under UL 2043 certification determines the rate of heat released under fire, and checks whether the heat and smoke emitted is within permitted limits as per NFPA 70, NFPA 5000, and NFPA 90A.

One can easily identify the UL certified products through the mark provided on products, packaging boxes, accompanied by the corresponding UL file number. The type of UL certification is also indicated, so if it’s a Listing Certificate, it will be mentioned on products and packaging boxes along with the file number.
All our Networking Patch Panels, Keystone Jacks are UL and cUL listed, the picture below shows UL Listing mark and Nexer’s UL file number on patch panel.As our day-to-day life and routine business management & operations largely depend on efficient networking and high-quality networking equipment, it is important to install UL certified products. Some of our daily necessities that depend on networks are as follows:

Conclusion

The networking environment these days is at its peak performance due to, thus there is always a threat of overheating due to overload, and can lead to any fire or electrical incident:

1. Complex networking infrastructure
2. Use of high-end servers and devices
3. Number of systems connected to the network
4. A large number of files being transmitted, some of them with large memory size
5. Introduction of high-speed networks
6. Increase of security threat and breach of networks by cyber criminals

Which may further lead to:

The above points make it clear that there is more load on networks these days, and it is going to increase further in the future. By an estimate, it is said that about 5.5 million devices will be connected each day in the near future. Moreover, ethernet is also used in high-sensitivity environments like railways, manufacturing, mining, oil & gas, power stations, etc. A small flaw in the network can lead to disastrous results in such an environment. Hence, it is highly important that only safety certified network elements must be used to minimize the risk of loss arising from fire and electrical faults.

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