UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and ETL certification (Intertek ETL) are both famous third-party certification organizations that test and certify electronic product safety. They are common in the North American market. Even though these certifications are not legally required, like CPSIA, having them often enhances a product’s competitiveness.

What is UL?

ul vs etl

UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, a third-party organization that sets and tests industry-wide safety standards for products. UL is best known for its standards for electrical products, such as light bulbs, lamps, and outlets, which often have a UL symbol or say “UL Listed” on them.

What is ETL certification?

ul vs etl

ETL stands for Electrical Testing Laboratories, which is a certification division of Intertek Testing Laboratories. Intertek is a member of OSHA’s Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) program, and ETL’s safety standards follow those set forth by the program. 

UL Listed and ETL Listed

UL Listed: The UL mark can be divided into three categories: the Listed mark, the Classified mark, and the Recognized Component mark. The listed mark means a product with a specific function has been tested according to UL’s nationally recognized standards for that type of equipment. The UL mark with “C” and “US” in the following picture means it’s certified for both Canada and the USA.

ul vs etl

ETL Listed: This is a flexible safety certification mark growing quickly in North America. ETL Listed Mark is the most adaptable certification currently awarded by Intertek. While the certification process is similar to traditional ETL certification, ETL Listed is tailored for the US and Canadian markets. Due to their strict safety laws, this certification is recognized in many other international markets.

ul vs etl

Which is more efficient, UL or ETL certification?

UL certification takes longer due to its higher recognition and acceptance, resulting in a backlog of products awaiting certification. Some businesses face the dilemma of maintaining production schedules while waiting several months for safety certification, leading to significant inventory buildup and delayed market entry.

In contrast, the ETL certification process is generally quicker. However, some believe that despite using UL standards, ETL certification may not be as rigorous as UL.

Which is more expensive, UL or ETL certification?

Both UL and ETL certification costs include initial testing fees, ongoing service fees, mark fees, and other expenses. Overall, UL certification cost is typically more expensive than ETL certification. In certain categories, ETL certification costs may even be half that of UL.

It’s important to note that these certifications require substantial time and money. If product modifications are needed after review, restarting the entire process can be costly.

So ETL certification is sometimes more popular regarding efficiency and expense.

What products are UL and ETL certification suitable for?

UL certification covers a broader range of fields, while ETL certification focuses on the electronics industry. The main difference lies in UL establishing its own safety standards, whereas ETL certification adopts standards from other laboratories, including UL’s.

UL certification applies to:

  • Electronic and electrical products: such as TVs, microwaves, and refrigerators.
  • Mechanical products: including industrial machines, household appliances, and automotive parts.
  • Electromechanical products: like power tools, electric vehicles, and integrated electrical-mechanical devices.
  • Medical devices: such as medical electronics, imaging equipment, and monitoring devices.

Building and fire safety products: including fire doors, extinguishers, and smoke detectors.

ETL certification applies to:

  • Power tools: like drills, electric screwdrivers, and saws.
  • Lighting and switches: such as LED ceiling lights, chandeliers, and wall switches.
  • Electronic components: like capacitors, resistors, and diodes.

Electronic toys: including remote control cars, electric dolls, and electronic building sets.

ETL certification is suitable for products with limited budgets and a need for quick market entry. For fast-cycle products like LED lights with short production periods and frequent market updates, ETL certification offers better cost-effectiveness.

Despite higher costs and longer processing times, UL certification is often chosen for consumer products closely tied to everyday life, such as home appliances like microwaves and ovens, due to their high safety requirements and enhanced market acceptance.


What does UL stand for in the electrical market?

In the electrical market, UL is a highly authoritative and respected organization that sets safety standards for electrical products in North America. UL certification is crucial in the North American electrical market, as it signifies that a product has been rigorously tested and meets stringent safety requirements.

Is ETL certification and UL the same?

ETL certification and UL are not exactly the same, as they are issued by different organizations. ETL certification is provided by Intertek, while UL is issued by Underwriters Laboratories. Businesses often choose either UL or ETL certification because their testing standards are the same. This means they can be used interchangeably in some areas. However, UL is generally considered more authoritative.

Is ETL certification as good as UL?

In some categories, ETL certification is as good as UL certification since it often uses the same testing standards. However, UL is more well-known and widely recognized in the North American market. On the other hand,  acquiring ETL certification is generally faster and cheaper. Therefore, determining which is better depends on the specific product and your priorities.

Final thoughts

We have helped many of our clients import products from China to the USA and EU, so we are very familiar with the product standards and requirements. If you have any uncertainties related to certifications, feel free to consult with us.

We are Jingsourcing, a leading sourcing company specializing in helping businesses find Chinese factories, secure competitive prices, and follow up the entire production process. We communicate with suppliers on your behalf, making us your perfect supply chain partner.

Start with JingSourcing to import from China.

0 0 votes