Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has become universally known as one of the highest stamps of compliance and a benchmark for safety across a multitude of industries. They are responsible for accrediting manufacturers and products based on standards and tests regulated by OSHA and ANSI that determine a product’s safety and quality. Decades of knowledge and experience allows UL to help innovative companies along every stage of the product development process. As the world changes and our desire for technology grows, complex new energy-based products are always being developed and reimagined. UL’s team of scientists, engineers, and safety specialists work hand-in-hand with innovative companies to help reduce the obstacles faced when bringing new products to the energy market.
PTS Helped Develop The UL 1640 Standard
Being one of the largest suppliers of internationally recognized portable electrical products since 1991, Power Temp Systems has always designed portable power distribution products to be the safest, most innovative products possible. Being an industry leader, PTS knew there needed to be a standard for the portable power distribution market to separate safe, quality products from the rest. In 1996, Power Temp Systems teamed up with Underwriters Laboratories to create a standard for power distribution products. After months of work, UL 1640 was born. PTS became the first company to have the UL 1640 label on their products.
What is UL 1640?
When purchasing portable power distribution products, you should always look for the UL 1640 label. This seal indicates that the product design you are purchasing has passed rigorous UL quality tests and been specifically engineered to meet UL safety standards. If a product’s design passes all tests and adheres to standards set by UL, the product design then earns a UL certification which lends industry-recognized credibility to the product’s safety and quality. Once the product design is tested and UL certified, the manufacturer is issued labels donning the UL logo to be placed on all future products following the same design specifications as the original design.
UL 1640 requirements cover a range of portable power distribution equipment rated 600 volts or less to a maximum of 1600 amperes. The equipment should be intended for either a single or multi-phase supply and used to distribute power in accordance with the National Electrical Code, NFPA 70.
The UL 1640 requirements cover portable power distribution equipment intended for use in the following locations:
- Carnivals, circuses, fairs, and similar locations in accordance with Article 525 of the NEC;
- Exhibition halls in accordance with Article 518 of the NEC;
- Motion picture and television studios and similar locations in accordance with Article 530 of the NEC
- Theaters, audience areas of motion-picture and television studios, and similar locations in accordance with Article 520 of the NEC; and
- Temporary installations at construction sites in accordance with Article 590 of the NEC
The process of having a product design become UL 1640 certified begins with evaluating the product for safety based on OSHA and ANSI standards. The product’s design is checked to meet all components of UL 1640. These rules of compliance cover all elements of the product from precise design specifications, materials used, as well as the performance of the product.
UL ensures that products are made with durable materials that are functional for operations like ceramic, sheet metal, and cast metal. UL also requires that the design and assembly of the product protects all wiring, outlets, and connections while keeping a secure power connection while in the field with specific measurements for casing thickness and enclosures.
Aside from the materials, the product is also put to the test to ensure optimal performance over time and in different situations, environments, and weather conditions. These tests include endurance and drop tests to see if the equipment can tolerate the rugged handling and environments it may be exposed to when used in the field. Equipment is dropped from 6 feet in the air multiple times, landing on different areas of the product each time to ensure the product can withstand a drop. To test endurance, the equipment is ran at high voltage over a lengthy period of time to test for consistent performance at the highest level. Both tests are likely scenarios encountered in the field. UL only wants to put its stamp of approval and certification on products with guaranteed optimal performance.
The New UL 1640
With those base tests, UL thought they had set a great standard for what products needed to be able to endure, but over the last 10 years, UL has made some additions to its certification requirements to raise the bar even higher. The new UL 1640 revisions now require portable power distribution equipment to be equipped with approved, cycle-tested weather covers for outlets and connectors to withstand inclement weather conditions without a disruption in the performance of the equipment.
With the recent revisions, new tests were added to the certification process. The equipment would now also be exposed to inclement weather like rain and snow because there is sometimes no way of protecting power distribution equipment from these elements when in the field and power is needed in a specific area.
This is only an overview of the rigorous certification process UL puts each product through. The complete list of extensive rules and requirements all falling under UL 1640 can be found here If a product does meet all requirements and passes all tests, UL then verifies that the product’s design and performance adhere to OSHA and ANSI standards and is compliant of UL 1640. A certificate and numbered UL labels are issued to the product’s manufacturer, authorizing the placement of the UL certified label on their product.
Why Buy UL 1640 Equipment?
The UL label certifies that the product adheres to the original product design that has been tested and approved by UL. It also ensures the same design and materials are applied to every replication of the product manufactured by the certified company. UL’s follow-up service distinguishes UL from other certification service providers and is fundamental to the integrity and use of the UL label on products. UL protects each consumer’s investment in UL certifications by maintaining an ongoing business relationship with manufacturers that place the UL label on their product. Throughout the lifetime of a certification, UL’s field inspectors conduct audits and blind sampling of certified products chosen from the open market to assess continued compliance with UL requirements. By protecting the integrity of their label, UL adds even more value to products that are deemed UL certified.
Power Temp Systems’ power distribution product quality has always been engineered and designed to meet or exceed all standards by UL 1640. Even with the most recent revisions, PTS products have continued to not only meet but exceed UL 1640 certifications. At Power Temp Systems, we display the UL logo on our products with pride knowing that our products always meet the highest standards of quality. So, before you buy a piece of power distribution equipment, look for the UL seal of approval.