Safety is a huge concern when putting together plans for any small- or large-scale architectural project, especially when using LED lighting management systems throughout. The wrong combinations of components—even in a system as energy efficient as LED lighting—can cause serious safety hazards. These will not only be potentially dangerous to those inhabiting or working in a building, but also set projects back with inspection delays that cost managers and builders significant time and money. Various protection standards and security sanctions have been put into place to ensure that LED lighting components are tested and safe for use.
Here are a few important topics to consider when making product decisions for your small- or large-scale lighting project:
Where to Find Designations on LED Components
When a product achieves a certain safety or efficiency standard designation, companies place the “stamp” on their product’s labeling. This labeling could be located on the side, bottom, or top of an electronic or lighting product, in the same place that a user would find a serial or model number, voltage range, type of product, and other important information. Products typically have multiple stamps listed, especially if the products are power or electrical supplies.
Companies will also list safety standards and designations earned in product sell sheets, in information present on website descriptions, and on packaging, ensuring that anyone who needs the information will always be able to find it. If you have trouble finding the safety or efficiency standards information for a product, contact the manufacturer for a full and updated list.
Safety and Efficiency Designations to Remember
The designations that designers, builders and consumers will want to both look for and understand include:
When choosing an LED driver, it is important to understand the different levels of safety standard compliance to create the safest possible LED lighting management system. Products are marked with designations for a reason, assuring consumers of product status as safe items, noting components requiring additional safety measures, and registering whether the energy output is safe to human touch. Some designations are essential for safety, and others are seals of approval proving energy efficiency and unmatched quality.
For those who might not be familiar with each of the safety and standards designations, it’s important to know what each represents—and how each is earned.
Important Certifying Companies and Designations Defined
Underwriters Laboratories (UL): A global independent safety science company with more than 120 years of expertise innovating safety solutions. The company advises, audits, certifies, educates, inspects, tests, validates and verifies to maintain safety standards and compliance in manufacturing.
UL listed: When UL has tested representative samples of a product and determined that it meets the organization’s published, nationally-recognized Standards of Safety requirements, the product is given a UL Listed designation. The designation UL pertains to the United States, and cUL is the Canadian designation representing the same safety standards.
While a UL listing designates that a product has been tested by UL, meets nationally recognized safety standards, and has been found free from reasonably foreseeable risk of fire, electric shock and related hazards, another similar-looking designation means something slightly different.
UL Recognized Component Marks (UR): Verifies that a product has been tested, but that it is a part or component of a larger product. Components can be used to complete or add to end products and systems, but additional evaluation by UL is performed with the end product or system, to determine what other installation precautions may be necessary to ensure safe use. It is important to understand how UL Recognized items work to implement the items safely.
Additional necessary UL designations include UL Class P and UL Class 2.
UL Class P: A program that defines evaluation and testing guidelines for standardized LED driver constructions and ratings, the Class P allows luminaire manufacturers “the flexibility to source alternate LED drivers without having to recertify their products.” The requirements of this program have been developed by an industry working group and approved by consensus by UL’s Standard for Light Emitting Diode (LED) Equipment for Use in Lighting Products.
UL Class 2: When an LED driver is listed as UL Class 2, it complies with UL standard UL1310, indicating that energy output of the device is safe to touch with no major safety protection required. A UL Class 2 listed item will not carry a risk of fire or electric shock at the LED and luminaire level, operating below 60 volts in dry applications, 30 volts in wet applications, 5 amps, and 100 watts. This safe output restricts the number of LEDs the Class 2 driver can run but will be safe for use without additional safety measures in place.
UL Non-Class 2: When a driver possesses output ranges that exceed UL Class 2 guidelines, it is considered by UL as a non-Class 2 driver. Although no designation is added specifically to indicate a non-Class 2 driver, the label ratings will show higher-voltage and/or higher current output, which requires safety protection within the LED lighting fixture, as specified and required by UL. Non-Class 2 drivers can run a higher number of LEDs than a Class 2 driver, making it more efficient in terms of energy output, but as such requires putting additional safety measures in place.
Other safety, security and design governing bodies offer similar security standard certifications. These include, but are not limited to:
Electrical Testing Labs (ETL): Operated by Intertek, the ETL tests products to the same safety standards as UL, offering a signal of safety for product use by the general public. The testing levels are identical, but ETL testing is said to be done through a quicker, more expedited process than UL. Like UL, ETL offers but ETL listing and ETL recognized designations.
DesignLights Consortium (DLC): Specific to lighting, DLC is not associated with safety and security. Instead, DLC markers indicate that a product offers a high level of both energy efficiency and quality. The DLC “promotes quality, performance, and energy efficient commercial sector lighting solutions through collaboration among its federal, regional, state, utility, and energy efficiency program members, luminaire manufacturers, lighting designers, and other industry stakeholders throughout the US and Canada.”
Energy Star: This certification is awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and designates an energy-efficient product design. Energy Star is considered to be “the trusted, government-backed symbol for energy efficiency helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices.” The certification more commonly impacts residential products than commercial ones.
Comparing and Contrasting Safety and Energy Designations
Safety in LED lighting management systems is crucial, especially when considering that LED lighting is much brighter and more powerful than traditional lighting systems. In fact, by 2015 standards, LED lighting was 70 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs. That number has only increased as LED lighting technology has improved.
Safety is important and choosing components with the right safety and efficiency designations will keep users safe long after your project is complete. Here’s a quick guide to understanding the differences between some of the key standards.
UL Listed vs UL Class P Drivers
UL Listed is the highest standard possible and allows the most flexible use of a driver, on any LED system, with little to no UL re-valuation of the end system. Class P is simply a thermal performance rating optionally provided by UL, which can be added to show cross compatibility of different driver brands in the market, for use within luminaires. However, for a driver to be installed as a remote driver, separately from the luminaire, it must be fully UL Listed, and as such, a Class P rating is unnecessary. Class P rating offers flexibility only in integral drivers, which do not have the physical characteristics to qualify as a fully UL Listed, remote driver.
Moreover, a UL Listed driver has more flexibility of use than a purely Class P driver, which does not have the physical characteristics to qualify as a fully UL Listed remote driver. This is because even though the Class P rating allows interchangeability of driver brands within a luminaire, it is mostly intended to be an integral part of that luminaire. It is only applicable if the luminaire has already been evaluated by UL with a specific LED driver type/rating. In contrast, a fully UL Listed remote driver can be used within the luminaire or as an external, standalone driver. Not only can it be used with any existing, UL certified luminaire, like the Class P certification allows, but it can also be used with new luminaire designs. This is very important, as a new luminaire design will require an initial UL evaluation and certification, and if the intended driver is a fully UL Listed remote driver, UL will require little to no additional evaluation of the luminaire, reducing UL evaluation costs and time.
UL Listed versus UL Recognized
When UL has tested representative samples of a product and determined that it meets UL’s published, nationally-recognized Standards of Safety requirements, the product is given a UL Listed designation. The designation UL pertains to the United States, and cUL is the Canadian designation.
While a UL listing designates that a product has been tested by UL, meets nationally recognized safety standards, and has been found free from reasonably foreseeable risk of fire, electric shock and related hazards, another similar-looking designation means something slightly different. UL Recognized Component Marks verify that a product has been tested, but that it is a part or component of a larger product. Components can be used to complete or add to end products and systems but require additional UL evaluation of the component with the end intended system. UL Listed designates a higher level of safety than UL Recognized Component Marks, and products having a UL Listing require little or no further UL evaluation for use with a larger end product or system.
UL versus ETL:
When it comes to lighting, UL is more commonly known than ETL. The two have equal inspection criteria in terms of safety standards, and inspectors and other building authorities accept both UL and ETL as acceptable for project inspection standards. Both ETL and UL adhere to the minimum safety requirements set up by the Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL), which are monitored and regulated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Products that are ETL or UL listed are deemed “safe” for public use. ETL has been said to take less time to achieve, though, regardless of the equality of the standards. The UL process is more time consuming, though the two test products in a nearly identical fashion. Because the technology is constantly changing, and manufacturers are eager to get new products on the market faster, many are opting to have products certified by the ETL to minimize wait time.
Both UL and ETL can provide safety certifications for LED drivers and LED lighting components.
ETL and UL listing are nearly always required in commercial building code inspections. It is important to note that many residential-grade lighting products are not UL or ETL tested, and therefore are not ETL or UL listed, though they may be sold by companies that test other products. If you are concerned about the safety standards of a product, always double check the individual product for listing information. Do not assume that a product is ETL or UL listed simply because other products in a company’s line are.
DLC versus Energy Star:
DLC and Energy Star are not governed by or affiliated with OSHA or the NRTL, and products are not listed in the same manner as UL or ETL listed products. Neither DLC nor Energy Star designations signify safety standards have been met, but both do offer insights into the quality of the product.
DLC signifies high quality and energy efficiency and can provide reassurance to those purchasing or using the product. When a product carries the DLC label, it signifies choosing a product that has already been vetted, examined, compared, and contrasted against others like it in the market. The designation is especially important when working with utilities companies that offer rebates—many require DLC listing to have a project qualify.
By comparison, Energy Star is a U.S. government-backed designation. An Energy Star label proves that government testing has deemed a product to be both reputable and energy efficient. It is not a requirement for any product, and has not officially been given any necessity, but is important to know about because it will save on companies’ costs in the long run.
Class 2 vs Non-Class 2
A crucial difference in safety protocol exists between UL Class 2 and non-Class 2 drivers, and is probably the most important comparison to understand.
UL Class 2-listed LED drivers comply with UL standard 1310, indicating that the energy output of the device in question is safe to touch with the human hand with no additional major safety protections required. UL Class 2 items do not carry risk of fire or electrical shock at the LED and luminaire level, operate below the following levels:
This safe output restricts the number of LEDs that a Class 2-listed driver can run at the same time, but the energy it gives off poses no risk when contacted.
UL non-Class 2 listed LED drivers, on the other hand, possess output ranges that far exceed the UL Class 2 guidelines. non-Class 2 drivers have high-voltage output, requiring additional safety protection within the LED lighting fixture. non-Class 2 LED drivers can run a higher number of LEDs simultaneously than a Class 2 driver, though, making it technically more efficient in terms of energy output. That extra energy requires putting additional safety measures in place to prevent fire, electrical shock and other injury when contacted.
GRE Alpha’s Easy-Install LED Lighting Offerings
GRE Alpha prides itself on being a go-to for LED lighting management system components. Offering a variety of LED drivers, dimming modules, and accessories, GRE Alpha is proud to offer the following UL-listed LED lighting solutions:
GRE Alpha’s Easy-Install XLD Series is the industry’s only integrated UL listed Class 2 solution on the market. Boasting universal AC input, integral wiring compartments for reduced installation costs, constant current and constant voltage dual mode operation for flexibility and optimal performance, the XLD Series offers up to 92 percent efficiency and heavy-duty design for harsh environments.
Other features include user-adjustable output voltage and current, 1-10V dimming options with SLD SmartDim series dimming modules, active power factor correction at PF>0.9, up to four combinable output channels, built-in protection (SCP, OTP, OVP, OCP), IP 65 standalone enclosure, and UL/CUL listed Class 1 and 2, CE, FCC Title 47 CFR 15 Class B, CQU certifications.
The GRE Alpha XLAV Driver is a UL listed Class 2 constant voltage, phase dimmable LED driver capable of providing full-range, zero to 100 percent smooth, flicker-free dimming. An ideal dimmable powering solution for linear lighting applications, the XLAV is compatible with more than 70 dimmer brands, works with both forward and reverse phase-type dimmers, and comes in two versions (compact and UL-listed SSB).
Things to Remember about Energy and Safety Designations
Safety is a huge concern when putting together plans for any small- or large-scale architectural project, especially when using LED lighting management systems throughout. Ensuring you have the right combinations of components can help you and future tenants of a project avoid serious safety hazards, inspection delays, and excessive costs in time and money. Various protection standards and security sanctions have been put into place to ensure that LED lighting components are tested and safe for use. Make sure you look for them and adhere to their requirements when creating your next project.
GRE Alpha is powering LED lighting around the World
GRE Alpha’s LED dimming modules, power supplies and other accessories are impacting lighting worldwide, including lighting roadway signage in the United States, convention centers in Canada, casinos in Egypt, boardwalks in Singapore, and everything in between. To get a small glimpse of some of the ways that GRE Alpha’s innovative power solutions and LED products are changing the lighting industry, visit the Product Showcase page.
GRE Alpha is committed to innovation and to delivering high-quality, leading edge LED lighting solutions. For more information about LED drivers, dimming modules and accessories, or to speak with a GRE Alpha product expert, visit the Enquiries page and fill out the Enquiry Form. Sign up for the GRE Alpha newsletter to stay up-to-date on new products and for early access to other GRE Alpha news.
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