I am pretty sure that everyone reading this has heard of the term, “UL listed.” Many products purchased in this country have the familiar “UL Listed” stamp on the product. Like this one from my Dryer.
What many people may not realize is that UL (Underwriters Laboratories) does not “approve” these products. They set up specific tests and procedures that manufacturers can follow in order to be able to “list” their product. In a sense they “approve” the manufacturer.
Underwriter’s Laboratory is one of several “private” organizations that are on a list of “Nationally Recognized
Companies” that are “approved” to issue such labels. For example OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) is one such governmental agency empowered to approve a “listing” company like UL. So UL doesn’t actually stamp the product with its “stamp of approval.” They merely approve the “procedures and processes” of the manufacturer and then give that company the authority (under their watchful eye) to put the “UL Listed” stickers on their product.
I want to give you this background on UL so that it will be easier to understand why having a “UL Listing” is so important.
I am an old “Old New England Yankee” at heart, so the idea of “making-things”—-is in my blood—-kind of like a disease. Inventers Anonymous (IL) is a very surreal group, and the UL Procedural manual is at the core of their 12 Steps to recovery. “Falling off the wagon,” is very common and, frankly, getting people to admit they have a problem is next to impossible—-until it is too late.
The purpose of both UL and IL is to avoid situations like this “home-made” light installation.
This was one of six bulb locations at a ceiling valence light installation. The wood and wall surfaces are only protected by your garden variety household aluminum foil which, like the wood, wall, and ceiling surfaces are not UL Listed for installation as components of a light fixture. Can you see where the smoking wood has marked the ceiling?
Another thing to keep in mind about UL Listings is that the listing is only valid if the listed item is used in the ways specifically included in the listing. For example putting a 100 watt light bulb in a fixture rated for only 40 watts “voids” the UL Listing of that fixture. The “individual” electrical items used in the above “light fixture” are UL Listed—-but are not installed in a way approved by their listing.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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