The National Electrical Code (NEC) Article 600 and UL 48 Standard for Safety for Electric Signs are used to evaluate the field installation and construction of electric signs in the U.S. In Canada, the relevant guidelines are the Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) and CSA 22.2 No. 207.
All signs that are electrically operated and/or electrically illuminated are covered, regardless of voltage, including:
- High intensity discharge (HID)
- Light-emitting diode (LED)
- Cold cathode
Not included are:
- Illuminated clocks operating at 600V or less
- Exit signs
- Trailer of a trailer-mounted sign
- Luminaires mounted to function as outline lighting
- Luminaires mounted within an awning sign
- Luminaires intended for billboard illumination
- Fiber optics or fiber optic illuminators
- Signs for use in hazardous locations
- Procedures to ensure required testing is conducted and documented
- Test logs showing all required information
- Non-conforming products are reworked and tested
- All applicable personnel are trained to perform required tests
The latest edition of UL48 (15th edition) requires three tests: ground continuity (6.1-6.3), strain relief (5.4.1-5.4.4), and exclusion of water (5.9.1-5.9.2).
Documentation requirements include:
- Component traceability records
- Checklist for wiring diagrams, schematics and marking
- Personnel assigned to Sign Shop listing
- Checklist for sign documentation
- Sign label log
Certified (Listed) signs follow the marking requirements of NEC Section 600.4 and UL 48. A sign must be marked with the identification of the manufacturer or an identifying trade name or trademark, along with electrical voltage and current ratings. All required markings and the MET Certification (Listing) Mark are to be permanently applied to the exterior surface of the sign.
MET Certified labels are the manufacturer’s declaration of compliance and can only be affixed by the manufacturer at the place of production. The application of a MET Mark in the field is only permitted when an inspection is performed by one of MET’s Field Safety Group after a field evaluation.
MET Labs is widely considered the responsive alternative to UL, with a business-friendly service and allowance for use of any component that is certified by any Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted new materials that aid in the testing and certification of lighting products for ENERGY STAR:
Certifying Luminaires – Utilizing the Certified Subcomponent Database (CSD)
This document helps luminaire manufacturers select components for ENERGY STAR fixtures. Items listed on the CSD have already been tested for photometric, life and/or electrical performance at EPA-recognized laboratories. Using the CSD can help reduce testing costs and time associated with the ENERGY STAR certification process for luminaires.
Certifying Luminaires – LED Light Engines and GU24 Base Lamps
This document helps explain the nuances and benefits of these two light sources and how to get these products listed on the CSD. Using these products in lieu of built-in LED systems can help reduce engineering and testing costs, and time to market. EPA’s latest ENERGY STAR specification for Luminaires provides a straightforward pathway for qualifying fixtures with these products.
Certifying Luminaires – Maximizing Testing Investment�
This document explains how testing costs can be minimized by utilizing allowable variations to group product together into a family. As an EPA-recognized certification body (CB), MET Laboratories can help determine the appropriate groupings.
Time to Certification
This document visually shows the process to qualify a luminaire and also provides estimates for lifetime testing.
For questions regarding testing and certification, contact MET Labs.
Although this year marks the 20th anniversary of the ENERGY STAR program, lighting was a bit late to the party. It wasn’t until 15 years ago that residential light fixtures got their first ENERGY STAR specification, and 13 years ago that compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) did.
ENERGY STAR lighting continues to evolve. Following are some updates.
The Luminaires Version 1.1 specification became effective April 1, 2012. It combines the scope of the Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Version 1.3 specification and the Residential Light Fixtures Version 4.2 specification.
Only those light fixture models that have been third-party certified as meeting the Luminaires V1.1 requirements now appear on the ENERGY STAR qualified product list. Fixtures qualified under the previous specifications will not be “grandfathered in” to this new specification.
There are nearly 500 qualified luminaires from more than 50 manufacturers, covering over 20 different product types.
The new ENERGY STAR Lamps V1.0 specification is still being developed. This new specification will merge the scope of the Compact Fluorescent Lamps V4.3 and Integral LED Lamps V1.4 specifications into one technology-neutral specification.
For draft 1 of the Lamps specification, EPA received 175 pages of comments. These comments are being considered for draft 2, which is anticipated in the next several months.
Using the new third party certification (3PC) process, in 2011 Certification Bodies like MET Labs certified 191 CFLs, 357 LED lamps, 166 luminaires, and 1,462 light strings. In 2012, the number of lighting products certified is expected to be even higher.
According to EPA research, CB processing time ranges from 24 hours to two weeks, depending on a certification body’s work load and the completeness of a product submission.
Once a CB certifies a product meets an ENERGY STAR specification, it sends the data to EPA to be uploaded to the qualified products lists (QPLs). Lists are currently updated weekly for bulbs and twice a month for fixtures (around the first and the middle of the month). By the end of 2012, all product lists should be updated on a daily basis.
The next ENERGY STAR products partner meeting is October 22–24, 2012 in St. Paul, Minnesota. This is for lighting, as well as appliance and electronics partners and other stakeholders.
EPA Program Manager for ENERGY STAR Eamon Monahan will be speaking at MET Labs’ Annual Global Product Compliance Seminar & Crab Feast in September.
Find out how to get ENERGY STAR testing or certification body services.