May 1, 2003 12:00 PM
On p. 50 of an excellent article on power conditioners (“Technology Showcase: Power Line Conditioners,” February 2003 issue), there is a large error concerning the SurgeX power conditioner. According to its Web site and literature, it only has two products that are UL certified: the SX908/1808 and SX15-ir2/20-ir2. This is an error that needs to be corrected. In some cities in this country, UL listing is required by code. To claim you pass the UL test is not sufficient, and the UL emblem and certification are all that will do. I live in one such area. A company I once worked for had a large project “red tagged” and had to get the city's approval, at a large fee.
Andrew Benton, director of engineering at SurgeX, replies: This is a common misconception. Underwriters Laboratories and the UL Standards are two separate entities. The Standards themselves document the requirements for testing, but the actual testing does not have to be performed by Underwriters Laboratories. Many nationally recognized testing laboratories throughout the country test to UL Standards and have equal authority in the field. SurgeX has chosen Intertek Testing Services (www.etlsemko.com) to perform the required safety testing for its products that bear the ETL Listed mark. The city of Chicago, as an example, is quite clear about which safety certification agencies it recognizes and lists both ETL and UL among others on its Web site:www.ci.chi.il.us/Buildings/BuildingCode/Labs.html.
I would like to take this opportunity to address an associated matter: the importance of designing and testing products to the correct standard. Power conditioners and surge protectors fall under the category of TVSS (transient voltage surge suppressor). The standard for TVSS products is UL1449, 2nd ed. This standard was written to address particular safety considerations of the TVSS and includes specific design and testing requirements that ensure the safety of the equipment when installed. There are other manufacturers producing power conditioners that are not listed under UL1449, 2nd ed., but are instead listed under a generic standard that does not guarantee the safety of a TVSS. The second edition of UL1449, released in 1996, requires special internal fusing to prevent the risk of starting a fire. To deliberately flout this requirement is dangerous and I am surprised that UL itself has not picked up on this. SurgeX products are appropriately tested to and meet all requirements of UL1449, 2nd ed.
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