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UL listing of LED strings


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Ok.. I know I said I would not post.. but I did say unless I just couldn't help it.

So, if you could get the same exact lights for half the price, would you care if they are not UL listed? Personally I would not. If I am not selling them but rather using them for my own display.. and I know they are made the same way as the UL listed lights... and I don't have to cut tags off...

Any opinions?

I have had many dealings with UL and I am not really that impressed with some of their standards and how they are applied, and now that they have become a "for profit" company, I am even less impressed.

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if it is UL listed you know it went through various safety tests

if a set is not ul listed diffrent things could go wrong (not saying that it cant happen to ul listed items but less likely)
One a set could cause a fire due to some short the material the wire is made out of could be bad and could split (which would be dangerous if it happens in the areas that contain 120 v )
the wire guage might not be the correct size same as the plugs they could not be safe

Personally I would perfer UL listed Lights

Nec code 590.5 Listing of Decorative Lighting: Decorative lighting used for holiday lighting and similar purposes, in accordance with 590.3(:P shall be listed

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590.3(:P Temporary electric power and lighting installations shall be permitted for a period not to exceed 90 days for holiday decorative lighting and similar purposes.

Ok.. but what does that have to do with UL listing? UL is more of a local code requirement and not the NEC me thinks. Being that they would be on my own property, holiday lighting not to exceed 90 days, and GFCI protected, which 590 does require, why do I need UL?

So my questions stands.. do you care if your lights are UL listed?

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Ok.. I stopped reading at 509.3.
590.5 does indeed say they must be "listed". That could mean pretty much anything though I am sure they are referring to any NRTL certification and not just UL.

However my point to the question was if they were made in the same factory the same way but did not have the UL listing, would you buy them and use them for your self?

I am not advocating either way, (though it may sound like it). I just want to know people opinion.

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I would have to say no. I do not understand why a manufacturer would produce the exact same lights and not put the UL listing tag on them. It can't cost that much for the little silver tag. So it makes me wonder what shortcuts they are taking with the lights that are not UL listed.

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Long story but the listing is for a specific customer and belongs to that customer. They paid for the listing, but not the design or molds.

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They also set the product specs. For example one version may have the current limit resistors split between the circuit packs, and the clone puts them all in one pack to use half as many resistors. And while the origional may use 4 1/8w resistors, the clone mfg might specify only 2 still 1/8 w because that is all they need to dissipate. But they forgot that the rating is for free air, soldered to a circuit card, not encapsulated in thermally insulating plastic, with other heat sources. So the origional design was properly derated to cover being buried in plastic.

Or, a design with a voltage doubler. Origionally spec with 350v capacitors. But clones built with 150v, because it is only plugging into 110v?

Also, insurance companies really love to dig for excuses not to pay claims. The controllers give me a little pause, but they are not likely to catch fire, are in flame retardant cases, and mounted to a brick wall. Also, all the ones I have seen photos of burnt put themselves out.

Light strings? More stories, more actions taken to put them out, more risk of being damaged. To me a lot more risk of being a point of ignition.

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something normally happens for a nec code to be written
which is why I would use UL underwriter laboratories listed light strings or at least csa Canadian Standards Association listed

are Lor controllers Listed
the showtime ones that come in the metal enclosure

But the Planet Christmas ones are not (hopefully some day they might be but I dont know the red tape you have to go through to get listed / tested with UL)

Light strings are a bit more dangerous they have smaller wire cheaper plugs more areas that you could have a short

just my 29 cents worth

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Actually they don't own the product specs.. And as for the rest of what you wrote, it is not necessarily the case. I know you are being hypothetical but you paint a dark picture where one may not exist... or it may.. to be honest.

I own a UL shop. Some of the things UL requires are the most ridiculous things you can imagine and they have no basis in engineer reality. Only a cost based one where you pay UL money for pretty much nothing. Other things are just plain dumb.

Granted, there are many many cases where something that was not UL listed going awry, but not always the case. I have seem many UL listed items fail miserably as well. Being UL listed does not guarantee quality.

Anyway, this pole was not intended to start this particular discussion.. though it doesn't hurt to add information to any discussion if that info is relevant.

I am still looking for the answer from my first and only question.

Thanks for the input

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It would seem to me that with the addition of fused plugs and the use of GFCI that are in front of it all would make the strings actually safer then the controllers. Keep in mind the controllers have many points of connection where a high resistance can cause heating and eventually a fire. They have the ability to carry a lot more current then the LED strings without anything to shut them down like in the 3 amp fuse range.

No the CB controllers are not UL listed and I have no heartache with that. They are built quite nicely and look pretty safe. I doubt UL would change much other then labels and the cost for each one since it would be rather expensive to list them. They might change the heatsink, but only a might..

Anyway, I am way over on the number of posts I planned for this pole.

Thanks for the input
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I, too, prefer UL listed items. But it's just my choice and opinion.

I have had UL listed C7 strands go bad and burn up in the past (Incandescent).

I have had no issues with UL listed strands overheating, but have had them go bad, rendering them completely useless, usually it's the rectifier that died on the strand, as the string still would carry current from the male to the female end of it.

I have had UL listed bulbs "explode", no, not just break, but literally burst apart when power was applied, incandescant lamp bulbs, C7 bulbs in UL approved night lights, and C7 Christmas Light strands utilizing incandescent bulbs, including MINI bulbs!

So is UL really all that safe, yes and no.

But I have also had NON-UL listed items that also failed, they usually failed much quicker and faster than the UL listed items.

So does that make UL any better than NON-UL items, in my opinion and experience, yes, it does, so yes, I would want my Christmas or Halloween Light strands to be UL certified.

Otherwise like others have stated, we have no idea what shortcuts were taken to produce the NON-UL versions, and believe me, I've worked in both the gov't and commercial industry where UL certification was sometimes optional on the product.

The UL certified one MUST PASS EXTENSIVE tests for safety and durability, the NON-UL that is basically the same exact thing, but was optional to get the UL certification, DID NOT go through these same rigorous tests or certification processes, so the NON-UL item was many times built with "cheaper" components and more prone to premature/early failures. And companies DO take shortcuts when they have the option to put or not put that UL certification on their product.

So, again, UL certified is more of a must for me, without it, I would not expect the product to hold up or last, possibly, in the case of Christmas/Halloween light strands, even catch fire and cause more damage than their "cheap price tag". Caveat Emptor and you DO get what you pay for!

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This: I have had no issues with UL listed strands overheating, but have had them go bad, rendering them completely useless, usually it's the rectifier that died on the strand, as the string still would carry current from the male to the female end of it.

Should have been: {forgot the word LED before strands}
I have had no issues with UL listed LED strands overheating, but have had them go bad, rendering them completely useless, usually it's the rectifier that died on the strand, as the string still would carry current from the male to the female end of it.

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BTW: I think to get the UL rating on a CTB16PC controller would require it to be put into a METAL COMMERCIAL HOUSING.

It would be nice if the FULLY ASSEMBLED CTB16PC's were UL certified, and that's what I bought and as far as I am aware, even they aren't UL certified.

However, the folks at LOR would actually be the ones to know the actual facts to the UL rating requirements for their controllers. Hopefully one of them will chime in here and can give us a bit more insight on that aspect.

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As I said I dont care that the PC controllers are not UL listed If I did I would have bought the Showtime controllers which are

The PC controllers are only around 200 dollars for the kit

But I know Lor controllers are built properly as compared to some random light string I would say pay the extra for the peice of mind

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I tend to think that how much you really trust that you actually are getting the same thing is a key point to the question. UL listing is expensive, but is it really half your product price? If not, where else is that savings coming from?

When you have a name to protect, and a UL listing that you have invested in, you have an interest in making sure that what is produced actually meets your spec.

Heck, Walmart has a bit of a reputation to protect. And they shove their fingers not only into their vendors business, but their vendors manufacturing processes and logistics. Yet they still wind up from time to time with things on the shelf that don't meet their specs. Like lead based paint on toys...

Rumor has it that a reputable LED manufacturer, with UL listed product wound up with 240VDC capacitors in a design that needed 350VDC capacitors, and wound up with UL listed fire starters...

So, someone enticing you with "come to the dark side, we have low prices. (and cookies)" doesn't have as much to protect in their reputation as the one with the UL listing that they have cash into..

And if you think they can't, or won't easily do different quality strings on the same line, with different components inserted, consider these examples. At one point in time, Gates, Motorcraft, and at least two different private house brand micro V automotive belts came off the same production line, same tooling and molds, but had quite a range of quality in inner belting package, and rubber grade. The price points and quality really covered the full range.

Still today in oil filters, it is quite common for several brands to be in the exact same can, assembled in the same plant, same assembly line, yet they have different filter media, different quantities of filter media, different pleat end caps, different anti drain back valves..

Heck, this argument even applies to myself, in some consideration where neither product is UL listed, but one still costs twice as much. And I still don't know exactly where I am going to fall on it.

And again, if the worst does happen, and you do have an insurance company investigating a fire, do you think they might care if you can document that your strings carried a UL listing if the investigation leads to those strings?

As an interesting, and ironic side story, here is an account of why the UL got its start:

But bottom line for me? Even if I were convinced that they were the same exact string, I would most likely stick with the UL listed version. But I'm seriously skeptical that they really are.. And once those strings go in the shipping container, you have zero recourse beyond whatever level of assistance they choose to give you..

And again, which one do you think is going to try harder? The one who has money in a UL listing that they need to maintain a good reputation to come back to year over year, or the guy who can show up with one name (or even several) one year and has nothing to loose if he gets a bad reputation, and has to run away from it?

And, I never stated that the company selling the UL listed strings owned the specifications. I simply stated that for the UL listed version, they specified the details of the product they are having assembled. Who set the specifications for the ones that are allegedly identical? Can you tell from looking at them if they actually have the same quality of LED inside? That they are wired the same way, with the same components inside those hard plastic blobs?

But then again, some percentage of people really do get lucky with incredible deals. Maybe you will be one of them.

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Given the rampant pirating that seems to occur in China, how confident can you be that ANY LEDs are truly UL approved or listed?

I've glanced at them accidently while cutting them off, and it sure doesn't seem like it would require much talent to create a DIY UL label. Just saying...

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George Simmons wrote:

Given the rampant pirating that seems to occur in China, how confident can you be that ANY LEDs are truly UL approved or listed?

I've glanced at them accidently while cutting them off, and it sure doesn't seem like it would require much talent to create a DIY UL label.  Just saying...

Im with you on this one George. Seems like UL listing is very easy to come by in China. If UL listing is important then buy from a reputable dealer that will charge the appropriate amount. The reality is UL listing is not a very cheap excercise.

Part of the reason i suspect you find the showtime series to be UL listed is because its their commercial based product and most commercial installations require you to use UL listed products. The PC series is marketted and designed for the hobbiest and home user and as such cost is a very important factor. If the PC controllers were UL listed then expect to pay a much higher cost. And if you wanted a LOR UL listed controller then LOR already offer that for a price in the showtime series.
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Actually in my past life I have worked with two companies in China to get products UL listed. One was a power supply and one was an LED product we made for Phillips. The sheer cost of doing the UL listing was unreal and the outcome of both was no changes to either product.

UL would not even accept the IP rating certification of the product from another commercial testing lab. They had to do it themselves and charged a butt load of money to do it. I can understand both sides of that argument, but in my opinion nothing in the end was really gained other then the UL label.

I do know that there are tricks played in China regarding fake UL labeling, but also there are reputable manufacturers there that do well and the UL label is more of an exercise in repetition and $$ for some of their products. Not all the time.. but sometimes.

HOWEVER, this thread has been a good one for insight into how some of us think of UL. I for one would not try to sell any lights without them being UL listed. Too much liability, but I would absolutely use a non UL product for my own use if I was comfortable with how it was built and the application I used it for.

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