The Dangers of Outdoor LED Signs That Are Not UL Listed
You may have seen the UL mark on the appliances and lightbulbs around your home and office. If you’re like most people, it probably never crossed your mind to investigate these two little letters further.
While you may not realize exactly what the UL Listing means, it’s important to understand it’s mere existence is imperative when it comes to installing safe outdoor LED signs.
What Exactly is a UL Listing?
As explained by Lighting & Décor Magazine, “UL (Underwriters Laboratories) is a testing facility for light fixtures (and other electrical devices) that vouches for the safety of the product. Without a UL label, you have no idea how potentially dangerous a fixture may be.” When it comes to outdoor LED signs, a proper UL Listing is imperative to preventing fires and frequency interferences in the airwaves.
How is a UL Listing Determined?
In order for an LED sign to obtain a proper UL Listing, it must undergo thorough and rigorous testing in the Underwriter Laboratories’ independent facilities. Each product and each one of its subcomponents is put through a variety of tests, each of which has specific, stringent protocols. UL testing includes:
- Stress tests – Up to 10 times the standard voltage is applied to trigger fail-safe components and check for electrical leakage.
- Spark and combustibility testing – Ensures the sign does not become dangerous in the event flammable material (such as birds’ nests) ever make it into the sign cabinet.
- Short circuit testing – Electrical equipment, motherboards, fans, and power supplies are intentionally short circuited, so analysts can example the effects on internal temperature and proper operation.
- Longevity testing – In addition to safety, UL testing ensures longevity and that the sign will be able to withstand the conditions it’s designed to be in. For example, outdoor signs will be checked to ensure that they will not leak, the faces will not deteriorate in sunlight over time, or plastic louvers can withstand direct impact and won’t become brittle.
At each point in the UL testing process, the main focus is stability and predictability. Analysts and engineers need to be sure that if a component does fail, it fails the same way every time, and without causing harm to people or surrounding structures. Additionally, the UL sends inspectors out to component manufacturers to ensure they are adhering to UL build standards, meaning that every subcomponent used also needs to be UL listed, from the silicone and gasket to the smallest transistor – each factory inspected and tested.
Why Are Outdoor LED Signs That Haven’t Been UL Listed So Dangerous?
In the U.S., all lighting and electrical products are required to go through the UL’s rigorous testing in order to be compliant and lawful. However, not all manufacturers adhere to these regulations during the manufacturing process.
Unfortunately, outdoor LED signs that haven’t been UL Listed are finding their way to establishments all over the country, largely because they’re significantly cheaper. For companies and organizations concerned with their bottom lines—which, of course, means everybody—a lower price tag can be an enticing temptation. When it comes to outdoor LED signs, however, you really do get what you pay for, and signs that don’t boast a UL logo are begging for a disaster. In this buyer-beware situation, non-UL Listed outdoor LED signs can easily be fire hazards or have other properties that aren’t in compliance with the guidelines of the government.
If you opt for the cheaper solution at the outset of your purchase, you could end up paying substantially more than you bargained for after paying penalties and repairs if your imported digital sign goes awry.
Do yourself a favor when you’re shopping for an outdoor LED sign; opt for a product that’s backed by the rigorous testing of the UL, and rest assured your product was manufactured to the highest standards. Although UL Listed components typically cost 20%-50% more than non-UL components, you can be confident that better quality materials will result in improved safety and longevity, saving you money over time.
At Stewart Signs, exceptional quality is the only thing we do. Learn why UL listing are so important to our team at Stewart Signs. Contact us today to learn more by calling 1.800.237.3928.