AC Adapter Safety Standards in the United States: An Overview

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AC Adapter Safety Standards in the US

Planing to import electronic devices, including AC adapters? In this article, we explain what you must know about UL standards, lab testing, certification, and labeling.

Mentioned Products

  • Laptop chargers
  • Phone chargers
  • Printer chargers
  • Other AC adapters

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United States Electrical Product Safety Standards

It is voluntary for importers to comply with electrical product safety standards in the United States. Those standards provided a guideline on how to ensure that your AC adapters are safe to use.

Remember that you are liable for any injury or property damage caused by your product. So, even though such standards are voluntary, following them helps you to ensure that your products are safe.

Underwriter Laboratories (UL) is a worldwide-recognized product safety testing and certification lab, and it has established an extensive database of electrical product safety standards. Many suppliers include UL marking on their AC adapters to ensure compliance.

UL Standards

Here are some standards that apply to AC adapters:

  • UL 60950-1 – General Requirements
  • UL 1310 – Standard for Class 2 Power Units
  • UL 1012 – Standard for Power Units Other Than Class 2
  • UL 817 – Standard for Cord Sets and Power-Supply Cords

For different types of AC adapters, click here for more applicable UL standards.

UL Certification

UL Listing: To indicate that the product is tested by UL and satisfies UL standards. Note: UL listing product is popular for many startups business to avoid non-compliant products.

UL Recognition: UL Recognition applies to “associated-product to perform an end-task” which includes AC adapter. You can often find the UL Recognition Mark on AC adapters on the market.

UL Classification: To indicate that the product meets UL safety requirements for certain properties.

Amazon

Amazon and retailers often request UL test reports to ensure AC adapters compliance and safety requirements. Thus, even though such tests are voluntary, they have become a de-facto standard in the United States.

Risks

AC adapters manufactured in China, and elsewhere in Asia, are not exclusively designed to comply with UL, IEC and EN safety standards. Manufacturing a safe and compliant AC adapter, as with all electronics, is more expensive than producing one that is not made to comply with said standards. Importing unsafe phone chargers, laptop chargers and other AC adapters to the United States is highly risky and should never be considered.

As such, you must either source AC adapters for which existing test reports and other compliance documents are in place (which is rare), or book third-party lab testing. Another option is to procure brand name AC adapters from Samsung or TDK. In fact, doing so is often cheaper than going through the testing process for a no-name OEM charger.

Energy Efficiency Level VI Standards

The United States Department of Energy (DoE) established the mandatory Level VI standards for power suppliers (e.g., AC adapters) shipped into the United States. As such, AC adapters must meet level VI energy efficiency requirements.

DoE Level VI standards regulate efficiency performance at:

  • 25% load
  • 50% load
  • 75% load
  • 100% load

Also, they regulate no-load power draw, such as:

  • ≤ 0.1 W for Single Voltage (1~49W)
  • ≤ 0.21 W for Single Voltage (50~250W)
  • ≤ 0.5 W for Single Voltage (>250W)

Note: The Level VI standards apply to direct operation external power supplies only.

Lab Testing

While Energy Star is still voluntary for many importers and manufacturers, the DoE Level VI energy efficiency regulation is now a mandatory requirement in the United States.

You can find the internationally approved test method for determining efficiency by International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC 60034-2-1).

Third-party lab testing is the only possible way to verify your AC adapters’ compliance. You should either request a relevant test report from your supplier or book a lab test from reputable testing companies such as Intertek, TUV, and CMA Testing. We recommend that you book an Energy Efficiency Test before importation.

Labeling Requirements

AC adapters’ importers or manufacturers must carry a Roman Numeral VI on the power supply label as specified by the International Efficiency Marking Protocol. The VI mark indicates compliance with DoE Level VI standards.

In addition, the United States is the only country that enforces compliance with the Level VI Standards. However, many power supply manufacturers are adjusting their products to meet these requirements before they become mandatory.

California Proposition 65

If you are importing AC adapters to California, you must comply with California Proposition 65 (CA Prop 65).

CA Prop 65 restricts the level of substances known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, in all consumer products including AC adapters.

As such, your AC adapter must not contain excessive amounts of restricted substances; otherwise, they must carry a warning label on the product and its packaging.

Examples of restricted substances

  • Lead
  • Cadmium
  • Acrylamide
  • Amsacrine
  • Benzophenone
  • Mercury
  • Phthalates

California Proposition 65 Lab testing

Third-party lab testing is the only way to verify whether your AC adapters can be imported and sold warning labels. Only a few manufacturers can provide CA Prop 65 test reports for AC adapters. Therefore, we recommend that you should book a CA Prop 65 lab test for AC adapters before the importation.

Testing costs

CA Prop 65 test for AC adapter starts from $200. It can be increased according to different product types and materials.

Testing companies

We also covered more CA Prop 65 test companies in this guide.

Warning Labeling

Warning labeling is mandatory for products were not tested for compliance with CA Prop 65.

Risks

Some plastic materials used to make AC adapter cases contain excessive amounts of restricted chemicals and heavy metals.

Country regarding Origin

The Country of Origin label is mandatory for AC adapters imported and sold in the United States. The label must permanently be affixed to the product and its packaging.

Examples

  • Made in China
  • Made in Korea
  • Made in Japan
  • Made in Vietnam

Label file

Your supplier is not responsible for the Country of Origin label. Instead, you must create your label file in .ai or .eps format, then instruct your suppliers about the label placement.

Product Packaging

Importers must also pay attention to the packaging requirements for AC adapters. Here we summarize packaging requirements in the United States:

Heavy Metals Restrictions

The level of heavy metals in your packaging is restricted in the United States. An excessive amount of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium in your packaging is not allowed.

Third-party lab testing is the only way to verify whether your packaging material is compliant. We suggest that you request professional help from testing companies such as QIMA, SGS, or Bureau Veritas.

Labeling Requirements

Product labeling requirements also apply to product packaging. For example, you shall include the Country of Origin label on the product packaging as well.

Amazon Compliance Requirements

Amazon will check compliance of associated-products such as power supplies. Amazon may request compliance documents for AC adapters at any time. You must be able to provide all relevant documents to ensure product safety.

If you have questions about the compliance of AC adapters, we suggest that you read the requirements in the Amazon Seller Central, or send an inquiry to Amazon.

How does Amazon check product compliance?

It mostly depends on the compliance documents that you can provide. They would request all relevant lab reports or product certificates when listing a new SKU. Even when you are already selling products on Amazon, they have the right to review your compliance documents at any time.

What can happen if we sell non-compliant AC adapters on Amazon?

Selling a non-compliant product on Amazon could lead to blocked listings, or even prevent you from selling on Amazon. In our experiences, Amazon usually conducts compliance checking for specific SKUs.

  • (USA & EU)

    We Help Brands & Importers With Product Compliance (US & EU)

    • Product Requirements Lists
    • Product Certification
    • Product & Packaging Labeling
    • Lab Testing

    BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION


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