ETL Lab Testing Guide: An Overview

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ETL Lab Testing

ETL certification and marking help businesses ensure that their electrical and electronic products comply with certain standards. Part of this process involves lab testing, which is what this article is about.

Importers and manufacturers can send their products to be ETL-tested in Intertek’s Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL) – all of which have been approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the US.

In this guide, we cover ETL testing processes, costs, and more.

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What is ETL lab testing?

ETL lab testing is carried out by Intertek as part of the ETL certification process. Once a product is deemed compliant, the importer or manufacturer can use the ETL Mark for its product.

Note that ETL lab testing can only be done at Intertek’s OSHA-approved NRTL. The company can test many different types of products, such as:

  • Hairdressing equipment
  • Portable electric lamps
  • Fans and ventilators
  • Motor-operated cooking appliances
  • Seasonal & holiday decorative products

Importers and manufacturers can have their products tested against applicable standards, such as the following:

  • UL
  • ASTM
  • ASME
  • ANSI
  • NFPA

Is ETL lab testing mandatory?

ETL lab testing is not mandatory unless you require ETL certification and marking. However, importers and manufacturers can benefit from having their products ETL lab tested.

When their products have been tested compliant, they can apply a certification mark – such as the ETL Listed Mark – to their product. The ETL mark is meant to signal that the product meets certain safety standards, primarily in North America.

When their products bear the ETL Mark, importers and manufacturers enjoy benefits such as retail buyers trusting their sourced products more. Some retailers may even require an ETL or UL compliance mark to even consider a product.

Which companies offer ETL testing?

Though many other companies offer testing services, Intertek is the only company that specifically offers ETL testing. This is because the ETL Certification Program is developed and operated by Intertek.

ETL lab testing standards

ETL is not a standard against which products can be tested. Instead, Intertek tests products against standards that are relevant for different countries, such as:

  • ASTM (US)
  • UL/ULC (US and Canada)
  • CSA (Canada)
  • NOM (Mexico)

As such, there are no “ETL standards”. Instead, the ETL testing procedure is based on standards developed by other organizations.

ASTM standards

The American Society for Testing Material (ASTM) develops standards for a large array of products and services, including:

  • Toys
  • Flammability testing for furniture
  • Textiles

You can submit your products to be tested in Intertek’s test labs against ASTM standards, such as:

a. ASTM F963-17 Standard Consumer Safety Specification on Toy Safety

b. ASTM E1537-16 Standard Test Method for Fire Testing of Upholstered Furniture

c. ASTM D6554 Standard Specification for 100% Cotton Denim Fabrics

UL standards

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) also develops standards, mainly for electronics and electrical products. They cover products such as:

  • Televisions
  • Portable electric lamps
  • Extension cords

You can get your products tested against UL standards such as the following in one of Intertek’s test labs:

a. UL 60065 Standard for Audio, Video and Similar Electronic Apparatus – Safety Requirements

b. UL 153 Portable Electric Luminaries

c. UL 817 Cord Sets and Power-Supply Cords

NOM standards

According to its website, Intertek can issue the NOM Mark for “virtually any type of product” that is exported into Mexico, including electronics. To obtain the mark, importers and manufacturers should submit their products to be tested in one of Intertek’s test labs.

NOM standards cover products such as:

  • Handheld motor-operated tools
  • Wiring devices
  • Small interrupters

Intertek offers ETL lab testing against NOM standards such as:

a. NOM-001-SCFI-1993 (based on IEC-60065)

b. NOM-019-SCFI-1993 (based on IEC-60335-1)

ETL test methods

ETL testing methods generally depend on the test methods of the standards against which the test is done. For example, tests performed against ASTM standards would invariably differ from tests performed against UL standards. In this section, we provide some examples of test methods.

ASTM test methods

Here are some examples of ASTM test methods for toys (ASTM F963):

  • Test methods for determination of heavy element content in toys, toy components and materials
  • Magnet test methods
  • Compression test

UL test methods

Here are some examples of UL test methods for battery energy storage devices (UL 9540A):

  • Cell level test
  • Module level test
  • Unit level test
  • Installation level test

Process

ETL testing is part of the wider ETL certification program. For example, if Intertek has tested your product and found it to comply with relevant standards, they would issue you an ETL Listed Mark, certifying that your product is safe to be sold.

Importers and manufacturers seeking ETL testing and certification for their products have to first request a quote.

ETL quotation

To get a quotation, you should provide Intertek with information such as:

  • Details of certification applicant
  • Product specifications and models
  • Description (intended use)
  • Target user base
  • Details of recognized/listed components or sub-assemblies
  • Details of manufacturer(s) and location(s)

Intertek will then provide you with a quotation, which will include items such as:

  • Applicable standard(s)
  • Name of lab/reviewer
  • Timeline
  • Testing fee
  • Other fees related to certification

Send samples and technical documentation to the lab

Before the product testing is conducted, importers or manufacturers are required to submit the following to ETL:

a. Product samples for testing purposes

b. Technical documentation on the product

Obtain the test report

After the product tests have been done, importers and manufacturers should receive a test report that includes information on the relevant test methods, the product, and more.

Obtain the certificate

Besides testing, in order to get certified, manufacturers must also subject their factories to inspection by Intertek. If the factories pass the inspection, Intertek awards the manufacturer with a certificate permitting them to use the ETL Mark on their products.

You can learn more about the ETL certification process in this article.

Time frame

According to their website, Intertek can help importers and manufacturers get their products tested and certified in under 15 days. This is because the company promotes collaboration between the testing lab and importers and manufacturers by providing them with:

  • Custom tailored testing
  • Quick turnarounds
  • Flexible work methods

However, note that the time frame might vary depending on factors such as:

  • How long it takes to ship the testing samples
  • The complexity of the product

Testing costs

Intertek provides certification fees on its website. However, according to our knowledge, it does not provide any information regarding how much you have to pay to have your product tested. Testing costs may also depend on the product type, components, specifications, and age group.

To find out how much product testing costs, you can contact Intertek using its request form.

ETL testing labs

ETL has multiple testing laboratories around the world, especially in North America, Europe, and Asia. However, ETL lab testing can only be performed by an NRTL, and Intertek has 13 of them, which we list below.

North America

ETL has several NRTL testing locations in North America, namely in Canada and the United States:

  • Arlington Heights, IL (Chicago)
  • Boxborough, MA (Boston)
  • Cortland, NY (Syracuse)
  • Duluth, GA (Atlanta)
  • Fairfield, NJ (NY Metro)
  • Fridley, MN (Minneapolis)
  • Lake Forest, CA (Los Angeles)
  • Menlo Park, CA (Bay Area)
  • Middleton, WI (Madison)
  • Plano, TX (Dallas)
  • Coquitlam, BC, Canada (Vancouver)

Europe

Intertek has an NRTL in Europe, namely in Kista, Stockholm, Sweden.

Asia

Intertek has an NRTL in Asia, which is located in Kowloon, Hong Kong, China.

  • (USA & EU)

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

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

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    Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided for general information only. The content includes summaries written by our team members based on publicly available information about product safety standards, labeling, documentation, testing, processes, and other product compliance related topics. However, we don’t guarantee that we cover every single relevant regulation/standard/requirement, or that the information is free from errors, or covering every single scenario and exemption. We do make mistakes from time to time. We never provide legal advice of any sort.

    Changes/Updates: Product standards and substance restrictions are subject to frequent updates and changes. In addition, new regulations, standards, and/or requirements may also become effective at any time. We don’t update our articles whenever new standards/regulations/rules are added or changed. We recommend that you consult a lab testing company or other professional to get the latest information about mandatory standards/regulations in your market, country, or state. Lab testing companies generally stay up to date on new and updated standards and regulations.

    National/State-Level Standards/Regulations: Many articles don't cover all European national and US state standards, regulations, and requirements. We recommend that you consult a testing company or other professional to confirm all relevant (and current) national/state level standards and regulations.
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