Components are products that are intended to be used in the construction of other products. Examples include plastics, switches, power supplies, wiring, conduit, and circuit boards.
Components can be further categorized as either being “Factory Installed” or “Field Installed”. If you manufacture a component, these definitions are very important in determining your component certification options in the USA & Canada.
1) Factory Installed Components are sold to other product manufacturers for use in building their finished product. A large percentage of components fall into this category including raw materials such as plastics, electrical devices such as relays, and major subassemblies such as power supplies. The suitability of these components is judged by the Certification Agency that evaluates the finished product. The problem is that in the United States, certification agencies are not required to accept competing agency certifications. And, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) have only been willing to accept each other’s certification mark. Considering that UL and CSA have a large percentage of the finished product certification market, this leaves manufacturers of factory installed components little choice.
2) Field Installed Components are sold over-the-counter to electricians and other skilled individuals for installation directly into a building wiring system or in assembling a product on-site. This may include custom equipment. The suitability of these components is judged by the local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction who is usually the electrical or building inspector). The AHJ accepts all properly rated Field Installed components that are certified by agencies accredited as an “NRTL” in the US and “C” for Canada. This allows manufacturers of field installed components to use any certification agency accredited for the applicable standard.
RELATED NOTE: Underwriters Laboratories is a standards writing body and a certification agency. Underwriters Laboratories has published many safety standards, all of which use a “UL” numbering system (i.e. UL50). In the United States, certification agencies are accredited by the US Federal Government to certify products to UL standards. This includes Underwriters Laboratories, Canadian Standards Association, Intertek-ETL, MET Laboratories, TUV-R, and others. A similar system exists in Canada with the Canadian Standards Association publishing “CSA” standards and also certifying products. Most of the well-known certification agencies are accredited NRTL/C for US and Canada. All of these agencies issue certifications to UL and CSA standards.
YES, it is confusing!
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