Save Yourself the Trouble- Always Purchase UL Certified Panels
At UCEC we’re beginning to notice an alarming trend. In the past six weeks, we’ve had three separate clients contact us for urgent help with panels made overseas or by a different local manufacturer. The problem with the panels? They failed inspection for not meeting National Electric Code(NEC) and UL508A(Industrial Control Panel) Standards.
In today’s digital age, comparison shopping has become as easy as a google search. While it’s often tempting to go with the cheapest product, when it comes to control panels, as it does with most things, you get what you pay for.
A control panel is a small, but critical component to running a much larger (and more expensive) machine or process. So critical that, without it, that million dollar process won’t run. Such was the case for the three clients we saw over the past few weeks. They might have saved a few hundred dollars on their panels, but now those panels were failing inspection and costing them in a multitude of resources: lost production time, labor, and the additional cost incurred from the repair to get the panel to pass inspection. Additionally, a failed inspection often results in you being subjected to a higher level of scrutiny with future installations and inspections.
Avoiding Unexpected Expenses with UL Certified Panels
At UCEC, quality control panels at a fair price is one of our founding principles. We put that principle into practice with our UL listing class.
For the uninitiated, UL LLC (or Underwriters Laboratories) is a nonprofit global safety certification company and a world recognized leader in product safety testing and certification. UL certification is an important qualifier to look for in a panel shop even if your industry hasn’t yet set it as a standard.
Not only does it ensure a certain standard for product safety, but it’s also a name recognized and trusted by inspectors. If a panel is UL certified, that inspector knows he or she can expect certain things from the panel. The UL nameplate is a stamp of approval from a known and trusted entity.
Cost of a UL Panel
When it comes to additional cost for a UL listed panel, it should be minimal. If a panel shop has a UL Certification then, in most cases, they’re going to build all of their panels to UL standards regardless of what the customer requests.
For example, in our shop, the only difference between a UL certified panel and a non-UL certified panel is the name plates and additional inspection to secure the certification. Since UCEC is committed to maintaining our UL listing class regardless of what panels we build, the only cost you incur is for those two items– typically an additional cost of just a couple hundred dollars. If you’re receiving quotes for UL panels that are thousands of dollars more than non-UL certified panels it should be a red flag.
The Cost of Not Getting a UL Panel
Remember those three clients we mentioned from the past six weeks? For the first one, we were able to salvage their programmable logic controllers(PLC’s) and replace the bare minimum parts and wiring to get their panels to meet UL standards and pass inspections. An expensive and timely outcome, but not as bad as it could have been.
For the last two, however, there was no salvaging the panel and we had to build them a new one from scratch. So, when considering the savings you could have by going with a non-UL Certified shop, be sure to also consider the risks. That client had to delay start times and ended up paying for a panel twice.
Product quality is paramount at UCEC and product safety is invaluable in every industry. Get your control panels from a shop you can trust and always buy from a UL listed company.
To get started on your custom panel project, contact us today.