NEC - UL Connection

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lpelectric

Senior Member
Ever notice:
  • that each one of all 19 Code Panels has a principal member from UL and an alternate member from UL? That's 19 members and 19 alternates from UL.
  • that Intertek Testing Services (formerly ETL) is represented on only 8 code panels and there are no alternates?
  • that Electro-Test, Inc.(ETI) has participation in only 1 panel with no alternate?
  • that there are 19 Nationally Recognized Testing Labs in the United States?
  • how people use the name "UL" in place of NRTL?
Come on NFPA how about some balance on your code panels...:mad:
edited to remove potential insinuation in the spirit of fairness
 
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lpelectric

Senior Member
Pierre C Belarge said:
It is possible that maybe those other testing labs are satisfied with how they are represented in the NEC.
Without knowing for sure, I would be careful in starting something.

I am trying to start something, Pierre. A conversation on equal recognition and participation in the code-making process.

I remember all too well the "politics" involved in an inspection company I used to work for. I remember how employees worked their way up through the chairs in the inspectors associations to become members of the code candidate pool and then on to memberships on code panels. This membership was not entirely dependant on electrical knowledge, either.

Anyways, when I started my own insurance risk management company I could not help but notice the similarities between the willingness to reject ETL in the industry and the rejection of my company in the industry. I actually had to sue several large cities for restraint of fair trade in order to compete in a fair and open market. In other words, each of my suits created a fair and open market out of the destruction of a well entrenched business model that favored one company to the practical exclusion of others. Not exactly my idea of the American Dream.

Any one who would suggest that politics is not present to a large degree within the code making process lacks some fundamental understanding of the way things move and shake. :smile:
 

bphgravity

Senior Member
Location
Florida
As Secretary to the largest Chapter of the IAEI, I will reserve any comments about the CMP selection process by the IAEI, however, I do think it is good to take notice of things such as this.

I personally am more concerned about the influence and control that NEMA and the manufacturer's have over the NFPA at the moment.

It seems like the code is getting full of requirements for very specific product types, rather than specific installation practices. Just my perspective.
 

LJSMITH1

Senior Member
Location
Stratford, CT
It's interesting that this topic has been raised again. A few months ago, I posted a topic that raised a similar question.

http://forums.mikeholt.com/showthread.php?t=89653

One thing that seems to keep UL 'entrenched' in these code panels, is that aside from providing third party testing services, in many cases they also develop and write the standards . ETL, ETI, NST, and CSA merely test to those same standards as required by a customer/industry. They are not typically known to write standards. It also needs to be pointed out that most NRTL's can test to other standards like ASTM, ANSI, NEMA, MIL-SPEC, etc. The fact that ETL, ETI, CSA or others may not be approached by the NFPA to write a new standard because they have a long-standing working replationship with UL..There's where it may get political.:rolleyes:

The fact is that UL is well established, and that leads to a 'comfort level' with most people (including consumers). This, in turn, leads to rumored AHJ "preferences" for UL Listings vs. other NRTL's. I am pretty confident that if an AHJ is asked if they will accept a ETL listed product over a UL listed product, they might show preference for UL. This is because they are unfamiliar with other approved NRTL's, or the basic fact that there is someone else besides UL that does listing. I am sure UL does not want people to know that other qualified NRTL's can test and list to a UL standard.

I work for a manufacturer of electrical products, and I have become more aware of the "preference" issue that seems to surround some state AHJ's. If other NRTL's would just spend more time and effort to publicize the fact that there is a choice when it comes to listing a product, then the playing field will level out and become less political or 'rumor-filled'.

IMHO, UL acts like a pseudo-government entity with monopolistic views. We have worked with them for well over 80 years, and it seems that they almost 'dare' us to try ETL or some other NRTL. I think UL believes they have a stranglehold on my industry, and I am sure they do all they can behind the scenes to discredit ETL or any other competitor.

Just my $0.02..
 

lpelectric

Senior Member
bphgravity said:
..........
I personally am more concerned about the influence and control that NEMA and the manufacturer's have over the NFPA at the moment.

It seems like the code is getting full of requirements for very specific product types, rather than specific installation practices. Just my perspective.

NEMA is represented by Principals on 18 of the 19 code-making panels and has Alternates on all 19 panels. They are also represented on the Tech Correlating Comm. Talk about "poised for input"....:rolleyes:
 

LJSMITH1

Senior Member
Location
Stratford, CT
I know I am in a part of the industry where the 'big fish' seems to have a leg up on everyone else. Just a quick view at the 2005 NEC could give a little insight on what I am talking about. How about looking at the credits for the pictures that are 'routinely' supplied for examples of products that reflect the section of the code being defined? Hmm...Square D, Cooper/Crouse-Hinds, EGS, T&B, Hubbell, etc...the list is long. If you were to look in a particular section, you would see images only from the big companies in that product category. I bet that most of those big companies have representation on code-making panels and it is no mistake that product images are being inserted to 'illustrate' a compliant product. I bet a simple, generic, illustration would be sufficient.

It's all about transparency...not so much in this area..:rolleyes:
 

lpelectric

Senior Member
LJSMITH1 said:
I know I am in a part of the industry where the 'big fish' seems to have a leg up on everyone else. Just a quick view at the 2005 NEC could give a little insight on what I am talking about. How about looking at the credits for the pictures that are 'routinely' supplied for examples of products that reflect the section of the code being defined? Hmm...Square D, Cooper/Crouse-Hinds, EGS, T&B, Hubbell, etc...the list is long. If you were to look in a particular section, you would see images only from the big companies in that product category. I bet that most of those big companies have representation on code-making panels and it is no mistake that product images are being inserted to 'illustrate' a compliant product. I bet a simple, generic, illustration would be sufficient.

It's all about transparency...not so much in this area..:rolleyes:

I was browsing through the '08 NEC the other night and I'm sure that I saw somewhere in the code (maybe a FPN) the name UL. In other words, not NRTL, but specifically UL. To me, this represents an endorsement right in the code.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
I don't see any problem at all with a UL rep being on each code panel, in fact I think it makes good sense.

Like Bryan, I am far more concerned with NEMA and manufacturers reps.
 

LJSMITH1

Senior Member
Location
Stratford, CT
LPelectric,

I wouldn't be surprised. I visited ETL last year and was very impressed with their operation. I was told that they were growing 15-20% a year, and many of their new clients were currently (or formerly) UL clients. I also met with UL to discuss their new pricing policy for listing new products (another story for another topic), and it seemed to me that they are aware of the tougher competition and the threat that it poses to their business model.

The point of this is that I would not be surprised if this was true and UL was looking for subtle ways to gain endorsements from national organizations. This may be a way for them to try and stay on top.

Who knows? Maybe I am just a conspiracy theory nutcase!:roll: :rolleyes:
 

lpelectric

Senior Member
LJSMITH1 said:
.........The point of this is that I would not be surprised if this was true and UL was looking for subtle ways to gain endorsements from national organizations. This may be a way for them to try and stay on top.

Who knows? Maybe I am just a conspiracy theory nutcase!:roll: :rolleyes:

I'll look tonight when I get home. I really think it's (the endorsement) in there. :smile:
 

lpelectric

Senior Member
Well, just a quick browse through the '08 code shows a few more FPN's that mention UL and NEMA. For "UL" references, see the FPN to 250.120(A) and the FPN to 422.51; and for new "NEMA" FPN references, see 406.8(A) and (B).
This practice isn't really new, though. Take a look through Article 551 to see NEMA all over the place. :smile:
 

lpelectric

Senior Member
ryan_618 said:
I don't think the NEC will really become a better document until proposals do not contain the submitter's name.

I wholeheartedly agree.

An interesting observation can be found on page 70-823 of the '08 NEC or 70-773 of the '05. Look at the right-hand column and notice the order in which Technical Committee members are classified. M Manufacturer. comes first, inspectors and consumers nearly last. :grin:
 
lpelectric said:
I am trying to start something, Pierre. A conversation on equal recognition and participation in the code-making process.

Any one who would suggest that politics is not present to a large degree within the code making process lacks some fundamental understanding of the way things move and shake. :smile:


I am all for that, but I think there is a subtle movement away from that sentiment.



I can say that I believe that politics has played a prominent role for a long, long time. It used to keep itself behind the scenes, now I believe it is comfortable enough to rear its ugly head and not fear the consequences.

Tom Baker said it well. It used to take cycles for items to be installed in the NEC (unless there were enough body bags). Now it would seem all they need is a prominent name in the industry from a large ($$$) manufacurer, and with the wave of a pencil it is code.
 

ryan_618

Senior Member
I was asked by the (then) president of a very large orginization to serve on a CMP last cycle. This orginization has a principal and an alternate on every panel. The CEO of that orginization informed me that I couldn't serve for them because, in addition to inspecting, I work for Mike Holt. I, of course, was very displeased (to say the least) at the time. The more I learn about the process, however, the more content I am that I am not on a CMP. There are many puppets on many strings, and a few very powerful people pull those strings. I would have been the puppet, and I would have been told how to vote on nearly every proposal. I am not interested in that.
 

wbalsam1

Senior Member
Location
Upper Jay, NY
ryan_618 said:
I was asked by the (then) president of a very large orginization to serve on a CMP last cycle. This orginization has a principal and an alternate on every panel. The CEO of that orginization informed me that I couldn't serve for them because, in addition to inspecting, I work for Mike Holt. I, of course, was very displeased (to say the least) at the time. The more I learn about the process, however, the more content I am that I am not on a CMP. There are many puppets on many strings, and a few very powerful people pull those strings. I would have been the puppet, and I would have been told how to vote on nearly every proposal. I am not interested in that.

Kudos to you Ryan. I got as far as the code canidate pool and backed off for similar reasons. :cool:
 
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