Lighting Certification for Your Commercial Space


USAToday.com reported in January this year that Tracy Lynn Garner, the woman convicted in the 2012 death resulting from Garner injecting the patient’s butt with silicone…the silicone you might use to caulk around your bathtub. Garner died after serving only 3.5 years of her life sentence.

Garner had no medical training and was not licensed to perform the procedure. No MD. No DO. No RN. No nothing.

Okay, that’s extreme, but true. The same thing could be said of any certification required to be considered legal.

It could be building code, like being UL listed.

I learned what UL-approval means the hard way. My nickel budget didn’t get me admission to the dime store when hunting down modern ceiling fixtures to replace four-foot long fluorescent ones that would have looked more appropriate over a basement workbench. In my hunt to track down fixtures to give this blah commercial space without windows some pop, I landed at www.beautifulhalo.com, a website that accepts purchases in 16 currencies. (Alert buzzers could go off appropriately at this point in the story.) Cheap and modern. Cheap and the right size. The only thing not cheap was the shipping.

When Allstar Electrical arrived on site to install and the first words out of the electrician’s mouth were, “We can’t hang these; they won’t pass inspection. They’re not UL-approved.”

So what does UL stand for?

The UL listing means the light fixture has been tested by United Laboratories and meets UL’s standards. One-hundred and twelve years ago in 1906, United Laboratories introduced the UL Mark to indicate products that had passed UL testing.

UL isn’t the only acceptable certification. While it is the most commonly used, ETL (Electrical Testing Labs operated by Intertek) also tests products to the same safety standards as UL. Both UL and ETL are Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs).

Inspections are one thing you don’t mess around with. When a tradesman pulls a permit, it is required that an inspector sign off on the work performed before the building can be occupied. Hold up a commercial building approval and it all rolls downhill. Move-in dates are delayed. Employee paychecks are too. None of it is good.

I trust Allstar. They’ve been hanging my lights since, well, for the past 20+ years. I’ve been thoroughly satisfied: The electrician shows up on time. The electrician doesn’t waste time. The electrician cleans up after he finishes his work. And Allstar’s pricing is modest. (There was a time I said to the electrician that I really believed they should charge more for what he was doing. He, in turn, smiled and thanked me for the work.)