New recognition certification for access hardware components used in electrical enclosures accelerates market access

by Chris Waite, engineer, Diversified Technologies, Southco, Inc


ntil recently, electrical enclosure manufacturers faced a challenge: To build enclosures that were UL 50E Type rated, additional testing and evaluation of the enclosure was almost always required due to the unknown compliance status of components such as hinges and latches used. However, UL recently released FTTA2/FTTA8, a new

Recognition Certification for the U.S. and Canada. This assists manufacturers who wish to utilise Type or rated hinging and latching accessories in enclosures complying with the requirements of UL 50E, respectively. UL standards evaluate a criteria similar to the NEMA and

the IEC’s IP rating systems to measure a product’s ability to withstand a varying degree of environmental elements. This is particularly important for European manufacturers that export to North America. UL 50 and UL 50E are two UL Standards for electrical enclosures. UL 50

applies to enclosures for electrical equipment intended to be installed and used in non-hazardous locations in accordance with the Canadian Electrical Code, Part I, CSA C22.1, the provisions of the National Electrical Code, NFPA 70 and the provisions of Mexico’s Electrical Installations. UL 50E covers additional environmental construction and performance requirements for these types of enclosures. With the new FTTA2/FTTA8 certification, enclosure manufacturers may be able to reduce the time and cost associated with putting their enclosure through all facets of UL 50E testing (e.g., corrosion resistance, gasket integrity, and plastic concerns such as UV, water exposure and immersion, and flammability requirements). By selecting registered components under FTTA2/FTTA8 and leveraging exemptions for other materials used to construct the enclosure, enclosure designers can achieve their desired Type Rating with a final hosedown test of the end-item. Enclosure manufacturers can therefore accelerate market access without

compromising product safety. Risks from sourced components are mitigated, as there are no latching and hinging hardware corrosion protection and plastic requirements, gasket testing and traceability issues that the manufacturer must test for and document on their own. Although a final hosedown test is always required, latching and hinging hardware is also vetted for different levels of water ingress testing in isolation.

UNDERSTANDING UL RECOGNITION CERTIFICATION To understand FTTA2/FTTA8, it helps to understand how UL evaluates and certifies components according to UL standards. A complete product is ultimately an assembly of components. Components can be either Listed or Recognised by UL. The simplest method by which to comply, on a component level, is to start with certified components. With UL’s component recognition service determines that a manufacturer

has demonstrated the ability to produce a component for use in an end product that complies with UL’s requirements. This type of investigation takes into account the performance and construction characteristics of the end product and how the component will be used in that product. The new FTTA2/FTTA8 Recognition Certification covers a broad range of

enclosure accessories, including: 3-point handles; Butt and concealed hinges; Draw latches and compression latches; Captive fasteners; Quarter- turn fasteners; and Swing handles. The environmental testing and certification provided by UL can potentially

eliminate common ‘pain points’ that enclosure manufacturers can encounter when trying to comply with UL 50E, most notably during the product development process. If component products do not comply with UL 50 and/or UL 50E, the enclosure needs to be refitted and tested again. This can add up to 50 days


or more to the timeline for completing one FTTA2/FTTA8 corrosion test. Using components that already comply with FTTA2/FTTA8 helps ensure the functionality of the enclosure will not be affected when used in the field.

UL TESTING AND EVALUATION PROCESS UL conducted three highly rigorous environmental exposure tests to assess the samples selected from the hinges, latches and other products submitted. • A 25 day/600-hour salt spray test where the test sample is compared to G90 galvanized steel

• A 50 day/1200-hour moist air carbon dioxide (CO2

)/sulfur dioxide (SO2 ) test where the test samples

are subjected to moist carbon dioxide-sulfur dioxide-air exposure in an assessment protocol, which includes numerous compliance criteria for determination of the test results

• A 200-hour salt spray test where the test sample is compared to 304 series stainless steel

UL also conducted testing on gasket materials that are typically

included in latch kits. In addition, flange gaskets and O-rings are critical components contributing to the sealing features of latches and fasteners. As a gasket swelling, shrinking or losing its elasticity may be a problem oil immersion at room temperature, as well as tensile strength and elongation tests, are performed before and after oven aging to evaluate gasket materials and their ability to provide secure latching over a long period of use and exposure to environmental conditions.

SIMPLIFYING ENCLOSURE CERTIFICATION Enclosure accessories that receive the FTTA2/FTTA8 Recognition Certification can be used by manufacturers who create or use Type rated enclosures that comply with UL 50 and UL 50E, which streamlines the process of bringing Type rated enclosures to market. For example: Type 4X rated enclosures are certified for outdoor use,

providing an established degree of protection against hosedown, splashing water, windblown dust, rain, snow and sleet, and are constructed of materials and components that remain undamaged by the formation of ice. So, if all the other Type 4X conditions are met, all enclosure manufacturers

will need to do is perform a hosedown test to document that their enclosure can be Type 4X rated by UL. By pre-qualifying the enclosure for outdoor applications, it’s been estimated the manufacturer will save at least 50 days of testing time as well as the cost of test samples.

RESULTS OF UL EVALUATION OF SOUTHCO PRODUCTS Upon completion of testing, UL will post information about products that have received the FTTA2/FTTA8 Recognition Certification in the UL Online Certifications Directory. Products that have received the Recognition will be listed by company and categorized by product category, and the Type rating for which the components can be used. Once an enclosure manufacturer establishes a need for a UL 50E Type rated accessory, they can review the available options in the online directory. It makes sense to do this early in the design process. Working with an accessories supplier that understands compliance

requirements, and has proven experience in meeting the needs of the application can help ensure that the design is successful. It is important to note that selecting accessories with FTTA2/FTTA8 Recognition does not mean the enclosure manufacturer can bypass final testing of a completed enclosure. It simply means that the accessories themselves do not require additional testing. However, selecting Recognised accessories can save significant design, testing and certification costs, enabling faster market access for new enclosure designs that satisfy end- user requirements for Type rated applications.

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