UL 1863: What This Safety Certification Really Means for Connectors
When you’re joining a device to your network using a cable and connector, the last thing you should worry about is the safety of the components allowing you to make this connection.
Sometimes, however, cable and connectivity solutions take a beating – whether it’s due to the type of environment they’re in, how often they’re handled or how careful you are in handling them.
To ensure safety in these situations, UL is responsible for certifying cable and connectivity products based upon their performance during a series of specific tests.
A Closer Look at UL 1863
If you’ve encountered products with a UL 1863 Listing before, this listing indicates that the product is safe to use. In other words, you don’t need to worry about coming into contact with exposed wires or experiencing electrical shock – even if the cable is used in a tough environment.
Did you know, however, that there are two paths within the UL 1863 certification test? The same series of tests is completed regardless of the product being tested, but there are two versions: tests completed at 500 volts rms of dielectric withstand voltage or at 1,000 volts rms of dielectric withstand voltage. Some of these tests include:
- Impact tests, where a smooth, solid, 1.18-pound sphere drops from above to strike the product
- Crush tests, where a steady, crushing, 75 pound-force is applied at right angles to the product for one minute
- Flex tests, where a cable is flexed or bent to a right and left angle of 90 degrees five times on each side
- Pull tests, where the product is subjected to a gradually increasing pull of up to three pounds and then held for one minute
The test version used is ultimately up to the manufacturer. When a manufacturer states that its product is UL 1863 Listed, it’s important to ask which level of dielectric withstand voltage was used for testing. Here’s why it matters …
What UL 1863 Certification Means
Currently, it’s possible for a manufacturer to claim compliance with UL 1863 without specifying whether it was tested at 500 volts rms or 1,000 volts rms.
This is important to note because connectivity tested to 500 volts rms of dielectric withstand voltage is only able to supply DC voltage levels of up to 42.4 volts. Most of today’s low-voltage technology systems, whether you’re talking about access points, IP cameras, nurse call systems, digital screens or LED lighting, require DC voltage levels of up to 60 volts. Connectors that pass the 1,000 volt rms dielectric withstand test are rated to 353 volts. To supply these voltage levels to end devices using data cabling, a dielectric withstand voltage of 1,000 volts rms is necessary.
When you see a connector with a UL 1863 Listing, it’s crucial to ask whether the product passed using 1,000 volts rms of dielectric withstand voltage. Choosing a solution that is certified at higher voltage ensures that a connector is rated to supply the voltage level needed for PoE-enabled devices and will be safe to use without risks of exposed wires due to excessive force, impact or pulling.
If the route of 500 volts rms is chosen by the manufacturer, the connector is an option for data systems only. If the route of 1,000 volts rms is chosen by the manufacturer, the connector can also be used for PoE or POTS connections.
FlexPlug: UL 1863 Listed
Belden’s REVConnect FlexPlug carries the UL 1863 Listing; it’s certified at 1,000 volts rms of dielectric withstand voltage. This means that it’s rated for PoE use and safe for end-users and installers to use without concerns about exposed wires in the case of pulling, yanking or impact to the plug.
In addition to its high levels of safety, the FlexPlug offers several other benefits, too:
- It works with any IoT device that uses an RJ45 plug
- It eliminates the need for a jack, biscuit box and patch cord for fast installation with fewer components and lower material costs
- It allows users to quickly connect IoT and PoE (100W) devices that require small-footprint, low-profile RJ45 plugs or tight wire routing
- It accommodates 90-degree to 180-degree bends from the connection interface
- It’s fast and easy for end-users to connect or disconnect IP devices to networks, with no training necessary; they can be switched as frequently as desired