November 29, 2022
Expanded scope of UL 153, the Standard for Portable Electric Luminaires
The scope of UL 153, the Standard for Portable Electric Luminaires, was recently expanded, and the revisions were published on Sept. 26, 2022. Previously, UL 153 only covered portable luminaires intended to be operated while connected to an external power source. The new Supplement SA includes requirements for portable luminaires intended to be operated while disconnected from any external supply source, with power provided only from integral single-use or rechargeable batteries.
Covered product categories and battery considerations
The most common forms of portable luminaires addressed by the new Supplement SA are flashlights, but the scope also includes tabletop or wall-mounted luminaires. Their portability and ability to be held by hand distinguish them from products covered by the previous version of UL 153. To address the associated risks, Supplement SA includes requirements related to impact resistance, water ingress and photobiological hazards.
Lithium batteries are widely used in flashlights, and the retail market today accepts many rechargeable lithium flashlights with no safety certification. However, under certain conditions, lithium batteries’ very high energy densities pose risks of fire or explosion. This concern increases for lithium batteries that may have design or manufacturing defects. Lithium battery product incidents continue to increase around the world. Supplement SA addresses this lack of safety certification by specifying an appropriately targeted evaluation program that can be performed by independent test agencies. It requires lithium battery cells to comply with the relevant requirements in UL 1642, the Standard for Lithium Batteries, or UL 62133-2, the Standard for Secondary Cells and Batteries Containing Alkaline or Other Non-Acid Electrolytes, and verifies that the charge and discharge conditions offered by the flashlight meet the battery manufacturer’s recommendations.
Additional considerations for flashlights
The existing standard for flashlights, UL 1576, the Standard for Flashlights and Lanterns, was published in 2018. However, the UL 1576 requirements are written for flashlights that have a removable and separately rechargeable battery pack that must comply with UL 2595, the Standard for General Requirements for Battery-Powered Appliances. These product designs are preferred for battery-powered appliances and tools such as drills and gardening equipment. The flashlights readily available through online and local retailers for general consumer use instead typically have non-removable, USB-rechargeable batteries, which are not within the scope of UL 1576.
The UL 153 Supplement SA requirements limit the operating voltage of flashlights to prevent the risk of electric shock injury in wet environments. They also limit the overall battery power to reduce the risk of fire and high surface temperatures. Because the intense light beam of a flashlight can be directed at the eyes and at very close proximity, Supplement SA requires a photobiological evaluation for compliance with the Risk Group 0 thresholds that are now commonly applied to many LED products. Mechanical forces can damage lithium batteries, so Supplement SA has a more demanding drop impact test program than historically applied to other portable luminaires. This drop test method aligns with that of the ANSI/PLATO FL-1 performance standard for flashlights. This alignment with ANSI/PLATO FL-1 also applies to the Supplement SA water-resistance test, which uses the widely adopted IP Codes and methods. Through this alignment with ANSI/PLATO FL-1, UL 153 allows for an efficient and comprehensive evaluation of flashlights, helping manufacturers avoid redundant or conflicting test programs.
How UL Solutions can help
We are proud to offer UL 153 Supplement SA certification services to expand on the trusted relationship we have developed with the entire lighting industry supply chain, from manufacturers and distributors to retailers. It furthers our mission to create a safer world by helping to reduce compliance risks and to protect consumers from hidden hazards. We look forward to partnering with companies seeking to produce, distribute and sell more reliable and safer products that earn the trust of consumers around the world.