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  • Press Release

Underwriters Laboratories Publishes First Safety Standard for Portable Generators

March 4, 2009

Northbrook, Ill., March 4, 2009 - Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an independent product safety certification and leading standards development organization, today announced the publication of UL 2201, a Standard for Portable Engine-Generator Assemblies. Prior to this standard, there was no voluntary safety standard for portable generators sold in the United States.

Portable generators offer an alternative source of electricity during temporary power outages and have become a vital tool during severe storm recovery. However, when not used properly or when used indoors, these devices may present potential safety risks to consumers. These risks include, but are not limited to, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, and fire.

"UL is committed to making the world a safer place. That's why we are publishing the first safety standard for portable generators," said Robert Williams, vice president of standards for UL. "Portable generators are becoming more popular for consumers, so it is important for the industry to manufacture and market portable generators that have been tested for foreseeable hazards."

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), the estimated number of portable generators in U.S. households grew from 9.2 million units in 2002 to 10.6 million units in 2005. The number of deaths associated with portable generators has increased annually since 1999. The CPSC reported at least 365 generator-related deaths between 1990 and 2005, many of them after a hurricane or other major storm.

"Portable generators are commonly used during and after storms, however, consumer-grade generators typically are not weatherproof and can pose the risk of electrocution and shock when used in wet conditions," said Williams. "UL 2201 will help to mitigate the safety hazards related to poor weather conditions. We are prepared to test and certify generators that can operate safely outdoors under the real-world conditions consumers will experience."

UL performance requirements will permit safe outdoor use of UL-LISTED portable generators during storms or poor weather conditions, as well as require clear usage labels that may help reduce the known risks of CO poisoning and electrocution.

As the leading safety testing and certification organization in North America, UL has conducted product safety testing for nearly 115 years. Each year, 21 billion UL Marks appear on more than 19,000 types of products - from the shingles to the storm windows to garage doors - all of which have been evaluated to meet nationally recognized safety standards. The UL Mark means the product has been certified for safety regarding foreseeable hazards that include electric shock, fire and mechanical hazards.

UL is prepared to begin evaluating portable generators to UL 2201 effective immediately.