UL Standard 294 is guidelines for electronic access control devices used for ingress and egress (entry and/or exit) of controlled areas. Many municipalities and facilities will require all devices used in an access control system to be up to this standard. It is beneficial for safety, security, and liability. Anyone can create and market a new product. Is that product safe? Has it been tested? In many cases the answer is no.
What does UL Standard 294 mean for my access control?
At gated communities for example, often access control devices are specified that were not independently tested, this could be a cost saving measure or because the product was not manufactured specifically for access control purposes. This can go against local building codes, and also increase the community's insurance and liability. This is why in larger applications such as hospitals, universities, and industrial sites the facility manager will specify and require all access control devices be certified to UL Standard 294.
Who oversees UL Standard 294?
In the United States, OSHA, is tasked with reducing injuries and promoting safe work environments. In order to achieve their goal they have identified third parties with the resources and qualifications to uniformly test and certify products as safe. Intertek, originally known as Edison Testing Laboratories (ETL), is one of these Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL). Underwriter Labs (UL) creates the standard, but any NRTL is able to certify if a product meets the standard.
Does UL Standard 294 make the access control device better?
Yes and no. UL Standard 294 ensures the access control device is safe when properly installed and used. Additionally, UL Standard 294 means the device was built to withstand harsh environments, power incidents, and brute force attacks. A non-certified device may have also been designed to do these things, but was not independently verified to.
What is the process for ETL certification?
There's a lengthy process for the initial certification and then ongoing checks and updates. For a new product, we will submit an application to ETL. Once scheduled we send them technical drawings, detailed list of components used in assembly, and a working product. They spend generally a few months going over the components and final product. They will then notify us if any changes need to be done. For example when we first launched the BA-440 Intertek specialists felt that two small components were too close together and power could potentially jump between them. We took their advice and just the space between the components (we're talking about millimeters) to account for the possibility and meet the UL Standard. We make all of their recommended changes and then submit it again. This process goes back and forth until all of their concerns are addressed and the product gets certified.
If we ever change any components or configurations we must notify them. Depending on the change they may need to reevaluate the product to maintain the certification.
Finally, they do quarterly reviews on all products to ensure quality control is maintaining the standards.
How do I know if the access control equipment we are looking at is certified?
The easiest way is to check the manufacturer's website or literature. Typically if a product is certified the manufacture will publish that. For example if you scroll to the bottom of our BA-440 DualBeam Barcode Reader page you will see the Intertek ETL mark. Alternatively, you may look up the product, company, or listing on an online database of certifications. This however may be more difficult because each NRTL maintains its own database.
For BAi products you may find us on the Intertek Directory by searching for Barcode Automation.