The below article makes references to "UL" listings, but "ETL" listings are now just as common as "UL" and is often interchangeable. Regardless of safety certification, the below guidelines still apply.
The flexible lighting products we sell are very versatile, available in an assortment of colors, and suitable for a variety of applications. However, one of the most confusing aspects of cut-to-length flexible linear lighting products is their UL listing.
Be careful when you read a flexible linear lighting product is UL listed. Know what it means.
Why is this? In short, the answer is very simple: field modification. You see, linear lights are usually manufactured and sold in bulk spools with a variety of accessories. And even more accessories are available for purchase on our website. The whole reason for this is that we want our customers to have the flexibility to modify their lights as they see fit for their application...whether it be cutting to length in the field, joining runs together with a splice, or tee-in one run into two others. But these methods (even when following manufacturer instructions) are not UL-approved simply due to the fact that the folks at Underwriter's Laboratories cannot go around certifying every cut, splice, and termination done by a customer or installer at their project site. This does not mean that flexible lighting products, or the practice of field modification, are unsafe, just unsupervised.
Regarding all flexible lighting products, regardless of seller or manufacturer: the only ones that are UL listed per UL 2388 are those that are fully assembled and terminated at the factory using a pre-approved process. These lights cannot be modified by the end user in the field and still maintaining their UL rating.
What happens if you go ahead and field modify a UL or ETL listed rope light or neon light? When you make that first cut, the safety rating is effectively gone.
You will notice that we identify some of our flexible linear products as being UL (or ETL) listed in their bulk spool form. What this means is that the light is UL (or ETL) listed only in its original, uncut factory condition with pre-attached power cord. Cutting the light will void the listing.
NOTE: On low voltage bulk spools, often the amount of light on the bulk spool is longer then the maximum length of the product. In this case, the product must be cut from the spool to be used. Certain products will retain their rating (UL or ETL) from the pre-attached power cord up to the maximum length of the product, at which point it must be cut from the spool and terminated. Products that have this ability will be labeled as such on our website.
If it is important to you to maintain the UL listing for your project, you may either use an entire bulk spool as it is shipped, use a smaller kit that is prepackaged by the manufacturer (if available), or use a specifically UL-listed custom cut product (if available). Please note that most of our "custom cut" lights are not UL listed, unless specifically noted otherwise.
Please contact us if you have additional questions about UL listings on flexible lighting products.