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What Do All These Hydroponic Lighting Acronyms Mean? CE, CSA, ETL and UL

When you’re shopping around for hydroponics supplies to create your indoor garden you’ll be inundated with terms that are new to you. It’s important to have a solid understanding of what they all mean, so you can be assured that you’re buying safety-tested products in the USA. Some of these stamps also mean that products conform to the Canadian, USA, or European markets, and that products can be sold in one or all of these countries if they bear all the marks.

Four of the more common acronyms are: CE, CSA, ETL and UL. Here’s what they stand for and why their meaning is important to you. 

What they mean:

UL—Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

The Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is an impartial and nonprofit organization that creates testing standards. They also test products for safety and certify them. Their nonprofit status ensures that they have no stake in the success of any electrical or electronics products on the market. To date, they have developed more than 800 different standards for safety for millions of products and components, which have all been tested to UL’s safety standards. 


CSA—Canadian Standards Association

CSA stands for the Canadian Standards Association. This is also a nonprofit business in Canada that has an impartial view on serving consumers in Canada and the global marketplace. They have no stake in the business of the products they test. They help to develop standards that enhance public and consumer safety. The CSA is a nationally recognized testing laboratory, and they stay up-to-date with the USA testing requirements too. A CSA-US mark is an alternative to the UL mark, according to guidelines laid out by OSHA—the US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration). 


CE—Conformance European (Communauté Européenne or Conformité Européenne)

The Conformance European is a safety requirement for products sold to the European market. This CE mark means that the product being sold will comply with all the safety and health requirements that have been created by the European Legislation. In Europe, these are called Directives. They are also mandatory for equipment operating in the EU—European Union. Once a product has received the CE stamp then it can be sold in any of the EU countries. 


ETL—ETL Testing Laboratories/Intertek Testing Services

The ETL stamp began as a mark of ETL Testing Laboratories. It’s now been assumed by the Intertek Testing Services, but the ETL is still being used. It’s a mark that is provided by both ITS and ETL Semko. This company is a global leader in testing and inspecting products, and providing certification services. They are also a nationally recognized testing laboratory. They will test products to CE, CSA, and UL standards. If a product has the ETL stamp, it means that it has met all the requirements of product safety standards. It’s also indicates that the manufacturer of the products has also adhered to certain compliance factors. A part of the process may also require these manufacturers to undergo follow-up inspections in order to follow compliance.