issue: December 2009 APPLIANCE Magazine
Feature: Quality Testing & Certification
Email this Article
Third-party testing is becoming an important tool for keeping faith with consumers.
Energy efficiency is widely seen as the top
trend in appliances worldwide. Simin Zhou, vice president and general
manager of Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) global appliances and HVAC
business, sees a growing global need for third-party verification of
energy efficiency. “We expect that governments as well as consumers
will want more validation of producer efficiency claims in the future,”
she tells APPLIANCE magazine.
Mark It Green
Group plc and Intertek Testing Services (Boxborough, MA, U.S.;
www.intertek-etlsemko.com) point to studies showing that consumers
continue to support environmentally responsible products but they are
looking for environmental certification marks or labels.
are starting to see more scrutiny by regulators of green labeling and
retailers are increasing pressure on suppliers to ensure that product
performance claims are based on fact and independently verified,” says
Ruud Overbeek, PhD, vice president of Intertek’s Health and
Environmental Services. OEMs increasingly seek outside verification.
“They want to protect their brand, not only if their green claims are
found to be overstated, but also if their supply chain is found to be
A few months ago Intertek
launched a new design for its global Green Leaf Mark. The Green Leaf
Mark is used by customers to indicate that a product conforms to
multiple existing environmental regulations, such as RoHS, REACH, and
Eco Design requirements. This one mark can be used on product
packaging, in point of purchase displays, product advertising, and in
product literature to explain a product’s environmental credentials.
a growing list of standards to meet, appliance engineers are finding
ways to make the product development process itself more efficient.
They have allies in the testing agencies themselves, which have
developed global relationships and systems that allow an agency in one
country to facilitate the certification of products for many worldwide
CSA Group is exemplary of this
evolution. What started out as the Canadian Standards Association now
has offices, testing labs, and affiliates in 60-plus countries. Its CSA
International division (Cleveland, OH, U.S.; www.csa-international.org)
has certification marks that are recognized in Canada, the U.S., and
CSA’s OnSpeX division
(www.onspex.com) provides consumer product evaluation for retailers and
manufacturers. Earlier this year its laboratory in Shanghai received
accreditation by China National Accreditation Service to the ISO 17025
General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration
laboratories standard. OnSpeX vice president and general manager Sue
Dempsey said the accreditation was significant for customers. “Having a
qualified laboratory so close to the manufacturers and factories can
mean faster turnaround times for manufacturers and lower costs for
transportation. It can also shorten time to market for retailers and
manufacturers for new and innovative products.”
Better Certification Tools
energy users in the home, and commercially, are heating,
air-conditioning, and refrigeration systems. HVAC/R OEMs are under
tremendous pressure to achieve ever-increasing efficiency levels and
are turning to third-party providers to verify their in-house test
results. UL (Northbrook, IL, U.S.; www.ul.com) recently opened an
expanded HVAC/R Performance Test Center in Plano, TX, U.S. The bigger
facility and new equipment have doubled UL’s capacity and enhanced its
HVAC/R performance testing capabilities.
facility’s seven dual-cell psychrometric testing rooms allow testing in
environments with precise temperature and humidity control. In fact,
the facility’s comprehensive capabilities allow it to test to all major
national and international standards for safety and performance,
including UL, IEC, AHRI, and ASHRAE, as well as customer-specific
an OEM says a product is efficient, it had better be efficient. The
unfavorable PR that comes from inaccurate efficiency labels can be
costly to address and detrimental to consumer brand perception.
Appliance labeling programs themselves have suffered recent blows to
In Europe, appliance
association CECED and several other organizations partnered to create
the Appliance Testing for Energy Label Evaluation (Atlete) project,
with the primary objective of improving energy labeling control. Atlete
says some EU member states fail to control accurate labeling.
U.S. Energy Star program has itself come under fire, and from within.
“Significant control weaknesses” in the EPA’s management of the Energy
Star program were identified two years ago in an EPA Office of
Inspector General audit. But another audit in October of 2009 showed
that none of the recommended improvements were in place.
a result of its most recent dressing down, Energy Star should begin to
formalize testing and reporting procedures. That’s certainly what the
Inspector General wants to happen. “Because of the potential to mislead
consumers and waste energy,” the 2009 audit states, “we concluded that
independent third-party testing of products is an important control to
prevent the sale of products that are not compliant with Energy Star