In Europe, if you see the initials CE or RoHS inscribed on an electronics product that means that it has been tested and certified as a safe device. In the USA, UL safety consulting sets the standard. UL helps companies demonstrate that their products are safe and functional. A UL certification indicates a high level of transparency and is regarded as the stamp of approval that a product meets quality standards and can be trusted to perform as advertised.
Until now, UL did not accept submissions from electronic cigarette manufacturers. In a March 20, 2017 press release, UL LLC announced that they would begin accepting and testing electronic cigarettes. UL 8139 will use systems to test the electronics, the battery, the heating system and battery charging functions of electronic cigarettes. If an e-cig manufacturer successfully passes all tests, you will be able to look for the UL symbol inscribed on verified vaping products.
While UL LLC will test the electronic processors, chipsets, batteries, chargers and atomizers, they will of course not be testing the e-liquids. They will be focusing on the electronics. UL has decided to accept vapor products in response to a number of sensationally reported e-cigarette explosions that have garnered so much attention. While we applaud UL for accepting electronic cigarette products, something that is long overdue, this alone will not eliminate the problems. What this development will do is allow responsible manufacturers to demonstrate the quality of their products.
Why UL Certification Won't Prevent E-cig Fire Incidents
Many of these widely reported incidents have actually involved vape batteries and not the devices themselves. For example an 18650 battery in a purse or pocket coming in contact with loose keys and coins. Careless battery storage is not something that can be regulated away. Many of the reported e-cig fires, perhaps even the majority, involve batteries and not e-cig devices themselves.
There are still incidents of actual devices exploding or catching fire. In some cases these devices are mech mods. A mech mod is a device that has not electronic components or processors that control battery output. With a mech mod, the atomizer will draw as much power as it's resistance will allow. With a mech mod there is a danger of a thermal runaway and a battery fire if there is any miscalculation by the user. We do not recommend mech mods. With today's advanced vape products and tanks, a mech really does not have that much to offer in comparison to available product options.
UL certification will not help with battery incidents or mech mod incidents. That brings us to the third major culprit of e-cig explosions and that is cloned ecigs devices.
Avoid Cloned And Generic Vapor Products
How many of the e-cigarette fires and explosions that have been reported can be attributed to cloned devices? We do not know but we suspect that the number is significant. The number of cloned devices on the market is nothing shy of shocking. Think about this. There are probably a few dozen really high quality electronic cigarette manufacturers in China. Companies like Smoktech, Aspire, Innokin and others make excellent products to the highest standards. But, there are 600 e-cig factories in China and most of them are making low quality clones or generic devices that can be rebranded and sold by virtually anyone.
UL certification will not help discourage clones. The cloned products look almost exactly like the real thing right down to the smallest details on the packaging. Counterfeiters will simply mimic the UL symbol on products and packaging.
How we will combat the vast distribution of cloned products is through consumer education. We discourage people from buying from individual sellers on internet classified listing sites or auction sites. We encourage people to buy from the leading US vape brands. We encourage people to buy from authenticated vendors like Direct Vapor. Direct Vapor shows you their authenticity certificates issued by the best manufacturers. Consumers need to know who they are buying from.
On a more optimistic note, UL certification will help the great US brands distinguish themselves from the generic brands. And this is very welcome news.
Generic Vape Brands
Generic products are another issue. In a recent lawsuit settled for $1.9 million, the brand in question was a re-branded generic product. Let me explain. As recently as last year, anyone could easily start an electronic cigarette brand. A company making low quality, cheap e-cigs will stamp any brand name you want on their products. Just like that you can order a shipment of “insert name here” cigs and start selling. Many of these are untested products from shady manufacturers.
The best American e-cigarette brands work with the world's premiere manufacturers and produce exceptional quality vape products. The companies like Halo, VaporFi, Apollo, V2, Mig Vapor and a few others are transparent and dedicated completely to quality. While these brands will gladly submit products for UL certification, their generic competitors likely will not.
To wrap this up in a bow. The news of UL accepting electronic cigarettes is welcome news. While this development will not eliminate incidents with vape batteries and clones, it should help consumers avoid some lower quality devices. It will also enable some of our leading US electronic cigarette companies further showcase their clear dedication to quality and transparency.