In Canada and the USA, from the electrical safety perspective, every electrical sign requires to be evaluated and certified as per the applicable standards before they can be put on the market. In Canada, electrical signs must meet the requirements of CSA C22.2 NO. 207. In the United States, signs are evaluated as per UL 48. That is where the Sign Shop Program comes into place.
A more flexible approach than certification
Unlike the typical Certification program, where every model must be examined, the Sign Shop Program is a much more flexible solution when it comes to this type of products. As no two signs are identical, the Sign Shop Program allows to approve a range of signs, based on similarities in design and construction.
The manufacturer is required to provide the range of signs they plan to manufacture, including the electrical ratings, enclosure type (NEMA ratings), and type of signs. A sample that represents the entire range is then selected and evaluated, and a certification report is generated to cover the entire range of signs the manufacturer wishes to have certified/listed within the Sign Shop Program.
All components must be approved and rated for the application and tests are to be conducted as per the applicable standard(s). Electrical signs general construction and performance are evaluated under multiple criteria, such as mechanical, electrical, temperature, strain relief, mounting, gasket aging, exclusion of water, glass fragmentation test, leakage current, to mention a few.
Manufacturers can label the custom signs themselves
Once the signs are certified, the Certification Body grants authorization to the manufacturer to label the signs with the certification mark themselves, as long as the signs are within the range stated in the certification report (cLC mark for Canada, LCus mark for the united states or cLCus mark for both countries).
To ensure that only the signs within the certified range are being labelled, factory assessments are conducted at the manufacturing facility periodically.
What are the North American standards for custom signage?
Canada: CSA C22.2 NO. 207:15 (R2020) Portable and stationary electric signs and displays
As stated in CSA C22.2 NO. 207, “This Standard applies to electric signs and display equipment for indoor or outdoor use, in nonhazardous locations. To be installed as per the Canadian Electrical Code.” Signs are classified in three categories: two for voltages of 750 V between conductors with differences in the maximum lamp voltage rating and amperage (7500V – 15000V or +15000 V), and the third one for 125 V between conductors and lamp voltages below 7500V.
This standard includes requirements for signs having outline lighting wherein the sources of light are incandescent, fluorescent, and high-intensity discharge lamps, as well as high-voltage luminous discharge tubes, including neon tubes and light emitting diodes (LED).
Excluded from it are: luminaries, portable luminaries, Christmas trees and other decorative lighting outfits, swimming pool luminaires, submersible luminaires, and accessories.
USA: UL 48 (Ed. 15) Standard for Electric Signs
UL 48 (Ed. 15) includes almost the same lighting sources as C22.2 NO. 207, and adds cold-cathode lamps, and electroluminescence. It also includes electric signs (regardless of voltage) that are electrically operated and/or electrically illuminated.
This standard does not include illuminated clocks operating at 600 V or less, exit signs, luminaires mounted to function as outline lighting, luminaires mounted within an awning sign, signs that do not use electricity, luminaires intended for billboard illumination, fiber optics or fiber optic illuminators, signs for use in hazardous (classified) locations, or the trailer of a trailer-mounted sign.
The Sign Shop Program is a cost-effective and flexible solution for manufacturers of custom-made electric signs. LabTest Certification can assist with testing, certification, and inspection within the Sign Shop Program.