HVAC builders need to prepare for new UL 60335-2-40 standard

When new UL standards are enacted, electrical component makers and OEMs need to ensure compliance. OEMs in the HVAC market should ensure their suppliers for contactors can meet the new UL60335-2-40 standard by the January 1, 2024 deadline. 

The new UL standard for household and other electrical appliances will enhance consumer protection against electrical shock, fire, and mechanical hazards. However, OEMs and panel builders serving the industrial, commercial, and residential markets – especially HVAC system manufacturers – will ultimately be unable to sell their products in the North American market after January 1, 2024 if they haven’t integrated compliant components. 

The new UL standard

For HVAC equipment manufacturers, the most critical requirement of UL 60335-2-40 is that HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) refrigerants must be replaced with A2L-class refrigerants. These newer refrigerants have much lower global warming potential (GWP). 

However, one drawback of the A2L-class refrigerants is that they are more flammable than the HFCs they replace. The new UL standard is in response to the increased fire hazard, and requires components to have passed testing verifying their reduced flame risk.  

Panel builders therefore may need to redesign or update their products to comply. And even if their products meet the new standard without modification, the system will still need to be tested and certified. This must be done prior to January 1, 2024 when the new standard takes effect. OEMs that rely on these products will need time to ensure that the updated components can be integrated in their panels without any design changes.

Many component makers and OEMs lack the capability or manpower to have a dedicated testing and certification expert on staff, and must therefore rely on suppliers or wait in long third-party lab queues. This can delay both certification and the ability to sell your products in North America. 

Component suppliers ahead of the curve

OEMs shouldn’t simply hope their component suppliers will complete their certifications by the January 1, 2024 deadline. Even if they do meet that deadline, it may not be soon enough to allow time for necessary testing. Working with a supplier that has already completed certification allows OEMs the time to evaluate the components and get panels certified and production ready.

OEMs and panel builders that want to ensure their ability to fill customer orders for their HVAC-related products should be contacting their suppliers today regarding components like contactors. OEMs and panel builders should verify that their suppliers are well along in the process of updating or already have completed product certification. 

This is especially important for larger contactors with a wider air gap, which have an increased risk of ignition in the system. Because these components are inherently more likely to generate a point of ignition, they require more stringent testing. There are only a few third-party labs globally that can accommodate testing large contactors with a 110mm frame and up. 

Prepare for the new standard

The switch to A2L-class refrigerants is one of many small steps being taken to reduce global warming. But the efforts to reduce long-term damage to the environment is creating some short-term challenges. Failure to adhere to the new UL standard 60335-2-40 by the January 1, 2024 deadline will disrupt HVAC system manufacturers in serving the US market until they can achieve compliance. 

To avoid interruptions in filling your customers’ purchase orders, HVAC system manufacturers and panel builders should proactively inquire with your electrical-component supplier to confirm they currently, or will, have UL 60335-2-40 compliant parts available before the end of 2023. This will enable OEMs and panel builders to focus on their machines passing UL testing rather than chasing down component-level certifications.

See related blog post “Choose enhanced breaker and controller options to build more-competitive panels.”

Will Hulbert

Product Marketing Manager

ABB Electrification Business