Should Audiophile Power Cords Be UL-Listed?

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,575
317
83
Beverly Hills, CA
#1
Should audiophile power cords be listed with Underwriters Laboratories?

Are most audiophile power cords UL listed or not?

Which ones are UL-listed and which ones are not UL-listed?

Do we care if a power cord is UL-listed?

Should we care?
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,626
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48
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#2
Well if not, then most municipalities will not allow them per code. What happens if there is a fire and insurance denies the claim?

I made sure my audiophile in-wall cable was UL listed.... otherwise it would not have passed inspection!
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,228
160
63
#3
i use 12 Absolute Fidelity power cords; none of which are UL listed. they are delicate and not meant to be stepped on. and that is essentially what UL Listed is about; step-on ability.

my 2 Evolution Acoustics TRPC's (triple run power cords) you could drive a truck over and not hurt. OTOH unlikely they went to the trouble of UL listing them.

in my completely dedicated room (and building) with zero casual activity (no kids or pets) i have no issue with using delicate power cords. no one will be stepping on them. maybe in Beverly Hills the tourists could complicate things. :)

agree technically i'm exposed without the UL listing. i also removed the (noisy) GFI switches from my power grid circuits in my Equi=tech which could be considered not code. i accept these risks.

i would not run a heater, refrigerator, or other home appliance without the UL Listing; but audio is mainly quite low voltage stuff......even my amplifiers. and my Equi=tech does protect things especially well from outside surges.

YMMV.
 
Last edited:
May 30, 2010
14,529
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Portugal
#4
Should audiophile power cords be listed with Underwriters Laboratories?

Are most audiophile power cords UL listed or not?

Which ones are UL-listed and which ones are not UL-listed?

Do we care if a power cord is UL-listed?

Should we care?
The answer will depend a lot on local, due to regulations, and technical common sense - if some one needs to ask it, most probably the answer he should be given should be "do not use non UL listed power cables". ...
 
Last edited:
Likes: Bruce B
May 30, 2010
14,529
227
63
Portugal
#5
(...) agree technically i'm exposed without the UL listing. i also removed the (noisy) GFI switches from my power grid circuits in my Equi=tech which could be considered not code. i accept these risks.

i would not run a heater, refrigerator, or other home appliance without the UL Listing; but audio is mainly quite low voltage stuff......even my amplifiers. and my Equi=tech does protect things especially well from outside surges.

YMMV.
Mike,

IMHO removing the GFI switches from a 10 kW balancing transformer is a very serious risk - I think our readers should know about it.

And no, sorry but your audio is not low voltage stuff ... Remember your Equi=tech protects the equipment, not thepeople!
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
4,122
130
63
Greater Boston
#6
Well if not, then most municipalities will not allow them per code. What happens if there is a fire and insurance denies the claim?

I made sure my audiophile in-wall cable was UL listed.... otherwise it would not have passed inspection!
Well good to know. Another reason not to use audiophile power chords. I don't have any in my system.
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,563
24
38
Monument, CO
#7
UL certification is about a lot more than "stepability". Flexibility and resistance to abrasion is part of it, but so is insulation voltage rating, fire resistance and behavior, resistance to chemical/liquid attack, etc. People love to disparage standards but sometimes they are actually pretty good and useful things to have.
 
May 30, 2010
14,529
227
63
Portugal
#8
Well good to know. Another reason not to use audiophile power chords. I don't have any in my system.
The great majority of audiophile power cords are certified to obey the regulations. IMHO those which are not are exceptions.

BTW, even swapping normal use certified power cables will have a sonic effect in our systems - price is not an excuse to not try it.
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
5,322
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Boston, MA
#9
May 30, 2010
14,529
227
63
Portugal
#10

Johnny Vinyl

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
May 16, 2010
8,571
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Calgary, AB
#11
Would there be insurance issues without either a UL or CSA ( Canadian Standards Association) imprint?
 

Mike Lavigne

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 25, 2010
7,228
160
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#12
Mike,

IMHO removing the GFI switches from a 10 kW balancing transformer is a very serious risk - I think our readers should know about it.
my General Contractor who installed my Equi=tech agreed to remove the GFI's for 3 reasons; (1) no sink or water in the room, (2) it's a dedicated studio/listening space and not a general use area, and (3) there are separate outlets with GFI's in the room for use for any sort of tools or items that would have cords being moved around.

this does not make his decision right; but it was good enough for me.

i've never seen GFI's on any dedicated lines in any system. but maybe everyone uses them unbeknownst to me.

And no, sorry but your audio is not low voltage stuff ... Remember your Equi=tech protects the equipment, not thepeople!
i respect that my approach is not right for everyone else. which is why i added the YMMV.
 
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ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
5,322
58
48
Boston, MA
#13
Shunyata, Nordost, Transparent Audio, Kimber, Audioquest, Cardas, ...
I specifically checked my Shunyata before responding to you, and I see no UL Listing; neither does their website say anything about that. So where did you get that information? I also just checked Transparent and MIT
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
6,626
26
48
Seattle, WA
www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#14
Would there be insurance issues without either a UL or CSA ( Canadian Standards Association) imprint?
You better believe it. Insurance companies will find any loophole to get out of claim!
 
Aug 10, 2018
62
18
8
Southern California
#15
You better believe it. Insurance companies will find any loophole to get out of claim!
This assumes that an investigation determined that a power chord was the source of a fire. I had an audiophile power chord which became alarmingly hot at the connector at the amplifier end. I sent it back to the manufacturer and they promptly repaired it. For this reason it's probably a good idea to have access to all connectors and wall warts so they can be routinely examined for excessive heat. Such heating can be caused by a loosened or compromised connection due to oxidation, etc. Wall warts are often switching devices with no transformer, and as such are directly connected to the AC, making them vulnerable. Hopefully, most wall warts are certified and designed for fail safe operation and failure modes. In other words, if an internal component fails, it fails open and not shorted.
 
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DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,563
24
38
Monument, CO
#16
We've had several bad power cables at work and the problem was internal crimps were not done properly causing them to overheat (and melt, in one case, a little scary). Company got a run of bad power cords... Vexing to find on a half-million dollar piece of test equipment.

I have limited experience with insurance and power cords. Unless the power cord causes a fire chances are nobody will say anything as it's irrelevant. But see above...
 
Oct 1, 2010
932
8
18
Cleveland Ohio
#17
i use 12 Absolute Fidelity power cords; none of which are UL listed. they are delicate and not meant to be stepped on. and that is essentially what UL Listed is about; step-on ability.
The UL Standard 817 which is only about line cords is 180 pages long. That's a whole lot more than just being stepped on.

Any and all audiophile products sold should meet all the required safety standards.
 
May 30, 2010
14,529
227
63
Portugal
#18
I specifically checked my Shunyata before responding to you, and I see no UL Listing; neither does their website say anything about that. So where did you get that information? I also just checked Transparent and MIT
I am referring to CE certification that is considered more rigorous than UL - the cables that are sold in Europe must go through this certification. I named those who here come with a certificate and a label in the box. The CE label states the cables meet European health, safety and environmental standards.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,575
317
83
Beverly Hills, CA
#19
I think that the absence of a UL listing is not an issue as long as it is an intermediate power conductor and not the wire going into the wall. For example, if you use a non-UL listed power cord from your component into a power conditioner or a regenerator then that intermediate connecting power cord does not have to be UL listed. (Of course I am assuming here that the power conditioner or regenerator itself is UL listed.)
 
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Oct 1, 2010
932
8
18
Cleveland Ohio
#20
I think that the absence of a UL listing is not an issue as long as it is an intermediate power conductor and not the wire going into the wall. For example, if you use a non-UL listed power cord from your component into a power conditioner or a regenerator then that intermediate connecting power cord does not have to be UL listed. (Of course I am assuming here that the power conditioner or regenerator itself is UL listed.)
I think that 'UL' and others responsible for safety have the opposite view-point.
 

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