Did you know that U.S. Customs confiscates over $3 million in consumer electrical products each year, and explains that products with counterfeit certification marks, including CSA, UL and ETL, have not been tested for shock and fire hazards.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), counterfeit electrical products can pose significant safety hazards and left undetected, can cause deaths, injuries and substantial property damage and loss. There have been counterfeited items identified in a wide range of products, like:
- Control relays for industrial equipment
- Electronic lamp ballasts
- Dry cell batteries
- Lithium ion batteries
- Smoke detectors
- Circuit breakers
- Electrical receptacles
- Ground fault circuit interrupters
- Conduit fittings
- Power strips and surge suppressors
- Electrical cord sets (extension cords)
- Power cords
- Telecommunications cable
- Electrical connectors
Investigations reveal that many of these counterfeit products are substandard and fail to pass even the minimum safety tests.
These counterfeit electrical products can overheat or cause short circuits and lead to fire, shock or explosion. For example, tests to counterfeit dry cell batteries show that they use designs that fail to prevent explosion in electronic products when wrongly installed backwards. Counterfeit electrical cord sets may contain too-thin wire gauges than required, which can present fire hazards.
However, detection based on appearance can be difficult, and may only be determined by opening suspicious items and performing tests.
How to avoid counterfeit electrical products:
- Beware of bargains that seem too good to be true. Products may be cheap because they are counterfeit or defective.
- Stick to established vendors who purchase their goods from legitimate distributors and genuine manufacturers.
- The warning label should look legitimate and be free from grammatical and spelling errors.
- Confirm the product packaging has the name and location of the manufacturer.