The Commission has determined that seasonal and decorative lighting products, including holiday lights, that do not contain one or more of three readily observable safety characteristics (minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief, or overcurrent protection) present a risk of electrical shock or fire and constitute a substantial product hazard.   

The Commission’s determination has certain consequences described below. Notably, a product on the “substantial product hazard” list is subject to the mandatory reporting requirements of section 15(b) of the CPSA. 15 U.S.C. 2064(b).

What are seasonal and decorative lighting products?

Seasonal and decorative lighting products are portable, plug-connected, temporary-use lighting products and accessories that have a nominal 120-volt input voltage rating.

Holiday Lights

 

What are the requirements of UL 588 (18th Edition)?

In general, sections 6, 7, 15, 71, 79 and SB15 of the UL standard 588 (18th edition) set forth the requirements for the three readily observable characteristics in the rule:  minimum wire size, sufficient strain relief, and overcurrent protection (fuses).  The presence of these three characteristics reduces the risk of electrical shock or fire.

 

What exactly are the three readily observable safety characteristics?

The following table summarizes the readily observable characteristics for seasonal and decorative lighting products:

Holiday Decorations Table

 

Please see the Commission’s final rule package for more details and review a copy of UL 588 (18th edition). 

How can I obtain a copy of UL 588?

To purchase copies of UL 588, 18th edition, contact: UL, Inc., 333 Pfingsten Road, Northbrook, IL 60062; telephone: 888-853-3503; www.comm-2000.com.

 

Do seasonal and decorative lighting products have to be certified and tested?

No. A rule under section 15(j) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (“CPSA”) (pdf) is not a consumer product safety rule and does not create a consumer product safety standard. Thus, the rule does not trigger any testing or certification requirements under section 14(a) of the CPSA.

 

What is the legal background for creating a list of "substantial product hazards?"

Section 15(j) gives the Commission the authority to specify, by rule, for a consumer product or class of consumer products, characteristics whose presence or absence the Commission considers a “substantial product hazard” under 15(a)(2) of the CPSA. This type of rule is referred to here as a ”15(j) rule.”

Although a 15(j) rule does not establish a consumer product safety standard, placing a consumer product on this substantial product hazard list has certain consequences. A product on the “substantial product hazard” list is subject to the reporting requirements of section 15(b) of the CPSA. 15 U.S.C. 2064(b). A manufacturer who fails to report a substantial product hazard to the Commission is subject to civil penalties under section 20 of the CPSA and possibly is subject to criminal penalties under section 21 of the CPSA. 15 U.S.C. 2069, 2070. A product that is, or contains, a substantial product hazard, is subject to corrective action under section 15(c) and (d) of the CPSA. 15 U.S.C. 2064(c), (d). Thus, the Commission can order the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the product to offer to repair or replace the product, or to refund the purchase price to the consumer. Finally, a product on the “substantial product hazard” list that is offered for import into the United States must be refused admission into the United States under section 17(a) of the CPSA. 15 U.S.C. 2066(a).

Where can I find additional information?

For more information on the requirements for seasonal and decorative lighting products, contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Office of Compliance (for specific enforcement inquires): e-mail: e-mail: sect15@cpsc.gov; telephone: (301) 504-7520.
  • Small Business Ombudsman (for general assistance understanding and complying with CPSC regulations): e-mail: Please use our Contact Form, which is the best way to get a fast response; telephone: (888) 531-9070.
     

Compliance Guidance

Holiday Lights Letter