External PSU labels can be tricky to understand. They also feature a ton of icons and markings that you may not already know. Like any other piece of equipment, external Power Supply Units (PSUs) can wear out. A good power supply is foundational to proper care of your IT network, allowing each device to operate at highest efficiency. A poor unit, or one that is mismatched in terms of wattage, can prematurely wear out the equipment that attaches to it.

Expensive, however, does not necessarily mean good or high quality.

So, how can you know you’re getting the best model for your network?

When it comes time to replace your current supply you can actually look at external PSU labels to get started in your search for an optimal replacement. We always recommend you take your time and learn the product landscape.

Of course, if you need help our technicians will be happy to assist with your decision making process.

This article is intended to give you a broad stroke understanding of external power supply units. Further, we’ll cover what to look for if you’re in the market.

PSUs come in a vast array of levels (also called efficiencies) and tiers. For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on just one specific variety of Power Supply – the external.

As you might imagine, the Departments of Energy (DOE), Department of Commerce (DOC), and other global governing bodies have clear guidelines for manufacturer’s labels.

We’ll work our way through the label and give you a quick explanation for some of the most common items you’ll see.

1. Federal Communications Commission or FCCFCC Logo

The FCC symbol indicates that this manufacturer is certified, verified and declared to have conformed in harmony with the standards of the US Federal Communications Commission. The FCC tests for limits of allowable electromagnetic interference from digital and electronic devices. That symbol ensures that your PSU will not interfere with WiFi and other radio frequency based technology used in proximity with your powered device.

2. European Union or CECE Logo

The CE symbol indicates that this manufacturer and its products have met the list of relevant EN standards, and is compliant as it pertains to electromagnetic and low voltage testing within European sovereignties.

3. More Alphabet Symbols and What They Stand For

Each geopolitical ruling body has its own unique standards. FCC or Federal Communications Commission tested and approved  is one US authority. The other is the CEC or California Energy Commission is the second.

In one sense, it’s encouraging for consumers that a product manufacturer is willing to go through the rigours of testing and review in order to satisfy standards for such groups.

Following is a list of some of the other authorities you might see you your PSU:

Power Certifications and Standards by Country

4. Underwriters Laboratory Distinctions | UL Listed | UL Certified | Recognized Component Mark

UL Listed LogoUnderwriters Laboratory (UL) began in 1894 and is a global product testing company. They offer 2 different designations. UL Listed means the product component has been tested and meet UL’s published and nationally recognized standards for safety. It is placed on products intended to be PART OF a UL listed product.

US = United States

C or CA = Canada

UL Certified

UL Certified means representative samples of the product have been tested and determined to meet UL’s published and nationally recognized standards for safety.

Is a Recognized Component Mark. It’s also awarded by UL. It’s used when components are UL listed but the full product cannot be given the full UL logo.

5. Efficiency Levels

Level VI LogoThe U.S. DOE has Designated 6 Efficiency Thresholds or Levels. Some manufacturers use roman numerals IV, V or VI. Thresholds are listed on the table partially displayed and linked to below.

The newest, most energy-efficient standard is Level 6.

Efficiency Level Chart

These levels designate how much input and output current is needed for your device. You want to stay within the prescribed limits in order for your device to work properly. Too much or too little can diminish the ability for your equipment to function.

You can easily check the device label of your PSU against the chart, published by the DOE. If you’re still unclear, you may want to contact the product distributor to ensure you’re getting the right PSU for your situations.

The important thing about efficiency is that the higher the level of your PSU, the better it will perform with regard to energy consumption.

So, while level 4 may still work for your equipment, you’ll be getting a much better fit with level 6.

It’s like the difference between a suit you buy off the rack, and one you have your tailor alter. The first gets you into the dance, the second makes you a stand out.

Some of the more expensive power supplies will end up paying for themselves by means of lower power consumption during the device’s lifetime.

But be careful. Just because a PSU is pricey does not mean it’s worth the money. You may want to read the review sites and even double-check with your device manufacturer to see what it recommends.

Our technicians at Planetech are always available to assist with external PSU labels as well, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

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If you’re interested in learning more about low-power devices, check out our full range of Power Over Ethernet (PoE) products.