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Home Shelf Load: UDL Explained - Uniform Distributed Load

Shelf Load Rating Explained

Many of our shelving systems come with a shelf load rating and UDL limit. You may not have heard of UDL, so we've created this page to help you can better understand what this means and how to use it when selecting a suitable shelving unit.

What is UDL?

UDL stands for Uniform Distributed Load and is classed as the maximum load that can supported across the whole loading width of the shelf.

The maximum weight of an item you can put on the shelf would be considered Point Load and is calculated as the division of UDL by the width, we do not quote Point Load because of all the possible variables.

An example would be: a 1000 mm wide shelf with a UDL of 100 kg can hold ten 100 mm wide boxes side-by-side, weighing up to 10 kg each, or five 200 mm wide boxes weighing up to 20 kg each.

Uniform Distributed Load Diagram

Light, Medium and Heavy Duty Ranges

To make it simpler, UDL is banded into a light, medium and heavy scale which will often appear in the product's title and category filters.

We consider anything over 200 kg UDL to be 'Heavy Duty' and will be described as such, but because some shelving is rated up to 850 kg UDL we created Extra Heavy Duty and Ultra Heavy Duty to make it easier to differentiate between them.

Look out for our colour coded duty rating symbols throughout our website, if you are still unsure about which type of shelving to choose to fit your requirements, you should speak to our team either by phone, email, or live chat.

Duty Rating Scale Diagram

Total Unit UDL

The total amount of load the unit can hold: 

Total Unit UDL = UDL x #Shelves

Staying Below UDL

Although the UDL is not the absolute breaking point at which the system will collapse, you should still try to stay well within the stated limits. So if the items you could fit on one shelf weigh 195 kg combined, consider a heavy duty shelf with a load rating of 250 kg or higher just to be sure.