Recently in the news, NSW Fair Trading advised the dangers on cabinet heaters.
Why cabinet heaters are banned
Here is useful information on why this gas appliance is banned Australia-wide.
Portable LPG gas heaters with gas bottle inside aren't safe because:
- a leak of the LPG cylinder, regulator or hose could be catastrophic
- they typically do not pass stringent Australian emissions testing
- they lack safety features found on other types of heaters
- portability lends itself to misuse of the heater in prohibited rooms, creating a safety hazard
- the fittings on imported models are sometimes incompatible with Australian fittings
- their safety track record in other countries is deemed unacceptable.
What is a cabinet heater?
A cabinet heater is a portable heater with a gas bottle inside, typically a 9kg gas bottle, as used with barbecues.
These heaters are manufactured and sold in other countries, and are available illegally online, in stores and at market stalls in Australia.
However, they have been banned in Australia since the 1980s.
The recent problems stem from uninformed or unscrupulous vendors importing and selling them on popular auction websites.
The ban is based on concerns relating to safety issues.
All states require safety certification for the sale of gas appliances, but these heaters can't be safety certified for use in Australia.
The dangers of cabinet heaters
What could be an inconsequential leak on an outdoor barbecue could be catastrophic with a cabinet heater.
The proximity of the burner to the gas bottle, combined with the fact that any gas leak would be slow to dissipate indoors, makes for a dangerous, potential fire hazard.
This is one of the reasons appliances with fuel inside are banned under current Australian Standards.
Australia has some of the toughest gas appliance combustion emissions standards of any country in the world.
The gases of primary concern are CO and NOX.
To be certified for use in Australia, gas heaters must meet or surpass these strict standards.
Cabinet heaters designed for other countries typically don't pass the Australian emission testing requirements.
Lack of safety devices
Most cabinet heaters lack the safety features common to safety certified gas heaters sold in Australia.
These missing features include tilt cut-off switches and oxygen depletion sensors.
Cabinet heaters are usually on wheels and can be moved to any room in the house.
It isn't safe to use portable gas heaters in sleeping rooms or small rooms such as bathrooms or hallways.
An uninformed person could put themselves and their family at risk by using them in these areas.
Certified gas heaters are installed by licensed gas fitters who know not to install heaters in these areas.
In Australia, the standard valve connector is a POL fitting.
Other countries use other fittings such as QCC and OPD.
Imported cabinet heaters may be incompatible with Australian gas fittings.
Safety track record
NSW Fair Trading considered their safety track record regarding the use of these appliances.
In their view, the experiences in other countries supports the Australian ban.
Be careful what you buy
It's up to consumers to be aware and check for safety certification prior to purchasing any gas appliance.
Take special care if buying gas appliances from individuals, unknown online companies, and auction or shopping websites.