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Safety in electric fans - CHOICE # 382

  • 2008.08.15

The safety of electric fans is again the focus of a test on this much-needed home appliance to keep the summer cool.

The 10 samples - 5 box fans and 5 tower fans over a price range of $128 to $568 - were put to a series of test of 6 safety items with reference to international safety standard.

The test was a project between the EMSD and the Consumer Council in a joint effort to assist consumers in the choice of safe domestic electrical appliances in the Hong Kong market.

Three of the 10 samples - all box fans - were judged to pass all (6) test items.

Two others - a box fan and a tower fan - also fared well with only slight deficiency in markings and instruction.

All 5 samples were awarded the top 5-point score in overall safety rating based on: construction (30%), protection against electric shock (20%), temperature and abnormal operation (15%), fan guard protection (15%), material resistance to heat and flames (15%), markings and instruction (5%).

At the other end of the rating, 2 samples scored only 3.5 points. Both samples were found to be in need of enhancement of protection against accessibility to live parts.

Specifically, one of the 2 samples in question had a gap which was wide enough at the base to allow the test probe to touch the parts protected with only basic insulation.

The other had fan guard that could not stop the probe touching parts with basic insulation only when inserted; the guard was also too weak to withstand slight impacts of energy 0.5 Joule.

Other minor deficiencies included: loose screw fixing for the enclosure, inappropriate wiring connection methods, insufficient insulation distances and inadequate material resistance to heat and flames.

For safety tips, users are reminded of the following:

- place the fan on flat surface free of obstacle and avoid tangling of power cord;

- do not put the fan in wet places such as bathroom or near the window;

- keep an eye on children and teach them not to put fingers through the fan guard; and

- clean the fan regularly according to the instruction.

Useful everyday tips to achieve savings in energy consumption: (i) always switch off the fan(s) when leaving the room; (ii) set the timer provided when sleeping; (iii) with the aid of a fan to spread out cool air, the temperature setting of the air-conditioner could be adjusted higher to save electricity cost.

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