A Consumer Council test has identified six models of electric heaters to be potentially hazardous to users because of deficiencies in electrical safety.
With the weather becoming progressively colder, the test report is a timely reminder to consumers on the importance of safety in the purchase and use of electric heaters.
The 6 heaters were among 15 models of various types put to safety tests with reference to International Electrotechnical Commission IEC 60335-2-30 and IEC 60335-1. The models comprised ceramic heaters, fan heaters, far-infrared heaters, oil-filled heaters and wall mount heaters.
Of the 6 models in question, 2 (Fortress FCHI2012, and Sanwa CRFH-2002) were deemed in serious breach of safety requirements in that some parts of these heaters may overheat, and pose a potential fire risk.
The hazard was detected when the products were subjected to a stringent test under abnormal operating conditions (malfunction in fan motor, thermal cutout & thermal fuse). Both models failed the test.
In view of the imminent hazard posed by these heaters, the Council has notified, at the first instance, the findings of the test to the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department for immediate follow-up action.
The 2 models were subsequently withdrawn from sales in the Hong Kong market. Consumers in possession of such models are advised to approach the agents who have undertaken to offer free product replacement.
Other electrical safety deficiencies of a less severe nature included: resistance of materials to heat and flame, protection against electrical shock, temperature rise, and electrical insulation.
Out of the 15 models, only 4 could fully comply with the requirements under the safety standard in the test.
The remaining 5 models were generally in compliance with most of the safety requirements, with only minor problems in the marking and instructions and/or the labelled rated power input.
Bathrooms may seem like a favourite choice of place to use heaters at home, but with the small area of most bathrooms in Hong Kong the potential danger of bringing a large electrical appliance into close proximity with water is all too obvious.
In the market some heaters make the claims of being suitable for use in bathroom. In the test 5 models with such claims were found to pass the water resistance test on protection against vertically falling water drops or splashing water.
But consumers should take note that some safety guidelines require a clear distance of 0.6 meter between the heater and the wash basin and bath tub - beyond the reach of hand whether you are washing or bathing - to ensure safety in the use of heater in a bathroom.
Consumers are recommended to consider safer alternative: the use of wall or ceiling mounted heaters. They have the distinct advantage of a fixed position away from accidental water contact, and with their own power outlet to avoid tripping over their electrical wiring on the bathroom floor.
Reports of fire and bodily injury accidents involving the use of heaters in the winter months are not uncommon. Consumers should therefore exercise due care in the use of the appliance. Here are some safety tips to heed:
- Be sure the heater is out of the reach of toddlers and young children.
- Except for specially designed models, heaters should not be used to dry clothes. And always keep the heater clean.
- Do not share power outlet with other appliance of high power consumption to avoid overloading.
- To prevent danger and save electricity, power off the heater when nobody is in the room.
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