Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has issued a warning to Australians to avoid specific models of heaters after they failed safety tests.
CHOICE revealed that six out of 15 heaters they tested ended up being unsafe and hazardous, with some reported to be so damaged, "they were no longer operable".
"Of 15 current electric heater models we recently tested, six failed our safety tests, which is quite a terrible result we haven't seen before," says CHOICE heating expert Chris Barnes.
As temperatures drop across the country, Mr Barnes says many Australians are purchasing electric heaters to stay warm, with electric heaters being a popular option due to their portability and affordability.
"Recent CHOICE testing has found that a number of heaters have failed safety testing, so it's important to be careful when it comes to purchasing one for your home," Mr Barnes warned.
"Some of the heaters were so damaged after our safety tests that they were no longer operable – one blew a thermal fuse when we simulated knocking it over. Another became unusable after we tested how securely its power cord was attached," he disclosed.
"It's a timely reminder that using heaters can be hazardous, so you need to ensure that you not only buy a safe model, but that you operate it safely as well," Mr Barnes added.
Heaters that failed CHOICE's safety tests
Here are the heaters that CHOICE says failed its safety tests and why:
DeLonghi TCH8993ER ceramic tower fan heater – failed towel drape test.
Goldair GCT330 ceramic tower fan heater – failed towel drape test.
Goldair GCT270 ceramic tower fan heater – failed towel drape test and tilt stability test.
Click CPN2500 convection panel heater – failed cord anchorage test.
Noirot DM73588TWIFI convection panel heater – failed cord anchorage test.
Mill AUSG2000LED convection panel heater – failed cord anchorage test.
What to look out for
Mr Barnes recommends purchasing a heater that has a timer and an automatic shut-off, and also urged the public to never use a heater in the bathroom or let it come into contact with water.
"It's also worth being wary of particularly cheap heaters. While a few cheap heaters do well in our tests, more often than not it's the inexpensive models that perform poorly or have safety issues. This can be due to use of lower quality components, or less of a focus on optimal design," he explained.
Mr Barnes also said that although they recommend models that achieve a CHOICE Expert Rating of 70% or more and at least 70% for heating performance, they do not recommend any models that fail any of their safety tests.
How safety is determined
CHOICE determines safety failures by conducting a number of tests, namely: the "tilt and knock over test", towel drape test, cord anchorage test and heat safety test.
These tests check everything from the stability of a heater or how easily it can be knocked over, to how securely the cord is attached to the heater, which could result in various electrical faults that could lead to damage or even fire.
The testers also measure the surface temperatures at various point on the heater. "The point of a heater is to heat the room, not the heater itself," Mr Barnes explained. "If it can heat the room whilst staying cool (relatively) to the touch then there's less risk of burning yourself on it. Thankfully all the heaters in our recent review passed this important safety test."
CHOICE says it reached out to manufacturers of each of the models that failed its safety tests, with all claiming that their heaters are compliant and have passed required safety standards.
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