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Area Heaters: NSW Bans Certain Outdoor Area Heaters

Area Heaters

Area Heater - Outdoor use onlyArea Heaters are outdoor patio heaters with a low profile, as opposed to the traditional tall patio heaters. They are a compact alternative to the tall mushroom style patio heaters. They are strictly for outdoor use only.

Area heaters have been gaining in popularity because they are easier to move and store. They also work better were there is a patio cover that may have limited clearance.

NSW Bans Certain Outdoor Area Heaters

NSW Office of Fair Trading have issued an order to prohibit the sale or supply of all non-compliant outdoor gas heaters known as ‘Area Heaters’ in the State of New South Wales. The outdoor area heaters banned do not include the tall 'mushroom' patio heaters.

The four examples of banned area heaters shown below are the sample pictures exhibited in the Order.

They are also known as or referred to as Decorative Outdoor Heaters, Column Heaters and Pyramid Heaters.

Many are cylindrical in shape with the burner being about 1-1.5m above the ground.

‘Flame tube’ heaters also fall into the category of banned area heaters and are affected by the prohibition.

Why is NSW Prohibiting Sales of These Area Heaters?

The Office believes that this type of area heater does not comply with the applicable Australian Standard. 

Their main concern appears to be the distance between the gas bottle and the burner. 

The Standard reads as shown below, in SCHEDULE 1.

The targeted area heaters are those that do not have the 1.8m distance between the ground and the heating surface.

They are also concerned that people will be tempted to use these outdoor area heaters indoors, because of their size and portability.  This poses an extreme safety hazard, as it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. 

NEVER USE AN OUTDOOR AREA HEATER INDOORS OR IN ANY ENCLOSED SPACE.

There is also concern that the burner being at a lower height poses a greater risk of burns, especially to children, and to clothing catching fire.

It is important to note that these area heaters would still be certified for use in Australia and that the retailers involved in the sale of these area heaters have done nothing wrong. 

This is a case of where the certification agencies have had a different interpretation of the Standard from the one being taken by the NSW Office of Fair Trading.

The Actual Order

The order reads as follows:

GAS SUPPLY (CONSUMER SAFETY)

REGULATION 2012

Clause 15 (1) (a)

Order

NSW Dept of Fair Trading Area Heater ExamplesTo all persons:

I, LYNELLE COLLINS, Director, Mediation Services and Compliance, NSW Fair Trading, as delegate on behalf of the Director-General, and having reasonable grounds to believe that:

(a) gas appliance(s) commonly known as ‘Area Heaters’ and of a specification that does not comply with the Australian Standard 4565:2004 are unsafe to use; and

(b) the death of, or injury to, any person, or, damage to any property, may arise out of use of the noncompliant gas appliance unless this Order is made, prohibit the sale or supply of all non-compliant gas appliances known as ‘Area Heaters’ in the State of New South Wales.

Dated this 22nd day of October 2014

LYNELLE COLLINS,

Delegate of the

Commissioner for Fair Trading.

Office of Finance and Services

INTERPRETATION

In this Order:

container’ includes a gas cylinder and a gas tank;

Director-General’ means the Commissioner for Fair Trading, Office of Finance and Services.

liquefied petroleum gas’ means a liquid or gaseous substance containing a mixture of hydrocarbons, basically consisting of butane or butene or propane or propene, or any mixture of them;

Area heater’ means a ‘flue-less’ portable outdoor heater incorporating a liquid petroleum gas container mounted integrally within a heater casing located at the base of the unit and with the radiant heating surface or combustion product outlet is less than 1.8 metres from the ground and not complying with the Australian Standard 4565:2004.

SCHEDULE 1

‘Area Heaters’ are also known as or referred to as Decorative outdoor heaters, Column heaters, and Pyramid Heaters.

Australian Standard 4565:2004

2.8 APPLIANCES INCORPORATING INTEGRAL LPG SUPPLY SYSTEMS

2.8.1 Restriction on provision of integral gas cylinder Where the radiant heating surface, or combustion product outlet is less than 1.8 m from the ground there shall be no provision for an integral gas cylinder. Table top appliances are exempt from this requirement.

What if I Already Own a Banned Area Heater?

This is not a recall of area heaters. 

It only applies to the sale and supply of these area heaters in NSW.

The risk is relatively small inasmuch as LPG is heavier than air. 

Any minor leak will be vented out of the bottom of the heater and is unlikely to come in contact with the ignition source. 

However, a catastrophic failure, like a broken gas hose, valve or regulator, could cause a gas cloud large enough to be a safety hazard. 

This assumes that the failure doesn’t also extinguish the ignition source. 

This is why it is important to periodically inspect and maintain all gas appliances.

Also, make sure children and clothing are kept a safe distance from the unit. 

Current owners might wish to consider replacement, if they are concerned.

Finally, be aware that the Prohibition Order also applies to selling these units second hand.  The Office advises to not sell your unit or list it on any auction web sites.

Outdoor Gas Appliance Safety

As with all outdoor gas appliances, you should always follow good safety practice. 

This includes inspecting the components and performing a leak test every time you switch gas bottles.

Conclusion

Gas appliance retailers in NSW must not offer the non-compliant area heaters for sale. 

In the unlikely event that a retailer is unaware of the order, NSW residents should still observe the prohibition and only purchase compliant heaters. 

There are still many compliant models on offer which have been tested by a certified testing authority in Australia.

These appliances will have a compliance label.

 

 

 

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The information in this article is derived from various sources and is believed to be correct at the time of publication. However, the information may not be error free and may not be applicable in all circumstances.