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Why Cabinet heaters are banned in Australia

2 May, 2023 | Residential LPG Blogs

In this article:

Rationale behind cabinet heater ban in Australia - concerns, challenges, alternatives, safety best practices and more
Cabinet Heater Ban Australia

Cabinet Heaters Banned in Australia – Indoor Portable Gas Heaters with Gas Bottle

Recently in the news, the NSW government has expressed concern that banned cabinet heaters,  indoor portable gas heaters with gas bottle, are being sold to consumers via auction web sites.
The following article explains what a “cabinet heater” is and what is behind the ban.

Why are Cabinet Heaters Banned in Australia?

Indoor portable gas heaters with gas bottle inside are not safe.

In summary:
♦ An indoor leak of the LPG tank, regulator or hose could be catastrophic
♦ They typically do not pass the stringent Australian emissions testing
♦ They lack some of the safety features found on other types of heaters
♦ Their portability lends itself to the misuse of the heater in prohibited rooms, creating a safety hazard
♦ The fittings on the models that are imported are sometimes incompatible with Australian fittings
♦ Their safety track record in other countries was viewed as unacceptable

What is a Cabinet Heater? Indoor Portable Gas Heaters with Gas Bottle

A cabinet heater is an indoor portable gas heaters with gas bottle inside the heater itself. The gas bottle is typically a standard 9kg gas bottle, as used with gas barbecues.

While these heaters are manufactured and sold in other countries, they are banned in Australia.

The recent problem stems from the fact that some uninformed or unscrupulous vendors are now importing and selling them on popular auction web sites.

Why are Cabinet Heaters banned in Australia?

The use of cabinet heaters in Australia has been effectively banned since the 1980s.

The ban was enacted based on concerns relating to safety issues. These heaters cannot be safety certified for use in Australia.

Combined with the fact that all States require safety certification for the sale of gas appliances, this is the basis for the prohibition.


What could be an inconsequential leak on an outdoor BBQ could be catastrophic with a cabinet heater.

The close 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 very real potential fire hazard.

This is one of the reasons that appliances, with fuel inside, are banned from indoor use under Australian Standard AS4553.

Emission Standards

Australia has some of the most stringent standards on gas appliance combustion emissions 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.

Inasmuch as other countries requirements are not as rigourous, or they may not have any requirements at all, the cabinet heaters designed for these countries typically do not pass the Australian emission testing requirements.

Lack of Safety Devices

Most cabinet heaters lack the safety features that are common with the safety certified gas heaters sold in Australia.

These missing features include tilt cut-off switches and oxygen depletion sensors.


It is not safe to use portable gas heaters in sleeping rooms or small rooms, like bathrooms or hallways.

Certified gas heaters are installed by licensed gas fitters so they know not to install heaters in these areas.

However, cabinet heaters are usually on wheels and can be moved to any room in the house.

An uninformed user could easily put themselves and their family at risk by using them in these areas.


In Australia, the standard valve connector is a POL fitting.

Other countries use other fittings like QCC and OPD.

The potential problem is that the cabinet heaters being imported may be incompatible with Australian gas fittings.

Safety Track Record

Cabinet heaters are allowed in other countries.

The Australian regulators 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

There are no ‘Gas Appliance Police’, so it is up to each of us to be aware and check for safety certification prior to purchasing any gas appliance.

Please take special care if you consider buying gas appliances from individuals or unknown companies found online at an auction or shopping website.

Comparing Flued vs Unflued Gas Heaters

Australians looking to buy a gas heater for their home will find that the available gas heaters are broadly grouped as either FLUED or UNFLUED (PORTABLE) gas heaters.

What is the difference and which one should you buy?

Here is a review of the pros and cons for you to consider when you decide on which type of heater is right for you:

Comparing Flued vs Unflued Gas Heaters

The Smell of Safety – Odourised Gas

In their natural state, LPG (Propane and Butane) and Natural Gas (Methane) are all odourless gases.

The distinctive smell that people associate with these gases is actually added to them as a safety measure.

History of Adding Odourant to Gas

For many decades, the gaseous fuels industry has added odourants to LPG and Natural Gas so that people can detect gas leaks with nothing more than their noses.

Without the addition of an odourant, leaking gas could collect without being detected.

This would create a dangerous condition that could lead to an explosion or fire.

Much research has gone into the science of odourants and Ethyl Mercaptan is almost universally recognised as the best choice.

As a result, it is the most commonly used odourising agent.

The smell of Ethyl Mercaptan is often compared to rotten cabbage.

The strength of the odourant has caused some people to refer to the process of adding the odourant as “stenching”.

How & When it Gets Added

In the case of LPG, the Ethyl Mercaptan is added to the gas as it leaves the main storage terminals.

The amount added and the process are both carefully controlled.

The terminals themselves have gas detectors that can identify gas leaks without any odourant having been added.

Special Cases with No Odourant

There are certain applications where the odourant is not added.

Facilities that use odourless gas must have the same gas detection equipment as the gas terminals.

For example, Butane is commonly used as an aerosol propellant.

Needless to say, we wouldn’t want things like hair spray and deodorant to smell like rotten cabbage!

Odourant Fade

Ethyl Mercaptan is not a perfect odourant.

Under some circumstances, it can fade away and be replaced by a gentler smelling odour that might not be recognised as a gas leak.

Odourant fade is rare but it can happen.

While very few instances of odourant fade have been recorded in Australia, it has happened in other countries.

The presence of rust or moisture within an LPG tank could cause this fade.

To prevent this, new cylinders are filled with dry and inert nitrogen gas, to prevent both rust and eliminate the presence of moisture.

Once filled with LPG, the risk is virtually eliminated.

What You Can Do

LPG users can also assist in avoiding odourant fade by making sure that all disconnected gas cylinders have their valves closed, even when completely empty, to stop air (oxygen) and moisture from getting inside the cylinder.

This helps prevent the possibility of internal rusting.

Rust and moisture are also one of the things that are looked for when gas cylinders are periodically re-inspected.

The presence of either is cause for condemnation of the cylinder.

So, now you know why gas smells the way it does and why it is the ‘Smell of Safety’.

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