Winter warning ‘we haven’t seen it before’ about dangerous stoves
Tech Updates

Winter warning ‘we haven’t seen it before’ about dangerous stoves

Consumer advocacy group Choice has found nearly half of the heaters tested in a review are unsafe in a winter warning to Australians looking to stay warm.

The organization conducted tests for 15 electric heating models, with six failing to meet safety standards.

“This is a high number we haven’t seen before,” said Chris Barnes, Choice heating expert.

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Camera IconSix heaters have failed Choice’s safety testing. Delivered Credit: Delivered

Choice conducts various tests to measure the safety of heating appliances.

A tilt and knock-over test examines the stability of a heater.

Testers also find out how quickly a model activates its tilt switch or thermal cut-off feature — to prevent a house fire — when it’s moved and laid on the floor.

A towel test is then performed, where a towel is draped over a heater and set to full power.

The model can perform the thermal shutdown function to prevent overheating. The damage is next examined, simulating those who hang clothes over their heating devices to dry them during the colder months.

Camera icon Unsafe heaters can be fatal. David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

How tightly the power cord is attached to the heater and whether the model can regulate its own temperature while heating the room round out the series of tests.

The test results in question served as a warning to Australians trying to keep warm with electric heaters as winter drags on, Mr. Barnes said.

“Electric heaters are a popular option,” he said. “They are portable and usually cheaper to pre-purchase than other stoves.

“(But) Choice tests have shown that many stoves have failed safety tests, so it’s important to be careful when buying one for the home.

Mr. Barnes recommends purchasing a heater with a timer and an automatic shut-off feature.

“We highly recommend buying a stove with a timer and automatic shut-off if you can so you don’t accidentally leave it on overnight or when you’re not home,” he said.

Camera IconChoice heating expert Chris Barnes advises those looking to buy electric heaters. Ellen Smith Credit: News Corp Australia

“In the bathroom, you should generally never use a heater or let it come into contact with water.

“It’s also worth being wary of particularly cheap stoves; while a few inexpensive stoves do well in our tests, more often than not, th affordable models perform poorly or have safety issues.

“This could be due to lower quality components or less focus on optimal design.”