Winter warning ‘we haven’t seen before’ over dangerous heaters

Owen LeonardNCA NewsWire
Heaters have been put under the Choice microscope. Ellen Smith
Camera IconHeaters have been put under the Choice microscope. Ellen Smith Credit: News Corp Australia

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

The organisation ran tests for 15 electrical heater models, with six of them failing safety standards.

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

Six heaters failed CHOICE's safety tests. Picture: supplied.
Camera IconSix heaters failed Choice's safety tests. Supplied Credit: Supplied

Choice performs a series of different tests to measure heaters’ safety.

A tilt and “knock over” test examines a heater’s stability.

Testers also discover how quickly a model enables its tilt switch or thermal cut-off feature – in order to prevent a house fire — when it is displaced and on the floor.

A towel drape test is then conducted, draping a towel over a heater while it’s set to full power.

Whether the model is able to execute the thermal cut-off feature to prevent overheating and damage is then scrutinised, simulating those who hang clothes over their warming devices to dry them during the colder months.

Fatal Fire Door Stop
Camera IconUnsafe heaters can have deadly consequences. David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

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

The concerning test results served as a warning to Australians trying to keep warm with electric heaters as winter continues, Mr Barnes said.

“Electric heaters are a popular option,” he said. “They’re portable and usually cheaper to buy upfront than other heaters.

“(But) 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 recommends purchasing a heater with a timer and an automatic turn-off feature.

“We strongly recommend purchasing a heater that has a timer and an automatic shut-off if you can so you don’t accidentally leave it on overnight or when you’re not home,” he said.

F48TV-Smart Shopper
Camera IconChoice heating expert Chris Barnes has some sage advice for those looking to purchase electrical heaters. Ellen Smith Credit: News Corp Australia

“You should also generally 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.”

Originally published as Winter warning ‘we haven’t seen before’ over dangerous heaters

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