Sales of cheap electric heaters rocket at this time of year. As the cold sets in, the UK market is awash with cheap electric panel heaters and liquid- filled electric radiators. Those looking for a bargain and a quick-fix for their home heating problems can choose from a variety of electric heating options.
With the majority of cheap electric radiators offering the same functionality and performance, it’s hard to know how much to spend. Despite claims on efficiency, many electric radiators offered by specialist web based electric heating suppliers are actually no better than those found in catalogue stores and general electrical outlets for only a fraction of the price. The problem goes much further than that of price though.
Cause for concern
Some of the cheaper electric heating products offered to the UK market appear to have been manufactured in Europe, and the packaging is stamped with the all-important CE and VDE markings. The shocking truth though, is that some of these electric radiators (or the sum of the components used to make them) have actually been manufactured in China and simply imported and re-packaged in Europe.
We are regularly contacted directly by Chinese manufacturers offering us electric radiators for importation at under £15 per unit. Many of these factories will happily package an electric heating product with a UK or European brand name and CE stamps without carrying out any quality or safety testing whatsoever. Worryingly, the electric radiators on offer look identical to those that are sold by some online budget electric radiator suppliers – even with the same electronic thermostat and programmer controls.
Once packaged and apparently tested to CE safety requirements, these liquid-filled electric radiators promise incredible profit margins for electrical heating suppliers when marketed with claims of advanced technology and priced accordingly for the UK market.
Accidental fires from substandard electrical appliances
In a recent report by The Electrical Safety Council, a warning was given to people living in the Glasgow area. Steve Curtler, the ESC Product Safety Manager commented “With 44% of all accidental fires in UK homes arising from faults or misuse of electrical goods, we are very concerned for the safety of anyone in Glasgow who has bought and is using any sort of counterfeit electrical goods.” Mr Curtler went on to say “”You may think you’ve picked up a bargain, but if it’s counterfeit it’s most likely that the product is a cheap copy, of poor quality, which has the potential to harm you and your loved ones. If you think the product you’ve bought is dangerous to use, or a fake copy, stop using it immediately and contact your local trading standards office or Consumer Direct.”
Safety first – The Ecopower Heating view
As always, our view is simple: Cheap electric heating always carries the greatest costs. At best, your electric heating bill will spiral – at worst, you jeopardise your safety by buying sub-standard electric appliances. Cheap, liquid-filled plug-in electric radiators cannot be considered as a viable heating system in any property. Loadings on the circuit are unpredictable and can be dangerous.
Poor quality electric heating is not always found just on a market stall – it’s even available from some (seemingly) reputable UK heating companies. Here’s some Ecopower Heating advice; before paying, ask some of the following questions to make sure you are buying a safe electric heating solution:
- Ask the seller for the name and location of the manufacturer and then check their credentials on Google. Make sure that the electric heating manufacturer is still in operation and that they have a long, credible history of manufacturing within the EU. If you have any doubts about authenticity, contact the heating manufacturer directly. They should know the seller well.
- Ask the company to email you a full product manual. This should contain all details of the manufacturer, the country of origin and the safety ratings. It should not be a photocopy and it should be written clearly in proper English. Any electric heating appliance for the bathroom must have a rating of at least IP24. All should carry the CE stamp as a minimum. We include all of our documentation in the downloads section of our website.
- Ensure that you have an exact written product specification before you hand over any money. You must know that the circuit that powers your radiators is able to handle the loadings required by the heaters. It is equally essential that the electric heating that you receive is as described, that the advertised warranty applies to your chosen electric radiators, and that the equipment complies with your home and contents insurance requirements.
- Request an installation guide from the electric heating supplier relating to the specific product that you are interested in. Any trustworthy heating firm will be able to supply this and also offer their own technical support. Test them. They should know their product inside-out and be able to demonstrate safe installation methods.
- Finally, when you are satisfied with the quality of your chosen electric heating, ensure that it is installed by Part P qualified contractor who is NICEIC registered. The work will be guaranteed and supported by public liability insurance. This is now a legal requirement for any electrical works.
Of course, safety is the most important factor when choosing your electric heating, but there are many other things to consider. To find out more about the value our three key electric heating principles of Performance, Efficiency and Design and how they affect you, please see our blog section. For further advice, or a quotation, please contact us on 0845 474 1478 or visit us at www.ecopowerheating.co.uk