Friday 30 December 2011

What you should know before buying an electric fire

There are a number of things that you should be aware ofbefore buying an electric fire, they are often described ‘easy to fit’ and‘suitable for every home’ but are they? You need to make sure the electric fireyou choose is suitable for its situ too. This blog could be useful to anyonethinking of buying an electric fire and help those in the trade selling firesto ensure the fires sold are actually fit for purpose.

Buying an Electric Fire
The act of actually buying an electric fire is extremely easy, you can pickthem up in DIY stores, from showrooms and online, which is great, but please beaware that images seen in catalogues, brochures and online do not properlydisplay the finish of the fire and the flame effect of a fire, ask to see thefire in operation at a fireplace showroom or DIY store to make sure the flameeffect and pattern is what you are expecting. The finish can differdramatically from manufacturer to manufacturer so have a look at your fire tosee if their shade of brass, or brushed brass is what you were thinking of toavoid disappointment. If you do buy the product online and don’t have chance toview the electric fire before hand you have a cooling off period, and duringwhich time you may return the fire for whatever reason, and yes that means evenif you don’t like the coal effect etc. (This will usually be at your expensethough so it is better to know what you’re buying before it is sent to you).

Copyright or Copy Wrong?
Manufacturers of fires will have copyright on their products and images ofproducts, names of products etc. Despite this there is a whole lot of‘simulation’ and ‘imitation’ of products between the manufacturers, and to behonest if I saw a competitors fire selling by the thousands I’d look to imitatethe products to some extent too. It is important to be aware that this goes onwithin the industry, it is very hard to prove that brand A has copied brand Bso you could get a bargain. However you could get an inferior electric firethat looks like the more expensive one etc. Manufacturers will sometimes selltwo products that are identical under different names, and with greatdifference in the price tag, as well as manufacturer’s warranty. You could savea bundle on an electric fire but have 2 or 3 years less warranty, the choice isyours. Do not buy from auction websites unless it is a shop (you wouldn’t buy afire from a car boot sale would you?).
Another tip when shopping for an electric fire is the flame effect is often thesame throughout a manufacturers range of fires, so if manufacturer A hasseveral different fires i.e. manual control, remote controlled, brass finish,chrome finish, modern design or classic design, they may all have the sameflame pattern or effect, (Many electric fires have the same electric fire, or‘engine’, presented in different fascias or guises). This could mean if you’veseen one LED flame effect you’ve seen them all, but again, different manufacturerswill have subtle differences (however slight!).

Will the Electric Fire Fit?
This is where many people find disappointment, they receive their newelectric fire.......and it doesn’t fit, they you have to send or take it back,and you wanted the job finished by a certain date!.....AAARGH! Should it bethis confusing? Well it’s quite straight forward once you understand that thereis 3 main types of electric fire; Hearth based (3 sided), Hang on the Wall(outset, wall mounted) and Hole in the Wall (inset fires). Once you know whichone is for you the dimensions needed to install are straight forward, and I’lltake you though these one at a time:

Hearth based inset electric fires means the electric firesthat fit into a back panel as part of a fireplace setting. The cut out in aback panel is as industry standard around 16inches wide and 22inches tall. Mostelectric fires fit into these gaps with no problem; however confusion often ariseswith the depth of the electric fire and something called the ‘rebate’. Theinset depth of an electric fire is the depth from what you see in the room backto the end of the fire in the fireplace or wall, (The outset depth is the depthof the fire from the back panel into the room). The ‘rebate’ is the measurementfrom the front of the back panel to the wall, this is usually 25mm or 75mm,some may be adjustable too! Now, if the inset depth of the electric fire isgreater than the depth of the rebate you will need a recess into the wall tofit the fire into. This depth will need to be at least as big as the overlapfrom the inset depth and back panel. A way around this (especially if you onlyhave a flat wall, with no recess) is to use a spacer kit, these come in severaldepths and allow the electric fire to be outset into the room more, but manypeople don’t find this aesthetically pleasing.

Hang on the Wall fires are mounted onto the wall,measurements are outset into the room and the fires will either fix directly tothe wall, or onto a pre fixed bracket on the wall.
Hole in the Wall inset fires need a recess for them to fit into, this can beinto a chimney of a ‘false’ chimney breast, be aware that many measurementswill show a fires inset dimensions, but a few inset electric fires will need clearancefrom these measurements. Make sure no clearance is needed to avoiddisappointment.

Where Can I Get Additional Information?
Every manufacturer has a website and if they don’t then avoid like theplague! Many manufacturers sites will have the installation manuals and userguides for you to refer to before a purchase, if they don’t there will be someway of contacting them to retrieve any information required, if they do nothave either a contact phone number or email address the avoid like the plague!Showroom sales people should have general ideas of what measurements arerequired, but it is always best to go to the manufacturer yourself to assureyou have the correct information, they will tell you the facts not what suitsthem on the day, you can ask for the information to be sent via email or postthus giving you a future reference should you require it. Be wary of reviewsites, many companies have 100% reviews and have sold a couple of items whilstothers have okay reviews but have sold hundreds of thousands of products,question how many happy people bother to leave reviews and how many competitorcompanies review others? Being someone who uses the internet frequently I findreview sites most frustrating, but that’s a different topic entirely.

What Did You Expect?
Electric fires nowadays are 100% efficient and come in a plethora ofdesigns, have more options and finishes than you can think, which is great, butthey usually have a maximum heat output of 2kW. This level of heat is nottremendous; it will certainly take the edge off (if you get close enough) butshould not be relied upon as a sole source of heat in a home. Hairdryers canoften be found to emit similar amounts of heat, so don’t expect a furnace!
Many electric fires simply plug in, which again is great, but what do you dowith the lead? Some manufacturers will view the warranty as void if theirmoulded plug is cut off, which could cause a problem when fitting. Anycompetent electrician would be able to come up with suitable solutions to avoidthis, but people buy these from DIY stores expecting to be able to ‘do ityourself’ and find disappointment when employing an electrician for the job.
By no means do I dislike electric fires, in fact quite theopposite, but it is important to be aware of what small pitfalls may be aheadof you when buying and electric fire, indeed any fire or heating for your home.

Gas Safety At Winter

With the cold weather setting in many households will be relying ongas boilers and gas fires to keep their family warm this winter.This increased usage can put pressure on gas appliances and couldlead to them breaking down when they are needed the most.
It’s vital that everyone has their gas appliances regularlyserviced and safety checked every year to prepare them for the coldwinter months.

Stay safe and don’t be left out in the cold this winter. Make sureyou know what to do if your central heating fails you.
 Download our top gas safety tips andhelp protect yourself, your family and yourhome.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney

When Santa got stuck up the Chimney
He began to shout
You girls and boys won’t get any toys until you get me out
My hair is black, there’s soot in my sack
Any my nose is tickly too
When Santa got stuck up the Chimney
Achoo, Achoo, Achoo!!

With today’s modern pre-fabricated chimney and flue systems, there is certainly plenty of scope for Santa getting stuck up the chimney,  With internal diameters ranging from 150mm – ideal for the typical woodburning stove, up to only 200 to 250mm for other more open appliances, Santa would not have to have eaten too many mince pies to get stuck!!

Why are modern flues so slim?  Well, they give the perfect diameter for the heating appliance to work.  They make use of modern materials and technology.  The modern pre-fabricated flue system allows the householder to have a versatile and flexible solution to created a wonderful and warming focal point within a room.

Traditional methods of building chimneys (and chimneys have been with us since Roman times!) are inefficient, require foundations and are very labour intensive.  Pre-fabricated flue systems are quick to install, the space required is minimal, allowing the building to maximise its living space.

Pre-fabricated chimney systems have been rigorously tested under European legislation gaining CE approvals along with HETAS approvals (the UK’s leading body in Solid Fuel awareness).

So what do you to say in answer to the question “how can Santa get down our chimney?”  You can of course pass it off as magic.  Just as reindeers fly through the sky, and Santa manages to deliver presents all around the world in a single night, the magic of Christmas asks us to suspend disbelief.

Or you could do what an enterprising six year old boy called Leo did.  When his family purchased a new house Leo was worried that the chimney would not be big enough to to accommodate both a large Father Christmas, and a large sack of toys.  Leo wrote a letter to the builder which said “I am worried that my mummy’s house doesn’t have a big enough chimney.  I think Santa will get stuck.  Please can you help.”

The builder responded by commissioning an architect and a mathematician to design the perfect Santa-friendly chimney, on the Lower Mill Estate near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.

A crane lifted a large Father Christmas up to the roof and lowered him into the Cotswold stone chimney which goes all the way down to the sitting room.  “A perfect fit” announced Santa. “I wish they were all like this!”

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Does Your Stove Work For You?

 When many people think of a wood burning stove they imagine it heating only one area of the house. However with a little planning and initial disruption, your wood burning stove could heat the entire home, whilst saving a fortune on electric and gas.
Some stoves can be fitted with a back burner that means as you light your stove the hot water tank heats up, from the energy created and fills your radiators with eco fuel that keeps every room in the house toasty warm.
Although initially fitting a wood burning stove with a back boiler can be more disruptive than simply attaching a stove to a chimney, this is an ideal way to heat the home for less, and ensures you get the full benefit of all that heat without opening doors in the home to let the heat travel through.
Even the incredibly contemporary wood-burning stoves such as Firebelly (We found the best prices here) can be ordered and built with an optional back-boiler, and in the 18 different colours you're sure to be able to find a colour you love.
Before back boilers wood burning stoves were huge heavy things, that would be used for cooking, drying clothes, heating water and the home, however just because times have changed and we now rely on oil and gas, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two from our ancestors.
Range Cookers, more commonly called Aga's after the brand that made them so successful, are strongly back in fashion, and whilst at the beginning of the twentieth century these were thrown out with the rubbish, now they cost a pretty penny and are a must have for any designer kitchen. Manufacturer's such as Broseley have created some stunning Range Cookers, that allow you to enjoy the warm glow as well as being able to do almost anything. Unlike the Aga's that have hidden everything behind heavy metal doors.
Your wood burning stove can perform the same jobs as an Aga, as there are now so many on the market with extras, that the past is coming into the future.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, scour antique shops and reclamation yards, they will have the old type of wood burning stove that can easily be transformed with an expert hand. These older stoves will have special compartments at the side- a single cast iron cupboard, where you can place slippers to warm or even leave bread to rise. This creates not only warmth in the home, but a delicious smell too, and makes sure that in these winter months there really is no place like our own abode.
If planning a home renovation and the kitchen or study adjoins the lounge, another idea for an open plan feel is to remove the wall where the wood burning stove will go. Some stoves will have glass on both sides, so each room can feel the benefit of the flames as they lick you into a state of relaxed happiness.
With all these features, there’s only one worry left when buying your wood burning stove, how to keep a stockpile of wood big enough! Try growing your own fast growing trees, some only take a year to grow, and as one is chopped down replace with another secure in the knowledge that you really are going green with your energy!

Thursday 22 December 2011

What Is LPG?

Liquefied petroleum gas (also called LPG, GPL, LP Gas, or liquid propane gas) is a flammable mixture of hydrocarbon gases used as a fuel in heating appliances and vehicles.
 LPG is composed primarily of propane and butane, while natural gas is composed of the lighter methane and ethane. LPG, vaporised and at atmospheric pressure, has a higher calorific value (94 MJ/m3 equivalent to 26.1kWh/m³) than natural gas (methane) (38 MJ/m3 equivalent to 10.6 kWh/m3), which means that LPG cannot simply be substituted for natural gas.

Predominantly in rural parts of the UK, LPG can provide an alternative to electricity and heating oil. LPG is most often used where there is no access to piped natural gas.LPG can be stored in a variety of ways. LPG, as with other fossil fuels, can be combined with renewable power sources to provide greater reliability while still achieving some reduction in CO2 emissions. But just because you are restricted to LPG does not mean you cannot have an attractive an efficienct heating appliance. One website has over 200 different fires, fire baskets, stoves and wall heaters capable of running on LPG. Everything from the versatile yet stylish Drugasar Style range of balanced flue wall heaters, ideal for community buildings, warehouses or even office spaces to the incredibly stylish and affordable Verine Atina XL with cream stone fascia for designer living.
More traditional items are also available in LPG such as the Esse 500 Flueless gas stove, combining a traditionally cast iron body with the latest in Catalytic Flueless gas fire technology to create a stove that requires no flue while giving up an impressive 3.3kW of heat.
So while using LPG may restrict your options slightly it doesnt mean you can't have the fire of your dreams and spent many a cold wintery night in front of it and enjoying the ambience only a living flame can bring.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Manufacturer Focus: BFM Europe

In this edition of manufacturer focus we look at probably one of the largest manufacturer's in the industry, BFM Europe. Producers of Verine, Flavel, Kinder, Portway and Celsi fires, producing everything from the Portway Steel and Cast Iron Stoves and the traditional Flavel Outset Gas Fires, to more contemporary gas and electric fires such as the Verine Carmelo HE, Kinder Limours and not forgetting the incredibly popular Celsi electric fires.
With both manufacture and design facilities at thier Stoke-On-Trent location BFM Europe has grown into one of the fastest growing manufacturer's in the country, with an increasing reputation for quality and service. With all the brands offering a minimum of 12 months warranty, with Flavel offering 3 years, Verine 5 years and Kinder offering 7 years warranty. Showing just how much faith they have in their products. 

The company is based in Stoke-on-Trent with a 51,000 sq ft purpose built plant, housing the most up-to-date manufacturing, sales and training facilities in the industry, including:
  • The latest CNC sheet metal technology that guarantees precision engineering.
  • An experienced R&D department, constantly developing innovative products and pushing the boundaries of technology and aesthetics.
  • A purpose built laboratory for testing prototypes and pre-production models.

"At BFM Europe we know how important it is to create a stylish and relaxing living environment. That's why we have developed this collection of fires and stoves to suit all tastes and purposes. I believe our success stems from a combination of innovative design, investment in technology and the highest quality manufacturing standards. This website has been designed to make the purchase of your new fire as simple as possible. I hope you find it both informative and inspiring." Michael Miller, Managing Director

Sunday 18 December 2011

Gas, A Clean Fuel

There is a great deal of debate about fuels, ranging from Carbon pollution, cost of extraction and the effect on the environment. Gas is and always will be a very clean fuel. For example, when burning wood or similar solid fuel, small particles will be released (smoke). These are unburnt parts of fuel which are then wasted, you will also be left with waste by-products (ash).But when burning gas there are no particles released and your flue system stays, more or less, clean at all times.
Gas systems also allow you to easliy regulate the temperature in the house. With DRU gas fires this is all done via a Thermostatic remote control. All their systems are calibrated in the factory to ensure your fire runs as efficiently as possible. Wasting as little energy as possible and ensuring the maximum amount of heat is coming into the property rather than heating the outside world.
Gas is also, per kWh one of the cheapest sources of energy. It's no wonder really, why more and mroe consumers, both across the UK & Europe are choosing efficient, clean and attractive gas fires designed by Drugasar.

Adding to the appeal of DRU gas fires is that Europe is rich with gas, ourselves in the UK, as well as Norway, Holland and Russia all benefit from large reserves of gas, with expectations that further large reserves will be discovered in the future. Products such as gas fireplaces are becoming more and more efficienct, with up to 87% efficiency on the Metro 130. And with increasing advances in insulation, less and less heat is required to heat our homes. It is expected that for at least the next 100 years we will have sufficient gas reserves. However that does not mean we can take it for granted. This is also why Drugasar are always researching more and more techniques to extract more heat from the gas energy. One such addition is the MaxVent system popular with the Global range of gas fires. The complete Drugasar Range Of Gas Fires are available from Fireplace Megastore

Friday 16 December 2011

Stoves Are For Life, Not Just For Sherry & Mince Pies

Carefully placed mistletoe and oversized stockings surrounding a fireplace is a quintessential Christmas image. However, it is a shame that fireplaces are not used more often, instead of being reserved for sherry and mince pies on Christmas Eve.

Given that open fires are notoriously poor heat emitters (typically producing efficiencies of just 10-15%) it is understandable that homeowners prefer to reach for the central heating controls rather than chopping another pile of logs. However, for those who still yearn for a roaring fire but don’t want all the heat to disappear up the chimney, there is an alternative – the wood burning stove. They might be a logistical problem for Santa, but wood burning stoves supply efficient and sustainable heat to a home and can happily justify the title of being carbon neutral.

Aga, probably most famous for their range cookers rather than their wood or multifuel stoves have put together this handy guide to explain why a wood burning stove is not just for the festive season – it can last a lifetime.

The Aga Minsterley Can Also Heat Water & Radiators

Some independence from the utility companies and the option of using a carbon neutral fuel are
just two of the reasons people choose a wood burning stove. With ever-increasing prices in gas and
electricity, the way we heat our home is more important than ever.

By depending less on the grid we can make our winter
fuel bills more predictable. Plus, stoves still give your
room an important focal point as well as delivering
up to three times more heat into the room than an
open fire.
The Little Wenlock Classic, for example, has
efficiencies of up to 81%, meaning that only a fraction
of the heat generated goes up the chimney. So, it
need no longer be a special treat to light the fire – its
additional warmth can be enjoyed on a daily basis.


Not necessarily - especially if you source your wood locally. It can be a very cost effective way to
heat your home.
Of course the quality of wood can vary and it is important that you use well seasoned, dry wood as
too much moisture in the logs reduces the efficiency of the stove.
To find your nearest firewood supplier try or alternatively check the Forestry
Commission’s website for a wood scavenging license
in your area.

Not really. There are some checks that you should carry out on a regular basis to make sure you keep your stove in tip top condition. These include inspecting the ash tray and glass door for any cracks, the finish for any rust and checking the seals are tight.
All of these are important but take a matter of minutes and can prolong the life of the stove. Finally, once a year the chimney should be swept to remove any build-up of deposits – ideally by a sweep who is a member of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps. For more information visit

Yes – it’s definitely a case of getting what you pay for. If you choose a stove from the lower end of the market which may have been imported, it might be poorly constructed with little or no testing and could be potentially dangerous.
Here at AGA Stoves, testing is rigorous to ensure all imperfections are rectified before the product is sold. And to reassure homeowners, we’re one of the few manufacturers to display all the approvals on a data plate. It means that all the salient information is in one, clearly visible place.

The lifespan of a stove very much depends on the quality of its construction and the levels of maintenance undertaken throughout its life.
A cast iron stove can function for decades although you may need to replace some firebricks or a grate, but these are usually available from the more reputable manufacturers and spare-parts retailers, So if you choose to have a wood burning stove, the investment really can last a lifetime.

For The Complete Guide as well as for more information on any of the Aga Stove range visit

Thursday 15 December 2011

How To Choose A Chimenea

A chimenea in the garden has over recent years become acommon sight, as they are great decorative features, and also provide a sourceof heat and light if barbecuing, socialising, cooking or setting off fireworks (in thecolder months) in the garden. 

Before researching into chimenea’s though I was not aware of the vast selectionthere is though, and I was also surprised at the range of materials they comein too. Due to the large array of chimenea’s available I’m going to provide thepros and cons of owning a clay, cast iron or steel chimenea, these should help someone when considering whattype of chimenea is for you.

First off we have the classic clay chimenea; these chimenea’s are what I wouldexpect to see when imagining about a chimenea. These chimenea’s are for someonewho likes either a classic look, or a highly decorated look. The styles andvariations of clay chimenea’s are vast and have a more organic feel when in thegarden. Made from clay these chimenea’s arrive to your garden ready to operate withno assembly needs, the biggest concern is lifting it into a stand and how tolight a fire (which shouldn’t concern you for long!).
The down side to a clay chimenea is that they may crack if left out in freezingconditions, and they won’t like being knocked around. In both cases thechimenea may crack and that’s the end of that. If you want a roaring fire likea furnace then a sturdier material would be recommended. Which brings me nicelyon to the next material:

Cast iron chimenea’s allow a furnace type of fire and they’ll burn pretty muchany fuel you desire, they look and are sturdy object, heavy and will last foryears. Cast Iron chimenea’s, as a rule, have much less decorative features,which is subjective to individual taste of course. Once you find a place for acast iron chimenea the likely hood is it will stay there, due to their weightand shape they are difficult to manoeuvre and will require assembly in thegarden. There is a risk of rust affecting a cast iron chimenea, however manylet them rust as it make a more organic look to the item, but that’s apreference thing again.
Steel chimenea’s look manufactured, crisp, and clean, and appear more modern/contemporarythen other materials. Much lighter than cast iron and can easily be moved aroundthe garden (or home......but more on that later!). Obviously with all chimenea’sthe item itself heats up and may become extremely hot, this happens quicklywith a steel chimenea, and it cools much quicker than clay and cast iron too,meaning you can monitor who is near it and when they are near it moreaccurately (keep pets, children and mentally infirm clear when hot).
Negatives to a steel chimenea include they have to be assembled and they may beprone to rust over time, their look goes for them and against, all depending onthe environment they are to be placed.

Chimeneas are great additions to garden, but in more recent times they have becomegreat additions to the home too. Many homes make features in the kitchen,conservatory or fireplace with them, bio ethanol burners and fuel may be usedin them and due to the nature of bio ethanol no fumes are emitted thus no fluerequired. This means chimenea’s may be brought in for the winter months, orhave a permanent place in your homes for years to come as a focal point orfeature.

Although chimenea’s have been around for years, we expect them to become evenmore popular over the next few years. Many thanks for the images andinformation supplied largely by Gardeco, chimenea specialists.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Which Is Better? Cast Iron Or Steel

Today we address the age old question when buying a stove, do I want a steel or cast iron stove?
If you're talking about a good quality steel bodied stove versus a good quality cast iron stove then, providing the stove is used according to the manufacturer's instructions, it really doesn't matter. Poor quality cast iron stoves have a reputation for cracking and poor quality steel bodied stoves have a reputation for warping. The practical difference between the two types are that steel stoves heat up quicker and deliver heat to the room much faster whereas cast iron, which is the traditional material for stove building, because it is much heavier and provides a greater mass of metal, tends to take longer to build up heat and distribute it to the room. However cast iron stoves, which are generally heavier than steel bodied stoves, have the advantage that the mass of metal in the stove body will act like a storage radiator dispensing heat to the room a good few hours after the fire has gone out inside it. A steel bodied stove will still do this but it won't retain its heat for quite as long. So, essentially it's a lifestyle choice – if you need fast heat then choose steel and if you want longer lasting heat, say overnight, then choose cast iron. In terms of appearance cast iron stoves tend to have a more traditional finish, featuring textured cast sides and other detailing such as the Aga Little Wenlock, similarly the Broseley Serrano range feature the Broseley Logo cast into the side of the stove!
Converseley steel stoves tend to feature clean lines and can offer a more contemporary solution, such as the Trianco range, Firebelly stoves are also becoming increasinlgy popular due to their clean lines and incredible build quailty.
Some manufacturers have also decided tom combine the best of both worlds. The Portway Range feature the clean lines typical of a steel stove combined with a cast iron door, allowing the option of an enamelled door finish and allowing more heat to be radiated into the room after the fire has gone out.

Monday 12 December 2011

Trading standards warning over bogus 'energy saving' plugs

Trading standards officers tackle everything from fake goods to scams and enforce consumer related legislation. Photograph: Christopher Thomond
The £99 plug-in device claims to save users 40% on energy bills, but actually poses a risk of fire and electrocution, Jill Insley of The Guardian Reports

Rogue telephone fraudsters are targeting older people with the offer of "energy saving devices" that could result in fire or electrocution.
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is dealing with more than 200 complaints about people who have claimed to be a victim's energy supplier, or working in partnership with them, and are offering a plug-in device costing £99 which they say can save users 40% on energy bills. But trading standards has had a number of the devices tested and found that they not only failed to satisfy electrical safety standards, but do not deliver any tangible energy savings.
Ron Gainsford, TSI chief executive, said: "Consumers are warned not to use the product as they pose a risk of fire and electrocution, and a safety recall has been issued for the items traced so far.
"Unscrupulous criminals are using the rising energy prices as an opportunity to lure cash strapped consumers – elderly people seem to have been deliberately targeted. The number of complaints we are currently dealing with is bound to be only the tip of the iceberg."
The City of Westminster Trading Standards Service has been investigating the scam as the caller gives a London W1 Oxford Street address for the company, but this belongs to a "virtual" office provider.
Sue Jones from Westminster trading standards said: "The companies involved in these scams are not actually situated there. We believe the call centre they use is based abroad and the appliances appear to be distributed by a number of individuals in the UK."
She said complainants had told trading standards the caller always appears to be very credible, already knowing a consumer's details, their energy supplier and sometimes some or all of the digits of their credit or debit card.
"Often consumers do not realise that they have been defrauded until they receive the dodgy looking device with instructions in broken English and the accompanying invoice which names an unknown supplier and often gives an American address," Jones said.
So far, four different suppliers have been named – 1 Stop Marketing Solutions, ITC Development Corp, Power Saver, and Athico Ltd – but the fraudsters could be operating under other names too. Some of these names could be very similar to genuine companies: for example, Power Saver Ltd based in Tonbridge, Kent, is not involved in this fraud.
The director of Athico Ltd appears to have been a victim of the scam himself. He fully co-operated with trading standards and the company has now ceased trading.
If consumers have responded to one of these cold calls they should report the matter via Action Fraud's website or call 0300 123 2040, or call Consumer Direct on 0845 404 0506. They should also contact their bank to stop their debit or credit card. If a device has been received they should not use it and dispose of it carefully.
The plugs involved have the model number SD 001 and are manufactured by MacroPlus, B1208 City Square, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.
Trading standards said consumers should be cautious about giving out any personal or financial information. They should independently verify a caller's identity before agreeing to purchase any goods or services.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Drugasar Explain The Balanced Flue System

The balanced flue system is the technology behind most DRU gas fires and gas wall heaters. DRU engineers from the Netherlands invented the system in the 1930s. It has since become the industry standard for high efficiency and performance. Many companies have copied the original system, but none have been able to match the superior standards that are the hallmark of DRU products.
So what is the balanced flue system and how does it benefit your home or workplace?
Comfortable and efficient
Most conventional gas fires have an open-fronted fireplace that is inset into a standard sized chimney. The air that the fire uses to create its flames is drawn from inside your living room and waste products are expelled up the chimney. (See drawing 1)
So while this kind of fire may be pleasing to the eye, it may not be so kind to your breathing or your bank balance! It requires constant ventilation to keep it burning (ever heard the saying ‘It’s stuffy in here’?). And because of this it consumes more energy and fuel than you can reasonably afford.
In contrast, a balanced flue gas fire is room-sealed using a glass front. It has a sophisticated flue that uses natural convection to draw the air from outside the building for combustion and expels it back to the outside through a separate compartment of the flue. (See drawing 2)
So there is no loss of comfort and minimal fuel consumption. And because the fire is not open at the front it is much safer to use.
No chimney – no problem
DRU balanced flue fires and wall heaters can be installed with or without a conventional chimney.
If there is no chimney in your home, the flue can be fitted through an outside wall or through the roof. It is possible for the flue to be 4 metres long horizontally or 10 metres high vertically. So you have a great deal of flexibility when deciding where to locate your fire.
If, on the other hand, you would like to have all the advantages of balanced flue technology, combined with the aesthetic appeal of a traditional chimney, this can be done! All you will need is a special flue liner installed in your chimney, using the chimney shaft to replicate the balanced flue effect.
A further advantage of this is that your fire can be installed in the classic way, using a fire surround to look like a traditional fireplace. Alternatively it can be mounted further up the chimneybreast as a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ or ‘hanging’ fire.
Either way, you will enjoy the combination of a beautiful fire that uses modern, efficient technology to bring you endless comfort and pleasure.

For the full range of Drugasar Fires, ideal for almost any home,with or without a chimney visit

Thursday 8 December 2011

Choosing A Stove - The Guide

As this is a fairly expensive exercise it really does makes sense to get it right first time. Think long term!

Common sense, planning, using quality products and seeking professional advice are paramount to your success when buying and installing a stove. Using solid fuel requires a little effort but the joy of owning a stove during those cold winter months is unbeatable.

A little reading is required, a little legwork, some research and some comparisons will help you make a few key decisions. These actions will help ensure a successful and safe installation and you will have many years of enjoyment and pleasure from your stove.

Stove guide - Building Regulations

Stove installation is covered by building regulations “Document J” Hetas – Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Service. Hetas registered installers are trained to adhere to these building regulations. 

Safety First! - Hetas Certified Engineers

We strongly recommend that you employ the services of a qualified / certified Hetas engineer. Please do not compromise your safety, the safety of your property or your loved ones and neighbours by performing an installation yourself. 

A badly installed stove can lead to an explosion, a fire or a build up of poisonous gasses and any of these events can lead to a loss of life or critical injury.

Stove guide - Important First Things To Consider

Purchasing stoves over the internet can be fraught with danger if you do not do your research before pressing the buy button.
Remember all stove installations are subject to building regulations and come under the control of your local authority. When you buy from a reputable stove retailer you will get the complete package: advice, guarantee and the right stove, if you've done your research! 
Before purchasing a stove, check with your local authority if you are in a smoke control area.  

You should not burn wood or bituminous coal in a smoke control zone unless the stove has been granted Exemption from the Clean Air act by DEFRA, find some DEFRA approved stoves here. You should be familiar too with the Clean Air Act .

Always follow the advice of your stove manufacturer regarding fuels suitable for your appliance. A good stove retailer will be able to advise on how to get the best results when burning these fuels. Remember you will invalidate your appliance guarantee if you burn a fuel that is not recommended by the stove manufacturer.

Stove guide - Chimney Flue – (the engine behind your stove)

All wood burning or multi fuel stoves require a class 1 chimney flue.  As the majority of stoves are more than 78% efficient it is imperative that the chimney flue is better than adequate. 

The chimney flue is what drives the appliance and the more efficient the stove is, the more efficient the flue system has to be in order to exhaust the combustion gasses quickly into atmosphere. 

Wherever possible the stove should be flued from the top of the appliance into the chimney and not from the back. Flue gasses naturally want to rise in a vertical fashion and encountering bends of more than 30 degrees to the vertical will slow and cool the evacuation of these gasses down,  resulting in possible condensation / deposit problems in the chimney flue. If bends are needed then they must be rounded and not sharp.

Flue Liners

It is common for most stove installations to be recommended a double skin, flexible, stainless steel flue liner. 

These come in 2 grades:
316 - with a guarantee of 10 years.
904 - with a guarantee of 20/25 years.

When either system is installed, I would strongly advise that they be insulated with either Vermiculite, Pearlite, Leca or a non combustible wrap in order to maintain the flue gas temperature. It is imperative that a flue liner is fitted to be both water-tight and insulated correctly.

As the guarantee implies, these lining systems are not permanent. If the stove is oversize or not operated efficiently or the liner is not installed correctly, then the life of these liners can be much less than the period of the guarantee. This can often lead to tension between the installer and you the householder as to what is the cause of the failure. 

A more permanent cure for an oversize or inefficient chimney flue is a “cast in situ” system provided by “Shellcast” or “Cico”. Although this may cost a couple of hundred pounds more to install, you will get a more permanent and durable system that will give many years of service.

Be aware that before any lining system is installed you must ensure that the existing chimney flue should be swept clean and pressure tested for air tightness.

Top Tip - For maximum safety chimney flues should be swept twice a year by a competent person registered to the National Association of Chimney Sweeps – NACS - or the Guild of Master Sweeps or be Hetas approved.

National Association of Chimney Sweeps HETAS  Guild of Master Sweeps

Home Is Where The Hearth Is

3. Your Hetas engineer will advise on hearth construction and ventilation requirements as again both are covered by building regulations. As all combustion processes require a supply of oxygen then there is an ongoing need to replenish any oxygen that is used in the process. Stoves with an output of more than 5kw require an additional supply of air from an external source.

The Silent Killer

Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion and is formed when there is a lack of adequate ventilation or if there is a blockage or restriction in the chimney flue. Carbon monoxide is a gas that kills, so for safety reasons, prior to using the appliance a battery operated carbon monoxide detector should be installed in the room.

Kilowatt Capacity

4. The kilowatt output of the stove should be very closely matched to the kilowatt requirement of the space you are wanting to heat.  For example a standard room of 15ft length by 14 ft wide by 7ft high only needs a stove with an output of 3 kilowatts.  

Installing an oversize stove will result in possible low firebox temperatures which in turn will lead to condensates and deposits forming in the flue system. These, are highly corrosive and can lead to failure of stainless steel flue systems. 

Burning Real WoodThere is a basic difference between a wood burning and a multi fuel stove, and it's all to give the favoured fuel optimum burning conditions. Wood burns best on a bed of ash, whereas solid fuel needs a grate capable of supplying primary / combustion air. If you want to burn a combination of both wood and solid fuel then this can only be done on a multi-fuel stove.

Before burning any wood, it must be either seasoned for a minimum period of 18 months or have been kiln dried down to an ideal of less than 20% moisture – the drier the better! 

Burning non seasoned logs (Green Wood) leads to creosote type condensates in the flue system. These will not only block the chimney flue but are also highly flammable and will lead to destructive chimney fires. We strongly recommend that you do not burn non seasoned wood in your stove.

Do not allow the stove to “tick over” for long periods especially if you have installed any type of flexible stainless steel flue liner. 

Before and after any slumbering or overnight burn you should “open up” the stove for an hour to increase the fire box temperature. This will help to create the correct conditions in the chimney flue to allow the combustion gasses to escape into atmosphere and not to condense on the inner surface of the flue. 

The purchase of a magnetic temperature gauge, to fit on the off-take pipe (the pipe that connects the stove to the chimney flue), will alleviate any low temperature problems. This device shows the best operating temperature at a glance.

Smokeless Fuels

All smokeless fuels used should be Hetas approved for use in a closed appliance and most importantly do not burn “neat” or “raw” petroleum coke as this can cause severe damage to the firebox. This fuel has very little ash content and consequently burns at very high temperatures. The ash content of the fuel is there to protect the fire bars, the grate and the firebox of the stove from the very high temperatures generated during the combustion process.


Natural ventilation is a good thing. Avoid using extract fans in the locality of the stove as this leads to a lowering of pressure in the building which can cause the combustion gasses to be drawn “back down” the chimney flu and into the room.

Stove Buying Golden Rules

Maintain sufficient temperature in the firebox to ensure the combustion gasses can escape into the atmosphere.

  • Follow the stove manufacturer’s guidelines and Stove Retailers advice.
  • Purchase a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Building regulations are there to ensure maximum safety – abide by them
  • Use a certified Hetas Engineer
  • Talk to your local authority before spending your hard earned cash