Sunday 13 January 2013

2013 Year of the CE tested stove!

In July 2013 the EU's Construction Products Directive (CPD) becomes regulation (CPR) in the UK. This is very important in the stove world because it means that it will be a legal requirement for any wood burning or multi fuel stove sold in the UK to have undergone the EN13240 CE Test (or EN13223 in for inset or cassette stoves) to ensure that the stove meets critical efficiency, constructional and safety standards. The Stove Industry Alliance and Hetas have long been concerned about the prevalence of imported stoves without CE Test certificates or CE markings as well as stoves purporting to have CE plates and which upon further investigation are seen to be fake. This is not only good news for reputable stove dealers and manufacturers but ultimately for the safety of the end user. In the meantime there will be an awful lot of suspect stoves being 'dumped' before July, so be very careful about buying any new stove for less than around £400.

Why should my stove have a CE mark?

The CE mark has always been important, but after July 2013 it will be a legal requirement for all multi fuel stoves and woodburners to have a CE 'plate' attached. Currently all stoves imported into the UK require a CE Test certificate to ensure that they conform to European safety and efficiency standards – EN13240 for freestanding stoves and EN13229 for inset stoves. Home produced stoves do not yet require this, but virtually all UK manufacturers undertake the official tests to these standards irrespective of whether there is a legal requirement or not. Unfortunately a number of unscrupulous importers and dealers have been getting around the CE requirements by claiming stoves are CE tested when they are clearly not, with some stoves even carrying fake CE plates. Many stoves have arrived in the country over the years with a 'CE' mark which simply indicates that they are 'China Export'.

Naturally, the safety issues arising from such practices (as well as the unfair competition) have been of considerable concern to reputable dealers, importers and manufacturers in the UK for a number of years. After one fatal accident involving such a stove in 2011 the issue was raised with Trading Standards by the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) and Hetas, supported by GasTec. Credit is due to John Reeves of Broseley Fires who has been relentless in his efforts to raise awareness of the safety issues of 'cheap' imported stoves. Such was Trading Standards' concern that when budgets were being cut all round them they managed to secure funds to buy 10 different stoves, as a mystery buyer, from a number of sources and have them all tested by GasTec. One stove was so dangerous it is now the subject of a court case and therefore the findings of the study cannot currently be reported. However, we understand that nearly all of these 10 stoves failed the requirements of the CE EN standards.

The good news for consumers is that from July 2013 all multi fuel stoves and woodburners, including boiler stoves and inset stoves, for sale in the UK and Ireland will be subject to the legal requirements of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) – just like the rest of the EU. However, unlike some other EU regulation deadlines there will be no derogation period. This is time the time allowed 'to execute necessary test programmes and ensure all factory production methods are implemented', as they say in EU speak, or in reality the time normally given to some of our EU competitors to ignore such legislation! So this means that CE type-testing and certification will be mandatory for all solid fuel appliances and anyone involved in the distribution and selling of such stoves will be breaking the law and punitive penalties applied if convicted. The Stove Yard, as reputable stove dealers and founder members of the SIA, welcome any legislation which helps remove inferior and unsafe stove products from the marketplace.

The CE test procedure involves everything from testing the efficiency and heat output of the stove to its construction standards and safe operation. This includes testing seemingly small details such as the temperature of the door handle, the critically important safe distances to combustible materials and the suitability of the instruction manual. Finally, the stove is tested in a 'worse case scenario' situation and over-fired to ensure that its construction integrity is maintained throughout. Above all, a genuine CE plate ensures that your stove has passed a basic quality benchmark and is safe to use which plainly many of those stoves without the CE are not. When you take time to think about the high temperatures stoves can operate at and their potential Carbon Monoxide (CO) dangers, you'd have to be crazy, for the sake of a hundred pounds or so, to risk installing and operating a non-standard stove in the middle of your family home.

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