Let consumers be reassured, the French standard NF D 35-386, approved on July 1, 2009 protects them from the potential dangers of ethanol products and subjects these devices to strict tests. Fireplaces without an ethanol duct that meet this standard therefore no longer present a risk, if they are of course handled with care.
Against the risk of burns with the ethanol fireplace
The CSC (Consumer Safety Commission) pointed out in its December 2008 report the risks of burns due to the extreme flammability of ethanol. To address this serious problem, the new standard places several requirements on manufacturers. Thus, the ignition system must allow the user not to approach on a horizontal plane within 20 cm of the burner during ignition. Furthermore, as long as the appliance is warm, it is prohibited to be able to switch it on again. It must also be designed in such a way that it is not possible to access the fuel directly outside the ignition and tank filling phases; knowing that its tank must obviously present no risk of leakage. In addition, to avoid any risk of overturning, ethanol-powered devices must be sold with fixings. If the model is nomadic, it will have to pass stability tests. Finally, all devices must be equipped with an accessible and easily operable safety stop and during normal use, the flames must not extend beyond the sides of the casing.
Against the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
Another black spot denounced by the CSC: the risks linked to the possible releases of carbon monoxide. To exclude this danger, standard NF D 35-386 provides in particular for the obligation to equip the device with an automatic detector which will stop it as soon as it is likely to produce carbon monoxide. Regarding the duration of use, it must be possible to limit it to 24 hours. The appliance must therefore be designed in such a way that its operation is intermittent and that the evaporation of the fuel at the level of the burner is limited when it is switched off. For the nominal capacity of the tank, it must be less than or equal to 2.25 L. On the power side, it must not exceed 4650 W. All these measures, you will understand, aim to limit an excessive release of CO in the air.
In its September-October 2009 newsletter, SCC recalls some security measures reported below for optimal use of the ethanol fireplace: - Only buy appliances that comply with standard NF D 35-386. - Avoid the purchase of second-hand or sold-out products as well as those offered on foreign distance selling websites which would not meet the requirements of this standard. - Never install an ethanol fireplace in a rest room. - Do not leave a child alone in a room where an ethanol appliance operates. - Place the device in a clear place away from any furniture or combustible material. - Use only the fuel prescribed by the manufacturer. - Store fuel in limited quantities and out of reach of children