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Gas Appliance Regulation forces water heater withdrawal

New regulation sees certain atmospheric models having to be removed from market

The new Gas Appliance Regulation has forced a number of manufacturers to remove atmospheric water heating products from the market at short notice, according to industry experts.

David Pepper, business development manager for manufacturer Lochinvar, whose company has made the necessary investment to comply with GAR across its products, warned that end users could be caught out by the new law.

GAR replaced the Gas Appliances Directive (GAD) in April and applies to any product burning gaseous fuels and to components used in gas appliances. It includes a number of updates, not included in the old directive, in a bid to improve safety standards across the EU.

Any appliance planned for production after April 21 this year must have a GAR certificate and all gas fittings must now be CE marked, including controls and other safety components. Many of the most widely sold ranges of water heaters no longer comply.

The combination of this new regulation with the low NOx emissions standards about to be imposed in September by the Energy Related Products (ErP) Directive, has forced several manufacturers to stop selling atmospheric water heater models.

Under the new rules, importers and distributors must also prove that the products they handle comply with the Regulation, whereas under the GAD, responsibility for ensuring compliance rested solely with the manufacturer. A number of suppliers are reported to be struggling to adapt to the new requirements.

Mr Pepper warned: “The new rules are quickly and significantly changing the marketplace for water heaters. There is a danger that some end users will be caught out by this, particularly if they need an emergency replacement unit.”

“At Lochinvar, we had been preparing for these changes for some time and so all of our atmospheric water heaters are already GAR-certified. We made the investment in testing because we anticipated that there could be a sudden shortage in the market that might leave some customers exposed.”

He said that, in the longer term, the market would convert to condensing-only systems to meet the energy efficiency and low emissions targets imposed by the ErP. However, it was not always practical or cost-effective for many end users to do this now because of the system alterations – including new flues – that may be required when moving from traditional atmospheric technology to condensing.

He said: “Most water heater replacements are distress purchases, which means that the primary, and sometimes only, concern for many end users is to get the building’s hot water supply up and running again as quickly as possible.”

 

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