WattGate or how to continue to deceive consumers with peace of mind

As a preamble, a bit of technique: an electric heater has only one simple function: to heat. He even does it very well because he does not know how to do anything else: the electrical energy consumed is transformed into thermal energy with an efficiency of 100%. For example, an electric heater with an electric power of 1000 Watt operating in the Max position for one hour will consume an energy of 1 kWh having supplied a thermal energy of 1 kWh.

This explanation relating to energy led for a long time to mention in the characteristics of a radiator only the term « power », without the qualifiers electric Where thermal :

  • On the nameplate of the device it is not written but it is about the power electric. This information is required for connecting the appliance to the home’s electrical installation.
  • The calculated power, necessary for heating a room, is often expressed in Watt per m2: it is the power thermal.

The thermal power of a radiator is fundamental:

  • If it is insufficient, the room temperature will decrease as the outdoor temperature decreases. You can no longer compensate for thermal losses.
  • It allows a rapid increase in the temperature of the room when you increase the setpoint.

I am telling you about it today following a bad surprise that occurred after the recent purchase of an electric heater. I discovered, after reading his instructions paper, chapter « Technical and legal information », the value of its thermal power of 1140 W. « What do you mean ? I bought a 2000W heater. It’s written everywhere. « 
I consult the notice on the seller’s website: amazement, the document is identical except that the 3 pages of technical and legal information are missing where the thermal power information is displayed.

« Corn whatis it that this binz ? « 

After investigation, I discovered the Regulation (EU) 2015/1188 who, as of January 1, 2018, rendered obligatory, for electric decentralized heating devices, the provision, on the instruction manuals and websites of manufacturers, their representatives and importers, of information relating to the thermal power.

I decide to measure the thermal power of my new radiator. I measure the current and the voltage by putting it on the maximum position (29 °): 8.5 A and 240 V or 2040 W electric. But, while waiting a bit, I notice that it cycles continuously twice 40s: 40s On and 40s Off. This gives us an average balance of 1020 W, or only half of what I thought when I bought a 2000 W heater. I am outraged.

Deception (in the case of this radiator) is to display electric watts without explaining that they are only available half the time.

« They will see what kind of wood I am heating myself with. They will reimburse me !!! Yes, but to buy which heater? .How to avoid getting screwed a second time « . So I decided to assess the extent of this scandal.

My investigation focused mainly on horizontal radiators, if possible of 2000W, from the websites of large DIY stores and comparisons. For each of the 135 models (32 brands), the prices of which vary between € 48 and € 990, I looked for information on thermal power in the manuals. Here is the summary:

Table explanations:

  • Ok: the thermal power of the model is equal to its electrical power.
  • Ko: the thermal power of the model is less than its electric power. On average, the difference is 37% (minimum 20% and maximum 73%).
  • ? : the manual does not give the thermal power information or is « not found », including on the manufacturer’s website.

Here is the detail by model (pdf, 127.5 kB) and the thermal power values ​​of the Ko models (pdf, 67.3 kB)

Conclusions of the analysis:

  • For 36% of the models, it is impossible to know the value of the thermal power: non-compliance with regulation (EU) 2015/1188
  • 41% of the models « price less than 280 € » and « known thermal power » have a thermal power lower than the electric power

Trained as an « electrical engineer », I tried to understand the reasons which led to the design of this type of radiator, including mine. If the design of a radiator does not support operating more than half the time because of its temperature rise limit, why not run it all the time but with half the power? Especially since it is very easy: all you have to do is double the value of its heating resistance. The radiator then provides the same thermal power and with this permanent operation, it also has a reduced electric power, equal to its thermal power. What is wrong with this reasoning? This radiator could no longer be sold in the 2000 W category but only in the 1000 W category. « If I’m wrong, have it explained to me« .

Technically, the electrical design of my radiator is nonsense :

  • It is too powerful and therefore, permanently, it must be stopped. From a “reliability” point of view, this is very bad: its lifespan will be impacted.
  • For the same thermal power installed in a home, these types of radiator may require subscribe to a higher electrical power of 3 or even 6 kVA.
  • In very cold weather, it will be necessary to add additional radiators (if the subscribed power allows it), with all the risks that this may entail. Could we speak of « endangering the life of others »?

For all these reasons, I call :

  • Consumer defense associations and the National Consumer Institute to relay this message: do not buy electric heaters without having knowledge of the information « Thermal power », under penalty of possible disappointment.
  • DGCCRF to ensure the correct application of Regulation (EU) 2015/1188: information relating to the thermal power on the websites of European manufacturers, their representatives and importers,
  • Sellers » to add information on thermal power to the main characteristics of electric radiators, to ensure the correct conformity of notices posted online and to classify radiators by thermal power instead of electric power.
  • Radiator testers to add the information of the thermal power in their comparisons (it is in the paper manual of each radiator),
  • French and European elected officials, not only to revise Regulation (EU) 2015/1188 so that, given its importance, the thermal power information appears in a more dignified and more relevant place than in the instruction manual but to ban outright the marketing of electric heaters whose thermal power differs from electric power given their lack of interest for the consumer, their drawbacks and the risks they can generate (for fan heaters, the mechanical energy generated must be taken into account).

Appendix: List of the 135 models analyzed :

  • Acova: Alcantara, Denim, Lina, Percale, Taffeta, Mohair,
  • Adeo: Cylona, ​​Lanai,
  • Airelec: Actua 2, Alizé, Balma, Caruso, Coxy, Douceur, Lexy, Naomi, Sphinx, Wish,
  • Altech: HY15CWT62T,
  • Atenza: 463084, 463528,
  • Atlantic: Agilia Connected, F18, F617T, Nirvana Digital,
  • B-Home: Serenza,
  • Blyss: Alvara, Anthao, Icaria, Isando, Saris, Keros, Maela, Revelation, Tavua, Zumba,
  • Carrera: Bea HV10GT41A, Cayenne 49606, Cayenne 49699, Jarpa, Klaas HMG20A2T41T, Mona HOE20GWT41A, Smart HLX20A3T41T, Tamara H0E20CWT41A, Uno HUA20CT41T,
  • Celcia: Digital 2000, Fluid,
  • Chaufelec: Anelia, Cancun, Edison, Elise, Etamine II, Evasion, Odessas II, Rolly,
  • Concorde: Arkady plus, Dinky, Idao, Idylle, Cancun, Luminance, Rosace, Sid,
  • De’Longhi: Dolce, Fivy, Kendra,
  • Deltacalor: Cubo, Delicato, Dolce, New Ondulo,
  • Equation: Sorali connect, Virtuoso,
  • GoodHome: Florya, Iriya, Mermoz, Sondrio,
  • Haverland: Aspen, Medusa, Ottimo,
  • Heallux: EPC02-20R,
  • HJM: Aria, Arles, Cocoon, Marne, Spring,
  • Tech id: 1971240, Rifo,
  • Kingfisher: Cisco, Dillam, Firenze, HT20PMD, Kairos,
  • Mariniere Energie: Le Fluide Plus, Medium, Prestige Plus, Tradition, Tradition Plus,
  • Mazda: Cemacy, Dual kerr, Dual kerr curve, Palacy,
  • Noirot: Aurea D M220, Calidou, Calou, Fusion II, Karisa, Lynx II, Millenium, Camelia, Dipsy, Nymphe,
  • Nova Florida: Iraya,
  • Oceanic: HT20BJ, HT20PMB1, OCEAISHC2000W,
  • Rointe: D series, Sygma,
  • Skip: Bachata, Gyali, Hekla, Ipala, Malao, Orosi, Sibayak, Sundoro,
  • Supra: Galbeo,
  • Thermor: Balearic Islands 2, Emotion 4, Evidence,
  • Thomson: Digital THRAYF013D, THRFIT2000,
  • Univ’R: Caraibes, Palayer,
  • Unbranded: EPA03-20, Neomia,

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