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The new Gas Appliance Regulation (GAR) has forced a number of manufacturers to remove their water heating products from the UK market at short notice, says David Pepper, Business Development Manager at Lochinnvar.
GAR is a safety regulation that applies to any product burning gaseous fuels and to components used in gas appliances. It replaced the Gas Appliances Directive (GAD) in April and includes a number of significant updates not included in the old directive in a bid to improve safety standards across the EU.
The combination of this new regulation with the low NOx emissions standards about to be imposed by the Energy-related Products (ErP) directive in September has forced several manufacturers to stop selling some of their atmospheric water heaters.
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.
Under the new rules, importers and distributors must also prove that the products they handle comply with the Regulation. Under the GAD, responsibility for ensuring compliance rested solely with the manufacturer. A number of suppliers are struggling to adapt to the new requirements, but the boiler, water heater and heat pump manufacturer Lochinvar said it had already made the changes needed to its products. David Pepper comments:
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.
“However, at Lochinvar, we had been preparing for these changes for some time and so all of our atmospheric water heaters are already GAR-certified. This means we can continue to meet our customers’ requirements without interruption.
“We took this step and 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. David Pepper adds:
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.
“The market is, generally, ready for the changes that the ErP will bring later this year, but the new safety rules imposed by the GAR has forced a number of manufacturers to remove products from the market earlier than anticipated.
“To owners of restaurants, hotels, leisure centres, care homes etc. having no hot water available is an alarming prospect, which is why the quickest fix is often the preferred solution. Fortunately, Lochinvar can still supply compatible replacement products directly from stock and often within 24 hours.”