HETAS is the independent UK body recognised by Government for the testing and approval of stoves and associated equipment and services. Essentially its remit is to ensure the safe installation, operation and maintenance of safe and efficient wood burning and multi fuel stoves and boiler stoves. As part of this process it produces an annual list of products which they have checked and approved. It is important to point out that the Hetas Approved Appliance list is by no means comprehensive and that the stoves on the list are not physically checked or tested in operation by Hetas. What Hetas do is a paper exercise to ensure, among other things, that the CE certificate is genuine, that the appliance efficiencies quoted in the CE certificate meet the efficiency requirements as set out in Building Regulations (ie gross efficiency of 65% or better) and that the instruction manual is written in English and covers all the relevant points to ensure safe installation and operation. However, there are many, many perfectly good, perfectly safe and efficient CE tested stoves which do not appear on the Hetas approved list. Why is this?
There are a number of reputable manufacturers and importers, with many CE tested appliances (some with additional and more stringent certification than the basic CE), who do not recognise the need for yet another level of 'red tape' and its associated costs and therefore consciously do not support the Hetas list. In addition, some manufacturers and importers who are already listed do not submit all of their products for the same reason.
What concerns us at The Stove Yard is that some Hetas installers seem to think that they can only fit Hetas Approved Appliances. They're wrong – and to ensure its legal position Hetas would be the first to confirm this. Their website clearly states:
The installation of non-approved appliances.
When an installer installs a solid fuel, wood or biomass appliance they must satisfy themselves that the installation and associated work meets all the relevant Building Regulations (primarily Regulations 4 and 7). This includes:
- A suitable appliance
- Any associated ancillary systems such as chimneys, vents, carbon monoxide alarms, hearths etc.
To clarify this, recent correspondence to both Morsø and The Stove Yard stated:
"When fitting an appliance that is not Hetas Approved installers should make a little effort to check that the appliance can be fitted in accordance with the requirements of Building Regulations e.g. that the gross efficiency is 65% gross or better."
Please note the term 'a little effort'. Currently a Hetas Registered Installer, if using a stove which is not Hetas listed, only needs to make sure that a stove has a genuine CE certificate if it is an imported stove and that it meets the minimum 65% gross efficiency. UK produced stoves – of which there are 100s – do not yet require a CE Certificate (all this will change in July 2013 with the Construction Products Regulation). In The Stove Yard's experience any Hetas installer worth his salt will not fit a suspect stove with or without a 'dodgy' CE certificate. They have usually been fitting stoves long enough to know that a badly made stove will come back to haunt them and have also been in the business of installing stoves long enough to recognise a well-made functionally safe stove from a reputable brand from one that isn't.
So, our view on the Hetas Approval of a wood burner or multi fuel stove is that if your stove choice has gained Hetas approval, then that's a bonus, but it shouldn't be the be-all and end-all of whether it is a suitable stove or not.