Gas Appliances in the EU
An Implementation Guide for the Gas Appliance Regulation vs. the Gas Appliance Directive.
On April 21, 2018, the EU’s Gas Appliances Directive (GAD) will be replaced by the new Gas Appliances Regulation (GAR), changing the requirements for appliances burning gaseous fuels. Products must have new GAR EU Type examination certificates if they were not already in the supply chain prior to this date. GAD will be withdrawn and its EC surveillance certificates will no longer be valid for appliances or fittings produced after this date. The changes under GAR will impact your business, so it’s critical to begin to understand them now.
The European Commission proposes legislation to European Parliament. The legislation, classified as regulations, directives and decisions, takes precedence over EU member states’ national laws. As such, any manufacturer looking to enter the EU market must be prepared to adhere to GAR within the year.
Assessments of GAD indicated a need to modify the directive to provide clarity and ensure legal certainty across member states. This was particularly true for definitions and the directive’s scope. Variations in gas conditions (type, category, pressures) among the member states also factored into the reassessment. The result of the assessments was the creation of GAR.
GAR covers appliances burning gaseous fuel and fittings used for cooking, heating, hot water production, refrigeration, lighting and washing, as well as forced draft burners and associated heating bodies. It applies to new or second-hand appliances imported from a country outside of the EU, as well as all forms of supply, including distributors and agents.
Products designed specifically for industrial processes carried out on industrial premises; used on aircrafts and railways; or used temporarily in laboratories for research purposes are exempt from the regulation. GAR also excludes appliances possessing historic or artistic value and not put into service (i.e. antiques) and people who manufacture appliances on a non-professional basis and use the products exclusively for their own purposes.
Key Changes in GAR vs. GAD
One of the immediate changes under GAR is the shift from a directive to a regulation. Regulations are the most direct form of EU law and thus one of the Union’s most powerful forms of legislation. Once passed, they have binding legal enforcement throughout every member state, overriding national laws. Directives establish certain end results to be achieved by member states, bringing different national laws in line with each other. Member states incorporate directives into national laws and have more flexibility in determining how the end results will be achieved.
The move from a directive to a regulation elevates the status of the requirements, while also laying out more specific means of achievement. All members of the EU are governed by this piece of legislation, allowing for a more routine approach and execution of the law. This change of status is only one of multiple changes under GAR.
There are several other notable changes to requirements under GAR versus GAD, including:
- Fittings are now required to go through the same conformity assessment procedures as appliances and to obtain CE marking.
- Appliances with a normal water temperature exceeding 105° C, which were previously excluded under GAD, are now included. This adds gas-fired steam generators, hot water boilers and steam boilers to the scope of the regulations, if they are used for cooking, refrigeration, air conditioning, space heating, hot water production, lighting or washing.
- For each appliance or fitting, manufacturers are required to conduct and document a risk assessment, which must include provisions for the “reasonable foreseeable uses” of the product. For example, it would be logical to expect consumers to use pans on a stove that are larger than recommended; as such, this provision should be included in the risk analysis of the product.
- Appliances must be designed and constructed so that they do not cause a harmful concentration of carbon monoxide when being used normally.
GAR also clarifies the definition of a manufacturer to any natural or legal person who manufactures an appliance or fitting, or who has an appliance or fitting designed or manufactured and markets it under his name or trademark. This change impacts brand retailers, who are now classified as manufacturers and subject to the same requirements.
New certificates will be issued under GAR, signifying compliance to the revised regulation. These certificates have a maximum validity period of 10 years from the date of issue. During the validity period, the issuing notified body (NB) must inform manufacturers of any changes in technology or regulation that could affect the presumption of conformity under the current certification. For example, the NB must inform the manufacturer of any revised appliance/fitting standards or new standards that supersede those originally used for certification. Likewise, it is the responsibility of the NB to inform manufacturers of Commission decisions that overrule the presumption of conformity that certification might afford.
Under GAR, manufacturers will encounter several obligations throughout the production cycle of a qualifying appliance. Manufacturers must conduct and document a thorough risk analysis to identify risks associated with appliances or fittings. This assessment must be taken into consideration throughout the design and development cycles. To conduct the assessment, it is important to consider not only the intended use of the appliance, but foreseeable use as well.
Once risks are identified, it is incumbent upon the manufacturer to eliminate or reduce risks as much as possible. For risks that cannot be eliminated, necessary protection measures must be identified and implemented. Finally, manufacturers must inform users of any residual risks due to shortcomings in the adopted protection measures, as well as any precautions that are required on users’ part.
Products must be compliant with generally acknowledged “state of the art,” which typically means proven compliance with the latest version of harmonized European standards. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure this compliance. Manufacturers must also ensure appliances do not cause a concentration of harmful substances that present a danger to people or domestic animals. Similarly, the surface temperatures of external parts (excluding those associated with heat transmission) must not present a danger.
In addition to appliances, conformity assessment procedures for fittings, such as safety devices, controls or regulators are required under GAR. Such fittings, and their sub-assemblies, must be CE marked by the manufacturer.
Importers and distributors are considered manufacturers when placing appliances or fittings on the market under their name or trademark, or modifying products already on the market. Thus, they are subject to obligations to ensure products are fully compliant and proper procedures are followed.
As the compliance date for GAR approaches, it’s important to begin preparing. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Familiarize yourself with the GAR requirements and the changes GAR will bring about. Keep informed about any changes made to GAR in the coming months and prepare now to ensure you’re meeting the proper requirements.
- Remember the deadlines and what they mean. On April 21, 2018, just after midnight, requirements will become mandatory. Any product entering the EU market after this time must comply. Products already in the supply chain at the given time may still be distributed under their GAD certifications, provided they are valid and current. Consider these deadlines as you develop products and look to keep existing products on the market to ensure full compliance.
- Check that appliances and fittings are manufactured using the latest product specifications and versions of the standards. Remember, fitting certificates will no longer be accepted as a presumption of conformity.
- Distributors and importers must prepare to meet the same obligations as manufacturers. Study the regulation and put systems in place now to meet the requirements, ensure a smooth transition and lower impact on your business.
In less than a year, compliance to the new GAR requirements will be mandatory. This will impact existing GAD certifications as well as ongoing compliance. It is important to keep up-to-date with the changes GAR will make and to begin to prepare for the impact to products and businesses.