By now it is obvious that electricity prices are never going to decrease to what we have been used to for the last 20 years. Failure by various organisations to actively manage the performance of the grid and to accurately predict the future pressure on its output has lead to staggering increases. This has lead to an upward trend in using liquid petroleum or LP gas. LP gas is cheaper, more efficient and in some cases more environmentally friendly. It can however be very dangerous to use if not operated properly. The majority of us use gas in a ‘closed system’ – portable heaters and camping stoves are two common examples. Although dangerous to use, by virtue, if how commonly we use them and that the gas storage is localised, they are fairly safe. It is however, the open systems, like built in stoves and fridges that can be extremely dangerous if not installed correctly.

In 1997 an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1993 in respect of ‘The Vessels Under Pressure Regulations No.17468’ was passed. The regulation states that as from the 1st August 1997 it is a legal requirement that: “No person shall install a fixed appliance, equipment or system for gas LP Gas fuel, unless such a person is a holder of a certificate of registration”. It’s important to always check not only from a safety perspective, if your gas installer is properly licensed.

Below are a few aspects of the regulation to get you up to speed with what is legal.

Gas bottles may not be installed:

Less than 1 meter sideways from doors and windows.

Less than 2 meters from drains and air vents or any other place where the gas can gather if the bottle leaks.

Less than 3 meters below windows unless a non-combustible roof is installed between the gas bottles and the bottom of the window.

Less than 1 meter from the property boundary wall unless it is a fire wall, at least 1.8 meters tall and there are no ventilation gaps in the wall. (Acceptable if no more than two 48kg bottles are stored)

Less than 3 meters from the property boundary wall (if more than two 48kg bottles are stored).

Less than 5 meters sideways away from a switchable electrical point or plug switch. Light bulbs cannot be less than 1.5 meters above a gas bottle.

Other rules on installations:

Only class 1 or 2 copper pipes or other approved gas piping may be used. (Note: This is not the same copper piping as used by plumbers).

Copper pipes going through a wall, must be sleeved.

Approved flexible gas hose may not be more than 2 meters long and may not go through any partition at all (including wood, dry wall, cupboard wall etc.)

Please note: Certificate of Conformity for Gas Appliances

The Machinery and Occupational Safety Act of 1993 requires owners of buildings to hold a certificate of compliance in respect of any electrical installation. This has now also been extended to include a compliance certificate of conformity of gas installations.