LPG refrigerators, including “3-way” refrigerators, are great for keeping things cool, especially in remote locations or on holiday. They must however, be properly installed and regularly maintained because they operate continuously and their use is not supervised.
Portable chest refrigerators should never be operated in the gas mode in an enclosed space such as a tent or caravan. Fatalities have occurred from such misuse.
LPG refrigerators must be installed so that the air for combustion and the products of combustion are not taken from, or discharged into, spaces used for sleeping, including combined living or sleeping spaces.
Many older refrigerators may not have not been installed or checked for safety by trained professionals, and may therefore pose particular risks. Like any gas appliance or installation, LPG refrigerators and associated installations should be checked for safety at least every other year by a licensed gasfitter or certifying gasfitter. New refrigerator installation work can only be carried out by such licensed persons.
WorkSafe Energy Safety has investigated a number of events involving the death or hospitalisation of persons as a result of exposure to carbon monoxide from LPG refrigerators. In all cases the appliance was faulty and in some cases improper installation or lack of maintenance were contributing factors. Two accidents, both fatal, occurred with Valiant brand refrigerators some years ago. A recent (non-fatal) event occurred with an old Silent Knight brand refrigerator; this and a second such refrigerator were subsequently found to emit high levels of carbon monoxide.
Both these brands were found to have unsafe burners. Consequently WorkSafe Energy Safety advises users of Valiant and Silent Knight refrigerators to cease using them and either destroy them or seek assistance from a certifying gasfitter or other approved practitioner who has access to a combustion analyser.