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Are our fridges going to attack us while we sleep?

Exploding fridges: Now here’s an emotive subject.

The sight of Miss Kathy Cullingworth, 55 standing in front of her wrecked kitchen in West Yorkshire has graced plenty of inboxes recently.

And the alleged cause of that wreckage has sent ripples through the rac sector, since her eight year old fridge freezer was running on hydrocarbons. The evidence appears to suggest something in her Creda Creda BM1210 has ignited the R600a refrigerant within, creating the huge explosion in the middle of the night.

Of course the incident has immediately polarised the industry, pitting those in the industry who are enthusiastic supporters of natural refrigerants, against those who feel that such technology is being introduced more quickly than is really necessary.

The opponents are somewhat gleefully questioning, (in capital letters naturally), Are Hydrocarbons Safe? They are ably supported by the doom mongers of the Daily Mail and their ilk who even more gleefully something along the lines of Are Our Fridges Going to Attack Us While We Sleep?

And as you would expect, those who have made it their business to promote the hydrocarbon as an efficient – and within carefully restricted parameters safe – refrigerant are replying: ‘Hold on, this is far more likely to be just be a one-off fault or a bizarre accident, rather than a fundamental flaw in the theory of working with hydrocarbons.’ With the isobutane charge in the Creda only supposed to be 150 g, some are already questioning whether that alone could cause such an explosion, from a supposedly sealed unit.

The Yorkshire incident is the second to reach the attention of the local papers this year. Is that enough to make it a trend? And to what extent should all this worry the suppliers and users of commercial systems? While we wait to hear what the investigators and the manufacturers have to say, I would be very interested to hear what you think.

By RAC editor Andrew Gaved