Reducing the Risk of Kitchen Fires

Over two-thirds of fires in UK homes start in the kitchen. The experts from Prefect Controls explain how their safety products work

How many fires are caused by cooking appliances?
According to Government Fire and Rescue statistics, in 2020/21 more than 8,500 fires were caused by cooking appliances. 67% of the fires in UK homes start in the kitchen, most often when cookers are left unattended. Research by Electrical Safety First shows that 1 in 7 occupants of student accommodation have fallen asleep while cooking. In domestic situations, the risk of accidental fire increases for those aged 75 and over.

Why are battery-operated smoke detectors not a sufficient safety measure?
Any form of smoke/heat detector is a good idea. The more chances of detecting an outbreak of fire, the better. Smoke alarms bleep and flash when smoke is detected, but if no one is present to act, the situation can only worsen.

HobSensus is preventative measures to reduce the risk of ignition. It monitors temperature on the cooking surface and switches off the electrical supply to the cooker before combustion occurs. HobSafe reduces the risk of incidents by switching power to the hob off, after a pre-set time elapses. In both cases kitchens are made safer as hobs cannot be left on.

What sort of households are suitable for Hobsafe and HobSensus?
All kitchens will be safer with one of these on the wall, but they are particularly suitable where people with a greater tendency to be distracted are cooking. So, ideally suited for kitchens used by vulnerable adults, students, people living in sheltered or assisted living property. Also, rental homes, Airbnbs, and holiday lodges/caravans.

How does Hobsafe work?
HobSafe is a timer with 15-, 20-, 30- and 45-minute settings. The button is pressed to start cooking. After the designated time has elapsed, electricity supply to the hob is switched off. If the hob is turned off before the time elapses, all, well and good. But if not, the cooker cannot be left on, inadvertently.

What is HobSensus and how does it differ from HobSafe?
HobSensus is more sophisticated. The key difference is the 64-zone sensor that ‘watches’ the cooking surface. When temperatures approach a dangerous level, it begins to flash orange LEDs, and produces an audible warning. If no action is taken, the beeping becomes more intense and the LEDs flash red. Power to the hob is then cut. For additional safety, HobSensus also has a timer. So, even if the hob is left switched on at a low level, it will automatically switch off when the pre-set time elapses.


Are there different models of these products?
HobSafe has a 30Amp model, suitable for up to 6.9kW hobs, and a 40Amp version for more powerful cookers. HobSensus is a system, the Sensor Head, and the Power Switching Unit (PSU). The switching capacity is 40Amp, allowing a maximum load of 9.2kW.

How are HobSafe and HobSensus fitted and operated?
Hobsafe is sited in a convenient position close the cooker. It is connected to the mains supply from the cooker isolator switch, and to the hob.

HobSensus is positioned centrally on the wall behind the hob, with a clear view of the cooking surface. It is powered either from the Power Switching Unit via a low-voltage cable or, if the use of a cable is impractical because of splashbacks or décor, then 4AA batteries provide power for up to two years.

The PSU is connected between the cooker and the isolator switch. The Sensor Head tells the PSU when to turn the hob on/off via Bluetooth if batteries are in use, or down the low-voltage cable, if hard-wired.

For both devices a press of the button activates the unit, the hob is then used in the normal way.

It takes a competent electrician approximately 30-45 minutes to install either product.


How does HobSensus integrate with Irus?
Irus, our energy saving management system is for larger sites, such as student accommodation blocks. Irus is centrally controlled and operated via a web-based portal. HobSensus’ integration sends data from the cookers to the portal. Managers can see how much energy is being consumed, which kitchens trigger HobSensus most frequently, and, if batteries are used to power the Sensor Head then their charge level can be viewed remotely.

What’s the story behind Prefect Controls?
Formed in 1997, Prefect’s original market was student accommodation providers, hotels etc., where excessive use of heating energy by guests, who were not subject to paying the bills, was a real problem.
We designed a range of controls that provide occupants with room temperature control, but behind the scenes the business owner has overall control of the temperature and time set-points meaning they can avoid unnecessary energy use.

Prefect design engineers have since developed many other products for this sector, and now, with HobSensus, we are broadening our market.

Where can I find out more about Prefect Controls?
Our website is the best starting point – We also have a very friendly team that will be more than happy to explain the most suitable product for your requirement.

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