By James Wells

SYDNEY: Hitachi Australia has issued a voluntary safety notice over its Utopia branded split ducted air conditioner indoor units made by Gold Coast-based Robertson Air Conditioning.

From 1997 to 2003, Hitachi purchased generic Local Ducted Fan Coil Units (LD Units), which Robertson manufactured, to suit Hitachi’s range of Utopia air conditioning outdoor units.

When investigating an isolated report of a faulty Australian-manufactured Utopia Split Ducted Air Conditioning LD unit, Hitachi discovered the Robertson Air Conditioning, had made a change to original LD Unit manufacturing specifications.

The affected models include the LD-2, LD-2.5, LD-3, LD-3.5, LD-4, LD-5, LD-6 and LD-7 which were manufactured between 2000 and 2003 and sold between 2000 and 2006.

According to a statement issued by Hitachi, potentially affected units can be identified by a plastic electrical box cover with a Robertson Air Conditioning label.

“Where a plastic electrical box cover has been used, unit failure may lead to fire, smoke or cover distortion. There is an extremely low risk of fire arising from a failure of the plastic electrical box cover. The units do not meet Hitachi’s own high manufacturing standards, which requires a metal electrical box cover.”

Hitachi believes that the plastic cover on the electrical box has melted and smoked when the capacitor failed.

“Although risk is low, we recommend that consumers cease use of the air conditioner and immediately contact Hitachi Australia Limited on 1800 354 178 to determine if the unit is affected,” the statement said.

Consumers who contact Hitachi during normal business hours can organize for a service technician to check and if necessary replace the plastic electrical box cover with a metal cover free of charge.

“Hitachi has established a repairer network to modify installed LD units to the company’s worldwide standards at no cost to homeowners or the dealer network,” the company said in its statement.

“Hitachi prides itself on the highest worldwide manufacturing standards and is committed to supplying quality products to both its channel partners and consumers.

Hitachi Australia general manager, Geoff Hannaford told that other Hitachi manufactured products such as high wall splits are not affected by the safety notice.