The VDE Institute recommends following safety symbols for personal protection

The VDE warns: Cheap products from the internet are often ticking time bombs

The VDE Institute conducted random safety tests of gardening tools and small household appliances, and significant flaws were detected in the process. This includes, among other things, faulty operating instructions that can cause electrical, mechanical and thermal hazards.


Hendrik Schäfer

Experts at the VDE Institute performed safety tests on gardening tools and small household appliances from the internet. Their results: Experts found significant defects both in the products and in the operating instructions for 65 percent of the randomly inspected products – with fatal consequences for consumer health and life. The manufacturers of cheap products in the gardening tools and small household appliance categories either used unsuitable materials, inadequately followed safety aspects, or cut corners on workmanship.

"Two-thirds of the gardening tools and small household appliances that we randomly inspected are ticking time bombs. The detected flaws entail, among other things, damage to health, the risk of an electric shock and malfunctions", says Wolfgang Niedziella, Managing Director of the VDE Institute. Furthermore, all tested products had significant flaws in the operating instructions.
"Because of our commitment to consumer protection, it is even more important to point out that consumers should look for the safety marks of an independent testing institute. With the VDE triangle, the consumer knows that the product fulfils all safety requirements", adds Niedziella.

Selected examples of the comprehensive product tests:

Small household appliances

  • On a filtered coffee machine, VDE experts have discovered that an electrical shock can occur if the user touches the plug pins. The maximum voltage permitted here was measured beyond the maximum permitted value.
  • A toaster stood out for the testers because it had been delivered with English-language operating instructions only. However, safety-related information that is not understood can cause hazardous situations. Furthermore, important information was in the rear part of the operating instructions, where they can be easily overlooked.
  • A mixer had poorly-translated instructions, which were presumably intended to provide information on the hazards of submerging the appliance in water. The formulation can lead to misunderstandings and thus, to a hazard for the user.
  • A blender lacked instructions stating that the power cable must be replaced if damaged. As a result, the consumer did not learn that this can only be carried out by the manufacturer or its customer service department, thereby exposing the consumer to a hazard.

Gardening tools

  • A lawn trimmer had significant flaws during inspection. Among other things, it was not stated that certain endangered groups of people should not use the product. The operating instructions lacked electrical measurement information, which can ultimately cause injuries. Excessive use of a vibration-intensive product can cause temporary and permanent user limitations. Even hearing damage is possible. 
  • On a pair of electrical hedge trimmers, the VDE testers discovered that the emission sound pressure level was not specified, which can cause permanent hearing damage.
  • On one set of battery-powered grass and shrub shears, the operating instructions were poorly translated and can cause the user to suffer an electrical shock or cause the battery to set fire. Furthermore, losing the cutting knife’s safety mechanism can cause it to fall out of the machine, which can result in cutting injuries.

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