Chip heater

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The chip heater is embedded in Australian and New Zealand social history as many people can remember using one or someone who had one. The precise history of the chip heater is unclear.

The original idea surely must be derived from vertical steam boilers. Professor Miles Lewis notes that he ‘instantaneous water heaters’, which were being sold by Douglas & Sons of Melbourne by 1888 were probably of this sort. In 1892 the Melbourne iron founder Angus McLean was advertising as the sole proprietor and manufacturer (presumably for Victoria) of Fischer’s Patent Bath Heater, which could be heated with wood in three minutes at the cost of one farthing.

Catalogues from the National Radiator Company (Hull, United Kingdom) from 1913 and 1919 which were marketed in Australia do not show chip heaters suggesting that the chip heater was local innovation.


The chip heater was very similar to the gas and kerosene powered eyser hot water heaters popular in Australian suburban residences from the 1920s. The main difference was the fuel source. The Australian producer etters supplied gas geysers for city clients with access to gas and chip heaters for country clients.


There were a number of manufacturers and brands. According to Professor Miles Lewis the early twentieth century brands included the Royal, Little Hero, Silver Ace, Kangaroo, Empire and Little Wonder. Peter Wood recalls a orrens brand being popular in Adelaide.

The Australian producer etters have a variety of chip heaters in their 1936 catalogue including oil and kerosene powered chip heaters as well as four varieties of chip heater. Metters claimed a flow of 2 gallons of ery hot water per minute.


Archer, John, 1998, Your home: the inside story of the Australian house, Port Melbourne, Lothian.

Metters Ltd 1936 Metters’ bath heater and hot water serviceĀ : sectional catalogue, Metters Ltd.

Oliver, Julie. The Australian home beautiful: from Hills hoist to high rise, McMahon’s Point, N.S.W. Home Beautiful, 1999.

Postings on the NSW Heritage Office Heritage Advisors Discussion Group by Peter Benkendorff, David Beauchamp, Susan Duyker, Elizabeth Roberts and Peter Woods, April 2007.

Posting on Engineering Heritage discussion group by Professor Miles Lewis 26/04/2007

Categories: Plumbing | Heaters | Residential heating | Home appliancesHidden categories: Articles lacking in-text citations from September 2008 | All articles lacking in-text citations

Source by weihua

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