First of all, not all heat presses are "built to code" since there is no legal requirement to do so. Reputable companies will get third party approvals or listings from companies like UL or FM. Listed items have had their design looked at and OK'd by the company. Approved items mean that the third party rep. actually spends time at the manufacturer's and pulls random samples to ensure things are being built to the approvaed standards.
If you see a heat press that explicity states it requires a 20 ampere circuit, and it is either listed or approved, it will have a different plug on the end than we are used to in the US. One of the blades of the plug will be horizontal instead of vertical to prevent its use in a lower rated outlet. The amperage draw will indicate how many watts the heating element requires. Heat output will not always be the same for a given wattage since not all heating elements are created equal with regards to efficiency. However, as a general rule, the higher the wattage, the more heat you will get.
Even the best made equipment can become a fire hazard if not properly maintained. The cord and plug should be inspected prior to every use. The plug should fit snugly in the outlet. The cord should be routed so that nothing will fall or drop on it and where it will not be subjected to heat.
The best bet if you are concerned about fire hazards is to buy a UL approved, not listed, machine. Any manufacturer who is willing to pay the additional money for this service and who has the confidence to let a third party randomly test equipment during any phase of the manufacturing cycle is going to be pretty confident in their product.
The heat press we purchased is a great unit but has one feature that troubles me. It can be set to come on at a certain times of the days and week. The unit stays unplugged until I am ready to use it.
My one cent's worth.
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