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Are Electric Fireplaces Safe?

By Lawrence Macmillan October 25, 2021

A nice-looking fireplace can make a lovely addition to any room in your home. While they look pretty, they also provide heat and make your house all cozy in the winter.

But when it comes to electric fireplaces you may be wondering, are they safe?

Wanting to protect your home from fire hazards is only natural, so learning a few facts about electric fireplaces before you buy one is probably a good idea.

So in answer to your question, yes electric fireplaces are very safe! In fact, they’re one of the safest types of fireplaces you have in your home.

As the whole system works by simply plugging a unit into an electrical outlet you’ll never have issues with gas fumes, smoke, or creosote build-up, all of which are safety issues that can happen with wood burning fireplaces.

Electric fireplaces are also the safest option for you if you have children or pets.

These fireplaces maintain heat at a lower temperature compared to other types and often come with “safe-to-touch” glass, meaning that if your child does touch it they won’t get a burn or feel any discomfort.

The “fire” in an electric fireplace isn’t even real - rather it’s a projection to make the fireplace seem more realistic and give it that cozy feel. You can put your mind at ease knowing that it’s impossible for a fire to spread out of the fireplace.

Now that you know electric fireplaces are safe, here are some other things you should know before you buy one for your home.

How Do They Work?

The way these fireplaces work is really simple. Once plugged in they operate by drawing cool air from the room into a heating coil and then gently force the now warm air back out into the room.

This super-convenient method means that no venting or chimneys are required in the room so no large changes will need to be made.

Do They Produce As Much Heat As A Real Fire?

The answer here is a resounding yes. Electric fireplaces produce upwards of 5,000 BTU’s. This odd unit of measurement stands for British Thermal Unit, though it’s used in many countries including the USA.

A BTU is the measurement used to represent the amount of energy it takes to heat a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit, and is the standard heat measurement when it comes to radiators and fireplaces

In simple terms, an electric fireplace produces around the same amount of BTU’s as a wood fireplace, making it just as hot as them.

Are They Energy Efficient?

Electric fireplaces are much more efficient than other types of fireplaces, including wood and gas. One of the reasons is because this type of fireplace doesn’t require a chimney.

Traditional woodburning fireplaces end up losing up to 90% of their heat due to the warm air escaping through the chimney, something that won’t happen here.

An electric fireplace will also save you money on your heating bill as they let you heat the room you use the most or are currently in and not the whole house.

On top of this, you most likely won’t even need to run the electric fireplace all the time to keep the room warm as they heat up very quickly and effectively.

Once the room is warm enough for you, you can turn off the fireplace and save money on electricity while you stay warm for hours.

How Are They Installed?

Another benefit of this type of fireplace is how easy they are to install. While their size, weight, and look will depend on the fireplace you buy, all work by simply plugging them into a standard 120v wall outlet.

Electric fireplaces are usually quite lightweight and so can often be installed by just two people.

How Much Do They Cost?

This will depend on the brand, size, materials, and heating capabilities of the fireplace. Some smaller ones like tabletop devices and small wall-mounted fireplaces can cost around $100.

The bigger you go the more expensive the fireplace will be, especially if you’ve added extra features like more lights or different functions.

On the low end of the scale, you could be paying around $600-$700 for a large but relatively simple fireplace. If you want something quite fancy though the price can rise to well over $1000.

How Long Do They Last?

Depending on how frequently they’re used, electric fireplaces can last 10-20 years, making them a great investment for your home.

Are There Any More Advantages To An Electric Fireplace?

Apart from them being very safe, easy to install and set up, and can heat your room efficiently, electric fireplaces are also way more convenient than woodburning ones.

No longer will you have to chop wood all summer to keep you warm in the winter. Instead after a long, cold winter’s day, you can come home and have a fire ready instantly for you.

Are There Any Downsides?

While electric fireplaces are one of the best types you can buy, like everything they come with a few downsides.

One of these is that an electric fireplace must be located near an electrical outlet, and if the power goes out then the fire won’t work.

Also, they can’t heat the whole house, just the room it’s in, although you could say this about all fireplaces.

Another downside (if you can call it that) is that they don’t look, smell, or sound like a real fire. This may not be an issue to everyone, but some people just really like the aesthetic of a real wood burning fire.

What Should I Do If There Is An Issue With The Fireplace?

It’s highly unlikely that this fireplace will cause any issues to your home, but if something does happen like it gets far too hot for example, then it’s best to unplug it and have the fireplace inspected before its next use.

Anything Else I Should Know?

One thing you must never do with an electric fireplace is plug it into an extension cord. By doing this it could overload the electrical outlet and potentially cause a fire in your home. This is one of the only ways an electric fireplace can be a fire hazard.


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