Electric fireplaces have many advantages when it comes to heating your home in the winter. For one, they eliminate the hassle of buying or hauling firewood, providing a huge convenience. Second, they can provide a homey ambiance to your home without the smoke byproducts and intensive cleaning that comes with traditional fireplaces and wood burning stoves. Finally, electric fireplaces are easy to fit to any pre-existing fireplace. In some cases, you don’t even need to have one in order to reap the benefits of a small, warm, and homey fire.
If you’re considering having an electric fireplace installed in your home, you may have some concerns about electric fireplace efficiency and safety.
It turns out an electric fireplace can be a safe and efficient way to provide supplemental heat and a cozy environment to your home. In this article, we explore just how safe and efficient an electric fireplace can be.
What is an Electric Fireplace?
An electric fireplace is a device designed to resemble a natural wood fire, but is super convenient because it doesn’t require any additional venting or even expensive professional installation. Electric fireplaces operate by creating a virtual flame. Most can be used with or without heating. Models with heating draw cool air from the room into the heating coil and gently force the warm air back into the room with a small fan. This provides supplemental heat for your main room without any added fumes, gas, or mess.
An electric fireplace has three major components:
- The heating element, which produces the actual heat
- A blower, which distributes the heat throughout the room
- A rotisserie-style light or a digital screen to provide the flame effect
An electric fireplace makes an efficient supplemental heat source.
Electric Fireplace Efficiency
Electric fireplaces are great supplemental heating options because they are very energy efficient – more efficient than gas or wood burning fireplaces. The Department of Energy states that electric resistance heating, like an electric fireplace, is 100% energy efficient in the sense that all the incoming electric energy is converted to heat.
One of the biggest reasons electric fireplaces are more efficient is that since there’s no chimney required, you’re not losing any of the heated air. All of the air you’ve warmed is staying put right where you need it most. Traditional fireplaces lose up to 90% of their heat out the chimney. Since hot air rises, most of the heat goes up to the chimney and is lost outside, with only part of the heat output actually being transmitted to the room close to the fire.
In contrast, electric fireplaces transmit the heat right where it’s needed, and are able to heat up a room more quickly. Unlike wood fireplaces, the space stays warm throughout the electric fireplace’s entire use. You probably won’t need to run your electric fireplace constantly to bring your room back up to a comfortable temperature. Heat loss can be a big issue with other supplemental heat sources, and results in higher energy bills. Electric fireplaces are great because they keep heat in the room.
Without a chimney, you’re also saving money by not having to get one cleaned several times a year. In order to keep wood burning heat sources running safely and efficiently, you’ll have to have them cleaned several times a year, and with an electric fireplace, this is a complete non-issue.
An electric fireplace is also extremely versatile – in most cases, you’re simply plugging your unit into a designated space and turning it on. There’s no installation hassle or mess, and the unit can be moved from room to room if you desire. Simple, better, and efficient heating that doesn’t come with heavy installation costs? Perfect.
Sizing an Electric Fireplace
As long as you’ve done your research and determined the proper model for the size of your room, electric fireplaces are great efficient supplemental heat sources.
Electric fireplace efficiency is determined by the voltage amount you need to heat the room. Most electric fireplaces run at 120 volts, 1500 watts, and 12.5 amps.
To determine the range of power you’ll need for your fireplace and its heating capacity, simply divide the wattage number by 10. 1500 divided by 10 equals 150, so your electric fireplace will supplementally heat a room that’s 150 square feet.
Fireplace wattage / 10 = Square footage of space it can service
Electric Fireplace Safety
Are electric fireplaces safe? Yes, electric fireplaces offer a safer heating system for a variety of reasons. If you follow the correct installation, maintenance, and use guidelines, this type of fireplace offers a safe and easy heating option.
First off, electric fireplaces make great heating alternatives for those with allergies or sinus issues. There’s no forced air system to blast dust and other allergen particles up through ancient ductwork and swirl throughout your home, so your air quality will be much better and your family will be breathing cleaner air.
The EPA states that smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces carry a mix of harmful gasses and small particles that can cause asthma attacks and severe bronchitis. They can also aggravate heart and lung disease, and increase the likelihood of respiratory illnesses. Electric fireplaces remove the risk of smoke byproducts, so you won’t have to use an air cleaner just to enjoy your fireplace.
Second, there are no dangerous fumes or gas leaks to worry about with electric fireplaces. Because you’re just plugging a unit into an electrical outlet in your home and switching it on, you will never have problems with gas fumes, creosote build-up, smoke, or escaping gas — all issues you might run into with a gas or traditional fireplace. According to the US Fire Administration, the failure to clean creosote from chimneys is the leading cause of home heating fire incidents in the US.
Third, electric fireplaces completely eliminate the dangers of an open flame. Confined fires from chimneys, flues or flue burners account for 87 percent of residential heating fires, based on figures from the US Fire Administration.
Finally, since they operate and maintain heat at a lower temperature, electric fireplaces make great child-safe supplemental heating options for homes with kids or pets. There are little to no sharp corners jutting out, or super hot surfaces that are easily accessible. Many models come with “safe-to-touch” glass that remains at a low temperature throughout fireplace use and won’t burn or cause discomfort if touched or run into.
The “flames” themselves aren’t even hot – they’re actually a projection added to make the fire seem more realistic and provide a cozy feel. The only place that gets significantly warm or hot is the element itself or the air near the heat output.
In the event that you do run into a rare issue with your electric fireplace, simply unplug it and have it inspected.
Electric Fireplaces: A Safer, More Efficient Alternative
Generally, the only issue you’ll run into with your electric fireplace is that perhaps it doesn’t burn quite warmly enough. However, this can easily be avoided by using it as a supplemental rather than a main heat source.
Electric fireplaces are safer and more efficient alternatives to standard supplemental heat like wood-burning fireplaces or stoves, and offer the bonus of being able to move the unit room to room if you desire. Browse our wide selection of electric fireplaces and find the perfect one for you.
Our Recommended Electric Fireplaces for Winter 2022
Dimplex XLF50 IgniteXL 50″ Linear Built-In Electric Firebox
The slim and sleek IgniteXL 50 can supply supplemental heat for up to 1,000 sq. ft. while being only 5.5″ deep. The 50″ built-in firebox can be installed right into a 2″ x 6″ wall space and measures 50.25″w x 5.875″d x 15.625″h. It can be installed in a 120V hardwire installation with a single pole/single throw On/Off wall switch. It can also be installed in a 240V installation.
It boasts Dimplex’s patented Comfort$aver ceramic heating system, which uses 11% less energy than the leading quartz infrared heater. It does this by automatically adjusting fan speed and heater wattage to safely and precisely match the requirements of the room. The exterior uses Dimplex’s Edge-to-Edge glass so you get a clean face, full view of the entire fireplace. Inside the flames will dance between the diamond-like acrylic ice ember bed as they sparkle and reflect the light of the flames. The Multi-Fire XD flames are so realistic you will think the flames are the real thing as they dance across the full 50 inch fireplace.
A full function remote is included with this beautiful fireplace. If the acrylic ice media bed is not exactly to your liking, you can add the Driftwood and Rock Accessory Kit for a more organic, traditional feel. A trim kit is also available to allow for 2″ x 4″ wall installation.
Whether you live in a house or a high rise, there is almost always room for a little ambiance. This IgniteXL 50" linear fireplace will certainly make a statem...
Whether you live in a house or a high rise, there is almost always room for a little ambiance. This IgniteXL 50" linear fireplace will certainly make a statem...View Product
Dimplex RBF36 Revillusion 36″ Built-In Electric Firebox
The Revillusion 36″ built-in firebox can be installed right into a wall or into a pre-existing fireplace. It features larger, brighter, more random flames from within the Realogs than other electric fireboxes. These life-like hardwood-cast logs and sit tiered on a grate, giving your firebox greater depth. To add to the realistic look, the Mirage Flame Panel, a partially frosted acrylic panel, helps to show off the dazzling display of flames. With Dimplex’s ThruView Full-Depth Design, you can see right through the flames, straight to the back of the back of the firebox.
A minimum of 2″ above the top of the firebox, the Revillusion firebox is virtually a zero clearance design. The firebox itself measures 31-1/8″ w x 25-3/4″ h x 12″ d with a beautiful clear viewing area of 29-3/8″w x 22-3/4″ h. It can be direct-wired to a 120V or 240V, 15 amp dedicated circuit and run to a corresponding wall switch. It can also be operated manually from the front panel or with the included multi-function remote. When connected to a 240V supply, you can get up to 8,800 BTUs, giving you an option of using this fireplace as a part of a primary heating plan. Plus, like other Dimplex electric fireplaces, the Revillusion will operate with or without the flame.
Additionally, optional fireplace cabinets and mantels are available. Whether you install your firebox into the wall or in a fireplace, Dimplex offers Mantels, Cabinets, Inlays and Doors for a custom look.
Now is the time to think about bringing your unused wood-burning fireplace back to life. Even if you do not have an unused fireplace, Dimplex Electric Fireboxes...
Now is the time to think about bringing your unused wood-burning fireplace back to life. Even if you do not have an unused fireplace, Dimplex Electric Fireboxes...View Product
Dimplex DFI2310 23″ Deluxe Electric Fireplace Insert with Patented LED Technology
This 23″ deluxe fireplace insert fits into any existing hearth to breathe life back into your unused fireplace, providing 4,695 BTUs of supplemental heat for spaces up to 400 sq ft.. It uses Dimplex’s patented LED inner glow logs and pulsating ember technology, which allow the logs and embers to glow in concert, creating an unmatched realistic fireplace experience.
Economical to operate, this unit runs on 2 cents per hour (flame only) or 8 cents per hour with heat (cycling at 50%). It produces no harmful particulates or emissions, and 90% less carbon dioxide than the average direct vent gas fireplace.
It includes a powerful blower and remote control for convenient operation. It may be installed with the use of an optional trim kit that includes trim, spark screen, and hardware
Dimplex DFI2310 23" Deluxe Electric Fireplace Insert with Patented LED Technology