Electric fireplaces are a common way to provide a more convenient fireplace experience in a home without the need for a chimney and without many of the downsides associated with burning solid fuels or gas.
Electric fireplaces produce a flame and give out heat, so are electric fireplaces safe?
Electric fireplaces can be considered a safer form of fireplace compared to other types, such as wood burning or gas, because there’s no real flame and no harmful byproducts can be produced.
We’ve discussed in more detail below why electric fireplaces can be considered safe by explaining how they operate and what safety measures can be found in electric fireplaces.
Are Electric Fireplaces Safe?
Electric fireplaces are one of the newer forms of fireplace that you can buy for your home, and instead of burning gas, wood or other solid fuels, electric fireplaces only run on electricity.
As there’s no real fire in an electric fireplace, there’s no flames and no harmful emissions can be produced, making electric fireplaces a very safe alternative to other forms of fireplace. However, electric fireplaces are an electrical appliance and should be used correctly in order to enjoy the fireplace experience safely.
We’ve discussed below why electric fireplaces can be considered a safe form of fireplace, as well as explaining aspects of an electric fireplace that may not be completely safe.
Why Electric Fireplaces Can Be Considered Safe
Compared to other forms of fireplaces, electric fireplaces can be considered safer because:
- There’s no real flame produced.
- The heat is generated artificially.
- There are no byproducts, smoke or waste gases released.
- Unlike wood and gas fires, electric fireplaces don’t require a constant supply of fresh air to keep the fire burning safely.
- Both the heat and flames can be turned off in an instant.
- Apart from in front of the heater, they aren’t hot to the touch.
Electric fireplaces don’t have a real fire, and any flames shown aren’t real.
Electric fireplaces can therefore be considered safer than other forms of fireplaces that have real flames because there are no risks involved with the potential for the fire to spread, produce smoke or release harmful gases.
Electric fireplaces simply produce an imitation of a real fire by using a typical LED screen or combination of lights and mechanical parts to display flickering flames (you can read more about how fireplaces work right here).
As electric fireplaces don’t have real flames there’s no heat produced by the fires. Heat is therefore generated artificially from another component within the fireplace, either from a conventional heating element and fan or from another heat source such as an infrared heater.
An electric fireplace doesn’t produce real flames and also generates its heat using electricity. An electric fireplace therefore doesn’t produce any waste byproducts.
This means that there are no harmful emissions (such as smoke and other gases) that need to be vented from your home, and is another reason why electric fireplaces can be considered a safer form fireplace compared to wood burning or gas.
Unlike gas and wood fireplaces, electric fireplaces also don’t need a constant supply of fresh air in order to keep a fire burning safely.
A lack of sufficient oxygen for gas and wood burning fires can lead to them producing more harmful emissions such as smoke, creosote and carbon monoxide. An oxygen supply isn’t required for an electric fireplace to produce heat safely.
Furthermore the heat from an electric fireplace can be turned off at the touch of a button if there are any issues, and can be unplugged from an electrical outlet (if not direct wired) if required to completely stop all power from getting to the fireplace.
The flames on an electric fireplace also aren’t hot to the touch, meaning that they’re safe to use around young children and pets.
The heat is produced by another component in an electric fireplace. It can get hot where the heat comes out of the fireplace but there’s typically a warning message at the heater outlet to inform you of where not to touch when it’s in operation.
For added safety and comfort, on many electric fireplaces the flame effects can be used without the heater being on.
Why Electric Fireplaces My Not Be Considered Safe
Although electric fireplaces have many benefits in terms of safety compared to other types of fireplace, there are some elements of an electric fireplace that may not be considered to be completely safe.
- Electric fireplaces are an electrical appliance and therefore carry similar risks as when using other electrical appliances such as space heaters.
- You may have to pay more for your electric fireplace to have an increased number of safety features.
- Blocking the heater inlet or outlet may cause it to overheat.
Electric fireplaces are electrical appliances that require a source of electricity in order to operate.
As with all types of electric appliance there will always be a very small risk that the product may be faulty.
Purchasing a good quality product from a reputable brand can minimize the risks associated with using an electric fireplace.
You may also find that the cheapest of electric fireplaces may not incorporate certain safety measures such as overheat prevention technology and timers. Again, not going with one of the cheaper models of electric fireplace and choosing a well known brand will help to ensure that you’re buying a safe electric fireplace.
Finally, it can be unsafe to block either the flow of air into the heater of an electric fireplace or block the outlet of the heater.
An electric fireplace may overheat and shut off if the flow of air is restricted in or out. It’s therefore important to place any freestanding electric fireplace on a hard surface and away from any objects that could block the heater, such as curtains or long pile carpet.
There’s a warning message on our electric fireplace saying not to block the outlet of the heater.
Electric Fireplaces Safety
Electric fireplaces can be extremely safe appliances if, like with all electrical appliances, are used with care and in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Electric fireplaces can also be considered to be much safer than other types of fireplaces that incorporate a real flame.
As an electric fireplace doesn’t produce a real flame there’s no need to worry about hot embers spitting out like a fireplace or stove. The heat can be turned off in an instant and there’s no harmful byproducts produced such as waste gases or smoke.
Are Electric Fireplace Inserts Safe?
Electric fireplace inserts can be very safe if installed and operated as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Electric fireplace inserts don’t produce a real flame or release any harmful emissions when used, and so can also be considered much safer compared to other forms of fireplace that require a real fire to produce heat.
Are Electric Fireplaces Safe On Carpet?
Electric fireplaces can be safe to use on carpet as long as the carpet isn’t too long that it blocks the inlet or outlet to the heater.
Depending on the location of the heater within the electric fireplace, your particular model of fireplace may not be suitable for use on carpet.
Like many freestanding electric fireplaces ours has the heater located at the base of the unit.
The instruction manual for our electric fireplace states that the fireplace ‘is not suitable to be used on long pile carpets’.
Always follow the recommendations and guidelines for your particular model of electric fireplace for where it is safe to use.
Are Electric Fireplaces Safer Than Space Heaters?
Electric fireplaces and space heaters can use the same heating technologies, such as infrared and fan forced, and so can’t be compared against each other in terms of heater safety.
Ensure that you’re always following the recommended safety precautions for your particular electric fireplace.
For more information on heater safety the National Fire Protection Association has a safety tip sheet.
Are Electric Fireplaces Safe To Leave On Overnight?
It’s recommended not to leave electric fireplaces on while unsupervised.
As an example, the manual for our electric fireplace states that it ‘should not be left unattended while in use’.
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