Do Electric Fireplaces Give Off Heat?

Do Electric Fireplaces Give Off Heat? (Or Are They Just For Show?)

In Electric Fireplaces, Indoor Fireplaces by James O'Kelly1 Comment

Electric fireplaces are becoming more and more popular as other traditional forms of fireplaces are being penalized due to their lack of green credentials.

Electric fireplaces can prove to be a worthwhile investment with electricity being a readily available supply of energy for the majority of homes. Many electric fireplaces are bought for this reason, and can also provide a very near real look and feel of a traditional fireplace in your home.

You’ll find plenty of pictures of electric fireplaces across the internet, all showing how near realistic they can be to the real thing, but do electric fireplaces give off heat?

The vast majority of electric fireplaces give off heat in the form of a heating element that is usually located at the top the unit. Fans blow hot air from out of the electric fireplace to provide heat to the room. The heating element of the fireplace can be turned on or off at the switch of a button, while usually being able to keep the flame part of the fireplace going.

So yes, nearly all of the electric fireplaces on sale on the market today can provide a heating functionality, but how do they give off heat? And how much heat does an electric fireplace actually give off compared to other types of fireplaces?

How Electric Fireplaces Produce Heat

Almost all of the electric fireplace models you can purchase today have a heating element that can be turned on to produce heat.

This heating element will be found separate to the flame within the fireplace. Fans will activate when the heating element of the fireplace is turned on, pulling in cooler air from the room in through the heating elements and pushing out hot air.

Simply plug your fireplace into a nearby electric socket in your home to provide power to the appliance.

Like other forms of fan heaters, many electric fireplaces allow the heat settings to be adjusted to suit your preference.

It’s also becoming more common to find electric fireplaces that come with remote controls, allowing you to adjust the heat output from the comfort of your seat!

How Much Heat do Electric Fireplaces Actually Produce?

Unlike traditional fireplaces with a chimney where up to 80% of the heat produced can be lost out of your home, all of the heat produced from electric fireplaces is released into the room.

This means that electric fireplaces give off heat at 100% efficiency; much higher compared to other fireplaces in terms of the heat provided from the energy used.

Electric fireplaces however, are limited to what they can output due to the voltage of electricity provided to homes.

In general, a standard electric fireplace will produce an average of 4500BTUs, but can be found producing around 5,000BTUs, and even up to 6,000BTUs for some of the top-of-the-range electric fireplaces.

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, the measurement used to represent how much energy it takes to produce heat

A 5000BTU electric fireplace will provide sufficient heat to warm a small to medium sized room.

An electric fireplace of this heat output is like having a hairdryer on the ‘high’ setting.

Some electric fireplaces will provide approximately double the heat output of standard ones, averaging 9,000-10,000BTUs. These would have more than enough output to heat any room in your home.

Electric Fireplaces: A Real World Example

If we take Amazon’s best selling electric fireplace (currently the best as I’m writing this), the Touchstone 80001 Onyx Electric Fireplace, we can see that it has two heat settings, high and low, and has a BTU output of 5118.

The higher heat setting draws 1500 watts of power, while the lower heat setting draws half that.

The customer reviews are generally very positive and comment how well the fireplace can heat the room.

Comparing Electric Fireplaces to Other Types of Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces are 100% efficient. All of the energy used to produce the heat is pushed out into your room.

Unfortunately the heat output of electric fireplaces is limited to due to the standard electrical socket in your home. The heat output of electric fireplaces is therefore usually around 5000BTUs for the majority of units.

While some electric fireplaces can produce up to 10,000BTU’s, wood-burning and gas fireplaces can produce anywhere from 7,000-60,000BTUs.

However, wood-burning and gas fireplaces that require a chimney or flue to operate can lose a majority of the heat produced straight out of your home, meaning that a higher heat output isn’t necessarily better.

There’s a whole range of pros and cons to each type of fireplace and you can read them all right here.

Is an Electric Fireplace Flame Real?

No, the flame on an electric fireplace is not real.

The heat is provided from the heating element that is separate to the flame.

The flame is produced from a standard light bulb, usually an LED, from which the light is refracted in a pattern that resembles a flame.

Since the flame isn’t real, no harmful gases or smoke is produced from and electric fireplace. This means that electric fireplaces can be used without the need for a chimney, flue or vent.

You therefore have a lot more flexibility on where you can put your electric fireplace in your home. Some can be placed on the wall or even used as a TV stand!

In many electric fireplaces, the flame can be left on without having the heating part of the fireplace on, and unlike wood-burning or gas fireplaces, this means that you can enjoy the flickering of the flames even in the summer.

Do Electric Fireplaces Get Hot?

The glass on an electric fireplace won’t get hot because the flame isn’t real.

As such, electric fireplaces are much more child and pet-friendly than other types of fireplace.

Like any electric heater, the heating element itself will get very hot. As cooler air is being sucked in through the electric fireplace it provides its own form of ventilation.

You should be careful though where to place an electric fireplace unit in your room. Be sure to place it in an open area with plenty of ventilation, and keep it away from items such as curtains that may block the fireplace vents and potentially become a fire hazard.

For electric fireplace inserts, you won’t need to worry. The unit should slot straight into your existing fireplace.

Electric Fireplaces Produce Heat

So there you have it, most electric fireplaces aren’t just for show and do actually produce heat!

The heat produced can be very comparable to other types of fireplace such as wood-burning and gas fireplaces. Unlike these types of fireplace where the majority of the heat can be lost out of your home, electric fireplaces are 100% efficient and all of the heat produced is there for you to enjoy.

Do you have an electric fireplace? Are you happy with the amount of heat it produces?


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