The power of an electric fireplace is commonly explained in the form of BTUs.
A higher BTU electric fireplace is typically able to generate more warmth compared a lower BTU one.
So what are the BTUs of an electric fireplace?
Conventional plug-in electric fireplaces with fan heaters are able to generate on average 4600BTUs per hour , while infrared electric fireplaces can produce on average 5200BTUs. Built-in electric fireplaces, which can be hard-wired in to receive 240V, can typically produce up to 9000BTUs.
However, a higher BTU electric fireplace doesn’t necessary mean that it can heat a larger area.
Other things can play a role in how much heat an electric fireplace can produce and the size of room it’s able to heat, including the type of heater used and the voltage supplied, which we’ve explained in more detail below.
How Many BTUs Is An Electric Fireplace?
BTU, which stands for British Thermal Unit, is a standard of measurement used to represent the power of an electric fireplace and therefore the heat output.
The higher the BTU potential on an electric fireplace the more heat it is typically able to generate for the room every hour.
When buying an electric fireplace it’s common to see BTUs stated within the description or details of the product.
The majority of electric fireplaces available to buy today are plug-in meaning that they simply need to be plugged into your standard 120V home electrical outlet in order to operate.
For plug-in electric fireplaces it’s common to see the BTUs on average be around 4600 but can be seen up to 5200. You typically won’t be able to find plug-in electric fireplaces with higher BTUs because of the restriction of the 120V.
An example is the Dimplex 28-Inch Premium Electric fireplace Log Set.
It’s a 120V plug-in electric fireplace and is able to generate 4181BTUs of heat.
On the other hand, built-in electric fireplaces often require hard-wiring into the electrics rather than being plugged in (although many come with, or can be purchased with, plug-kits).
This can allow 240V to be received by the fireplace and therefore have increased BTUs of up to around 9000BTUs.
As an example, the Dimplex Revillusion Built-In Electric Fireplace can be plugged in to receive 120V or hard-wired into the electrics to receive 240V.
With 120V, this electric fireplace is able to generate 4400BTUs of heat, while with 240V it’s able to produce 8794 BTUs.
How Many BTUs Do I Need For An Electric Fireplace?
The higher the BTUs the more heat an electric fireplace is typically able to generate.
However, most electric fireplaces can only generate the maximum amount of heat from a 120V supply, which can be around 5000BTUs based on a plug-in connection to a nearby electrical outlet.
The difference of a couple of hundred BTUs will be fairly unnoticeable in real world use and you won’t typically be able to feel the difference in heat between two electric fireplaces that have several hundred BTUs in difference.
For a room of up to 400sqft in size a standard 4000-5000BTU electric fireplace with a conventional fan heater will be fine.
Most electric fireplaces use a form of fan heater to be able to generate the heat, and work much like a conventional home space heater does.
Our electric fireplace stove has a plug and generates heat through a fan forced heater.
The manufacturer of our electric stove states that it’s able to heat areas up to 570sqft (53m3) is over the average, but doesn’t state how many BTUs the fireplace is able to produce.
However, if you’re looking to be able to heat larger rooms or spaces more than 400sqft then you’ll need to consider one of the the following types of electric fireplace:
- Infrared electric fireplaces
- Built-in (hard-wired) electric fireplaces
Infrared electric fireplaces use an infrared heater instead of a fan heater.
We’ve explained the main differences between infrared and fan heaters in more detail here, but in summary an infrared heater uses infrared light technology to project heat into the room (much like how you can feel the warmth of the sun on you), while fan heaters warm up the air within the room using a heating element and blower.
This means that although infrared heaters can have similar BTUs as conventional fan heaters, infrared electric fireplaces are able to heat much larger areas, typically up to 1000sqft.
Infrared electric fireplaces are therefore more ideal when it comes to heating larger areas compared to fan forced electric fireplaces, even though the BTUs are shown to be only slightly more.
However, if you’re looking to use a conventional fan electric fireplace you may opt for a built-in electric fireplace insert that is able to be hard-wired into your electrics.
By hard-wiring your electric fireplace in you have to potential to tap into 240V instead of 120V, and can use an increased amount of BTU power from your fireplace.
Not all electric fireplaces can be hard-wired and so you’ll need to choose a built-in electric fireplace insert that has the ability to utilize 240V.
You can see our list of the best built-in electric fireplace inserts for more information on these types of fireplaces that could potentially use 240V.
This can be seen in the example that we used earlier, where if the Dimplex Revillusion Built-In Electric Fireplace is hard-wired into your home electrics then it can produce up to 8794BTUs and heat up to 800sqft of area, from 240V.
In summary, when choosing an electric fireplace first consider the amount of space an electric fireplace needs to heat and then look at BTUs.
The heater technology and the voltage will play a larger role in how well an electric fireplace can heat a room:
- Up to 400sqft – Conventional fan heater electric fireplace
- Up to 800sqft – Built-in electric fireplace that is hard-wired into 240V
- Up to 1000sqft – Infrared electric fireplaces
Once you’ve chosen the type of electric fireplace you want to buy and have figured out which type of heater is required to heat the size of room, you can look at which electric fireplace in this category has the highest BTUs if you want the most heat out of your electric fireplace.
Plug-in electric fireplaces are typically able to provide up to around 5200BTUs, while many hard-wired electric fireplaces have the potential to generate up to around 9000BTUs.
In summary, the following types of electric fireplace are able to generate these average BTUs:
- 4600BTUs – conventional plug-in fan forced electric fireplaces
- 5200BTUs – plug-in infrared electric fireplaces
- 9000BTUs – hard-wired built-in electric fireplaces
BTUs are the standard measurement of heat output from an electric fireplace.
The higher the BTU rating the more heat an electric fireplace can produce.
The heater technology will have a larger impact on the size of room an electric fireplace is able to heat compared to the BTUs
For heating larger rooms up to 1000sqft look to buy an infrared electric fireplace.
Conventional fan forced electric fireplaces will typically be able to heat spaces up to 400sqft, while those that can be hard-wired in may be able to heat up to 800sqft.
The Ultimate Electric Fireplace Buying Guide