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Can An Electric Fireplace Produce Carbon Monoxide?

In Electric Fireplaces by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Electric fireplaces are a type of fireplace that turn a source of energy into flames and heat. One of the safety precautions of having a fire in your home is to help prevent the production of carbon monoxide, which can a highly harmful gas if produced in higher quantities.

So can electric fireplaces produce carbon monoxide?

Electric fireplaces cannot produce carbon monoxide. There’s no real fire in an electric fireplace and so there isn’t a way for carbon monoxide to be released.

We’ve explained in more detail below why carbon monoxide can’t be released by electric fireplaces by comparing our own electric fireplace stove to our real wood burning stove.

Can An Electric Fireplace Cause Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a harmful gas that’s created from the incomplete combustion of many household fuels such as wood, gas, oil and coal.

As such, carbon monoxide can only be produced when a real fire is burning one of these types of fuels.

An electric fireplace is unable to produce carbon monoxide because there’s no real fire.

An electric fireplace produces the flames artificially, typically by using rotating mirrors to reflect light onto a screen in a specific pattern to mimic the look of flames.

We have an electric fireplace stove and it uses these components to produce the flames effects.

Electric Fireplace Stove
Our electric fireplace stove
Electric Fireplace Flames Inside
How an electric fireplace typically produces the look of flames

Inside our electric fireplace is a rotating rod on which a number of mirrors are located in a specific arrangement. There’s LED lights located beneath the mirrors and the light is reflected off the mirrors onto a flat screen located at the front of the electric fireplace.

How the flames look from the front of our electric fireplace. Electric fireplaces can’t produce carbon monoxide because there’s no real fire.

These components that generate the flame effects don’t produce heat, and so for an electric fireplace to complete the fireplace experience they typically have another compartment for heating.

Our electric fireplace uses a fan forced heating system to generate heat. A blower pulls in cooler air from the back of the fireplace and forces it over a heating element that provides warmer air back out into the room.

Electric Fireplace Heater
As there’s no real flames in an electric fireplace a form of heater is used to generate the heat

An electric fireplace therefore doesn’t have a real fire and no gas or solid fuels are burnt. Both the heat and flames in an electric fireplace are produced artificially and so incomplete combustion of fuel can’t occur.

Instead, electric fireplaces run on electricity and as a result carbon monoxide cannot be produced.

If we compare this to our wood burning stove, which uses a real fire to burn fuel in order to produce heat, there is a possibility that this wood stove can produce carbon monoxide.

A real wood burning stove uses real flames to burn firewood in order to produce heat

A wood burning stove burns firewood to release heat. A real fire is lit inside the stove and the body of the stove transfers the heat generated from the fire out into the room.

If we use our wood burning stove correctly by allowing enough air to the fire and only burning well seasoned and dry firewood, then we can help to ensure that the risk of carbon monoxide being produced remains low.

As carbon monoxide results from fuels such as wood not fully burning, the risk of carbon monoxide production can increase when using our wood stove if:

  • The air supply to the fire is being restricted if the air vents aren’t open enough.
  • Wood that is too wet is being burnt.
  • The draft is poor resulting from issues such as creosote buildup within the flue.

A real fire will smolder and struggle to burn the wood effectively if the fire is trying to burn firewood that is too wet or isn’t receiving enough oxygen. It’s at this point where the chance for carbon monoxide to be produced can increase.

Smoldering Fire
Fireplaces that use a real fire to burn wood have the potential to produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide can be produced in increased quantities when a wood fire is struggling due to poor quality firewood or a lack of oxygen supply.

In comparison, an electric fireplace uses electricity, which doesn’t require an oxygen supply and can’t be in too poor of a condition to burn.

Therefore, electric fireplaces can’t cause carbon monoxide to be produced.

Electric fireplaces can therefore be considered to be a safer form of fireplace compared to other types of fireplace. You can read more about how safe electric fireplaces are in another one of our articles.

Can You Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From An Electric Fireplace?

Electric fireplaces cannot produce carbon monoxide and so you can’t get carbon monoxide poisoning from an electric fireplace.

Electric Fireplace Buying Guides

See our complete collection of electric fireplace buying guides including TV stands, stoves, mantels, inserts and more right here.

Further Reading

How An Electric Fireplace Works

Do Electric Fireplaces Look Real?

Are Electric Fireplaces Worth It?

Are Electric Fireplaces Hot Touch?

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