Space Heater Controls

Is An Electric Fireplace A Space Heater?

In Electric Fireplaces by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Electric fireplaces can work in a similar way to space heaters because they both use electricity as a power supply in order to generate heat.

However, electric fireplaces can look very different to space heaters as they are designed with the flame effects in mind.

So is an electric fireplace a space heater?

An electric fireplace can be considered to be a space heater because the heater in an electric fireplace can share similar components and work just like a conventional space heater.

Many electric fireplaces and space heaters use fan forced heating with heating elements and fans to provide heat, while others can share infrared heating technology in order to heat a room.

We’ve explained in more detail below why a fireplace can be considered to be a space heater by showing how our own electric fireplace and space heater work.

Is An Electric Fireplace A Space Heater?

An electric fireplace is a type of fireplace that converts electricity into heat. It differs from other types of fireplace, such as wood burning and gas, because there’s no real fire in an electric fireplace.

As a result an electric fireplace must be able to create the flames and generate the heat another way. Many electric fireplaces use lights alongside a rotating bar of mirrors to reflect the light onto the back of a screen to produce the effect of the flames.

There’s no heat produced from the components inside an electric fireplace that create the flame effects.

Therefore many electric fireplaces also use a conventional fan forced heating system to generate the heat along with the flame effects to complete the fireplace experience.

Electric Fireplace Heater
A typical electric fireplace fan forced heater similar to one found in a fan space heater

In a conventional fan forced heating system air is drawn in over a heating element and the warm air is blown back out the front of the unit.

We have an electric fireplace stove and it uses this fan forced heating system. The heater is located at the base of our electric fireplace.

Underneath Electric Fireplace
The heater is located in the smaller compartment of our electric fireplace stove

There’s a blower at the back of this compartment that sucks in air from the back of the stove and forces it over a heating element.

Heater Inlet
Air is sucked in through the back of our electric fireplace, much like in a space heater
Electric Fireplace Heater Blower
A blower forces air over a heating element

Hot air is then blown out into the room from the fireplace.

Electric Fireplace Heater Coils
Just like in a conventional fan space heater, air is forced over this heating element inside our electric fireplace

Here’s a video showing you this fan forced heater in action:

Our particular model of electric fireplace has two heat settings: high and low. This changes how hot the heating element gets and therefore how hot the air coming out of the fireplace is.

Electric Fireplace Low Heat Switch
Our electric fireplace has high and low heat modes, just like our space heater

In comparison we also have a fan forced space heater.

Space Heater
Our space heater, which works just like the heater found in our electric fireplace

This space heater works in a very similar way to our electric fireplace, where cooler air is drawn in through the back of the unit and is forced over a heating element.

The only real difference between the inside of our electric fireplace and our space heater is that the blower is located behind the heating element in our electric fireplace, while it’s located in front of the heating element in the space heater.

Space Heater Fan
Both a space heater and electric fireplace will have a blower/fan and heating element

Our space heater also has two heat modes (high and low) just like the electric fireplace, but the space heater has the option to be used as a fan without the heat.

Both the electric fireplace and space heater also have thermostats that enable the heaters in both units to turn off once a specified temperature within the room has been reached.

Space Heater Controls
A space heater can have high and low heat modes (left dial) as well as thermostatic control (right dial)
Electric Fireplace Thermostat Dial
The heater on our electric fireplace also has thermostatic control

Infrared Heaters

Electric fireplaces and space heaters can also come with infrared heaters rather than fan forced heaters.

Infrared heaters use a quartz bulb to produce infrared light that provides the heat.

Infrared heaters have a number of added benefits over fan heaters, including:

  • Less noise (as the heat doesn’t need to be forced out)
  • Greater heating area
  • Instantaneous heat

An infrared heater in an electric fireplace will work in the same way as an infrared heater in a space heater.

An example of an infrared space heater. An infrared electric fireplace will work in the same way.

An infrared heater in either a space heater or an electric fireplace will generate heat through infrared light. This infrared light is absorbed by your skin and your clothes, which makes you feel the warmth of an infrared heater.

For more information read more about infrared electric fireplaces in one of our articles here.

This video explains how infrared heaters found in either an electric fireplace or space heater will work:


In terms of heat, electric fireplaces work much like space heaters.

Whether the heater is infrared or fan forced, an electric fireplace uses many of the same components found in a space heater.

An infrared electric fireplace will use a quartz bulb to generate heat in the same way an infrared space heater will.

If an electric fireplace uses a fan forced system to provide heat with a blower and heating element, it will work in the same way as a space heater with a fan forced heater. Both a fan forced electric fireplace and space heater can share many features such as high and low heat settings and thermostatic control.

What makes an electric fireplace so great is that it turns a bland looking space heater into something that is enjoyable to look at and have around your home.

Space heaters aren’t the nicest thing to look at
With an electric fireplace you can enjoy the look of a fire while also receiving warmth from the integrated heater

With an electric fireplace the main focal point is the flames. As on our electric fireplace stove, the heater can often be integrated and hidden into the unit, with the red glow of the heater sometimes looking like a part of the fire.

If you’re looking for space heater then consider getting an electric fireplace, which will allow you to heat your home in the same way as a space heater but also provide a relaxing and enjoyable fireplace experience thanks to realistic looking fires.

Electric Fireplace Buying Guides

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Best Built-in Electric Fireplaces

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Further Reading

Are Electric Fireplaces Safe?

Are Electric Fireplaces Worth It?

Are Electric Fireplaces Hot To Touch?

Do Electric Fireplaces Look Real?

Are Electric Fireplaces Noisy?

How Electric Fireplaces Work

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