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What Is An Electric Fireplace?

What Is An Electric Fireplace?

Fireplaces are a symbol of warmth and togetherness during the winter season, and especially Christmas time.

However, fireplaces that use coal and wood have a byproduct, creosote, which is hazardous to the respiratory system as well as require a great deal of time for cleanliness and maintenance.

Creosote is also a fire hazard which is why the alternative, electric fireplace that mimics the flame effect of the actual coal and wood fireplace is the new thing in the market.

Electric fireplaces are appliances that mimic real fire and heat, thus making them much safer in most cases than regular fireplaces.

Although electric fireplaces have been around since 1912, these fireplaces became popular in the 1950s and have now gained traction because of the ease they offer including no hassle of cleaning up, lowered fire hazards, and lower running costs.

How Do Electric Fireplaces Work?

Electric fireplaces mimic the look of the traditional fireplace. However, the difference is that it doesn’t require any installation of a chimney.

Therefore, it can be purchased and put up directly in homes without the cost of building a chimney for the burning fumes to expel out of the house.

These fireplaces do not only have the look. They work like air conditioners which draw in the air and cool it using a coil.

The only difference is that electric fireplaces take in the cold air and heat it with heating coils and expel it back into the house through a circulating fan.

Some also used infrared technology that allows heating up objects in the room. Both these heating methods provide a mess and fume-free heating option.

When To Use An Electric Fireplace?

An electric fireplace can be used all year round. Like an HVAC system, the user can control the temperature of the fire.

It can also be set to just the flames and no heat which can mimic that warmth of the winter season at any time of the year.

Here are other occasions to use electric fireplaces:

  • You can use electric fireplaces when it is cold outside as well since it can heat up the room. A standard electric fireplace is sufficient for heating up a room of 400 square feet.
    However, the level of heat can also depend on the type and range of fireplace that you have purchased.
  • During the holiday time when the family is over, these electric fireplaces can help warm up the room so the family can be cozy and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Electric fireplaces do not pose as much of a fire hazard as traditional fireplaces, so they can also be kept running when there is no one around.
Lounge with electric fireplace

Do Electric Fireplaces Use A Lot Of Electricity?

Electric fireplaces use electricity for the flame effect and the heating. Therefore, most homeowners are concerned whether using an electric fireplace will shoot up their electricity bills to high levels.

The truth is that electric fireplaces typically consume the same level of electricity as a space heater. It is just because of its look that it is called a “fireplace” and not a heater.

An efficient electric fireplace also eliminates the need for internal heating systems, therefore, saving up on costs.

Electricity Units Consumption

When it comes to the electricity units, electric fireplaces can power up to 120 volts or 240 volts, depending on the model and make.

They typically draw 1500 watts at 12.5 amps. While this is pretty high compared to appliances like refrigerators that draw only 150-200 watts.

But if you compare this with heavier appliances that don’t run all day round like refrigerators do, the power consumption is low.

Electricity Costs Per Hour

For example, a typical electric fireplace can cost around 15 cents per hour to run. The cost of operating a dishwasher is 17-38 cents per hour, while the cost of one load of laundry falls around 40 cents to 1 dollar.  

Here’s a table that summarizes the costs for common household appliances:

Refrigerator$0.3 – $0.5/ hour
LED TV$0.1 – $0.3/ hour
Electric Fireplace$0.15/ hour
A Dishwasher Cycle$0.17 – $0.38/ hour
One Load of Laundry$0.40 – $1.02/ hour

Gas Fireplaces vs Electric Fireplaces – Costs

Many who have gas fireplaces might be thinking of the cost saving or the costs they might have to incur when they shift to an electric fireplace.

Since gas is quite expensive compared to electricity, a typical gas fireplace costs around 70 cents an hour. Here are other reasons why gas fireplaces are more expensive as compared to electric fireplaces:

  • The cost of running a gas fireplace fluctuates based on the increase or decrease in gas prices.
  • Even though gas fireplaces do not produce creosote that wood or coal fireplaces produce, they still need an annual cleaning round to get rid of the buildup.
  • If the house doesn’t have a chimney, installing a gas fireplace might cost a lot because of the professional installation costs.

So, given that the electric fireplace costs less to run and does not require any maintenance or professional installation services, they are the winner when it comes to a cost comparison.

Do Electric Fireplaces Actually Heat A Room?

Electric fireplaces are not only the look. They also have internal heating coils that help heat up the room.

So, if you are installing an electric fireplace in 400 square feet or even a 1000 square feet room, you need to turn off the internal eating system.

However, it also depends on the model and make of the fireplace. If it is designed to efficiently heat a 400 square feet room, but you have it installed in a 800 square feet room, you might have to turn on the internal heating system to complement the heating from the electric fireplace.

So, yes electric fireplaces actually heat rooms, but the heat intensity depends on the power and wattage of the appliance.

Electric fireplaces can also be controlled to just mimic the fireplace and not heat up the air.

Doing this would mean that the internal heating system needs to work if it is wintertime, and the electric fireplace will simply look as though there is a fire burning in the room that is heating it up.

What makes the flames in an electric fireplace

What Makes The Flames In An Electric Fireplace?

Unlike traditional fireplaces that use wood, coal, or gas to produce actual fire, the fire that you see burning in an electric fireplace is not real.

The look of the fireplace is aimed at mimicking the traditional fireplace, but no fuel is required to light up flames or heat up the room in an electric fireplace.

These flames are produced through LED light, or some light sources combined with mirrors to look like flickering flames.

The type of flame produced also depends on the product and the technology used to create the flickering flame look.

Many expensive fireplaces mimic the flame look realistically. Cheaper models use light sources and rotating mirrors to produce the effect, and it looks like it is not the real thing.

Many expensive fireplaces also offer the option to control the “level of fire” that you see and the color and brightness of the fire as well.

Final Words on Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces are now becoming quite common in households, especially as an aesthetic in living rooms where guests gather.

These electric fireplaces might mimic the look of a real gas, coal, or wood burning fireplace, but they run on electricity.

Because the electric fireplace does not use fuels like wood, coal, or gas, it does not have the mess and cleanliness requirements as traditional fireplaces. They also cost lower than gas fireplaces, making it a great option for installing in living rooms.

These fireplaces also add to a sense of warmth in the room. Expensive fireplaces that mimic the look of the traditional fireplace realistically can enhance the look of the room even more.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.