Electric fireplaces have come a long way. You can get the look and feel of a fireplace in your home, with no creosote to clean in the bargain. They look and sometimes even SOUND natural, but do electric fireplaces give off heat?
Today we’ll answer this question and give you an in-depth look at what you get with an electric fireplace. In this article, you’ll get information on heating ranges, how they compare to central and space heaters, and how those soothing, flickering flames are produced.
Let’s look into the fantastic option of heating your home with an electric fireplace!
Do Electric Fireplaces give off Heat?
Electric fireplaces DO indeed give off heat and are more efficient than most wood-burning fireplaces. This is because your typically wood-burning fireplace takes a longer time to heat up, and when it does, it lets out a lot of heat in your chimney! By contrast, an electric fireplace starts up quickly and radiates heat in a controlled, consistent manner while emulating the look of an actual fireplace.
With an electric fireplace, you get the look and the feel of a wood-burning setup with added efficiency, all without having to store up messy logs for winter or cleaning up dirty creosote deposits once the world outside starts to warm up again.
How do Electric Fireplaces Work to Heat a Room?
Electric fireplaces heat your room by using a convection heating strategy. The air is heated at the same time that a current of air is generated to circulate this heated air around your room.
This is done quickly, so with the illusion of a crackling fire instantly coming to life along with the expected heat. It’s almost like having an instant, perfect ‘fire’ without any actual flames.
How Much Heat do Electric Fireplaces Produce?
The actual heat produced by electric fireplaces will vary a bit from model to model, but we can certainly give you a ‘ballpark average.’ Most electric fireplaces produce approximately 4600 BTUs of heat, though models rated to run with a 220 to 240-volt draw may even produce as many as 4900 BTUs.
Infrared quartz models also take this number up a bit, generating around 5200 BTUs of heat. We’ll compare these to central and space heating shortly so that you can get a better mental picture of how this plays out in your home.
What Size Room does an Electric Fireplace Heat?
A standard electrical fireplace is designed to heat a small or medium-sized room of up to 400 square feet in size. Larger models are certainly available, however, and these have an increased volume of circulated, heated air that can keep areas up to 1000 square feet quite warm and toasty!
How Long does it Take an Electric Fireplace to Heat a Room?
If you’ve ever spent time in front of a wood-burning fireplace waiting impatiently for it to do its job, then you are in for a treat. An electric fireplace can make a difference fast. While models certainly differ, you can generally expect a change of around 13.5 degrees within 4 hours.
With a wood fireplace, you have to wait on heat to radiate out, and this is a slow, slow process, but an electric fireplace has heating elements inside that spring to life, heating the air, which instantly gets circulated. This means that you turn it on, and you get a blast of warm air almost immediately!
Electric Fireplaces vs. Central Heat
While central heating is designed to heat the entire house evenly, an electric fireplace is more of a ‘zoned’ strategy unless you are going with one of the 240-volt options designed to heat a 1000 square foot space.
The biggest difference comes in the electrical cost.
While central heating is an enormous draw on electricity, an electric fireplace has approximately the same power footprint as your standard space heater. This can save you a lot of money, and most people tend to use electric fireplaces as a supplemental form of heating that creates warm zones around the house in the most commonly used places.
Simply put, they set the conventional space heat to a minimum setting while placing one or more electric fireplaces in areas like the living room or the study so that the whole house is warm, but the most-used areas are perfect.
Electric Fireplaces vs. Space Heaters
So, why not just use a space heater? While an electric fireplace has much the same power consumption as a space heater, they tend to be more efficient, and there are also a few other perks. So, first off, let’s address that efficiency.
With an electric fireplace installed in the house, you’ve got a current of warm air efficiently circulated and managed by a thermostat to keep the room at the desired temperature. Space heaters can certainly do this, but you’ll need to spend a little more, and there’s also the placement factor to consider.
An electric fireplace is installed in one specific, strategic location. At the same time, a portable space heater is typically plugged in and placed somewhere close, making it a bit more awkward (especially if you have kids that might trip over it).
A space heater gives you portability and a ‘band-aid’ style heating solution, while an electric fireplace is meant as more of a permanent one that comes with perks like having a heatless ‘fire’ to enjoy in the summer if you like!
Do Electric Fireplaces have Real Flames?
Despite the realistic look, an electric fireplace does not have real flames. Instead, you get the illusion of having a roaring fire without all of the smoke and fuss. Some models even include realistic crackling and occasional pops to add a little depth to the experience that enhances the atmosphere of a home office or a living room.
How do Electric Fireplaces Make Flames?
Most electric fireplaces will create a flame effect through a simple mechanism inside, consisting of a motor, a bulb (halogen or energy-efficient LEDs), and a rod that is fitted with curved, oddly shaped mirrors much like a fan blade.
The motor silently turns the rod so that the mirror-blades fitted to it catch and refract the light source, creating the illusion of a flame. However, these are just the more common models, and some take the illusion quite a bit further.
How do Electric Fireplaces Create Realistic Flames?
The most realistic effects are achieved by a combination of clever installation and in how the ‘fire’ is created. For instance, an older model with a halogen bulb might be limited in how your ‘fire’ looks, but with energy-efficient, color-changing LEDs, you can get a more colorful range.
This can be quite a treat, for instance, some models will ‘burn’ an attractive, icy-blue when you set your heater to display a fire without producing heat!
Some other models even display videos of actual fires, where things can get fancy. With sounds added into the mix, the illusion is complete, to the point that even your pets will likely keep their distance or, at the very least, approach it with caution.
How to Get More Heat from Electric Fireplaces
While generally used as supplemental heating, you can also use an electric fireplace to heat the entire home with a little bit of strategy. Here are some ways to get the most out of your electric fireplace:
- Install a chimney damper – Your chimney was originally put there so that you could vent the smoke from your wood-burning fireplace, but now it’s just a vent that is channeling heat up and out of the home. A chimney damper is a ‘lid’ for your chimney that you can open and close so that you can keep that warm air inside and circulating where it is most useful.
- Install room-to-room fans in the doorways – Room-to-room fans are a great way to maximize circulation. Installed into your doorway, these let you create a ‘path’ for your warm air currents so that they will be directed the way you want whenever heat is leaving the room. This gives you more control and helps to ensure that your house is more evenly heated to your specifications.
We’ve taken a closer look at the modern electric fireplaces on the market today. These machines have come a long way, heating up to 1000 square feet of space while simulating beautiful flames right down to the crackle… but without the cleanup or wood-storage hassles.
Along with the look and the feel, they are also quite energy-efficient, so if you are looking for a cost-efficient solution with the bonus of enjoying a ‘roaring fire’ year-round, you should take a look at some of the models of today.
It’s fire without the fuss, and you might find that you like it!