On cold evenings, what could be better than cozying up next to an indoor electric fireplace? The soothing sounds of crackling embers and the soft glow of burning firewood are enough to give that cup of steaming cocoa a second refill. But, it could also mean a whole set of potential home and health risks. After all, fire is still fire – and with fire comes the hazards.
So, are electric fireplaces safe?
Luckily, electric fireplaces provide a safer alternative to traditional ones. And the best part? They use no fire to supplement heat while still maintaining almost everything we love about the original counterparts.
However, while they may be safer than traditional ones, it doesn’t mean it’s completely 100% safe. There are still risks to these electric versions. But, of course, with proper maintenance and care, they could just be what your home needs for the winter season.
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What is an electric fireplace?
Essentially, electric fireplaces mimic traditional ones without the need for fire, lumber, or even gas. Instead, it uses heating supplements such as heating coils or infrared technology.
With heating coils, you get a robust system that sucks in the cold air in the vicinity and replaces it with a warmer breeze via a motorized fan. On the other hand, with infrared technology, you get a more advanced direct heating process through immediate objects in the room. Either way, you get a heating device void of the potential risks of fire, toxic fumes, and gas leaks.
Furthermore, to realistically mimic traditional ones, most electric fireplaces come with refractors that reflect LED bulbs to create the illusion of crackling fire. Some have pre-installed lighting modes and even audio devices that simulate the natural sound of burning wood.
Are Electric Fireplaces Safe?
Simply put, electric fireplaces are generally quite safe. But, why exactly?
No Real Flame
First and foremost, electric fireplaces don’t use fire. As aforementioned above, they use artificially generated heat through the use of coils or infrared technology.
With that said, removing fire from the equation also means voiding the risks that it brings. That means no smoke, fire hazards, burns, and emission of any type of potentially toxic fumes or gases.
No Combustible Material
Because electric fireplaces use supplemental heating components, the need for combustible materials like lumber, gas, and fuel is no longer needed. This also means that the potential risk of burning down your home goes down to nearly zero – albeit an electrical malfunction.
Fire isn’t the only thing you should be afraid of. When there is a lack of sufficient oxygen for gas and burning lumber, toxic emissions such as smoke, creosote, and carbon monoxide could endanger the health of your entire family.
Fortunately, electric fireplaces don’t need a constant supply of fresh air to warm up your home. Therefore, the potential emission of toxic byproducts is eliminated.
Operate at a lower temperature
Most electric fireplaces operate at a lower temperature than their traditional and gas counterparts to prevent risks of accidental burns. Moreover, they often maintain a relatively cool surface even when operational, making it perfect for kids and pets.
Maintenance is Important
As said before, while electric fireplaces are generally safer, they are not 100% safe. At the end of the day, these heating devices are still appliances that use electricity to operate. This means that they are subject to the same risks as other appliances in your home like dehumidifiers, refrigerators, microwaves, ETC.
Therefore, it is key to observe proper maintenance for your electric fireplace. Likewise, abiding by the guidelines set in the manual are pertinent to preventing electrical mishaps. Some common rules are:
- Never block the airflow of your electric fireplace – whether by wall or piece of furniture.
- Keep flammable items away from the outlet.
- Unplug when not in use or utilize an automatic voltage regulator when in doubt.
Are Electric Fireplaces Safe To Leave On Overnight?
Short answer, yes. However, as with all electrical appliances, you should observe certain precautions to prevent accidents.
And, maybe the most significant aspect that you have to consider is the type of electric fireplace you have or are in the market for. Fortunately, most versions today have safety features such as automatic shut down to prevent overheating, quick-toggle-off switches, and timers. But, you still have to read the manual to grasp the full extent of what your device can offer.
For example, most portable electric fireplaces can only run a certain amount of time before overheating. Thus, if you’re the type to enjoy a warm slumber, opting for mounted versions or variants that enable 24/7 operation can be a better and safer investment for overnight use.
- Set controls to a moderate temperature to avoid risks of fire hazards
- Keep flammable objects at least three feet away from the fireplace
- Always use the timer option if there is one present in your device
- Install a smoke detector nearby
- Make it a habit to check the cords and outlet regularly
- Be prepared for a higher electricity bill
Optional: Automatic voltage regulators are a great way to enjoy a peaceful sleep void of any worries of any electrical accidents. These nifty devices automatically cut off any electrical current flowing into your device when power surges occur – most notably during thunderstorms or faulty wiring mishaps.
Electric Fireplaces – As Safe As You ARe
Any way you place it, electric fireplaces are significantly safer than traditional ones. After all, by removing fire, you’re also eliminating the risks that it brings. Furthermore, you have a great centerpiece that you can customize depending on your mood.
However, it is pertinent to remember that an electric fireplace is still an appliance. Don’t let the fake flames fool you. As with any high voltage device in your home, a certain level of maintenance and precaution is needed to prevent life-threatening or costly damages.
For further reading, check out the U.S. Fire Administrations Electrical Fire Safety Page here.
Electric Fireplace Safety FAQ
Let’s take a look at the most commonly asked questions about electric fireplaces.
Are Electric Fireplaces Safe On Carpet?
By all means, yes. No hazard comes with placing an electric fireplace on carpets. However, some risks come with blocking the airflow duct. Before placing your heating device on any surface, ensure that vents have adequate space to operate without blockage.
Are Electric Fireplace Inserts Safe?
Absolutely, yes. Not to mention electric fireplace inserts make for a great statement centerpiece for living rooms or bedrooms. Just make sure to exercise the proper precautions listed in your device’s manual to avoid any accidents.
What is the best brand of electric fireplaces?
I highly recommend MagikFlame. They carry various models but also have some of the most realistic-looking fireplace inserts. Plus, they have built-in audio devices that mimic the natural sound of burning firewood. In addition, you can control MagikFlame via their app (available on iOS).