Discussions about electric fireplaces and heat are among the most common conversations we have with clients, in our showroom as well as by phone, email and chat. Heating is one of the least understood features of electric fireplaces, and one that gives electric fireplaces a huge advantage over other types of fireplaces. Below, we discuss the most commonly asked questions about electric fireplaces and heat.
Do electric fireplaces give off heat?
Almost all electric fireplaces have built-in heaters with blowers. However, you don’t have to have the heater on to have the flames on. This is a big advantage over gas or wood-burning fireplaces, where the flames are the source of heat. There are times when we want to enjoy the coziness of a fire, without overheating our spaces. Think of a rainy Summer evening, when it’s warm but dreary outside, and we want a fire inside. With any other type of fireplace, it’s impossible to have a fire without having heat. All electric fireplaces have heaters that operate independently of the flames, which means we can use them all year.
Will an electric fireplace heat up a room?
An electric fireplace that is connected to 120 volts, as all electric fireplaces can, will generate up to 5000 BTUs of heat. That’s enough heat to warm up a space up to 400 square feet. This is more than enough heat for most rooms above-grade in an average home. An electric fireplace that is connected to 240 volts will generate up to 10,000 BTUs of heat. That’s enough to take the chill off an area up to 800 square feet. Not all electric fireplaces may be connected to 240 volts, so if this is a feature you need, look for dual-voltage electric fireplaces that may be connected to either 120 or 240 volts. This means that there is one model with internal wiring that will accept either a 120 or 240 volt connection. Generally, we only need the higher heat output in basements, where it may be cooler than the rest of the home, and more open.
Most of us are installing a fireplace for ambience, with an occasional need for a bit of heat. This is especially true as newer homes are built to very high energy efficiency standards, with fewer cold spots and air leakage. Electric fireplaces are excellent for zone heating, where we want to take the chill off the room we spend the most time in, while keeping the furnace setting lower in the unused rooms. Because electric fireplaces produce the right amount of heat for average rooms, as an complement to our HVAC systems, they won’t overheat the room or throw off the thermostat that controls the furnace for the rest of the home.
Are electric fireplace heaters efficient?
Better quality electric fireplaces have thermostat controls on their heaters. Like a furnace, this means that we can set the room temperature that we prefer, and the heater will cycle on and off to keep the space at that temperature. There are also electric fireplaces with ‘eco’ settings, which force the blower and heater to their lowest settings as an energy-saving, cost-saving measure. And, as already stated, we don’t have to have the heaters on at all, in order to enjoy the flames. On electric fireplaces, the heater is only being used when needed, compared to a gas fireplace that generates heat whether we want it or not, every time the flames are on, and even if the pilot is on without the flames. Better control over the heating means better efficiency.
All of the heat generated by an electric fireplace is blown out into the room. Because there is no combustion in an electric fireplace, there is no venting to the exterior of the home, as there is with gas fireplaces. This means that all of the heat that is generated is pushed into the room by the automatic blower, and no heat is lost to the outside through a vent.
Do electric fireplaces have as much heat as gas fireplaces?
Electric fireplaces do not have as much heat as gas fireplaces, which is why they are perfect for today’s homes. As noted above, electric fireplaces generate enough heat for the rooms in which they are typically installed, and the heat doesn’t have to be turned on for the flames to operate. By comparison, a small gas fireplace is capable of generating 20,000 BTUs of heat, which is 4 times more than the typical electric fireplace. However, most homeowners are not installing a gas fireplace in rooms that are 4 times larger. Linear gas fireplaces, or larger traditional gas fireplaces, have bigger burners, which produce even more heat. It’s not too hard to understand that gas fireplaces are producing far more heat than we need in a single room. A gas fireplace is not as efficient as a gas furnace, and the excess heat from a gas fireplace is not going to warm up other rooms in the home. Many homeowners have experienced overheating from their gas fireplaces, when they have to turn off the fireplace because the room has become uncomfortable. Because electric fireplaces produce less heat, and that heat is controllable, they will never overheat a room.
Are there electric fireplaces without heat?
If you have a situation where you want a fireplace that doesn’t give off heat, there are several ways to accomplish this. There are very few models of electric fireplaces that have no heater. At this time, the Faber e-matrix series have no heaters, as do the Dimplex Opti-myst cassettes, where the heater is an optional add-on.
For those models that have heaters, many have a heat lock-out feature, where you press a combination of 2 buttons to temporarily lock the heat functions. This is designed as a family-friendly feature, to keep the kiddos from accidentally turning on the heat with their wandering fingers. When Mom & Dad want the heater on, they can release the lock-out and use the heater.
Heat lockout is also a feature that could be used in public spaces, like lobbies. However, in those lobby spaces, where staffing may rotate, and there isn’t consistent control over the fireplace, it may be better to internally disable the heater, so that it will not turn on at all. This is best done before or at installation, as the fireplace will need to be opened up to access the wiring. Many owners’ manuals have instructions for disabling the heater, and for those that don’t, consult the dealer or manufacturer for more information.
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Stylish Fireplaces knows that adding a fireplace to your home can be challenging. With an electric fireplace and their NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialists, it’s easy to create a space you’ll love to share with family and friends. Check out all the options and connect with their experts for help to find the perfect electric fireplace for you. You’ll live stylishly ever after.