Nowadays, with the growing popularity of electric fireplaces, more and more people can enjoy the beauty, comfort and warmth of fire they bring without having to build actual fireplaces in their house. But many people are still confused about how electric fireplaces actually work. For example: Is the flame real or hot to touch? Will these fireplaces cost them a lot to run? The following guide will answer most of users’ confusions.
1. How does an electric fireplace work?
In a nutshell, an electric fireplace is a heating appliance that is designed to look like a real fireplace. However, no venting or complicated installation is required. We can either buy electric fireplaces as stand-alone units or inserts that can fit into existing fireplaces.
Regarding the operation of an electric fireplace, there are two things we need to know: how heat and flames are created.
- How heat is created?
Cool air is heated inside the electric fireplace with heating coils (normally made of metal). As the coils heat, the warm air is released back into the room by a fan or blower motor that makes very little noise.
- How flames are created?
Flames created inside the electric fireplaces are not real or hot. These are visual images generated by using regular light bulb and refracted light. As flames can be created independently from the heat function, you can enjoy the lively flames anytime you want, be it summer or winter. With advances in technology, the fake flames are looking and more like real flames.
2. Can an electric fireplace provide the main heating source?
An electric fireplace does not provide enough heat for that purpose. Rather, it is better used as the supplementary source.
The amount of space that an electric fireplace can cover varies according to type, design and type. In general, it can provide heat for a room of about 400 square feet.
3. Is the fireplace efficient?
If you use a traditional fireplace, you know that most heat escapes through the chimney and therefore the fireplace is not considered to be efficient. It is not the case with an electric fireplace, which releases all the heat (or 99%, to be exact) directly into the room. The heat is produced quickly (or rather instantly) and consistently.
The central heating system heats up the entire house but honestly, is that always necessary? There can be rooms we don’t use; so why should we waste energy on them? That is where the electric fireplace comes in handy with what is known as “zone heating”. It heats up exactly the place or area you need and helps you save money on your heating bill.
4. Is it costly to run?
The costs of running an electric fireplace with or without heat are different: it is about $0.7/hour (with heat) vs $.02/hour (without heat). Of course, the exact cost depends o the electricity cost in each specific area. Overall, they are considered not expensive.
5. Is it safe?
The answer is: yes, an electric fireplace is very safe.
An electric fireplace is electricity-powered so there are no risks of harmful smokes, Carbon monoxide (CO) emission and gas leak. No ashes or scoot to clean either because of no chimney. This is a distinctive advantage over gas or wood burning fireplaces, which is beneficial for both human health and environmental protection.
With no real flames, we are not worry of being burned when touching the surface of the electric fireplace because it is cool.
However, it is still an electric appliance and there are still safety cautions we must take seriously.
6. What are safety cautions to take note?
Most safety cautions can be applied for electric appliances in general.
- Don’t use extension cords: In general, manufactures don’t recommend them or even advise against them due to such potential risks as shock hazard, cord failure and fire. They should be only be used temporarily when we have no other choice.
- Don’t leave the electric fireplace run overnight and unattended (and it is best that you don’t sleep near it)
- Keep flammable objects and furniture away from the appliance
- Don’t let it be exposed with water (including not putting any type of water container on the top) and flammable liquids (such as gas) because water and electricity don’t go well together. Therefore, bathroom and laundry rooms are not appropriate locations for installation.
- Don’t put the appliance directly above the electric outlet because heat released from the bottom can cause damage to the electrical outlet overtime.
- Don’t put the cords of cables in places with high foot traffic or people can trip over them.
- Unplug them when not in use. It is for both safety and saving purposes.