How Does an Electric Fireplace Work?

Last Updated on December 11, 2021

how does an electric fireplace work

Image credit: Joel, Flickr

If you have a house with a fireplace already built, great. More power to you. But if your home didn’t come with this cozy feature, adding it can be a great expense. One that you may not want to have to experience.

If you want the comfort of a fireplace without the tremendous cost of building one, there is actually an easy answer.

The electric fireplace!

But how does the electric fireplace work? That’s a fair question. After all, if you are going to be integrating a product into your home, it would be helpful to understand it.

With that in mind, read on to learn how an electric fireplace works.

First, What is an Electric Fireplace?

Let’s start by defining our terms. The electric fireplace is a home heating system that bears the appearance of a real fireplace.

Different units will feature various degrees of intricacy, including screens, mantles, ledges, etc. all meant to provide the feel of an authentic fireplace.

The units are even able to generate warmth via a heating element stored within the device. The only difference is that instead of being powered by logs and matches, the electric fireplace will be powered by a wall outlet.

The appearance of the fire can be projected in a number of different ways. Some units use digital screens, others, refracted light.

Whatever the case though, it’s all show. The appearance of the flames is only good for creating an aesthetic. Meanwhile, the heating element and fan do all of the heavy lifting.

electric fireplace

Image credit: Tiia Monto, Wikimedia

How it Works

The fireplace actually operates similarly to a space heater, or even a hairdryer. Within the base of the fireplace, there are coils that begin to heat when the unit is plugged in.

There is also a fan within the inner workings that circulates air into the unit, where it is heated by the coils, and then re-dispersed throughout the room.

And that’s pretty much it. The appearance of fire completes the look, and you and your family have a nice, warm spot to snuggle up next to.

electric fireplace with coil

Image credit: Jana C., Wikimedia

Safety Concerns

For safety purposes, it may be wise to approach the electric fireplace with a similar level of caution that you would apply to the real thing.

Namely? Don’t leave it on unattended, and try to discourage children from making direct contact with it. It won’t get nearly as hot as a real fire, but because it does generate heat, it will be warm to the touch.

As with any item that has a heating element, there is also always the risk of fire. The odds of experiencing a fire are very unlikely, but they can be made even less likely by taking precautions.

Try not to let the fireplace run for many consecutive hours at a time (to prevent overheating) and make sure that it’s deactivated before you leave the house.

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So, simpler than you thought? Maybe, maybe not. One fact does remain though: electric fireplaces are a safe, affordable alternative to the traditional option. At a fraction of the cost of the real thing, an electric fireplace can provide your family with warmth and comfort.

The best part though? It also doubles as a cozy place where you can snuggle up to someone special.

If you’re looking for an extra way to stay warm this winter, this modern touch on a classic home fixture might be just the perfect thing for you.