An electric fireplace is a great alternative to a wood-burning or gas fireplace since electric fireplaces are much cleaner, safer, and easier to operate. That being said, any heating device should be used with caution to prevent any damage or fires from occurring. It is common to wonder how long you can safely leave your electric fireplace on.
Electric fireplaces shouldn’t be left on due to safety issues. As a best practice, turn electric fireplaces off before leaving the room or going to bed. Also, consider checking the fireplace’s manual for how long it can be left on. If used properly, electric fireplaces are generally safer than wood and gas fireplaces.
Generally, it is best to not leave your electric fireplace unattended, but some models are made to do so. Before doing so, make sure to:
- Check the manual of your electric fireplace.
- Never plug an electric fireplace into an extension cord.
- Ensure that no objects are too close to the fireplace.
To get the best, safest experience out of your electric fireplace, you should always be careful to follow general precautions. You should also make sure that you carefully read the owner’s manual of your particular electric fireplace model to prevent mishaps. We will cover some of the most common safety concerns about electric fireplaces as you read on.
Can Electric Fireplaces Be Left On?
Electric fireplaces are great for providing the warmth and aesthetic enjoyment of a wood-burning fire without the necessary cleanup and maintenance. Still, you should be careful in blindly assuming that any electric fireplace can be left on for an extended period.
Carefully Read the Owner’s Manual and Manufacturer’s Guide
Whether or not you can leave your electric fireplace on and unattended will depend partly on the exact model of electric fireplace that you have.
To be as safe as you can be, you should always read the manual of your particular electric fireplace, regardless of what you may have used in the past. Models designed to run indefinitely are made to different standards than those made to be supervised.
Some electric fireplace manuals will have details about the length of time you can leave an electric fireplace on without overloading the system. Always defer to the instruction manual.
Many electric fireplaces even have timers that automatically shut the electric fireplace off after a certain amount of time or when a certain temperature is reached. If your electric fireplace has this feature, it is a good idea to use that setting if you can be forgetful.
Make Sure No Objects Are Too Close to the Electric Fireplace
Even though there is no open flame with an electric fireplace, there is still enough heat generated that you need to be sure that no objects are too close to the fireplace. This is especially important to remember with fabrics.
Think of the electric fireplace as similar to a space heater: you want to keep it a few feet away from other objects as much as possible. An electric fireplace does not have actual flames, but heat is still generated and could cause a fire if something is too close.
Practice Safe Habits with the Electric Fireplace
Since the electric fireplace gets plugged into an outlet, it is important to regularly check the outlet to make sure it is in proper working condition. You should always make sure that the outlet you use is properly grounded before you plug in the electric fireplace.
Similarly, you should regularly check the cord itself of the electric fireplace. Check to see if the cord’s prongs are bent or damaged in any way. Never try to plug in an electric fireplace if the cord has any fraying or exposed wires.
Electric fireplaces should never be plugged into an extension cord either. This can cause a short or a surge in the power that flows to the electric fireplace, which increases the risk of fire or another malfunction.
Is It Okay to Leave an Electric Fireplace on All Night?
The general rule is to not leave an electric fireplace unattended. By that nature, going to sleep while the electric fireplace is turned on can be a hazard since it is technically unattended. Even so, it is considerably safer to leave an electric fireplace on compared to a gas or wood fire.
Some electric fireplace models are actually designed to stay on all the time, but you should not operate an electric fireplace 24/7 if the instruction manual does not explicitly state that the electric fireplace can be turned on for that long.
Before you decide to leave an electric fireplace on for any extended amount of time, even overnight, you should check to see what the manufacturer prescribes for how long you can safely run the electric fireplace.
Other considerations to remember when thinking about leaving an electric fireplace on overnight include:
- Temperature of the electric fireplace: If you are running an electric fireplace for an extended period, it is best to keep it set at a low or moderate temperature to prevent overheating.
- How long the fireplace really needs to be on: It typically does not take long for an electric fireplace to heat up a room, and it will usually stay warm. Thus, you may not even need to keep an electric fireplace on all night.
A best practice is to turn off and unplug an electric fireplace when nobody is in the room, but it is generally safe for most electric fireplaces to stay on overnight as long as it is in compliance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Can Electric Fireplaces Catch Fire?
Like any electric or heated device, there is always a chance that an electric fireplace can catch fire. That being said, an electric fireplace that is operated safely is very unlikely to catch on fire.
To prevent an increased risk of fire from an electric fireplace:
- Keep all liquids away from the electric fireplace
- Only use a standard wall outlet
- Do not block the electric fireplace’s ventilation
- Unplug the unit when it is not in use
Most of the safety precautions you should take to prevent a fire from an electric fireplace are similar to what you would expect for other electric devices. As stated earlier, you should think about using an electric fireplace the same way you would use a space heater.
Electric fireplaces operate in a similar way to heating systems or furnaces. Since no smoke or waste gases are emitted by electric fireplaces, they are much safer than other options like wood or gas-burning fireplaces.
The most important thing to remember is to not overload the electric fireplace by leaving it turned on for too long. A portable fireplace should most likely not be left on overnight to prevent fires. But a fireplace that has an automatic shutoff can probably stay on for longer.
Final Thoughts on Electric Fireplaces
To recap what we have discussed in this article, here are the main takeaways to remember when you are using your electric fireplace:
- Read the manufacturer’s guide: Specific electric fireplace models will have varying instructions and capacities that deal with the limits of that particular unit. Always defer to the instructions for your specific model.
- Try to not leave the electric fireplace unattended: Unless the manual of your particular electric fireplace states that it is safe to leave on all the time, you should turn it off and unplug the unit when nobody is in the room.
- Use proper electrical cautions: Always plug the electrical fireplace into a standard outlet, never an extension cord. Do not attempt to use the electric fireplace if the cord is damaged or exposed in any way.
Overall, electric fireplaces are a considerably safer option than a gas or wood-burning fire since there are no real flames or gases emitted.
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
- Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10