As we’re considering our next fireplace, we saw how quickly the cost of installing a chimney or vent added up and we were wondering if there was another way. We heard about electric fireplaces and the benefit of skipping the costly chimney or vent installation (and maintenance) was too good to pass up. So, we did some more research. Do electric fireplaces need to be vented?
Electric fireplaces do not need to be vented as they’re similar to using a space heater. Since they use electricity to produce heat, and not gas or wood, there are no gases, chemicals, or flames emitted from an electric fireplace like there are from traditional fireplaces.
So electric fireplaces don’t need to be vented, but why, exactly? Are electric fireplaces safe? Could they be better than traditional fireplaces? Let’s take a look at the reality and potential advantages of having an electric fireplace in your home.
Why Don’t Electric Fireplaces Need to Be Vented?
Electric fireplaces produce heat by warming coils with an electric current. Because these fireplaces cannot create elemental hazards that would require a vent, they do not need to be vented. In contrast, traditional fireplaces must be vented to prevent gases, smoke, or flames from concentrating in your home.
If you have thought about buying an electric fireplace, or if you already have one, it’s important to know how to safely use it, as well as whether there are any concerns you should have about using it inside.
One of the most frequently asked questions on how to safely use one inside the home is whether or not an electric fireplace needs to be vented to lead outside.
The answer is electric fireplaces do not need to be vented.
The heat from most electric fireplaces is created when electricity warms several coils inside the device until they become extremely hot. A fan will then blow the heat out into the room, which makes the room warmer without releasing smoke, fire, or gas.
Since these elements are things that you want to be very careful with inside your home, a traditional fireplace will need to be vented to prevent any of them from filling your home, as they could cause harm to you, your belongings, or your family. Because an electric fireplace involves none of that, it does not need to be vented for safety.
While electric fireplaces look as though they have a burning flame, this is just an illusion, and there’s not an actual fire burning. Electric fireplaces use electricity, much like any regular space heater, to warm a room instead of relying on a wood-burning or gas-fueled fire.
If electric fireplaces don’t need the safety precaution of being vented, does that mean they are safer to use than a gas or a wood-burning fireplace? How safe are electric fireplaces, and why?
Are Electric Fireplaces Safe?
Electric fireplaces are incredibly safe because they do not create real flames. The lack of fire and burning materials like wood or gas eliminates several risks, including burns, house fires, smoke inhalation, and carbon monoxide poisoning. These factors make electric fireplaces safer than traditional fireplaces.
A huge concern with using any heating device is how safe it is. You will be breathing the warmed air in, so this is a reasonable concern.
So, are electric fireplaces safe? Yes, electric fireplaces are safer than traditional fire-burning fireplaces. The biggest reason why electric fireplaces are safe is that they do not produce a fire, which comes with many safety benefits.
The safety benefits that come with having no fire include:
- No harmful gases or chemicals are being emitted. Since electric fireplaces are not actually burning anything to produce heat, you don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning or harmful chemicals like carbon and formaldehyde, which comes from wood-burning fires.
- There is no smoke. With other fireplaces, it’s difficult to remove the smell of the smoke once it gets into your home, and inhaling it could be dangerous. This is because of the gases and chemicals mentioned above. Electric fireplaces are also far more asthma-friendly.
- Curious children and pets likely won’t get burnt. Since the flames of electric fireplaces are simulated, or fake, most models are not hot enough to burn curious hands or paws. Most of the time, these flames don’t even feel hot.
Not only are electric fireplaces very safe due to their lack of flames, but they are also significantly less smelly and less messy than traditional fireplaces!
Can I Leave My Electric Fireplace On All Night?
Although electric fireplaces are safe devices that heat up a room and create an atmosphere of lovely fire-burning ambiance, is it safe to leave an electric fireplace on all night?
It’s technically safe to keep your electric fireplace on all night, but it’s not recommended. The user manuals that come with every electric fireplace will state very clearly that you should not leave the fireplace on while it’s unattended.
Even though there’s no actual fire, there’s still a heating element inside the device that gets extremely hot, and if something flammable somehow touched those red-hot coils, it would catch on fire. So, it’s better to be cautious and turn the fireplace off when you go to sleep.
Not to mention, you’re also risking an increase in your electric bill if you keep it on all night, and nobody will be awake to enjoy the atmosphere. In most cases, it would be better to simply throw an extra blanket on the bed than keep the fireplace on all night.
Are Electric Fireplaces Better Than Traditional Fireplaces?
Since we covered how safe electric fireplaces are, you may be thinking that electric fireplaces might be a better option than traditional fireplaces. In most cases, you are correct!
Which type of fireplace you like the best is ultimately a matter of preference, but electric fireplaces have many advantages over traditional fireplaces that make them objectively better.
Here are the advantages of electric fireplaces:
- Electric fireplaces are safer. They don’t emit harmful chemicals, smoke, or gases, and they cannot burn anyone. Because electric fireplaces don’t produce real flames or dangerous elements, they don’t need the safety precaution of being vented.
- Electric fireplaces are cheaper. Not only is an electric fireplace cheaper than paying to get a traditional fireplace with a chimney installed, but these fireplaces also don’t require you to buy wood or gas to burn, or to hire a professional to clean them out.
- Electric fireplaces are portable. Traditional fireplaces are permanently set in one room and can’t be moved. On the other hand, electric fireplaces, are fairly lightweight and they can be moved to any room as long as you have access to a wall outlet for it.
In general, electric fireplaces are easy, affordable, and safe, especially compare to wood-burning or gas fireplaces. Some apartments even allow you to use a small electric fireplace, making fireplaces a possible home addition for people who don’t live in traditional homes.
For these reasons, electric fireplaces are on the top of our list. However, we do like the idea of being off-grid, so it’s going to take a bit more time for us to decide on which one we’re going to get in the future.
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