Are Electric Fireplaces Safe (13 Things You Should Know)

Electric fireplaces are a great alternative to traditional gas or wood fireplaces for homeowners but are electric fireplaces safe?

Electric fireplaces are safe to use, even around children and pets. They are powered by electricity, so they are smoke-free and ash-free, produce no toxic emissions like carbon monoxide, and thus require no ventilation.

Electric fireplaces have many benefits compared to traditional wood-burning or gas fireplaces. Electric fireplaces are typically more efficient than gas and wood-burning fireplaces.

Today we will answer the burning question, are electric fireplaces safe?

Are Electric Fireplaces Safe

Are Electric Fireplaces Safe?

Electric fireplaces are a modern and convenient alternative to traditional wood-burning fireplaces. They use electricity to create a realistic flame effect and provide heat. You can enjoy the ambiance of a real fireplace without the hassle and mess of chopping wood, cleaning ash and soot, and dealing with emissions.

Electric fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular because of their ease of use, installation, versatility, and eco-friendliness. They do not produce emissions and do not require a chimney or venting system, making them a much cleaner and environmentally-friendly option.

The popularity of electric fireplaces is also growing because of the wide range of design options available, from sleek and modern to traditional and rustic, allowing you to choose the perfect fit for your home’s decor. They are a great option for providing heat for up to 400 square feet and supplement heat for up to 1000 square feet.

Overall, electric fireplaces are quite safe if used properly. Here are some reasons why:

They Do Not Use Combustible Materials

As much as some models may look like they have real flames, they do not actually burn any fuel. This means that as long as the fireplace is installed correctly, there is nothing to catch fire that isn’t meant to.

They Produce No Harmful Byproducts

Since nothing is burning inside the fireplace, the electric fireplace is not toxic and releases no fumes, smoke, or gases, eliminating any risk of carbon monoxide leakage.

You Have More Control Over the Heat Output

Electric fireplaces operate at a much lower temperature than wood or gas fireplaces – reducing the risk of accidental burns to children and pets. You can control the heat output better and even turn the heater off while still enjoying the fireplace ambiance.

Choosing well-known brands that produce quality products is important to ensure your family’s safety. The most realistic electric fireplaces use 3D realistic flames to mimic a lifelike open flame safely.

We recommend the Dimplex Sierra or Touchstone Sideline Elite Smart Electric Fireplace shown below, but the R.W.Flame Electric Fireplace is a great budget-friendly option.

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Other safe electric fireplace options include:

Electric Fireplace Insert

Are Electric Fireplaces Dangerous?

Electric fireplace flames may appear real, but they’re just an illusion. While the most realistic electric fireplaces are very convincing, you can touch the flames without worrying about burns. However, keeping your distance from an electric fireplace is important as it can still emit heat through its vents and cause minor burns.

It’s a well-known fact that sticking your hand into an open flame will give you a nasty burn. However, electric fireplaces are incredibly different – they may look and feel like the real thing, but rest assured: no matter how realistic it is, touching the flames won’t hurt you!

Electric fireplaces produce more heat than regular ones while also providing convincing illusions of flickering flames – so go ahead and touch them without worrying about needing medical attention afterward.

Despite this, electric fireplaces are not 100% safe. They still emit heat through their vents, and contact with them can cause minor burns. Thus, keeping your distance from an electric fireplace is essential for safety reasons.

Fortunately, the risk of getting burned remains relatively low compared to other options making it a preferred choice for many individuals who seek warmth in their homes without major risks involved.

Are Electric Fireplaces Safe To Leave On Overnight?

Leaving an electric fireplace running overnight can potentially be hazardous, depending on the make and model of your appliance. Though some fireplaces are crafted for all-day operation without any detrimental effects, portable models tend only to function optimally when operated within a few hours at most.

Therefore it is important to examine product specifications before leaving your electric fireplace operational throughout the night.

Today’s models come equipped with an easy to use ON/OFF switch or remote control that allows you to conveniently shut off the unit if your home is too warm. In addition, many offer a timer that automatically turns it off after an allotted period (up to 8 hours usually) – perfect for those who enjoy sleeping near their fireplaces!

If you want to leave your electric fireplace on overnight, it’s wise to remain vigilant of any potential issues that may arise due to its electrical components. After all, one must always be aware when utilizing any kind of electrical appliance. Doing so can prevent problems and ensure safer use in the long run.

Benefits of Electric Fireplaces

The benefits of electric fireplaces are numerous. They provide a cozy ambiance, can be used for heating and decoration, and come in various styles and sizes to fit any home decor. They are also energy-efficient, easy to maintain, and can help you save money on your heating bills.

Adjustable Flame and Heat Settings

Many electric fireplaces also come with adjustable flame and heat settings, remote control, and other features, giving you complete control over the ambiance and warmth in your home.

Wall mounted fireplaces often have a wide array of color combinations using LED lights. You can also adjust the speed of the flame to create a dancing 3D flame effect.

Often the remote control will allow you to control the flame color mode, flame brightness, flame speed modes, and heater function, all from the comfort of your easy chair or bed.

Electric fireplace inserts sit into your current fireplace opening but have fewer color options. However, the flame effect often more closely resembles real flames. Most inserts have realistic-looking faux logs and ember beds.

You can create the ambiance you desire with adjustable flame and heat settings. Most electric fireplaces have two heat settings – 750 or 1500 Watts. Some high end electric fireplaces have a digital thermostat that allows you to adjust the temperature automatically, usually between 68 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can even operate the realistic-looking flames without the heat, allowing you to use your fireplace year-round. Wood-burning and gas fireplaces can’t do that.

Electric fireplaces allow you to adjust your temperature easily depending on the season and how comfortable or cozy you need it to be. Whether in summer or during winter months, electric fireplaces expertly add warmth and ambiance to any room while conserving energy.

Electric Fireplace Safety Features

Most electric fireplaces have safety features that give homeowners peace of mind.

Wall mounted electric fireplaces have a glass front that stays cool to the touch, so it’s extremely safe around pets and children. The electric heater output is typically located at the top front for recessed models or along the top or sides for wall hanging models.

If you hang a TV above your electric fireplace, check the manufacturer’s instruction manual for spacing specifications, ranging from 8 inches to 24 inches.

Most electric fireplaces have a timer with an automatic shut-off feature that turns the fireplace off automatically. The auto-shutoff allows you to use the fireplace, even at night, and designate when it turns off.

Also, look for a model with auto heat kill safety to avoid super heating, which prevents the heater function from overheating.

Some, but not all, will have CSA or an ETL certification, indicating the model has undergone rigorous testing for today’s strict electric fireplace safety standards. You can read more on CSA safety standards at CSA Group. Likewise, you can read more on ETL safety standards at Intertek.

They are Easy to Maintain

Cleaning an electric fireplace is relatively easy and can be done with a damp cloth or soft brush. You need routine cleaning with a glass cleaner for wall-mounted fireplaces with a glass front.

Dusting with a duster or damp cloth is all you need to do for electric fireplace inserts. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety warnings for care and maintenance to ensure the longevity of your electric fireplace.

They are Eco-Friendly

The advantages of owning an electric fireplace over other heating options include its eco-friendliness, easy installation, and versatility. Electric fireplaces do not produce emissions and do not require a chimney or venting system, making them a much cleaner and environmentally-friendly option.

Electric fireplaces provide homeowners with all the ambiance of traditional fireplaces without all the mess and danger associated with burning wood—as long as they’re installed correctly and used properly! With proper installation and safe usage practices, you can enjoy all the warmth (and style) of an electric fireplace without any worries about safety risks.

Electric Fireplace Stove

Electric Fireplace Safety Tips

Electric fireplaces are a great way to bring warmth and coziness into your home without the mess of a traditional fireplace. However, it’s important to remember that safety concerns with electric fireplaces exist and can cause safety issues if precautions aren’t taken.

Protection from Electrical Shock

Electric fireplaces require electricity to work, so it’s important to ensure they’re properly grounded and plugged into an outlet on a 20 amp breaker.

While you can technically run an electric fireplace on a 15-amp breaker, NEC guidelines require a 20-amp breaker. Most electric fireplaces will draw about 11 amps of power (when the heating element is running). The flame effects draw very little power, with the most current coming from the operating electric heater.

Running TVs, lamps, and other devices simultaneously can overload a 15-amp circuit, causing it to trip or risk an electrical fire.

You should also be aware of any visible signs of wear or tear on the electrical components and contact an electrician immediately if anything looks off. If your electric fireplace uses hardwired connections, you’ll need a qualified electrician to install it.

Check for Overheating

Electric fireplaces generate heat, which means there is always a risk of them becoming too hot and potentially superheating. To limit this risk, look for an electric fireplace with a built-in auto-heat kill switch that will automatically shut off if temperatures become dangerously high.

Additionally, checking that your model has passed safety tests such as UL standards before making a purchase is essential.

Safety Precautions for Children and Pets

You must take certain safety precautions when using your electric fireplace if you have children or pets. If possible, keep the extension cord hidden around pets and children to prevent their feet from getting tangled in the wires.

Ensure all extension cords and plugs are out of their reach, and avoid leaving them unsupervised near the fireplace while it is in use.

Are Electric Fireplaces Safer than Space Heaters?

When the temperature drops, many homeowners are looking for a way to heat their homes without breaking the bank. Electric fireplaces and space heaters are two popular options that offer warmth with the flip of a switch. But which is safer? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Electric Fireplace Inserts

Electric fireplaces have come a long way from when they were little more than glorified space heaters. Today’s models look like real wood-burning fireplaces without all the mess or smoke.

They use electric heaters to keep your home warm, making them ideal for a small living space that doesn’t have access to a wood-burning fireplace. They also require minimal installation and can be mounted on the wall or placed in any room in your home.

The downside of most electric fireplaces is that they aren’t mobile, except for a freestanding stove fireplace. A freestanding electric fireplace stove, like the Duraflame electric stove fireplace, is portable and closely resembles real wood-burning stoves; you can move it from room to room if needed.

However, fan fireplaces use a fan to blow heat from a heating element and aren’t designed to replace your primary heating source; they should only be used as supplemental heating in addition to other sources, such as central heating systems or space heaters.

Space Heaters

Space heaters are portable devices that generate heat using electricity or combustible fuel such as kerosene or natural gas. They are typically used to supplement central heating systems by providing localized heat in particular areas of your home where it might not reach otherwise—such as drafty hallways or unfinished basements.

Electric Space heaters also tend to be much more energy efficient than electric fireplaces, making them an attractive option if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to stay warm during cold weather. Choosing an infrared heater or a radiator heater can produce a similar heat output but is safer in many ways.

The safest space heaters use infrared technology that produces low-radiating heat to warm objects, not the air. The drawback is that the coverage square feet will vary, depending on the heater.

Kerosene heaters can pose a fire risk if not used properly—for instance, if too close to furniture or other flammable materials, faulty wiring could cause an electrical short circuit that leads to a fire hazard. Additionally, kerosene or natural gas can produce toxic fumes if not vented properly.

Electrical fireplaces do not create harmful emissions or require venting, making them a cleaner option for heating your home.

However, it’s important to remember that this electrical appliance is not risk-free and should still be used cautiously, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Additionally, be sure your electrical appliances have the necessary safety features, such as temperature controls and shutoff timers, to prevent unintended overuse of the unit.

Do Electric Fireplaces Cause Cancer?

According to a study from UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, Alexandra White MSPH stated that

“Certainly, the burning of real or synthetic logs releases toxic pollutants into the air, but we found that burning synthetic logs significantly increased the risk of developing breast cancer, whereas burning the wood logs did not.” Read more.

So, are electric fireplaces safe to operate? To clarify further, the study strictly references “burning of real or synthetic logs releases toxins.” Electric fireplaces do not burn logs of any kind; therefore, there is no evidence to date to suggest that electric fireplaces cause cancer.

Can Electric Fireplaces Cause Fires?

Like the operation of any electric appliance, there is always some risk that an electric fireplace can cause a fire. However, that risk is minimal if installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications by a qualified contractor.  

The most crucial step in ensuring the safety of an electric fireplace is proper installation. Electric fireplaces should always use professional installation familiar with local building codes, and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Proper installation helps ensure that your fireplace meets all safety standards and operates correctly without incident. If not, there is a risk of sparking a house fire due to improper wiring or other electrical issues.

Ideally, some electric fireplace models should be hardwired to a dedicated 20-amp circuit or plugged into a electrical outlet with a dedicated circuit. Running multiple devices, TVs, or lamps on the same circuit could overload the circuit causing the breaker to trip or worse, not tripping and causing an electrical fire.

Are Electric Fireplaces Safe for Babies?

If you’re a family with babies or young children, you may wonder if it’s safe to have an electric fireplace in your home. The good news is that electric fireplaces can be a safe and comfortable choice for families with small children.

Electric fireplaces are an excellent addition for families looking for supplemental heating that is safe around babies and young children. Electric fireplaces do not produce heat like traditional wood-burning or gas fireplaces. They will not cause burns or emit carbon monoxide, two important safety considerations when choosing any type of fireplace.

Additionally, electric fireplaces come with built-in safety features such as auto shut-off switches that will turn off the unit when it senses excessive heat or detects an issue with the wiring. Cool to touch glass means your baby or small children won’t be burned when mesmerized and drawn to reach out and touch the 3D flame effect.

If you purchase an electric fireplace model with a front heater output, the vent where the warm air exits may become hot while the glass remains cool to the touch. Check manufacturer warning labels and the instruction manual, as warnings from specific models may vary.

However, it’s still a good idea to educate your children about the dangers of fire as it could lend a false sense of safety, causing them to reach out to touch a real fire and the potential risk of burns.

Is it Safe to Put a TV over an Electric Fireplace?

It is perfectly safe to put a TV over an electric fireplace, provided you adhere to the manufacturer’s specification on spacing. This typically requires a minimum distance of 8 inches up to 24 inches, depending on the location of the heat output.

The electric fireplace heater output is often either on the sides, top, or front of the fireplace. The distance should be maintained to prevent overheating or warping the television due to excessive heat build-up.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can safely enjoy your electric fireplace without compromising the safety of your television!

Electric Fireplace Stove

Electric Fireplace Safety FAQ

Are electric fireplaces safe on carpet?

Electric fireplaces are the perfect safe option for carpets, as they don’t have a real flame. Depending on its design, they use an in-built heater to generate heat emitted from the fireplace’s sides, top, or front. This ingenious heating technique guarantees your carpet and home’s safety!

Are electric fireplaces safe to leave on overnight?

Electric fireplaces are safe to leave on overnight as long as safety measures are adhered to. Opt for a wall-mounted electric fireplace or fireplace inserts equipped with built-in timers that allow you to control the heat output and the realistic flame effect. You can also enjoy the aesthetic appeal of the realistic flame effect without the heating function for added peace of mind during those long, cozy nights.

Are electric fireplaces a fire hazard?

Electric fireplaces are incredibly safe when used as intended. They require an outlet or hardwired connection to a dedicated breaker in the electrical box. Since no actual flame is involved, there’s zero risk of catching curtains or any other fabric ablaze.

House fires can still occur due to faulty wiring and overloaded outlets; hence it’s essential to take safety precautions and ensure proper installation for optimal performance!

Are electric fireplaces toxic?

If safety and health are your top priority, electric fireplaces, stoves, and inserts offer the perfect solution. Not only do these models emit no hazardous emissions or toxins like traditional wood-burning fireplaces–which can produce smoke and carbon monoxide gases–but they also don’t require fuel or wood to generate warmth.

That’s why they’re ideal for families who want peace of mind knowing their loved ones are safe from potential harm.

Are electric fireplaces safe for apartments?

Electric fireplaces are safe to use in an apartment. They offer an outstanding supplemental heat source that is an efficient, safe alternative that won’t create soot, smoke, other dangerous emissions, or carbon monoxide.


Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.