Do Electric Fireplaces Heat A Room? (Answered With Numbers)

Electric fireplaces are becoming more and more popular every year. They’re safe and easy to use, thanks to the fact that there isn’t a real flame present. But without a real flame, you might wonder, can an electric fireplace heat a room?

The average electric fireplace that runs on a 120-volt outlet generates around 4500-5000 BTUs per hour. This is enough to heat a room of 400 square feet. A hard-wired model (runs on 240-volt) produces about 9000 BTUs per hour, which is enough to heat a room of 800 square feet.

The heat output can vary widely between different models, electricity supplies, and types of electric fireplaces. In this article, we’ll outline the heat output for all different types of electric fireplaces and cover the associated costs and other important things to know!

Can An Electric Fireplace Heat A Room?

An electric fireplace that runs on a 120-volt outlet typically produces 4500-5000 BTUs per hour, which is enough to heat a room of about 400 square feet. Electric fireplaces that run on 240-volt produce about 9000 BTUs, enough to heat an 800 square feet room. Larger rooms won’t be heated up as efficiently and won’t reach the same temperates.

An electric fireplace can definitely heat a room, but it’s a bit more nuanced than just that. First off, there are several different types of electric fireplaces. Some come with infrared heating, others with hot coils, and some models don’t give off any heat at all.

Of course, the ones that don’t give off any heat will never be able to heat up a room effectively.

As for the other two types, infrared electric fireplaces are typically better at heating rooms since they use infrared technology to radiate heat into a room.

In simple terms, infrared electric fireplaces shine a hot ‘light’ onto objects, heating them up.

These infrared electric fireplaces are able to heat a much larger space since the light just needs to touch the objects (again, this is in very simple terms). Additionally, the warmth will also be felt much more quickly.

On the other hand, the infrared technology does not heat the actual air inside a room. So whenever the fireplace is turned off, the heat will disappear quickly.

Infrared electric fireplaces claim to be able to heat a 1000 square feet room.

Electric fireplaces that function with hot coils do actually warm up the air inside a room, but they’re only able to heat rooms of around 400 square feet.

You can imagine that heating up the actual air takes a lot more effort than shining a warm light at objects.

Despite only being capable of heating up smaller rooms, the heat output of electric fireplaces that use hot coils can be significantly improved by the use of blowers.

A fireplace blower is basically a small fan that blows the hot air to the back of the room. This way, the room will warm up much faster, as the heat doesn’t need to travel slowly through the room.

And lastly, how your electric fireplace is wired also plays a role.

Most electric fireplaces can easily be plugged into a regular wall outlet (no extension cords though!). However, some models are hard-wired into a home’s electric circuit.

Models plugged into a wall outlet function on 120 volts, while hard-wired models receive 240 volts.

Since hard-wired electric fireplaces are connected directly to your electric circuit, they’re naturally capable of generating more BTUs, meaning they can heat up much larger rooms. The typical hard-wired electric fireplace will generate enough BTUs to heat an 800 square feet room (double that of the 120-volt models).

How Big Of A Room Will Electric Fireplaces Heat?

Standard wall-outlet electric fireplaces function on 120 volts and can heat a room of about 400-450 square feet. Hard-wired electric fireplaces function on 240 volts and can heat a room of about 800 square feet. An infrared electric fireplace uses infrared technology and can heat a room of about 1000 square feet.

The different types of fireplaces all have different BTU outputs, leading to differing room sizes they can heat up.

Type Of FireplaceBTU OutputHow Large Of A Room Can It Heat
Standard Plug-In Electric Fireplace (120 volts)4500400 square feet
Hard-Wired Electric Fireplace (240 volts)5200800 square feet
Infrared Electric Fireplace90001000 square feet

You should also consider that you can, of course, buy a larger fireplace or ones with higher BTU output. These will lead to the fireplace being able to heat up much larger rooms, but most standard-sized fireplaces adhere to these guidelines.

How Do I Get More Heat From An Electric Fireplace?

The higher the BTU output, the more heat an electric fireplace gives off. The heat output can be improved by hard-wiring the fireplace into the home’s electric circuit so that it runs on 240 volts instead of 120 volts. Additionally, you can install blowers to blow the hot air into the room.

An electric fireplace is basically a fancy space heater. They’re really comparable to your typical space heaters in the sense that they put out heat without an actual flame or fire being present.

Electric fireplaces create the illusion of a flame with lights and mirrors, but there is no actual fire.

Instead, the fireplace uses either hot coils or infrared light to warm a space. And with those types of appliances, the obvious first way to increase the heat output is to set the fireplace to a higher setting.

Now, electric fireplaces can only put out a certain amount of heat, typically about 4500 BTUs (enough to warm a 400 square feet room), so you are somewhat limited with this solution, but it really is the best way to get more heat.

Aside from this very obvious solution, here are a few more things you can do:

  1. Hard-wire the fireplace into your home’s electric circuit. By doing this, your fireplace can run on 240 volts instead of the typical 120 volts. Keep in mind that a typical 120-volt electric fireplace can’t simply be hard-wired; you will need to purchase a new model electric fireplace that is made to handle 240 volts.
  2. Install fireplace blowers. A blower is a little fan that basically blows away the hot air. It blows the hot air to the back of the room, so the fireplace is always heating up cold air. This speeds up the time that a fireplace needs to heat up a room (as the hot air is constantly being circulated), and by blowing the hot air away, the fireplace is capable of heating slightly larger spaces.
  3. Purchase an electric fireplace with infrared heating. An electric fireplace that functions on infrared heating technology is capable of heating much larger spaces. They’re known the be even more effective at heating rooms than hard-wired electric fireplaces.

Do Electric Fireplaces Use A Lot Of Electricity?

The standard electric fireplace uses 120 volts to function, drawing about 1500 watts at 12,5 amps. Costs range from $0,03 per hour when the electric fireplace only displays the flames, up to $0,09 per hour if the electric fireplaces produce both a flame and heat. These are comparable numbers to a generic space heater.

An electric fireplace is pretty much the same as a normal space heater. The only addition is that there is the illusion of a flame. We just touched on how lights and mirrors produce the illusion of a flame and how there’s no actual flame.

Since they’re so similar to standard space heaters, the electricity use and cost will also be very similar. Again, the only difference here is that an electric fireplace draws just a bit more electricity to produce that flame effect.

Since most fireplaces run on 120 volts, they draw about 1500 watts. For hard-wired fireplaces that run on 240 volts, that number jumps to 2500 watts.

There are a few different scenarios when it comes to electric fireplaces, though:

SettingVoltsAverage Cost
Electric fireplace only produces a flame120 volts$0,03
Electric fireplace produces a flame and normal heat120 volts$0,09
Electric fireplace that produces maximum heat120 volts$0,18

On average, an electric fireplace costs between $50 and $80 per year. This is considerably cheaper than running a gas fireplace, which typically costs about $0,70 per hour to operate.

You should also keep in mind that an electric fireplace is just a space heater, so other heating appliances can be turned off when the fireplace is turned on. This should reduce the overall electricity bill even more!

Can An Electric Fireplace Be The Primary Heating Source For A Home?

An electric fireplace is capable of heating rooms up to 400 square feet or 800 square feet if hard-wired into the home’s electric circuit. This means they’re inferior to central heating. However, if you want to, you can use a fireplace as the primary heating source, but it will take multiple fireplaces to accomplish this task.

For something to be the primary heating source of a home, it needs to provide the majority of heat in a home. When it comes to the heat output of electric fireplaces, you can see that it’s definitely possible but not really practical.

The standard model electric fireplace can heat a space of 400 square feet when connected to a standard wall outlet, 800 square feet if the fireplace is hard-wired into the home’s electric circuit, and 1000 square feet if it uses infrared heating.

In the US, the average home is 2500 square feet.

That would mean that, for the most common type of fireplace, you need about 6,25 electric fireplaces. So, yes, that is a bit overkill if you ask us.

And that basically only works for open floor plans. If the floor is divided into several rooms, the fireplace cannot heat the other rooms as there are walls in the way.

Suppose you have a smaller home or one with an open floor plan. In that case, you may be able to get away with 2 or 3 hard-wired electric fireplaces, but generally, using electric fireplaces are your primary heating source isn’t all that practical.

Can You Run An Electric Fireplace All Night? link near slapen

Electric fireplaces can be on all night as they don’t contain an actual flame, so they cannot produce carbon monoxide or set things on fire. Still, as with most appliances, it is recommended not to leave the electric fireplace on when unattended.

There is little to no risk connected to leaving fireplaces on for an extended time. An electric fireplace is, essentially, just another appliance.

I think electric fireplaces are a little scarier than other electric appliances because it has the word ‘fire’ in it.

But really, leaving your electric fireplace on while you’re sleeping is practically the same as leaving your central heating unit on all night or using your PlayStation for a few hours on end.

This also means that you can leave your electric fireplace on while you’re asleep.

But just because you can does not always mean you should. Most electric fireplaces come with an owner’s manual, and typically, the manual will state that you should not leave your fireplace unattended. If you’re asleep, you’re not able to attend to your fireplace.

Even though there’s no actual fire, there is heat coming from the unit. And if you obstruct the heating vents with flammable objects, you could be in for a bad surprise.

Dan Westfield

Hi everyone! My name is Dan and I currently have two fireplaces, a wood-burning and a gas one. I cannot live without them and love to share my passion with you all!

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