Electric fireplaces are the easiest fireplaces to install and use. Just place on near a power outlet, plug it in, and you’re good to go. They can also be located basically anywhere, but can you also place an electric fireplace on a carpet?
A freestanding electric fireplace can be used on carpet, whereas a mounted unit is installed a minimum of 18 inches from the floor. To keep any fire risk at bay, make sure nothing stops the intake or outtake for air. Locate the heater and fan on the fireplace and follow the owner’s manual to ensure you are using it correctly.
Although an electric fireplace is generally safe to use on carpet, there are some safety measures to consider to keep your home safe. This guide discusses a few key safety measures to reflect on.
Can You Place An Electric Fireplace On A Carpet?
A freestanding electric fireplace can be installed and used on a carpeted floor. The important safety note is to keep the hot air vents clear from any blockages. This could mess up the ventilation, leading to the blocking object heating up. This poses a potential fire risk if the object is flammable.
Generally, freestanding electric fireplaces are designed for safe use on carpets. However, each unit has its own specifications, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the different components of your fireplace to make sure you are using it safely. The heater and fan, some of the more important parts of the fireplace, are most commonly located on the top or the bottom.
Freestanding, inserts and wall-mounted fireplaces are powered the same way—they use electricity from a 120v outlet to produce heat. Sometimes called a blower, a fan circulates air through the machine and pushes the warmed air out into the room.
Additionally, some electric fireplaces will use radiant or infrared heat instead of heating coils. The infrared heating method doesn’t raise the room temperature. Instead, it uses light technology to make the space feel warmer where the radiant light touches. Infrared heaters are also safe on the carpet.
It should also be mentioned that not every electric fireplace will give off heat. Some are there purely for aesthetic purposes, not to heat the room. These types will always be safe on the carpet.
One way to determine a safe placement for your fireplace, answer the question: where is the heating component located?
Where Is The Heating Component Located?
First, check the owner’s manual or visually check to find the location of the heating component and output. The component is sometimes labeled with a warning along the lines of “Do not block.”
Second, place your fireplace in an area that does not block or obstruct the heating component.
Heat Output Located On The Bottom
The most important thing when it comes to the placement is that nothing blocks the heating unit. If your heating unit is located on the bottom of the fireplace, placing the fireplace directly on the carpet results in a blocked heating unit.
In this case, legs should be attached to the bottom of the fireplace to elevate the heating unit up off the floor. If the carpet has a high pile (meaning the fabric strands are long and loose—think shag rug), ensure the carpeting does not cover the heating unit.
Heat Output Located On The Top
When the heater and blower location is near the top of the electric fireplace, most areas will be safe because the heating component is far enough away from the carpet to be a hazard. The biggest concern would be ensuring that there are no items above to block the output vent.
For example, keep the fireplace away from curtains, couches, pillows, and blankets that may block or cover the unit. When the fireplace is in use, ensure that items are not accidentally placed over the fireplace’s top.
Additionally, decorations hung from the electric fireplace (i.e., stockings, ribbons, wreaths) should not cover the heater either.
How High Should An Electric Fireplace Be From The Floor?
At a minimum, a mounted electric fireplace is installed 18 inches from the floor. The distance for an eye-level mounted fireplace is 40 – 42 inches. Freestanding electric fireplaces do not have the same restrictions as the fireplace is intended to be put directly on the floor.
There are several types of electric fireplaces. The units can be freestanding, mounted on a wall, or inserted inside a firebox.
The height recommendations will vary depending on the type of unit, but below, we will discuss suggestions for mounted, inserts, and freestanding units. To start, let’s discuss a mounted electric fireplace.
Mounted Electric Fireplaces
A linear electric fireplace (meaning the fireplace is longer than it is taller) is a style of a mounted electric fireplace and is typically installed at eye level. The guideline for eye level in a seated position is between 40 and 42 inches up the wall.
To measure the distance between the floor and the fireplace, use the bottom edge of the wall-mounted electric fireplace as your point of reference. Other wall-mounted electric fireplaces are positioned at least 18 inches from the floor.
Additionally, the height of electric fireplaces varies based on what else is in proximity to the fireplace. For example, suppose a TV or picture hangs above the fireplace. In that case, the space between the fireplace and items above needs to be at least 18 inches to prevent overheating.
At a minimum, electric fireplaces need to be 18 inches away from the floor. Fireplaces that are too close to the floor will heat up and potentially damage the flooring.
On a final note, mounted fireplaces installed higher up will efficiently distribute heat. As a rule, mount the fireplace at least 18 inches for safety and up to 42 inches from the floor to create a pleasing eye-level aesthetic.
Electric Fireplace Inserts
You can install an electric fireplace into an existing firebox if access to electricity or an outlet exists. In addition, a professional can install the electric fireplace inserts directly into the home’s wiring.
Fireplace inserts are sometimes zero clearance (read more on zero-clearance fireplaces below), meaning they can be installed at floor level in the firebox. The only precaution with this type of fireplace is to keep things from blocking the blower, which is generally at the top of the insert.
Freestanding Electric Fireplaces
A freestanding electric fireplace is designed to be placed directly on the floor. Generally, if the heater is on the bottom side of the fireplace, then legs are attached to elevate the fireplace off the floor.
Do not place freestanding units on soft surfaces, as this poses a fire risk. For example, don’t place the electric fireplace on top of a bed, couch, blanket, pillows, or other soft materials.
How Much Clearance Does An Electric Fireplace Need?
An electric fireplace needs 3 feet of clearance from the front of the fireplace. Generally, 18 inches is the recommended clearance from the sides of the unit—especially for mounted fireplaces that could damage TVs or pictures hung nearby.
Since heat is pushed out from the front of the electric fireplace, 3 feet is the recommended clearance in front of the fireplace. Proper clearance will reduce the risk of fire inside the home. Items such as curtains, papers, couches, pillows, and blankets are combustible. They are prone to start a fire if they become overheated from the electric fireplace.
Furthermore, 18 inches is the recommended clearance on all sides of the fireplace. Although the heat output is not directly coming from the sides, the fireplace will still heat up while it is in use. Therefore, keeping the fireplace clear on all sides will help prevent a fire hazard in the home.
The owner’s manual will lay out any clearance recommendations for your specific piece, so it is essential to follow the directions as the clearance may vary on each unit. Electric fireplaces that do not emit heat are not at risk of overheating or causing items to catch fire and don’t need clearance.
A Zero Clearance Electric Fireplace
If space is tight, you may want to look for a zero-clearance fireplace. A zero-clearance fireplace is built so that it can be in direct contact with combustible materials. Some fireplace inserts are zero clearance and can be in direct contact with framing and flooring on three sides (usually the bottom and side edges).
Additionally, a zero-clearance fireplace doesn’t need a hearth. Still, don’t place combustibles on top of the heating component (usually located at the top of the fireplace). This area will become hot while the fireplace is in use.
Differences Between A Zero-Clearance Electric Fireplace And An Insert
|Must be framed into the firebox or wall||Is slid into an existing firebox|
|Can be in contact with combustible material||Needs clearance from combustible materials|
|No hearth required||No hearth required|
Does An Electric Fireplace Need A Hearth?
An electric fireplace doesn’t require a hearth. A fireplace installed with proper flooring clearance will not damage the floor. In addition, most electric fireplaces vent heat from the top. In most cases, a hearth exists more for visual appeal than out of necessity.
Most electric fireplaces will have a clearance requirement that determines the space between the bottom of the fireplace and the flooring. Floor damage occurs when the homeowner installs the electric fireplace outside of the safety requirements.
A hearth may help prevent floor damage from the heat; however, following the owner’s manual for safe mounting and installation is always advisable.
A zero-clearance fireplace doesn’t need a hearth or floor clearance. A zero-clearance electric fireplace design means that direct contact with combustibles is possible. As a result, these fireplaces sometimes sit directly on the floor and lead to no safety concerns.
When is a hearth needed?
A hearth is part of a fireplace that protects the floor from heat damage. Embers and heat from wood-burning fireplaces can damage a floor around the fireplace. Therefore, a hearth—made of fire-resistant material—protects the floor. Generally, it is made of a flat brick or tile and extends away from the fireplace into the room.
A hearth isn’t essential since an electric fireplace does not contain a real flame and does not output the same type of heat as gas and wood-burning fireplaces. On the other hand, wood-burning fireplaces and stoves do have a real fire and require a heat-resistant hearth.
What Is Needed To Install An Electric Fireplace?
An electric fireplace needs access to an outlet, and it needs to be installed according to the owner’s manual. A freestanding fireplace is the simplest to use as it only requires an outlet. However, mounted fireplaces, inserts, and zero-clearance fireplaces must be installed and either wired to the home or plugged in.
Electric fireplaces plug into a 120v outlet, and produce about 5000 BTUs (British thermal units). These fireplaces can heat nearly 400 square feet of space.
On the other hand, an infrared electric fireplace can heat up to 1000 square feet of space. The difference between the two is the source of heat.
A traditional electric fireplace uses coils and a fan to warm circulating air. In contrast, an infrared heater (or radiant heat) uses light technology to warm whatever the light touches—it does not raise the room’s air temperature.
Some tips for installing an electric fireplace:
- Don’t install an electric fireplace in a way where the outlet is above the heating component. The amount of heat produced by the component can cause damage to the electrical cord and potentially lead to a risk of fire or electrical shock.
- Secure a mounted fireplace into the wall’s studs or use drywall anchors to ensure the fireplace doesn’t fall.
- Zero-clearance fireplaces need framing. A professional’s help may be the easiest way to secure this type of fireplace, but it is not required. Ensure that the frame is installed correctly and that the heating component is clear of any blockages.