BTUs (British thermal units) is a unit of measurement commonly used to rate the energy output in units such as air conditioners, furnaces, stoves, and electric fireplaces. The listed BTU on an electric fireplace unit helps to understand the unit’s potential effectiveness in heating a space.
A traditional 120-volt outlet electric fireplace can put out approximately 5000 BTUs. This is enough to heat up space of about 450 square feet. A built-in electric fireplace is usually hard-wired to receive 240 volt and puts out around 9000 BTUs.
Electric fireplaces are great features to add to a home to improve the ambiance. They are also great options for supplemental heat. They are considerably less maintenance than a wood or coal-burning fireplace and in some manners, are safer.
How Many BTUs Do Electric Fireplaces Give Off?
A traditional plug-in electric fireplaces gives off approximately 5000 BTUs. This number increases with different types of electric fireplaces; infrared electric fireplaces give off 5500 BTUs and build-in, hard-wired electric fireplaces can give off 9000 BTUs. Hard-wired electric fireplaces receive 240 volt, about double a normal outlet gives off.
A BTU is a measurement that quantifies the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water by one degree per hour. Therefore, the higher the BTU, the higher the heat output.
Most electric fireplaces on the market are right around 5000 BTUs, plus or minus a few hundred. Although, those few hundred BTUs do not cause a noticeable difference in heat output. Other aspects like an internal fan or infrared heat will contribute to heat output.
Also, not all electric fireplaces are used as a heat-source. You can also purchase one for simply improving the ambiance of a room. Many electric fireplaces on the market today have settings in which you can use the fireplace without the heat on.
Can An Electric Fireplace Heat A Room?
A standard electric fireplace that can be plugged into a standard outlet gives off about 5000 BTUs, which is enough to heat a room. Electric fireplaces are great heating units.
Square footage is an important aspect to consider when deciding if an electric fireplace is a suitable choice for your home. If the room is too large for the specs on the fireplace, you likely will not be able to heat the entire room. Most electric fireplaces can hear a room that’s in a 200-450 square feet range.
To distribute the heat more efficiently throughout your room, you would want to buy an electric fireplace with a blower or fan. This internal function will push the heat away from the electric fireplace and into the room. This method of heating a room will raise the temperature of the air so that when the fireplace is turned off, the room will remain warm for a period of time.
Infrared electric fireplaces claim that they can heat up to 1000 square feet of space. These fireplaces do not use a blower to distribute the heat throughout the room but instead, they use infrared technology to radiate the heat into the room.
This method does not heat the air, which means that when the unit is turned off, the room does not remain warm for as long as an electric fireplace that uses a fan blower does.
Some additional benefits of an infrared electric fireplace are:
- Quieter—they do not use a fan to heat a room
- Quicker—the heat can be felt more quickly as heat radiates off the unit
How Much Will It Cost To Run An Electric Fireplace?
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the national average price of electricity for residential properties is 13.99 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). On average, an electric fireplaces uses 1.5 kW per hour, which comes down to a total cost of $0,21 per hour. When turned on for 8 hours on end, it costs $1,68.
Formula: kWh = (watss x hours) / 1000
The reason you divide by 1000 is that the kWh is a measurement that is equivalent to 1000-watts of power over a one-hour period of time. For the purposes of an electric fireplace, let’s use this formula for a standard unit to determine the approximate cost of using the appliance.
Generally, a standard unit uses 1500-watts. Let’s assume you will be running the unit for two hours at the end of a long day at work. We would take 1500 multiplied by 2 and then divide by 1000, which equals 3 kWh. Now we take that figure (3 kWh) and multiply it by the national average price of electricity for residential properties (13.99 cents per kWh) which gives us 41.97 cents. So, running your unit for two hours would cost roughly $0.42.
Are Electric Fireplaces Dangerous?
An electric fireplace, in and of itself, is not dangerous. Although, there are some user errors that could potentially make it a hazard. You would not want to plug in an 240v fireplace into your 120v outlet. Also, the portion of the unit where the heat comes out can become very hot to touch and could cause injury to small children, if left unattended.
When you compare the safety of an electric fireplace to a wood-burning fireplace, there are a few differences that make an electric fireplace, arguably, safer.
- Less maintenance. A wood burning fireplace requires regular cleaning. If this is neglected, you increase the risk of a fire hazard.
- No live flame. Embers will not spark from an electric fireplace, where they can in a wood burning one. Also, with young children, a live fire presents a potential risk.
Other than the safety aspect, there are some added benefits of an electric fireplace over a wood-burning one.
- No cleaning. There is no ash to clean out.
- Less effort. You do not need to chop wood or light the fire—you simply press a button to turn it on.
- Less maintenance. No chimney sweeps required!
- Portability. If you decide you’d rather have the fireplace in your bedroom, rather than the living room, a freestanding fireplace can be easily moved and plugged into a different outlet.