Are Electric Fireplaces Safer Than Space Heaters?

An electric fireplace mimics a natural woodfire that does not require a chimney, venting or any expensive installation. Since it produces the effect of a flame without generating real flames, there is no danger of drapes and furniture setting on fire. The flames are created with LED lights. A space heater, on the other hand, is a heating device for small spaces and can be powered by either electricity or burnable fuel like gas, propane or diesel.

Generally speaking, space heaters are less safe than electric fireplaces. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently disclosed in January 2018 that space heaters account for 43% of home-heating fires and 85% deaths. These figures are alarming. This is the reason why manufacturers are incorporating more and more safety features in these heaters.

Due to the technological advancements, space heaters now come with auto shut-off mechanism, timers, adjustable and programmable thermostats, overheating protection and tip-over protection. These features mitigate safety risks to a great extent, but the hazards of accidental injuries are not completely eliminated.

Electric Fireplaces Vs Space Heaters

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In this article, we will discuss the safety aspects of both types of heating devices.

Why Are Electric Fireplaces Safer Than Space Heaters?

Compared to space heaters, electric fireplaces are a much safer option. Let’s see some reasons for this:

  • They do not work on the forced-air mechanism and, hence, do not cause dust and allergy-causing particles to circulate in the room. This ensures that you get clean and healthy air.
  • They do not emit carbon monoxide, whereas space heaters that operate with burnable fuel like kerosene emit this gas.
  • These fireplaces do not pose as a safety hazard for kids and pets, unlike space heaters, where there are chances that a contact with the hot outer surface may result in burns and injuries. Space heaters become hot after being used for a while. Even if the outer body does not become too hot, the grills that emit heat surely become so. They are, therefore, very dangerous for kids and pets, who are likely to get seriously burned if they come in contact with it. With an electric fireplace, though, you won’t have to worry about this at all. The flames are just an image or projection of flames, so touching them is just like touching a TV screen.
  • Another reason for an electric fireplace being a safe heating option is that it operates on a low temperature setting.
  • Electric fireplaces are less likely to be misused than space heaters. There have been many reported incidences of fires as a result of space heater misuse, but this is unlikely to happen with an electric fireplace due to its size and design. The electric firebox is placed in the middle of a 4-foot-wide unit, which gives enough space on both sides, so the fireplace cannot come in contact with combustible objects.
  • Since there are no real flames, there is no risk of smoke and suffocation.
  • Despite providing heat to people in the room, fireplaces in general are cool to touch.

Safety Tips for Electric Fireplaces

The safety of an electric fireplace can be enhanced if certain tips are meticulously followed and implemented:

  • Check that your electric fireplace is not plugged into the same circuit as other main appliances and lights.
  • For the fireplaces that are hardwired, arrange a new circuit breaker and wiring.
  • You should never plug in an electric fireplace to an extension cord, as it might be exposed to overheating and can result in fire.
  • If you are planning to leave the room for an extended period of time, you should turn your fireplace off.
  • Make sure that no flammable material is placed close to an electric fireplace.
  • Be careful of damaged cords and stop using the fireplace till you replace the damaged or worn cords.
  • Don’t install an electric fireplace in a damp surrounding, especially bathrooms.
  • These units are for indoor use only. Never use them outdoors and expose them to the weather.

Leaving an Electric Fireplace On Overnight

Since fireplaces are safe by default, there is no potential issue if they are left running for the whole night. Having said this, it will be more prudent if you turn off the fireplace if you do not want to use it at night. In case you want to leave it running overnight, it is advisable to set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature. This will ensure the system does not become exceedingly hot.


Electric fireplaces are no doubt the safest heating devices because of their built-in features. Some of the notable ones include an absence of vents, no real flames and no emission of gases or smoke. Hence, this is the best choice for homes with naughty kids who want to touch every gadget. Since it operates on electric current and no combustible fuel is used, it is free from hazards of toxic gases like carbon monoxide.

Space heaters are relatively unsafe and cause more accidental fires. However, the manufacturers are aware of the potential safety risks and are incorporating safety features into space heaters to mitigate these risks.

No matter how safe a device is, its safe operation depends on taking the appropriate measures suggested by experts.

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