Do Electric Fireplaces Give Off Heat?

Paramount Electric Fireplace Insert in Living RoomWe all enjoy the flickering flame of a fireplace, but some of us want to use our hearth to heat (or partially heat) our home. So the question is, “Do electric fireplaces give off heat?”

Some units do act as heaters, and they can work surprisingly well to warm up a room or small space similar to a high quality space heater. That said, it doesn’t mean that an electric model is best for you. This will depend on the space you want to heat.

How Heat is Generated from an Electric Fireplace:

Since electric fireplaces don’t actually have a real flame, the heat typically is generated from a built-in infrared or electric heater. Therefore, you can calculate the cost to operate your fireplace as a heater by the unit’s wattage multiplied by the kWh rate your electric company charges you multiplied by the time your use the unit.

Watts x kWh Rate x Hours of Use

Electric Fireplace Cost Saving Factors:

The advantage that electric fireplaces have vs gas or wood-burning is that many models provide the option to turn on the flickering flame with or without the heat. Therefore, if you want to run the unit in the summertime without additional heat, you can still enjoy the fire.

When you operate an electric fireplace without heat, it costs significantly less to run. You can enjoy a flickering fire for only pennies per hour!

Also, many consumers overlook the maintenance cost when shopping for and comparing their options. Electric fireplaces require minimal maintenance, servicing, repair or replacement parts. Therefore, they usually last longer with less expense.

How Well Do Electric Fireplaces Heat?

Sonax Electric Fireplace and TV StandMost people say that gas and wood-burning hearths give off more heat than electric models. That said, we also want to keep in mind that a significant amount of that heat is lost up the chimney. Electric fireplaces are more energy efficient because they don’t lose a portion of the heat they generate.

Another factor to look at when comparing electric models is that the power they use. The more power they use, the more heat they can generate. However, this means that they cost to operate as well.

To maximize heat from an electric fireplace without spending lots of money, don’t heat a giant space with high ceilings. Instead, use them to heat small to average-sized rooms up to 500 square feet. Alternatively, you could use them for ambiance in a larger living room.

Electric fireplace heaters can be found in a variety of styles: wall-mounted, free-standing models, TV stands with built-in fireplace inserts and smaller portable units.
 

Electric Wall Fireplace Comparison Chart

Compare electric wall fireplaces before you buy. Use this chart to see prices, ratings, heat output, power consumption, special features and more.

Fireplaces Style Rating
1-5
Dimensions Heat Output Power Consumption Price
(approx)
Special Features
Dynasty
Dynasty Built-in Electric LED Fireplace
Recessed 5.0 44″W
19.5″H
7″D
Can heat 300SF 1300 Watts on high heat $1100 Changing color LED light, remote control with sleep timer, other sizes available
Moda Flame Cynergy
Moda Flame Electric Wall Mounted Fireplace
Recessed 5.0 50.4″W
21.4″H
6.1″D
Can heat 400SF 1500 Watts on high heat $630 Fan forced heater, very realistic flames, remote control for flame and heat, fire on pebble bed
Touchstone Sideline
Touchstone Sideline Built-in Electric Fireplace
Recessed 4.5 50.4″W
21.4″H
5.8″D
Can heat 400SF 1500 Watts on high heat $499
(on sale)
Very realistic flames, 5 flame settings and 2 heat settings, remote control, built-in fan
Touchstone Ivory
Touchstone Ivory Fireplace
Wall Mount or Recessed 4.5 50.4″W
21.6″H
5.5″D
Can Heat 400SF 1500 Watts on high heat $290
(on sale)
White glass frame, very realistic flame, 5 flame settings, can be wall mounted or recessed (disable heat unit for recessed)
Dimplex Synergy 50″
Dimplex Synergy
Wall-Mount or Recessed 4.5 50.2″W
19.5″H
7″D
Can Heat 400SF 1230 Watts on high heat $1400 Very realistic flame, crushed glass ember bed, front heater vent, direct wire or plug kit
Classic Flame 47II100GRG
Classic Flame Felcity Electric Fireplace
Wall Mounted or Partially Recessed 5.0 46.6″W
23.4″H
10.2″D
Can heat 1,000SF 1500 Watts on high heat $420
(on sale)
Infrared Quartz heat, multiple color flames, backlights, touch-screen function, rock, fire glass and log set included, also includes pedestal
Classic Flame Serendipity
Classic Flame Serendipity Fireplace
Wall-Mounted or Pedestal 4.5 33.5″W
18.7″H
8.7″D
Can heat 400SF 1400 Watts on high heat $249
(on sale)
Infrared heater, pedestal included, color-changing LED light, backlights, touch-screen function, lightweight (29 lbs) and portable
PuraFlame Provo
PuraFlame Provo Electric Wall Fireplace
Wall-Mounted or Pedestal 4.5 35.4″W
16.4″H
5.5″D
Can heat to 400SF 1350 Watts on high heat $200
(on sale)
Infrared heater (heat comes out below fire), changing-color backlights

How Much Does it Cost to Run an Electric Fireplace?

Paramount Electric Fireplace Insert in Living RoomCompared to wood-burning and gas fireplaces, the electric version is typically much easier and cheaper to install, it’s eco friendly and it can also be an economical way to provide supplemental heating in your home.

Many electric fireplace inserts and stoves can heat up to 400 square feet, with some infrared models heating up to 1,000 square feet. If you find that your family spends a majority of the time in one area of the house, like the living room or family room, if can make sense to add supplemental or zone heating to those areas instead of paying to heat the entire house.

So, How Much Does it Cost to Run an Electric Fireplace?

The cost, of course, will depend on the utility rates in your area, the type of electric fireplace or stove that you get and, of course, your own power usage.

Here’s the short answer:

According to ElectricFireplacesDirect.com, even though electric fireplaces produce less heat per unit, virtually no heat is lost up the chimney – making the warmth that they do produce, more usable and efficient.

On average, electric heaters cost 8-23 cents per hour.

I know, I know, that’s a wide range, but stick with me here.

Something else to consider is the fact that you can operate an electric model with flames only (no heat) anytime you don’t need additional heat but simply want to enjoy flickering flames. Operating costs in no-heat mode end up running 1-2 cents per hour due to the energy efficient LED lights.

Here is a simple way to figure out the math:

Watts x Hours Per Day x kWh Rate

Let’s take, for example, the Paramount electric fireplace insert, which operates at 1500 watts and produces 5,112 BTUs. (This is fairly standard, as most units are designed to use only about 1,500 watts and put out 5,000 BTUs.) It can heat up to 400 square feet (units with hight BTUs typically heat a greater amount of space but will also cost more to run).

We know that the watts = 1,500. If we plan to use the electric fireplace 5 hours per day, we multiply 1,500 x 5.

Next we need to check our utility bill to see the kWh rate that we are charged in our area. (Keep in mind that this can also vary by time of day.) We’ll use 0.15 in this example. You can use this simple calculator here.

1,500 Watts x 5 Hours/Day x 0.15 kWh Rate = $1.125 cost per day

This translates to about 23 cents per hour. Not bad for no chimney cleaning, no ash removing, no gas fumes and an easy automatic remote-controlled fire. Plus, you may be able to lower the thermostat on your whole house heating unit. The fireplace essentially pays for itself!

Gas VS Electric Fireplace Costs

Red Electric Portable Fireplace from Plow & Hearth
courtesy of Plow & Hearth
You may find in your city that the cost to heat your home with an electric vs a gas fireplace are very similar. If you still can’t decide, compare these three things:

  • The cost of the unit itself plus installation costs
  • The features of both units
  • And whether or not you think you will want to use the fireplace in the “no heat mode”.

Portable fireplace heaters usually have the same efficiency as other space heaters. However, they have the extra advantage of looking cool. You can also use them in flame-only mode.

How Much Does it Cost to Run an Electric Fireplace…

Tips for Saving Money:

  • Switch to “flame-only” mode when you don’t need additional heat. This only costs pennies per hour to operate.
  • If you are on a tiered rate system, avoid peak hours. They can sometimes double the cost of use.
  • If possible, use heaters in rooms that do not have vaulted ceilings because heat rises.