Whether you are thinking about converting your existing fireplace over to one that is completely electric as a home improvement project or are interested in installing the first fireplace into your home as a welcoming living room focal point, modern electric fireplaces certainly have plenty of benefits that people are noticing. Of course, anytime you are purchasing a new appliance for your home, it is perfectly reasonable to need to know how safe it actually is for your home. Are electric fireplaces safe inside of your home? How does it compare to the safety of other types of fireplaces that homeowners tend to get? What other benefits to electric fireplaces have? Can they actually simulate a real fireplace ambience so it doesn’t look fake?
If any of these questions are on your mind, this post is going to help answer all of them and many more questions as well. Let’s jump in!
What Different Fireplace Types Can You Get?
A traditional fireplace is one that simply burns wood to keep your home warm. Here are the different categories of traditional fireplaces that people have in their homes:
- Open Hearth Style Wood Fireplaces – One of the open hearth style fireplaces are the most common ones that you would think of. It consists of a basic fireplace firebox where you stack wood for burning. It is connected to a flue and usually a chimney for the smoke and some other harmful emissions are released. You usually find these kinds of fireplaces with a protective screen that can be stood in front of it.
- Enclosed Style Wood Fireplaces – Burning a bit more efficiently and also slightly safer than open heart style wood fireplaces, an enclosed fireplace simply keeps the fire from being directly exposed to the room. Instead, the fire is behind a glass door and the heat from the fire is pushed into the room via some venting.
- Fireplace Inserts – For people that already have an open hearth style fireplace but want one that is enclosed, they make fireplace inserts for this purpose. The inserts are installed into the fireplace opening. This is similar to how some electric inserts work, except with these inserts you are still burning wood as your fuel source.
- Wood Stove – Not to be confused with an electric stove, this fireplace stove usually sits more towards the middle of the room instead of against a wall. When wood is burned inside, heat radiates from the entire stove, warming a room. The top is a flat metal surface so some rudimentary cooking can be done by placing pots or pans on it. Typically, these kinds of heating devices are only found in wilderness cabins or other small dwellings without standard utilities.
Instead of wood fireplaces, some people choose to use gas fireplaces. Keep in mind that some gas fireplaces need a gas line installed, while others might use propane tanks that need changing from time to time. Here are the types of gas fireplaces people might use as an alternative to wood:
- Direct-Vented Built-In Gas Fireplaces – While gas fireplaces still burn a lot cleaner than wood, direct-vented gas fireplaces use a gas that produces harmful contaminants, therefore it requires there to be ventilation connected to it. This ventilation can be a traditional flue and chimney, but is often a simple venting pipe.
- Vent-Free Built-In Gas Fireplaces – Ventless gas fireplaces burn even cleaner than the gas used in direct-vented fireplaces, therefore there is no need to install any kind of ventilation system. However, this comes at a price, because vent-free gas fireplaces don’t burn a traditional flame color and instead usually have a blue flame.
Since electric fireplaces have improved so much over the last several years, more people are deciding to install one or more into their homes. Here are the different types of electric fireplaces:
- Combo Electric Fireplace and Mantle – For the most authentic looking electric fireplaces, these are units that come with a mantle. The mantle usually isn’t pre-connected to the fireplace. Instead, it comes separate and you attach it during installation. Many companies do this so that the person buying it can easily select between different mantle varieties so they can have one that fits their home the best. You can find these types of electric fireplaces as a more traditional wall unit or even as a corner electric fireplace.
- Electric Fireplace Insert – These inserts work a lot like the inserts that are used to turn open hearth fireplaces into enclosed fireplaces. The difference here is that these inserts convert the fireplace into one that is completely electric instead of one that still burns wood as its fuel source. These electrical inserts are also sometimes used if a person wishes to build their own fireplace mantle or purchase a third party fireplace mantle instead of the mantles that are offered by the manufacturer of the fireplace.
- Wall Mount Electric Fireplace – A wall mounted electric fireplace is one that is hung on the wall instead of resting on the ground against the wall. These are securely mounted to the wall using mounting brackets that are attached to the studs behind the drywall. Because these mounted electric fireplaces can also be installed into a recession in the wall, they can be made to look like a built-in electric fireplace. They can be installed to stick partway out of the wall, or they can be completely flush.
- Electric Fireplace TV Stand – These fireplaces are essentially a media console with an electric fireplace built into it. Your TV can be placed on top of these without any issues. If you don’t have enough sq. ft. in your main room to justify both an entertainment center and an electric fireplace, this can be a good way to consolidate those items and save space.
- Freestanding Electric Fireplace – One of these freestanding fireplaces is really not much different than a typical space heater. You can easily move them from room to room as needed due to their portable nature. Of course, these heaters also are made to look like a fireplace and have some basic flame effects at their disposal. Unfortunately, because they need to fit both the heating element and fire effects into one portable unit, they tend to suffer on both the heater and visual effect fronts. You’re usually better off just getting a full sized electric fireplace for regular use and a standard space heater if you still want something that is portable when needed.
Why Traditional Fireplaces Are Not Safe Indoors
Many people already know the dangers that come with wood fireplaces. Because of all of the safety risks, building a house with a traditional fireplace or building a new traditional fireplace onto an existing house is against the law in many places in the US. The only way to get one is to buy an old house that already has one of these fireplaces in it. Just in case you aren’t aware of every safety concern involved with wood fireplaces, here are most of them listed for you:
- House Fire from Soot Build Up – A chimney catching on fire is one of the most common reasons for house fires in homes that have traditional fireplaces. Soot builds up inside of the flue and if it builds up too much, it can catch fire and spread to other parts of the house.
- House Fire From Embers or Logs – It’s not just soot you have to worry about. Burning logs can accidentally roll across the floor or even a loose floating ember can make its way across the room, possibly catching something on fire when it lands.
- Smoke Inhalation and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Both smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly. While you should always have detectors for both of these in your home in case of excess emissions, these issues are both still very present any time wood fireplaces are used.
Why Gas Fireplaces Aren’t Safe Indoors
Gas fireplaces are certainly a lot safer than wood fireplaces in many regards, but they aren’t completely safe. They still have some issues with them that are worth noting. Here are those safety issues of gas fireplaces:
- Flame Still Present – Even though you aren’t burning logs, you still have a flame present and exposed. Anytime that a flame is present in your home, the risk of a house fire is increased.
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – You don’t have to worry about smoke with gas fireplaces, but that doesn’t make them completely safe. Carbon monoxide can still be produced from an incomplete burning of the gas and this carbon monoxide can begin to fill the air in your home.
- Potential Gas Leak – Anytime you are working with gas, whether it is natural gas or propane, there is a chance your gas system has a leak. This can be a problem not only because you would be breathing in noxious fumes, but a spark of the leaked gas can instantly cause a catastrophic house fire.
Are Electric Fireplaces Safe Indoors?
So, are electric fireplaces safe for indoor use? The short answer to this question is: yes, of course they are.
Electric fireplaces don’t work at all in the same way as wood or gas fireplaces, therefore they don’t suffer from the same safety concerns. Here is why best electric fireplaces are much safer:
- No Flame To Worry About – Since there is no flame present, the chance of a house fire in your home is severely reduced compared to wood or gas fireplaces.
- No Smoke Inhalation – Not burning anything means no harmful smoke involved.
- No Carbon Monoxide – Not burning anything also means your fireplace isn’t producing carbon monoxide.
- Several Safety Features and Safety Redundancies – Electric fireplaces have several safety features to make sure they are working properly and not overheating. If sensors pick up that something is wrong, these safety features can instantly shut the fireplace off until the issue is resolved.
What Are Some Other Downsides To Wood and Gas Fireplaces?
Wood fireplaces have plenty of downsides besides just safety. Chances are you are already aware of many of these downsides, but just in case, here are some of the worst ones listed here:
- Expensive Wood and Storage Issues – Because traditional fireplaces don’t work that efficiently, they require a lot of wood to burn. You also have to find a place to store all of the wood that you need throughout the winter.
- Big Hassle To Use Wood Fireplaces – Cleaning up ash, building a fire, watching the fire, adding logs: this becomes a part time job.
- Expensive Cleaning – To clean the soot out of the chimney, you have to hire a professional two or three times per year and this isn’t that cheap.
- Smoky Scents and Stains – Smoke can stain the walls of your home, and will definitely leave a bad smell in your furniture and curtains.
- No TV Mounting – You can’t mount flat screen TVs above traditional fireplaces. The emissions can easily damage your expensive TV over time, causing it to stop working.
Gas fireplaces don’t have as many downsides but they have some downsides that are completely deal breakers for people who want the best alternative to wood fireplaces;
- Flame Weakness – Imagine a Bunsen burner flame: smooth, weak, boring. This is how most gas fireplace flames look. There is no flicker or life to the fire.
- Terrible Flame Color – The blue fire is obviously very unauthentic, but even gas fireplaces with traditional colors, the flame color still looks a bit artificial compared to burning wood.
- Gassy Smell – Since a perfect burn of the gas is impossible, you may notice a slight gassy smell in your home that can be very off-putting.
- Tanks Changes – If your fireplace uses propane tanks, you have to get these changed whenever it gets low.
Are There More Benefits To Electric Fireplaces Than Just Safety?
Since we know that electric fireplaces are incredibly safe to use inside of your home, what are some other benefits that these fireplaces have to offer us? Here are some of the most important ones:
- Incredibly Easy Installation – Electric fireplaces are generally quite easy to install. Once you have your location picked out, you just connect it to a standard plug-in outlet in your home.
- Convenient Remote Control Operation – Most electric fireplaces come with a remote control or an app that can be used with your smartphone or tablet. You don’t ever have to get up from the couch.
- Real Flame Simulation and Ambiance – With a top of the line electric fireplace, the visuals and auditory sounds are so realistic, it is easy to believe you are sitting in front of the real thing.
- Safe For TV Mounting – Since there aren’t any emissions and the heating vents don’t usually point directly up, you can hang your TV above an electric fireplace without worrying about damage to it.
- Zone Heating For More Savings – For large houses with many rooms, you can get multiple electric fireplaces and only use each for supplemental heat when those rooms are occupied. This adds even more savings to your heating bill.
- No Additional Work – Unlike traditional fireplaces, there isn’t any work or regular maintenance required.
- No Unpleasant Smells – No emissions means there are also no bad smells to fill your home.
What Electric Fireplace Brands Are Considered Good?
With all products on the market that have several competing brands, some brands make higher quality products than others. The Electric fireplace marketplace is no different. What you end up paying for is what you end up getting. A high quality brand is easily a better choice than a low quality generic brand like ones that are easily found on Amazon. So don’t run out to Walmart or browse on Amazon and just purchase the first fireplace you see on sale. If it is a cheap, generic brand, it will certainly have issues and you will likely regret your purchase. The visual effects will usually be poor and the electric fireplace heater inside may not be able to cover the square feet of your home. Instead of buying off of Amazon or from Walmart, consider finding a brand you like and buying directly from the company’s website for the absolute best deal of a high end fireplace.
There are several electric fireplace brands that are popular with homeowners these days. Some brands like Duraflame, have brand awareness from before their time making electric fireplaces like the Duraflame starter log they make fire wood fireplaces. Other brands like Dimplex have several different models with different flame effect technology in them. While not all Dimplex fireplaces are the same, some, like the Dimplex Opti Myst, use more interest methods. The Opti Myst shines LED flames onto streaming water vapor that gets a decent 3D flame effect. Touchstone makes a linear electric fireplace that can span a much longer area of a wall for an interesting modern look. This is more of a built-in electric fireplace, similar to a recessed wall mounted electric fireplace.
However, if you truly want realistic flames, you need to check out a MagikFlame fireplace with realistic holographic flames.
What Electric Fireplace Is Considered The Best?
Without a doubt, many people consider MagikFlame electric fireplaces to be the best on the market. This is due to several impressive features and benefits. Here are just the highlights:
- Fireplace Realism – There aren’t any other fireplaces on the market that can produce flame effects as realistic as MagikFlame electric fireplaces. That is due to the unique Holoflame technology that is in each fireplace. With this technology, a realistic holographic fire with flickering flames and embers is projected onto a physical log set inside of the fireplace. It’s not just one style of fire either. You can select between 30 different styles of flames at the push of a button.
- Auditory Sensations – To have these realistic visuals and not auditory sounds to go with it would be a tragedy. That’s why each MagikFlame unit has crackling log sounds that further add to the atmosphere that you’re sitting in front of a real fireplace. In addition to the different crackling sounds it can produce, they also include some nature sound options you can swap to for some additional atmosphere.
- Powerful Infrared Heater – The 5,200 BTU heater is the heart of each MagikFlame fireplace. If you have an apartment or a small home, one single MagikFlame fireplace has you covered due to its ability to warm a 1,000 square feet area without any issues. For people with very large homes, you can easily set up a zone heating system with two or three fireplaces in different rooms. You would only ever need to run the fireplace when that particular part of the home is being used.
- Smartphone Operation – All of the features on these amazing electric fireplaces can be intuitively controlled via the touch screen of your smartphone. Their app has large, graphic buttons so you can easily change the thermostat, turn the fireplace on or off, change the flame settings, and more.