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Do You Need to Vent an Electric Fireplace?


Do you have to vent an electric fireplace? The simple answer is no; you do not have to vent an electric fireplace which means better air quality. Electric fireplaces are ventless and easy to install and use. This article will dive deep into the topic of your electric fireplace buying decision and the requirements for installing and operating one safely. With an electric fireplace, safety is not an issue.

Why do electric fireplaces not require venting?

Why don’t you need to vent an electric fireplace?  Venting for an electric fireplace is not required because an electric fireplace does not burn a fuel source. For instance, the fire consumes a fuel source, emitting smoke, and other chemicals with a wood-burning and gas-burning fireplace. With typical combustion fireplaces, it’s an absolute requirement that a chimney or flue vents those dangerous fumes out of your home as they are not safe to breathe and can be deadly.

Electric fireplaces do not actually burn a fuel source

On the other hand, an electric fireplace unit does not actually burn a fuel source. With an electric fireplace, the flame effect is completely simulated. Many electric fireplaces operate by reflecting some lights back onto a panel behind a log set that looks like fire. Other fireplaces will use water mist to create the fire effect, which is safe. Other fireplaces will even use videos of fires burning. There is no actual fire inside your electric fireplace in any of these cases. For that reason, there is nothing to vent. An electric fireplace is perfectly safe to use in your home, as no dangerous chemicals are emitted.

Why do traditional fireplaces require venting?

Traditional wood-burning or gas fireplaces do need to be vented. When you burn a fuel source such as wood or gas, chemicals are emitted into the air, and those chemicals need to be vented out of your home. For instance, when you burn a fuel source like wood, the by-product is the emission of carbon monoxide, which is fatal if inhaled in significant quantities. Other chemicals like formaldehyde and carbon are also emitted into the air with wood fireplaces. An electric fireplace does not emit such chemicals and is perfectly safe to use in a home without venting through a flue or a chimney.

Where is it safe to install a fireplace

Electric fireplaces can be safely installed in just about any room of your home. Only when you’re burning a fuel source, do you need to vent those fumes out into the air? Because an electric fireplace uses a safe and simulated flame, it can safely be used throughout a home or business without venting those fumes. 

Many users will install electric fireplaces in a living room as the central focal point. Others will install an electric fireplace in a bedroom for added warmth, or game room, or a basement. It’s perfectly safe to use an electric fireplace in any room of your house without the fear of breathing in dangerous chemicals because none are emitted with an electric fireplace.

If the fireplace doesn’t burn fuel, then how does it make heat?

An electric fireplace does not require burning gas or wood to emit heat. Heat is a by-product of the release of energy from burning a fuel source. This is why you’ll feel the heat on your skin when sitting in front of a traditional combustion fireplace. What you’re feeling is heat energy being released as a fuel source consumed by fire. That by-product is fire and heat.

Fan-forced heaters can warm a small to moderate-sized room

An electric fireplace produces heat in a completely different way. Some fireplaces use a fan-forced coil heating mechanism known as a heating element, while others use an infrared quartz heater. All heating systems rate the heat output as a BTU. The higher the number, the more heat is emitted. A thermostat controls how much heat is produced. A fan-forced blower electric fireplace works like those room heaters you may have seen many years ago. Electricity will heat a series of coils known as a heating element which becomes red hot. A small fan will blow over those heated coils and radiate that heat into the room. This is an efficient way of heating a room and is also relatively safe. Much safer than actually burning a fuel source like a combustion fireplace. These electric heaters are great for warming a room without significantly adding to your monthly utility bills. By utilizing zone heating and warming only the rooms you’re in, your heating bill will be reduced significantly.

Infrared quartz heaters work great for safely heating larger rooms

Other fireplaces rely on infrared quartz heaters. The heating element in these does not exist because it uses a different heat technology. These types of heaters work in much the way the sun does. An infrared quartz heater will emit ultraviolet light that feels warm when it touches your skin. This is the same way the sun makes you feel warm when you feel sunlight on your skin. An infrared quartz heater is also very efficient and works great for warming a large room efficiently and safely. This type of system can easily warm up to 1,000 square feet.

Both types of heating sources are great alternatives to traditional combustion fireplaces. They’re completely safe, and neither requires venting. Never use an extension cord to run your heater, as that could be extremely dangerous because the heating elements draw a good amount of power.

What about if you convert your existing traditional fireplace to an electric one

If you are upgrading your existing wood or natural gas-burning fireplace to a safe and efficient electric, you no longer have a use for your chimney, vent, or flue. They can be closed off in almost all cases as electric fireplaces do not need to vent any dangerous gases. You can simply install an electrical outlet into your existing fireplace, then install an electric insert (also known as a firebox) by following the manufacturer’s instructions, plug it in, and you’re ready to begin using your new electric fireplace.

You no longer need to worry about venting or even annual maintenance. An electric fireplace will save you the mess and hassle of burning wood and the costly yearly maintenance required with a traditional fireplace. There is nothing to clean up, and it’s an easy DIY installation.

Are fireplaces allowed in apartments and condominiums?

Yes. They absolutely are. Because an electric fireplace does not burn wood or gas, it does not emit any fumes and therefore is not a danger to the building or neighbors.  Because an electric fireplace produces simulated flames, it’s perfectly safe to use in just about any dwelling. You do not have to run expensive gas lines or obtain costly permits when installing an electric fireplace in a condominium or apartment building. Most electric fireplaces are UL-certified and perfectly safe to use, and do not require professional installation in most cases. 

Why do Electric fireplaces not need to be vented?

In conclusion, electric fireplaces do not need to be vented because they do not have a real flame inside of them. They do not emit dangerous fumes that would otherwise need to be vented. Whereas traditional wood or gas-burning fireplaces consume an energy source to produce a flame and emit smoke and fumes.

When installing an electric fireplace, you can safely close off your chimney, vents, and flues as they will no longer be needed.  Feel confident that when you install an electric fireplace into an existing fireplace opening or use a free-standing fireplace mantel. Electric fireplaces create a beautiful ambiance to any room and are a great way to add the look of fire to your home. 

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