Safety Concern of Electric Fireplace

Electric fireplace is a relatively safe and efficient way to heat up a room as compared to traditional wood or gas fireplace. However, just like any other electrical appliance, there is still a low level of risk that might cause accidents if they are not handled with care. Below we will discuss the safety guideline and precautions when we are dealing with the unit. We will also talk about things we need to be aware if we have kids, pets or disabled individual at home. And our recommended key safety feature to look for when selecting an electric fireplace

Installing your electric fireplace the safe way

  • Can you use extension cords? The short answer is yes, but at your own risk. Many manufacturer’s manual advise against it because electric fireplace tends to draw a huge amount of power from the socket.

    A typical unit would run on 120v standard outlet and 1500 watt per hour. That’s 300 watts away from the maximum 1800 watt per hour could handle. (Though you might have a 2400 watt outlet if you are lucky). 

    So any other appliance that are sharing it will be at risk of tripping the circuit or at worst, cause fire. However, if you must, some manufacturer do recommend using a heavy duty extension cord for your unit.

  • The cable or cord of the unit should never be run under a carpet, curtains, furniture or other appliances. 

    As much as we want to hide the ugly wiring of your electric fireplace. Never cover it under runners, throw rugs and similar materials. Instead, you can check out how to hide the wires here

  • Avoid having your electric cord must pass in high traffic areas of your home to avoid someone tripping over the cord

  • If you notice your electrical cords are damaged, do not ignore and continue to operate it. Make sure to get it changed before turning it on again

  • If you decided to go with a free standing model, keep in mind that it should not sit above a carpet or any flammable objects, the vents can get quite hot even though the fire screen is not hot to touch. If you have a wood flooring, make sure it is solid wood and it will not deteriorate by heat easily

  • As mentioned earlier, the vents can get quite hot during operation. Generally most heater unit has 2 vents, one is to take in the cold air from the room and the other is to release the hot air. 

    Make sure you don’t have anything within 1 meter that might block the air flow. Don’t have anything flammable such as fabric or documents that sits too near.
    Do not put your wet clothes near the vent to dry them either, it will damage your device if the airflow gets clogged up

  • Check where does the heating vent sits on your fireplace unit. Some are designed to release hot air through the side and bottom near the trim while others will release hot air upwards as well. If you have a unit that shoots hot air upwards, do not install any electronics such as TV above your fireplace

  • Electric fireplace may produce spark, so never operate electric fireplace near areas where flammable liquids, gasoline or paints are stored or being used and in places where flammable vapors are present (such as the kitchen, if you have a gasoline stove)

  • Electric heaters should not be installed in places that are wet, such as bathroom or kitchen. Do not install your unit where it may accidentally drop into bathtub or water containers. Electric and water doesn’t go well so make sure you don’t do that and electrocute yourself

  • Never leave the fireplace operating and leaving it unattended. Such as going to sleep or leaving it on overnight

Other standard guidelines provided by manufacturers

  • Always keep the unit unplugged when not in use

  • Ensure that you turn off the firebox and remove the plug from the socket or outlet before disconnecting the fireplace.

  • Ensure that the connected outlets are properly grounded before connecting

  • Unless stated otherwise, most electric fireplaces are for indoor use only, never use the unit outdoors or expose it to the weather.

  • When transporting the unit, lift it from the firebox. The glass are fragile so don’t carry it by the glass. Do not impact or strike the glass panel either

Electric fireplace safety for kids & pets

They are generally safe. Especially when it does not produce real flame and the glass display are safe to touch. In fact they are considered the safest option compared to other fireplaces. But precaution needs to be taken as well just in case of accidents

  • Talk and teach your kids the general electrical safety guideline, basically they should learn to treat and electric fireplace like how they treat an oven. Avoid going too near the heat vents, handle liquid with care when walking near a fireplace, do not knock the glass panel etc. For younger children who may not understand your instruction, consider adding a fireplace screen in front of the unit to prevent any accident
     
  • For pets. Never allow them to go near the fireplace. Pets, especially cats love warm places during colder days. One way to avoid your beloved fluffy friend getting near the unit is to limit its ‘wandering zone’ from it

    If you install your unit in the living room, only allow your pets to be at the living room when you are around and stop them from getting near the vent

    Put your pet’s bed far away from the area you have installed unit, since pets are a fan of hot places. You may consider to invest in an electric blanket/heating pad for your pet. That way they would want to stick to their bed instead of going near the fireplace

Safety features to look for when shopping for electric fireplace

  • Safety standard certified - The unit that you purchase should be Underwriters Laboratories certified and/or CSA Certified. They are the electrical appliance quality control body that test and certify products to ensure they are safe for consumers according to the electrical codes of US and Canada

  • Auto shut-off timer - Many customers ask if electric fireplace are safe to be left operating overnight, while it shouldn’t post a major risk but it is also a good practice to try not leave any electric appliance unattended. Some manufacturer recognizes this problem and introduced an auto shutdown timer feature for fireplace. You may set the number of hours you would like to keep it on and it will shut down on itself

  • Temperature limit detector - Choose models that has a temperature detector. When the room reaches a desired temperature, the heater will automatically turn off but leave the fireplace display open. This is not only a very good safety feature but also a good way keep your energy bill low

In summary, electric fireplace is safe as long as you follow the electrical safety guideline. In this article we also illustrated a variety do’s & don’ts and recommended steps instead to mitigate any risk involved. Safety concern should never stop you from opting for an electric fireplace instead of gas or wood fireplaces as they have proven to be a much safer alternatives compare to the former

 

Electric fireplace is a relatively safe and efficient way to heat up a room as compared to traditional wood or gas fireplace. However, just like any other electrical appliance, there is still a low level of risk that might cause accidents if they are not handled with care. Below we will discuss the safety guideline and precautions when we are dealing with the unit. We will also talk about things we need to be aware if we have kids, pets or disabled individual at home. And our recommended key safety feature to look for when selecting an electric fireplace

Installing your electric fireplace the safe way

  • Can you use extension cords? The short answer is yes, but at your own risk. Many manufacturer’s manual advise against it because electric fireplace tends to draw a huge amount of power from the socket. A typical unit would run on 120v standard outlet and 1500 watt per hour. That’s 300 watts away from the maximum 1800 watt per hour could handle. (Though you might have a 2400 watt outlet if you are lucky). So any other appliance that are sharing it will be at risk of tripping the circuit or at worst, cause fire. However, if you must, some manufacturer do recommend using a heavy duty extension cord for your unit.
  • The cable or cord of the unit should never be run under a carpet, curtains, furniture or other appliances. As much as we want to hide the ugly wiring of your electric fireplace. Never cover it under runners, throw rugs and similar materials. Instead, you can check out how to hide the wires here.
  • Avoid having your electric cord must pass in high traffic areas of your home to avoid someone tripping over the cord
  • If you notice your electrical cords are damaged, do not ignore and continue to operate it. Make sure to get it changed before turning it on again
  • If you decided to go with a free standing model, keep in mind that it should not sit above a carpet or any flammable objects, the vents can get quite hot even though the fire screen is not hot to touch. If you have a wood flooring, make sure it is solid wood and it will not deteriorate by heat easily
  • As mentioned earlier, the vents can get quite hot during operation. Generally most heater unit has 2 vents, one is to take in the cold air from the room and the other is to release the hot air. Make sure you don’t have anything within 1 meter that might block the air flow. Don’t have anything flammable such as fabric or documents that sits too near.Do not put your wet clothes near the vent to dry them either, it will damage your device if the airflow gets clogged up
  • Check where does the heating vent sits on your fireplace unit. Some are designed to release hot air through the side and bottom near the trim while others will release hot air upwards as well. If you have a unit that shoots hot air upwards, do not install any electronics such as TV above your fireplace
  • Electric fireplace may produce spark, so never operate electric fireplace near areas where flammable liquids, gasoline or paints are stored or being used and in places where flammable vapors are present (such as the kitchen, if you have a gasoline stove)
  • Electric heaters should not be installed in places that are wet, such as bathroom or kitchen. Do not install your unit where it may accidentally drop into bathtub or water containers. Electric and water doesn’t go well so make sure you don’t do that and electrocute yourself
  • Never leave the fireplace operating and leaving it unattended. Such as going to sleep or leaving it on overnight

Other standard guidelines provided by manufacturers

  • Always keep the unit unplugged when not in use
  • Ensure that you turn off the firebox and remove the plug from the socket or outlet before disconnecting the fireplace.
  • Ensure that the connected outlets are properly grounded before connecting
  • Unless stated otherwise, most electric fireplaces are for indoor use only, never use the unit outdoors or expose it to the weather.
  • When transporting the unit, lift it from the firebox. The glass are fragile so don’t carry it by the glass. Do not impact or strike the glass panel either

Electric fireplace safety for kids & pets

They are generally safe. Especially when it does not produce real flame and the glass display are safe to touch. In fact they are considered the safest option compared to other fireplaces. But precaution needs to be taken as well just in case of accidents

  • Talk and teach your kids the general electrical safety guideline, basically they should learn to treat and electric fireplace like how they treat an oven. Avoid going too near the heat vents, handle liquid with care when walking near a fireplace, do not knock the glass panel etc. For younger children who may not understand your instruction, consider adding a fireplace screen in front of the unit to prevent any accident
  • For pets. Never allow them to go near the fireplace. Pets, especially cats love warm places during colder days. One way to avoid your beloved fluffy friend getting near the unit is to limit its ‘wandering zone’ from it. If you install your unit in the living room, only allow your pets to be at the living room when you are around and stop them from getting near the vent. Put your pet’s bed far away from the area you have installed unit, since pets are a fan of hot places. You may consider to invest in an electric blanket/heating pad for your pet. That way they would want to stick to their bed instead of going near the fireplace

Safety features to look for when shopping for electric fireplace

  • Safety standard certified – The unit that you purchase should be Underwriters Laboratories certified and/or CSA Certified. They are the electrical appliance quality control body that test and certify products to ensure they are safe for consumers according to the electrical codes of US and Canada
  • Auto shut-off timer – Many customers ask if electric fireplace are safe to be left operating overnight, while it shouldn’t post a major risk but it is also a good practice to try not leave any electric appliance unattended. Some manufacturer recognizes this problem and introduced an auto shutdown timer feature for fireplace. You may set the number of hours you would like to keep it on and it will shut down on itself
  • Temperature limit detector – Choose models that has a temperature detector. When the room reaches a desired temperature, the heater will automatically turn off but leave the fireplace display open. This is not only a very good safety feature but also a good way keep your energy bill low

In summary, electric fireplace is safe as long as you follow the electrical safety guideline. In this article we also illustrated a variety do’s & don’ts and recommended steps instead to mitigate any risk involved. Safety concern should never stop you from opting for an electric fireplace instead of gas or wood fireplaces as they have proven to be a much safer alternatives compare to the former

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