In short, you can essentially run an electric fireplace for as long as you wish. This is providing that you don’t leave the fireplace unattended at any point and that you’re always following the manufacturer’s safety guidelines. In theory, you can safely run an electric fireplace indefinitely within reason. Unlike traditional fireplaces, there isn’t really any limit to how long your electric fireplace can run once you turn it on; all it needs is a constant supply of electricity, either from an electrical outlet or your home’s hardwired electrics.
Where traditional types of fireplaces use solid fuel, such as gas or firewood, electric fireplaces produce their ‘fire’ using electricity. Instead of real fuel that produces real fire, electric fireplaces use electricity to create the illusion of heat and flames. They do so using two key components; the LED-lit flame effect and the fireplaces’ internal heater.
To first look at the safety of flames on an electric fireplace, the flames aren’t a real fire; this is merely an illusion that the fireplace creates by reflecting light onto the back of a screen. Secondly, the heat that an electric fireplace is also somewhat of an illusion, as it comes from an internal heater rather than from an actual fire. Both of these effects are created entirely by the electrical components inside the fireplace.
How is an Electric Fireplace Safer for Long Periods of Usage?
Due to the nature of their internal components, electric fireplaces are generally much safer to use than traditional fireplaces. They produce no real flame or fire, and therefore require no fuel to run other than a consistent electrical supply.
Safety of Flames
As the flames aren’t real, there is no possibility of the fire spreading if the fire is left on for a long time. There are also no concerns with having to maintain the fire by constantly restocking it with fuel. Being simply a trick of the light, the flames on an electric fireplace are therefore completely safe for long-term usage.
Safety of Heating Element
With the heating element of the fireplace, on the other hand, more care must be taken if using the fireplace for an extended period. The heater inside an electric fireplace warms up a room by working similarly to a space heater. Typically, electric fireplaces use either a fan-forced heater or an infrared heater to generate this heat. Fan-forced heaters use a blower to channel cool air over a heating element, before blowing the warmed air back out into the room. Infrared heaters instead use infrared technology to radiate heat into a room; they are more effective at heating larger areas but tend to be more expensive than fan-forced models.
Both of these types of heating elements use a lot of power and may become very hot during operation, particularly if the fireplace is running on its highest settings. These elements can therefore become extremely hot if the fireplace you leave the fireplace to run for an extended period of time.
Other Safety Features of Electric Fireplaces
Another benefit afforded only by electric fireplaces over other traditional types is that many models come with built-in safety features. For instance, a lot of models feature an integrated thermostat that moderates the temperature of the fireplace’s heat output. When the fireplace reaches the desired room temperature, it uses this feature to shut itself off.
The electric fireplace will use its thermostat in this way to maintain a regular temperature in the room by shutting itself off and on. On top of this, many models have an automatic thermal shutoff feature; this is a specific safety feature that causes the fireplace to shut off automatically if it exceeds a safe temperature. This feature is obviously very handy if you plan on using the fireplace for prolonged periods of time.
Tips on Running Your Electric Fireplace for a Longer Time
While electric fireplaces are the safest type of fireplace for long usage, they are still an electrical appliance and should therefore be treated with care. Follow these key tips if you plan on running your electric fireplace for a longer period of time. Also, make sure to check the instruction manual for your particular fireplace model to find out if the manufacturer recommends a limited operation time.
1. Never Plug the Fireplace into an Extension Lead
When installing your fireplace, you have the option of hardwiring it into your home electrics or simply plugging it into the nearest available electrical outlet. The one thing you should never do when installing an electric fireplace is to plug it into any type of extension lead, surge protector, or power strip.
As we’ve explained, electric fireplaces run entirely on electricity. They require a constant electrical source and consistently draw in a significant amount of power during operation. Plugging your electric fireplace into an extension lead or similar power source puts your safety at risk due to this high power usage, especially if you plan on leaving the fireplace running for a long time. Therefore, always make sure you either plug your fireplace directly into a power outlet or hardwire it into your home’s electrics.
2. Place the Fireplace Somewhere Safe
The placement of your fireplace is also one of the most important aspects to consider for both short and long-term usage. Firstly, the fireplace must be placed onto a flat, hard surface; never place the fireplace onto a long pile carpet or similar surface, as this would be a definite fire hazard.
You’ll also need to place the fireplace somewhere that there is at least a 1-meter gap between the unit and all surrounding objects or walls. This ensures that there is enough room for the fireplace’s inlet and outlet blowers to take in and expel air safely. There always needs to be plenty of space around the fireplace for proper ventilation and air circulation.
3. Never Cover the Unit or Heater Outlet
Again, it’s essential that the fireplace has enough ventilation on all sides of the unit to run safely for any period of time. If the air inlet or outlet blowers get obstructed, the unit is at serious risk of overheating and becoming a fire hazard. This is why you should never cover any part of the unit for any reason, for example, by placing clothes or blankets on it.
4. Never Leave the Fireplace Unattended
The number one rule when using an electric fireplace for any amount of time is to never leave it unattended while it’s operating. Every time you leave the room, make sure that you switch the unit off, even if you’re only nipping out for a few minutes. If the unit malfunctions in any way while you aren’t monitoring it, you and your home are more at risk of being involved in a disastrous fire. Being able to spot any malfunction as soon as possible helps to greatly reduce this risk.
Using An Electric Fireplace for a Long Time: Conclusion
Electric fireplaces are generally the safest type of fireplace to run for long periods of time. However, they aren’t entirely without their safety concerns, and care must still be taken to ensure you don’t put you or your home at risk. The most important piece of safety advice with electric fireplaces is to never leave them switched on and unattended – otherwise, you can run your electric fireplace for as long as you wish.