What Are The Differences Between an Electric Fireplace and Space Heater?

Electric fireplaces and space heaters may be similar in many ways, but each has their own share of differences. 

One might expect them to be one and the same due to the way that they heat space using electricity, without the need for a real fire. However, despite both operating in such a similar way, these two contraptions are very different appliances. Most of these differences are cosmetic based, whilst most of their similarities are based on how they work. 

Electric fireplaces and space heaters both produce heat in the same way. Their main differences lie in their uses and how they look.

Deciding whether an electric fireplace or a space heater is best for you depends on what, specifically, you’re looking for in terms of heating.

How do Space Heaters Work?

Space heaters work by producing heat without the use of a flame or fire. They do this solely through electricity, and are often used to heat rooms during cold snaps when radiators are not effective enough. Space heaters can work both indoors and outdoors providing there is an adequate source of power. They work by expelling hot air through a fan, which warms an area up by causing heat to rise and cool air to fall to the floor. They are especially effective in singular rooms or other enclosed spaces. 

How do Electric Fireplaces Work?

Electric fireplaces work similarly to space heaters, in that they produce heat electrically and use it to warm the air around them. They do this through a ventilation system that draws air inside the appliance, heats it up using a coil, and blows it back out. This creates a continuous flow of hot air being produced by the fireplace. As a result, electric fireplaces will mainly heat up the room in which they are set up in, and won’t have much reach. 

What is an Infrared Heater?

Whilst most electric fireplaces use an inbuilt fan system, some use infrared technology in order to heat the air around them. In these models, a quartz bulb is installed which creates infrared light to create heat. These types of fireplaces carry additional benefits, including instantaneous heat, less noise, and a larger heating area. 

Whilst fairly easy to find an infrared fireplace, it is slightly harder to find an infrared space heater. Infrared space heaters do exist and use the same technology that electric fireplaces do. They also come with the same added benefits that these fireplaces come with. The light from these appliances helps heat your skin up with its absorbent qualities, making it more effective at heating than a fan system. 

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Are Electric Fireplaces Space Heaters?

Electric fireplaces work in the same way that space heaters do, by using the same technology to heat the air through electricity. Even though they work in similar ways, there are still plenty of differences to distinguish the two. For instance, space heaters are often portable, or at least moveable. They can be set up outside or inside, providing there is an adequate power source. Some can rotate as they heat the area, allowing for more space to be heated. In addition to this, space heaters can be easily stored away when not in use. This could be a benefit or a disadvantage, however, depending on the amount of storage space you have.

Electric fireplaces, however, are built into their surroundings and are a permanent furniture fixture. There is also no need to put them into storage as they are built into a wall and take up no space. In addition to this, electric fireplaces are also aesthetically pleasing, offering various designs, colours and customisable options such as mood lighting. Depending on the type and model, some are also more effective at heating space than space heaters are. 

Are Electric Fireplaces Safer than Space Heaters? 

Any source of heat in the home may become a safety concern, especially if it is needed to run for multiple hours a day. With that being said, electric fireplaces are generally safer than space heaters due to their robust nature and their installation process. 

Space heaters are often left in open areas, meaning that their sockets and cables are visible and more open to damage or interactions that could lead to an unwanted situation such as burns or even fire damage. 

Even though the chances are extremely low for a space heater to cause any damage to its surroundings or an individual who gets too close, electric fireplaces are considered to be safer due to their installation process which involves ensuring that cables are hidden and unable to be interfered with.

When using any heat source in a room, make sure that you follow its instructions and installation process carefully. Ensure that nothing is draped over the heat source, such as clothing, and make sure that it is not directly behind or next to an object, especially one that is flammable. Also be aware of the space around the heat source, making sure that people do not get too close. If you are not in the room, turn the heat source off. Both space heaters and electric fires should be used under supervision to ensure that no accidents occur. 

Should I get an Electric Fireplace or a Space Heater?

Despite their similarities, the installation process between electric fireplaces and space heaters is both incredibly different. Some people choose to have their electric fireplaces installed in media walls or on chimney breasts, and they are intended to remain as permanent fixtures in the room. Unlike space heaters, it can be jarring to have more than one electric fireplace in a single room. Due to the looks, aesthetics and applications of an electric fireplace, they’re also more expensive than space heaters. On the other hand, space heaters are cheaper, easily moved from one place to another, are easy to install and can be put away when not in use. Space heaters are often a temporary resolution to a heating issue, due to the space they take up and the way that they look. Space heaters can also prove to be somewhat more dangerous, especially if you have young children or animals who may get uncomfortably close to them. In addition to this, space heaters also should be stored in a safe space when not in use. This could become an issue if you have little storage options or don’t like taking much storage space up.

Final Thoughts

Whilst electric fireplaces and space heaters work in similar ways, their functionality and practicality are vastly different, and they are often used for different purposes around the house. Their installation is also different, and space heaters are often chosen as a more short term solution due to their design. Electric fireplaces are designed to evoke the look and feel of a traditional fireplace, and look aesthetically pleasing whilst remaining practical and functional. They take up little space once installed and look great on a media wall or other feature wall. Electric heating is oftentimes more eco friendly due to its reliance on electricity, and can substantially heat a room or home if installed and applied correctly.