Can an Electric Fireplace Heat the Whole House?

I was hanging out at the local pub the other night when a friend of mine told me he was thinking about buying an electric fireplace for his home. Inevitably he asked me about their heating capabilities. Like many people, he was thinking about putting the unit into his bedroom, and using that as a main source of heat, and turn down, or already off, the heat in the rest of his place.

Now as you know, I’m a big, big fan of electric fireplaces. I love Dimplex and typical Flame fireplaces the most-with ChimneyFree fast becoming my ‘best value’ choice. But as a dominant source of heat in a home? Well, it’s a good question…but…so here are some facts….

To do this right, if you’re thinking of heating the whole house with an electric, then we should take a look at a associate of different sized models to see how they stack up. We’ll look at the typical Flame Augusta 33″ Antique Mahogany Electric Fireplace, a larger, high-end form, (pictured left) and the ChimneyFree Ashbury 23″ Premium Cherry Media Console Electric Fireplace, a beautiful, real cherry-wood, mid-sized, mid-market form, pictured right.

The ChimneyFree Ashbury has fan-forced heat with up to 4,600 BTUs/hr (1350 watts) of heating strength.  I don’t think I have to say anything more as I observe that the ChimneyFree sales materials state that this form “provides supplemental heat for up to 400 sq ft”, meaningful information being ‘supplemental. So, the manufacturer is not saying this should be a dominant heating source. As for a 400 square foot room, that’s a 20 x 20 space, so it’s not small-but remember-‘supplemental’.

As for the typical Flame Augusta, interestingly enough, the sales literature also says fan-forced heat quietly provides up to 4,600 BTUs/hr for ‘supplemental’ heat for up to 400 sq ft.

Frankly, sales people in the fireplace business don’t seem to have much imagination…

But I digress…the bottom line is that the makers of these fireplaces don’t already market them as a dominant heating source. And with good reason. Electricity is the most expensive way to heat a home. You have to figure you’ll use at the minimum 10 cents an hour for a unit, and that would be in one room. You nevertheless have to heat the rest of the house, at the minimum where I live in the northeast. So, 10 cents an hour, every hour, for a month, comes out to…hmmm….carry the 2…$72…not bad-except that it only heats one room…put one in every room and and your paying more than you already pay to the oil company…oh well…

The Electric Fireplace Reviewer’s final say: One large, one medium sized, but both with the same size heater. Fireplaces like the ChimneyFree Ashbury electric fireplace and the typical Flame August electric fireplace are furniture-beautiful and functional-but they just aren’t dominant heaters. nevertheless, they do provide enough warmth, and great ambiance, and, with such realistic flames and long, to make them worth every penny.

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