Electric Fireplace vs. Space Heater: Differences & Pros + Cons

Electric fireplaces are typically more expensive to purchase and install than space heaters, but are generally more powerful, more aesthetically pleasing and safe to use than a free-standing space heater unit.

The decision really depends on what your needs are- a space heater is a quick, portable way to heat up a room, while an electric fireplace has more installation options- it can be freestanding or even wall mounted.

The decision between an electric fireplace and a space heater will come down to cost and convenience.

If you want to make your living room feel warm, cozy, and romantic then the electric fireplace would be perfect for you (though you won’t be roasting any chestnuts on an electric unit). But if you are looking for a quick way to heat up small rooms in your house then I would suggest investing in a space heater instead. Below, I’ll take a deeper dive into some considerations.

Making The Decision

Electric Fireplaces

An electric fireplace, depending on the type you choose, can be a portable appliance that combines the look of a fireplace. It has an electric heater that converts electricity into heat and displays flames effects. However, the flame effects mimic the real flame from firewood with its cracking sound, but it doesn’t generate heat, fumes, and smoke.

Instead, it has a blower at the back of the compartment that sucks in air and forces it over a conventional fan-forced heating system. The heating system is located at the front of the unit. When the air is drawn over the heating system, the warm air is blown back out of the front unit of the electric fireplace to make the surroundings warm.

The conventional fan-forced heating system is concealed in a built-in aesthetic fireplace surround unit 4-5 feet wide with an LED screen.

The significance of concealing the heating system is to keep the heat source away from anything flammable in case they are closer or in contact with the hot surface. In addition, the electric fireplace also incorporates a thermostat that allows you to either set the heat high or low to change how hot air comes out of the electric fireplace.

Space Heaters

Like an electric fireplace, space heat also supplements clean heat without smoke and fumes, but it does not produce a flame.

However, the space heater works similarly to the electric fireplace functions. The only difference is that instead of a conventional fan-forced heating system, it uses a grill as a heating system with a fan blower located behind the grill. This is to allow the fan to draw in cooler air from the back of the space heater and force it over the heating grill.

Because of technological advancement and safety concerns, the latest generation space heaters are preferable to old ones, which only incorporate high and low heat modes. Moreover, they also become hotter with time. The latest generation features an auto shut-off mechanism, overheating protection, timers, programmable thermostats, adjustable and tip-over protection.

Comparing Them

Electric fireplace

Despite the latest generation space heaters incorporating advanced features, still, electric fireplaces are much safer and convenient for heating homes. Here are the top reasons why you should opt for the electric fireplace. They include:


The electric fireplace units are stylish and architectural, making them easy to match with the living room space. Provided you choose the right size, shape, color, and design, the electric fireplace will create a fashion-forward focal point with coziness and ambiance to your living space combined with the furniture.


Installing the electric fireplace is much more flexible and cost-effective than the wood fireplace because the fireplace comes with an already built-in unit. Therefore, it eliminates the cost of building the unit and employing experts or specialists required for maintenance or installation.

Instead, you can simply install beneath an existing mantel, or install into any wall, plugin and supplement the heat in your living space. Some models even feature in low-maintenance operation with a built-in thermostat, which adjusts the heat levels automatically.

Nonetheless, they offer more heat because 99% of the electricity is converted into heat directly, which is more efficient than the space heater that can have you huddled close when the temperatures drop significantly.

Convenience & Durability

Electric Fireplace Inserts + Logs

Besides having flexible and straightforward installation and little maintenance, the electric fireplace is convenient for service and user ability. Since no actual flames are being produced and no parts that are open to moisture, degradation, and corrosion are non-existent, making it have a longer lifespan.

Unlike the space heater, which is open to the air, the possibilities of coming into contact with moisture are high; therefore, corrosion and degradation are much faster. Furthermore, most units come with a remote control to allow you to switch on and off, control temperature modes, and generate flame effects without turning on the heating element at the convenience of your comfort while seated.


Make Sure Your Kids Know the Rules About the Fireplace

The electric fireplace does not pose a safety hazard to your kids, pets, and even furniture or asset. This is because it is concealed in a 4-5ft—a built-in unit that breaks close contact with anything flammable from starting a fire. Secondly, since the flame is fake or not real, they are generally friendly to touch with bare skin and the risks of smoke and suffocation.

Lastly, it operates on a low-temperature setting meaning risks of overheating and the air becoming extremely overheated is eliminated and less likely to be misused.

Contrarily, space heaters pose high risks of fire hazards and may result in burns and injuries, especially for kids and pets, because they can bump into it or trip over the power cord. More to the point, the heating system is openly exposed and can easily overheat over time. Meaning, anything flammable closer to the space heater can spark an accidental fire and be easily misused.

In Summary

Traditional fireplaces and wood stoves supplement heat for many homes. But the downside of using them is that they increase risks of respiratory infection and suffocation because they produce toxins, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. Nonetheless, the flame and heat pose risks of a fire hazard if not well-managed.

For that reason, many homes have opted for electric fireplaces and electric space heaters to supplement clean heat and mitigate fire hazards that are common from using the traditional fireplace. Which one would you settle for in terms of safety between the electric fireplace and electric space heater? If you live in an apartment or home without a fireplace, this is the next best thing.

Comparing the electric fireplaces are undoubtedly safer and convenient for many homes than the space heaters. The built-in unit, absence of real flame, smoke, or particulates, and low heat maintenance provides maximum safety as it eliminates risks of fire hazard. Despite being advanced features, the space heaters do not employ safety features incorporated in the electric fireplace to mitigate fire, injuries, and burn risks. The verdict is that the electric fireplace WINS!

Don’t forget safety begins with you; therefore, employ safety measures, install an electric fireplace and space heater in a safe place out of bounding from kids and pets and use correct power cables.

Eugene Duke Pic

Hi, my name’s Eugene Duke and I love sitting by my fireplace reading a book and sipping on an adult beverage. Do you have a fireplace in your house? I’ll help you figure out the best type and style of fireplace for your home.


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