Electric Fireplace Vs Central Heat: Which One Is More Efficient?

When it’s cold and miserable outside, no place is better than a warm and comfortable home. Warm homes come with a price, especially since heating and hot water generate the majority of your energy bill. 

Electric Fireplace Vs Central Heat: which one is more efficient to install? Where should you invest your money? Basically, your home is safe with both options. However, central heating is obvious because it can heat your whole house simultaneously. Alternatively, electric fireplaces can be helpful for zone heating. Electric fireplaces heat just one small corner of your home at a time.

In this post, I’ll explain the differences between Electric Fireplace and Central Heat. Analyze the pros & cons of both to determine which one is more cost-effective for your sweet home.

Comparison Chart: Electric Fireplace Vs Central Heat

I have provided a table below for your better understanding. Here you can see both Central Heat and Electric Fireplace briefly. If you have a short time, I hope you might find this table helpful.

ParametersElectric FireplaceCentral Heat
Energy EfficientLED technology makes modern electric fireplaces energy efficientElectricity-powered central heaters are always 100% efficient
Cost EfficientLowerQuite higher
LifespanLast up to 20 yearsLast up to 20-25 years
Suitable ForDesigned to work with low voltageDesigned to work with lower voltage to higher voltage
InstallationThe average installation cost of $2,500 to $10,000The average installation cost of $4,800 to $14,000
MaintenanceEasyQuite tricky
Eco-FriendlinessYesYes
SafetyElectric fireplaces can produce unsafe airModern central heat system generates carbon monoxide 
Heating EfficiencyLess efficient compared to central heat Higher efficiency compared to electric fireplace 
Temperature ControlEasily adjustable using a thermostat to suit your preferencesEasily adjustable using a thermostat to suit your preferences

In-Depth Discussion Of The Comparison – Electric Fireplace Vs. Central Heat

Whenever you intend to reduce your heating budget, you should choose the most energy-efficient heating option. But which is the better option, an electric fireplace or electric central heat? The following is a deeper look at them.

Energy Efficient

Every year, electric fireplaces are becoming more and more energy efficient. The latest models incorporate LED technology, which provides more efficient ambient lighting and ambience.

In comparison, a conventional fireplace wastes almost 90% of the energy or warmth entering the chimney. The heated air also escapes the room.

However, LED technology makes modern electric fireplaces energy efficient. This is because it does not require ventilation, so the environment loses relatively little heat.

A central heating system that is electrically powered is extremely efficient when it comes to converting power into heat.

The truth is that electricity-powered heaters are always 100% efficient. Central heating powered by gas is less efficient compared to this, typically around 90% efficient.

A good time to turn on the central heat is about 30 minutes before you wake up. You should do this about 30 minutes before going to bed. Make sure the programmer is set to turn off for the entire day if the house is empty.

Cost Efficient

Electric fireplaces typically consume nearly 1500 watts of power. When it’s used only for decorative purposes, you can expect to pay between $0.003 and $0.03 every hour.

Despite this, when you include the heating unit, a medium setting will cost about $0.09 per hour. At the maximum setting, this equals $0.18 per hour also. This may cost you between $50 and $80 per year on average. Assume you won’t use it all year long or during every season.

In the USA, a 2,000W central heater costs $0.26 per hour to run. Therefore, a 2,000W heater running 24 hours per day would cost $6.24.

Typically, people use heaters between 8 to 10 hours every day. Monthly, that amounts to 240 operating hours. Let’s examine both cases’ electricity expenditures.

  • Keeping a 1500W heater operating 24 hours a day for the entire month will cost $0.1319 per kWh 720h / 1,000 = $142.45 monthly.
  • Keeping a 1500W heater operating 8 hours a day for the entire month will cost $0.1319 per kWh 240h / 1,000 = $47.48 monthly.

Lifespan

The lifespan of an electric fireplace can be as long as 20 years. It is recommended to replace light bulbs every 2 years.

Overstretched or tightly twisted power cords may reduce your electric fireplace’s lifespan, while regular maintenance can extend it. Considering a fireplace’s warranty will help you determine its lifespan and quality as well.

A central heating system requires a substantial investment, so it’s only logical to utilize it to the maximum extent possible. As a general rule, an Electric Central Heat HVAC system should last between 15 to 25 years.

However, depending on how the system is configured and further factors, the estimate can vary widely.

Compatibility

The smart Electric Fireplace is designed to work with low-voltage HVAC systems (24 V). Electric fireplaces with recessed openings provide a built-in, personalized look desirable for homeowners with suitable space.

It is possible to install a wall-mounted electric fireplace on almost any wall, just as you would a flat-screen television. Afterwards, the built-in insert can be installed into an existing fireplace or into a wall.

When an electric central heating system is low-voltage, it can be controlled using any thermostat. If you have a high-voltage system, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or contact them for assistance.

In addition to programmable room thermostats, advanced controls allow the boiler to operate more efficiently throughout its operational hours.

Eco-Friendliness

With electric fireplaces, combustion is not involved. Therefore, harmful emissions are not produced in the air either inside or outside the home.

Burning wood and gas releases carbon monoxide (CO), which is particularly harmful. Compared to other types of fireplaces, electric fireplaces are more environmentally friendly. 

However, central heating systems that are eco-friendly heat your house and water without harming the environment, primarily through emissions.

There are many sources of residential greenhouse gas production, notably boilers, which release Carbon Dioxide (CO2) as well as Nitrogen Oxide (NO & NO2). You can rest assured that electric central heat heating is completely eco-friendly.

Installation

The cost of installing an electric fireplace varies from $2,500 to $10,000 on average, which includes materials and labor.

In the case of custom installations, you usually install the unit on your wall or construct a wall for it. Typically, room dividers are installed in this manner.

Compared to installing a chimney fireplace or a wood-burning heater, this is much less expensive.

Central heating installation costs more than electric fireplaces. Furnace installations cost an average of $4,820 to $9,350 nationwide.

A renovation and opening of walls, ceilings, attics, & crawl spaces will range between $10,000 to $14,000.

Basically, central heating installation costs also include labor fees, removal, ductwork, disposal, & any upgrades.

Maintenance

When your electric fireplace isn’t maintained properly, you may end up paying more for your energy bills.

According to the US Department of Energy, if you see any heating or cooling problems, you should repair or maintain your fireplace.

The majority of electric fireplace heat is lost through the chimney, never affecting you. The rate of heat loss is estimated at 80-90%.

In addition, central heating systems need constant maintenance, not just a boiler service every year. There isn’t much you need to do here; just a few simple repairs will keep your heater running throughout the year and prevent final damage.

It is simple & affordable to insulate the pipes, so your house will remain warm even in the winter. Keeping your central heating safe is essential, whether it is above or below the recommended level.

Safety

In general, you should never leave a burning fireplace. Electric fireplaces can provide excellent warmth for short periods of time.

However, you should not turn off your heater & leave your fire unattended overnight. Because of this, your entire home will be heated by a large fire. In addition, fireplaces can produce unsafe air.

The majority of smoke escapes out of the chimney, but some smoke, ash, & carbon dioxide may still enter the lungs.

In modern central heaters, the risk of injury to people is minimal. With gas heaters, the main concern is carbon monoxide, a poisonous byproduct of gas combustion.

People with sinus infections, central heating can dry out their sinuses, resulting in worsening symptoms. Doctors say sleeping with the heater on will cause us to overheat more quickly, creating a troubled night’s sleep.

Heating Efficiency

Fireplaces are less efficient compared to central heat in keeping homes warm. It is not advisable to use your electric fireplace as your primary source of heat.

Fireplaces lose a lot of heat, while furnaces circulate air more efficiently and produce more heat. As a result, fireplaces generally increase house temperature by only 15 to 25 degrees, which is insufficient for colder areas.

Basically, an electric fireplace heats an immediate area but lacks proper heat distribution as it does not include ductwork.

The main electrical supply powers central heaters, which are highly efficient at converting energy into warmth.

A central heat system is powered by electricity, and efficiency ranges from 89% to 94% as well. The fact is electric central heat heaters have a 100% efficiency rating.

In general, gas-powered central heating systems are not as efficient as this, but most operate at roughly 90% efficiency.

Temperature Control

On average, most homes will be comfortable between 19 to 21 degrees celsius. Bedroom thermostat temperatures should be set lower than those of other rooms in the house, usually by 2 degrees celsius. For most people, this will guarantee peaceful sleeping conditions.

An electric fireplace can be adjusted using a thermostat. This allows you to easily maintain a comfortable room temperature without accidentally overheating or underheating the surrounding area.

Using a central heat heating system, you can control the temperature in your house. According to your personal needs, the thermostat can be set to the temperature you prefer.

During the winter season, set your thermostat as high as 20-21°C (68-72° F). Set the bedroom temperature at approximately 17-19°C (62-60° F) at night; you will save money, energy, and your health by doing so.

What Are The Benefits & Drawbacks of Electric Fireplaces?

Electric Fireplace Vs Central Heat

In the following section, I will examine some advantages and disadvantages of electric fireplaces. In order to make a sound decision regarding one, you must understand how it works.

Benefits

Electric fireplaces provide a wide range of benefits. I have summarized some of these points here.

There Is No Smoke

An electric fireplace doesn’t require ventilation and cleaning. Electric fireplaces are safe to use even when you’re sleeping since they don’t cause suffocation or fires.

It’s Extremely Energy-Efficient

In addition to being highly energy efficient, electric fireplaces use very little electricity. Heating a single room is far more efficient than using an amish heater or space heater.

Affordability

The electric fireplace is really cost-effective than gas-powered, oil-powered and other types of heating systems. It produces a very low electricity bill. If you need to heat a small area at an affordable price, you should go with an electric fireplace.

It Requires Low Maintenance

No chimney is needed, no cleanup is required either, and the maintenance level is also minimal. In fact, getting the fireplace started requires no effort at all. Warmth is just a flick of the switch away.

Easy Installation

Electric fireplace heaters are easy to set up, which makes them a great choice. The process is literally one step. Simply plug in your fireplace, turn it on, & start enjoying the warmth.

Drawbacks

Before you decide whether or not to install an electric fireplace, you should consider a few of its drawbacks.

Safety Issues

A major danger of electric fireplaces is that they can draw a lot of power. Hence, to ensure safety, make sure the cables for the electric fireplace are wired separately.

Powerless Heating

No one can deny that electric fireplaces are extremely efficient heating devices, but they cannot produce heat without electricity. In contrast, conventional fireplaces never have this problem. 

What Are The Benefits & Drawbacks of Central Heat?

Here, I will also provide some advantages and disadvantages of central heat. In order to make a sound decision regarding one, you must understand how it works.

Benefits

Electric central heat offers a wide range of advantages as well. I have summarized some of these points here.

Long Life Expectancy

Central heat heating system has a long life span, making them an excellent choice for purchasing. When using it properly, it is also cost-effective when compared with other distributed systems in well-insulated homes and businesses.

Suitable For Warming Large Areas

A major benefit of central heat is that it generates heat throughout the house. Compared to many other heating systems, it can heat a larger area efficiently.

Comfortable

Central heating gives an enveloping warm feeling unlike any other form of heating. With this method of heating, the entire house is heated evenly, making it possible to enjoy your home all year long. Consequently, it can reduce your energy bills simultaneously with increasing your home’s comfort level.

High-End Systems

Using central heat heating units also has the benefit that high-end models are energy-efficient. The unit can produce 2 or more types of heat, such as hot water tanks, furnaces, & air conditioners. Centrally installed energy-efficient furnaces can be more effective than individual ones. 

Safety

Another advantage of central heat heating (or thermal output units) is that their safety features include a thermostat, and an auto-shutoff switch. Not only that, it has a switch for manual power off in an emergency. 

Drawbacks

Before you decide whether or not to install central heat, you should consider a few of its drawbacks.

Complex Maintenance

Traditional central heat heating systems have the drawback of being more difficult to maintain and repair as well. In addition to being complex to repair, it will also cost a lot of money.

The Price Is Higher

The cost of central heat is higher than an electric one, and you must install ductwork inside your walls. Due to its expensive cost, most homeowners cannot afford to heat their homes with it. Also, these systems can be noisy sometimes.

Electric Fireplace Vs Central Heat: Which Is More Energy Efficient?

So, which one is more energy efficient between Electric Fireplace Vs Central Heat? 

Basically, electric fireplaces are an energy-efficient option. Although they consume a lot of power, they are considered energy-efficient. 

Hence, 99% of electricity is converted into heat via electric fireplaces. A central heater is also very efficient at converting electrical power into heat. In the United States, central heating is the most popular method of heating a home.

A practical recommendation is to install central heating if you would like to heat your entire house, and if you would like to heat one room only, you should use an electric fireplace. 

However, if you don’t already have a heating system & plan to add one, be aware that installing central heating is more costly than installing a fireplace. Then, compared to central heating, electric fireplaces heat a space more quickly. When you want to warm up a small space quickly, an electric fireplace may be a better choice.

FAQs

Does an electric fireplace use a lot of electricity?

An electric fireplace uses approximately a similar amount of electricity as an average heater. Due to the fact that most fireplaces are powered by a typical household outlet, the internal heater is powered with 120 volts. Additionally, they consume 1,500 watts with 12.5 amps. Even though electric fireplaces can heat rooms up to 400-square meters, their temperature remains cool. 

Is it cheaper to run a central heat?

Obviously yes. In comparison with using multiple space heaters, an electric central heat heating system offers lower heating costs. Even so, to achieve maximum efficiency & save money, alternatives should not be explored. Whether you have an oil, gas or LPG (liquid petroleum gas) centralized heating system, those are always more affordable to set up. 

Is it good to have an electric fireplace?

Electric fireplaces are an efficient way of heating a house and produce more heat as compared to wood-burning fireplaces. Because heat rises, chimney fireplaces exhaust all their heat through their chimney. Fireplaces are a luxury that most of us can only dream of having in our homes. In comparison to natural gas and wood-burning fireplaces, electric fireplaces cost less to install and operate.

What is the largest area an electric fireplace can heat?

Normally, an electric fireplace can heat areas of 400 square feet only. It is true that some models can do more & others can do less; however, 400 sq ft is usually the safest bet. A typical heater emits 5,000 BTUs of heat. Most electric fireplaces are capable of heating small to medium-sized rooms of about 400 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft.

Final Words

As I explained earlier, electric fireplaces can only heat a limited amount of space. It is possible to heat 1,000 square feet of space with the more powerful models.

In other words, if you need to warm your entire 3,000 or more square foot home, you won’t be able to use an electric fireplace. A central heating system will warm your room, as well as larger areas, if needed. 

Finally, compared to fireplaces, central heat has a greater heat output due to lower heat loss and better air circulation. Fortunately, fireplaces and central heating can be used together to minimize energy loss, maintain an even temperature throughout the house, and ensure the safety of your family.

Now, you have got the crystal clear answer which one you should install between Electric Fireplace Vs Central Heat. You should go with your preferred one in order to keep warm in the cold winter months.

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