Do Electric Fireplaces Get Hot to Touch? (Main Heating Techniques)

There is only one part of an electric fireplace that gets hot and this is the area around the air outlet. The backside only gets warm. But the remaining parts never get warm or hot. This includes the screen where you always see the flame effect. The flame is not real hence the screen cannot get hot. The rest of the body will also not get hot. 

To understand why only one part gets hot, you have to know how an electric fireplace works. There are two basic techniques that an electric fireplace can use. These are the fan-heater technique and infrared technique. This article is going to focus on these two techniques and how they warm up your room. 

Fan-Heater Technique 

Most electric fireplaces use this technique. It works the same way a traditional stove fireplace works. The hot coal in the stove warms the air around it. In an electric fireplace, we have a metallic coil and a rotating fan. Electric current passes through the metallic coil making it hot. Then the rotating fan draws in cold air and blows it over the hot coil. 

Then the air also gets hot and is gently pushed back out into your room. As simple as that and your room is warm. There are settings that control the temperature of the coil and the speed of the rotating fan. This is why the outlet area is the only place that gets hot on an electric fireplace. The back gets warm because of some heat from the hot metallic coil. 

Infrared Technique 

This is a very different technique. Some call it the “artificial sun”. In this technique, the electric fireplace directly heats up an object. Invisible long wave and short wave rays are released and move in the air to heat any object in their path. These light rays travel in a straight line hence for the optimal experience, you have to be in their path. These rays are not harmful to human health. 

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In this technique, also the area where the rays of light are released is always hot. So avoid touching that area. Most manufacturers prefer the fan heater technique because it is convenient to most consumers. 

How the Flame Effect is generated 

Here also there are two techniques that can be used to generate the flame effect. These are a series of rotating mirrors and a video on the screen. 

  • The rotating mirrors technique 

This technique offers the best illusion of flames. Plastic logs are arranged behind the rotating mirrors. And there are small LED bulbs that shine the light onto the mirrors. As the mirrors rotate they reflect the light on the plastic logs making it appear like wood is burning. Water mist is used to create the smoke illusion. 

You can change the orientation of the mirrors if you want a different flicker of flame. You and also change the colors of the LED bulbs if you want different colors of the flame. You can increase the speed of the rotating mirrors if you want more random flickers of the flame. 

  • The video on the screen technique 

This is a simple lazy technique whereby an electric fireplace has an in-built TV screen. The TV screen simply displays a video of flames of fire. With this technique, it is easy for someone to notice that the flames are not real. But it has more sound effects and more flame styles and colors. You can even record your own audio and incorporate it in the fireplace. 

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Maintenance and Care Tips for an Electric Fireplace 

  1. Cleaning 

If you want your electric fireplace to be with you for many years then clean it. Cleaning starts from the exterior to the interior. Dust off the exterior body with a hairdryer. Then use ethanol/alcohol and a piece of cloth to wipe the body and the glass screen. Avoid using water because it can cause rust and electrocution. 

Once you are done cleaning the exterior, open up the front glass screen and wipe the interior side. When you open up the front glass you will also see the light bulbs and plastic logs. Wipe them also with ethanol. If some of the bulbs are not working you can change them. Now the front interior part is clean, close it up and move to the back. 

Open the back metallic cover and you will see a fan and a metallic coil. Here only use the hairdryer to remove the dust. Make sure you clean the air inlet area and air outlet area. If these two parts are blocked with dust the electric fireplace can overheat. 

  1. Electric inspection 

Do regular electric inspections on your electric fireplace. Always check if the plug-in socket is in good condition, replace it if you see anything wrong. Also, check the plug-in cable, cover up any exposed wires. The plug-in cables of mobile fireplaces are the ones vulnerable to scratches and cuts. 

  1. Unplug when not in use 

Always switch off the socket and unplug the cable when the fireplace is not in use. Doing so prevents accidents especially with remote-controlled fireplaces. This also prevents the thermostat from automatically switching on the fireplace. 

  1. Good clearance distance 
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People always give clearance to the air outlet area forgetting the air inlet area also requires space. Do not block the air inlet area because it will force the fan to draw in the already hot air which in turn will overheat the fireplace. Make sure the air inlet area is away from the walls and off the floor. 

  1. Call a professional to repair 

An electric fireplace is a machine and all machines at some point break down. When this happens to you, please call an electrician to repair it. Self-repair can cause more damage to the fireplace. Only do it if you are an electrician. 


Of course, it is a weird question, but the air outlet area is the only part of an electric fireplace that gets hot to touch. The back metallic cover only gets warm and you can touch it. The rest of the body remains constant. Remember to give a good clearance around the air inlet area and outlet area to avoid overheating. 

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