Fireplace Safety: How Much Space Do You Need Around The Fireplace

Safety is  top priority when outfitting your home or business with an electric fireplace, or fireplace insert. In fact, safety is a big reason that so many families make the switch from a traditional wood burning fireplace to an electric fireplace or  a fireplace insert. Modern electric fireplaces are so much safer, cleaner, and more ecofriendly than their sooty counterparts, that the switch is an easy choice. However, the question about how much space do you need around a fireplace remains. At, we want our customers to feel informed about their purchases. We put together this guide to help you figure out how much space you’ll need around electric fireplaces, and more!

Wood burning VS. Electric Fireplaces

Traditional wood burning fireplaces are still the most common in homes, but they often go unused. Why? Live fire is messy and dangerous. Renters may not be able to use their fireplace due to leasing agreements. Flying sparks are a hazard, especially with pets and small children. Anything that sits near the fireplace, like décor, plants, furniture, and even the surrounding material must be made of noncombustible material, according to the National Fire Code.

According to the NFC, all combustible materials must be at least 6” away from the firebox. For every 1/8 inch of protruding combustible material, an additional inch of clearance must be accounted for. Combustible material must be at least 2” away from the exterior of the fireplace. The fireplace should be placed at least 36” from a wall that lacks protection. A noncombustible hearth extension, distinguishable from the floor around it, is standard. Usually the hearth extension is made of tile or brick. If your home is custom-built, your fireplace should adhere to all of this, as well. When decorating for the holidays, avoid dangling greenery over the fireplace, or placing fabric too close to the fire.

Electric fireplaces, on the other hand, need minimal clearance space. Obviously, you don’t want to drape blankets over your electric fireplace. The warm air can be drying and can spark static electricity. Good fire safety is imperative with any and all electric devices!

Before installing an electric fireplace, it’s a good ideal to test your outlets to make sure they’re powerful enough. Voltage requirements for electric fireplaces can be found in the owner’s manuals. Electric fireplace space requirements are about the same as any other piece of electric equipment. To measure for an electric fireplace, find the spot you’d like to place the unit. Next, measure the space with a standard tape measure. You will need to measure for height, length, and depth for your electric fireplace. Compare your measurements with the size of the unit you’d like to buy. Ensure there is at least a few inches of  room on each side for the warm air to flow.  Set up your electric fireplace and enjoy!

Fireplaces for Families

One of the many benefits of electric fireplaces is that these fireplaces are specially designed for use around children and pets. The realistic flames, controllable heat, and cozy warmth offer everything you want without the hassle of a live fire.  Electric fireplaces are ideal for family homes, apartments, and renters. The safety features of portable fireplaces give that extra peace of mind when furnishing your home.  Keep your furry friends and little ones safe by choosing an electric fireplace with cool touch glass. Other safety features to look for include timers, fan-forced heat, and optional heating.  As with standard wood burning fireplaces, it’s good fireplace safety to keep a grate in front of the “lit” fireplace to prevent any accidents. While not dangerous, the heat output from electric fireplaces can be too hot for babies’ delicate skin.

Fireplace Inserts

Fireplace inserts are another common solution for heating a home. Most fireplace inserts comprise of a heating component and a decorative element in one unit. Some fireplace inserts look a bit like a television screen, while others are 3Dimensional models.  The best thing about fireplace inserts is that there is no need for a pricey remodel or to deal with live fire.

To measure for a fireplace insert, first measure the length of the firebox from one end of the other. The firebox is where you would build a wood fire over a grate. Do not measure the mantle or outer portions. Next, measure the height of the firebox from the bottom to the flue opening. Last measurement you’ll need is the width of the firebox from the opening  to the back wall.  Fireplace inserts are an easy and efficient way to use your built-in fireplace.

Tape measure in hand, you’re ready to measure for your next electric fireplace! Let the soothing colors lull you to sleep, or keep the party going with an outdoor fireplace. Visit our full catalogue for décor ideas and inspiration to suit every style.

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