How Electric Fireplaces Produce Heat

Summary:

Electric fireplaces are becoming a common appliance in many households. For many purchasers, they do not understand how the electric fireplace works. This study aims to provide a step by step description of how electric fireplaces produce heat. In particular, this study looks at how electric fireplaces heat with heating coils [3]. There have been patents and studies that describe the heating process in detail, but this study is designed to inform owners and potential purchasers of the heating process. Purchasers may be looking to understand and be comfortable with the process of their product, or they may be looking to diagnose a problem if a component is broken. This is not a comprehensive description, rather a general overview. This study will look at the three major steps involved with electric fireplace heating: initial air intake, transferring the air from low to high pressure and converting the cool air into warm air. Providing a key step by step process will help readers understand how an electric fireplace works.

Table of Contents

Summary

List of Figures

Introduction

Heating process of electric fireplaces:

Conclusion

References

List of Figures

Heating process of electric fireplaces:

1. Initial air intake to the fireplace

Figure 1. 1: Placement of back vent

Figure 1. 2: Placement of back and front vents

2. Moving from an area of low pressure to high pressure

Figure 2. 1: Moving air from low pressure to high pressure

3. Converting cool air to hot air

Figure 3. 1: Converting cool air to warm air

Introduction:

With growing demands in electric fireplaces, purchasers may be looking to understand the process in which their product works. This study’s aim is to provide a step by step general analysis on the heating process of electric fireplaces. Specifically, it looks at the most common kind of electric fireplaces, those with heating coils. There have been previous in-depth studies on the heating process of electric fireplaces, but none that speaks to and reaches general purchasers. This study will describe and provide visuals of the heating process in a three-step approach. Since this is a general overview, this study lacks specific details regarding the product parts—including detailed information on how the process of individual parts work, a list of materials, and specific brands of fireplaces. The first step looks at how cool air is taken into the fireplace. The second step looks at how that cool air is transferred into warm air. The final step looks at how that warm air is dispersed to the house/room.

Heating process of electric fireplaces:

1. Initial air intake to the fireplace

The first step of the heating process is getting airflow into the electric fireplace. Most often, vents are used as a way to allow air to be drawn in. Vents that draw air in are usually placed on the back or sometimes on the side of the fireplace [3], Figure 1. 1 for reference.

Figure 1. 1: Placement of back vent.

– Vent (B) allows air to come through the back of the fireplace (A)

Front vents (G) are used to distribute warm/hot air to the room. Having both a back vent and a front vent together allows for cold air to be drawn in while hot air blows out [3], Figure 1. 2 for reference.

Figure 1. 2: Placement of back and front vents.

– Vent (E) allows air (D) to flow into the back of the fireplace (A), while vent (G) distributes air outwards (F)

2. Moving from an area of low pressure to high pressure

Part of how cool air is drawn into the electric fireplace is through a fan or blower. Cool air is forced up (D) and into the blower (E) by the rotation of its impeller [5]. The impeller increases the energy and speed of the air and pushes the air outward through its flange, ultimately moving the air from an area of low pressure to high pressure [2], Figure 2. 1 for reference.

Figure 2. 1: Moving air from low pressure to high pressure.

– Blower (E) forces cool air (D) to rise, gain energy and spread outward

The blower pushes the air perpendicular to the air that it draws in. Air rises through the back vent, through the blower and, as it builds its rotational energy, is forced outwards and across rather than upwards [5]. This allows the air to be dispersed in a particular direction, namely, that of the front vent of the fireplace (see Figure 1. 2).

3. Converting cool air to hot air

Once cool air is drawn in and pushed outwards by the blower (E), the air passes over and through a series of heating coils (F) to warm/heat the air [2]. The coils are heated through a process known as Joule heating[1] [1]. The temperature of the air is dependent on the how hot the heating coils are and the speed at which it passes through them. After passing through the coils, the air is forced out the front vent (G) of the fireplace and into the open room, Figure 3.1 for reference.

Figure 3. 1: Converting cool air to warm air.

– Cool air is blown through the heating coils (F), along a funnel or air duct and out through the front vent (G) dispersing hot air away from the fireplace and into an open room

Conclusion:

The increasing number of electric fireplaces in households have left purchasers wondering how their product heats their house and what their product is comprised of. This paper aimed to provide a step by step look at the general heating process of most electric fireplaces in the market. Electric fireplaces—for the most part—use a blower to draw in cool air from the back vent, convert that cool air into warm air by forcing the air through/over a series of heating coils and, finally, distribute this warm air out the front vent [4]. This process allows for a better heat conversion as cool air is drawn in and hot air is pushed out. This is not a comprehensive look at all electric fireplaces, as many electric fireplaces use infrared technology instead [4].

References

[1] Comsol Multiphysics, The Joule Heating Effect, October 31, 2014. Accessed on: June 16, 2020. [Online]. Available:

https://www.comsol.com/multiphysics/the-joule-heating-effect#:~:text=Joule%20Heating%20Definition,it%20flows%20through%20a%20resistance.

[2] Electric Artificial Fireplace, by R. A. Pearce. (1972, Jan. 18). US3636307A. Accessed on: June 16, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/17/09/df/29b96ccbdd2905/US3636307.pdf

[3] Electric Fireplace/Insert, no. 2, Monessen Hearth Systems Company, Paris, KY, United States of America, 2010. Accessed on: June 23, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.appliancefactoryparts.com/content/pdfs/176485-1.pdf

[4] Mr. Electric, How Do Electric Fireplaces Work?, 2020. Accessed on: June 16, 2020. [Online]. Available:

https://mrelectric.com/blog/how-do-electric-fireplaces-work-mr-electric

[5] Republic Manufacturing, Centrifugal Blowers, 2020. Accessed on: June 16, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.republic-mfg.com/blowers/centrifugal-blowers.asp.


[1] Joule heating is a process in which the energy passing through an electric current is converted into heat. Energy is generated when a current flows through a material with resistive properties, creating microscale collisions.

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