Sure, installing a towel warmer in a chilly bathroom can be a game-changer, but what about a fixture that will completely transform the bathroom ambiance, too? Can you put an electric fireplace in a bathroom?
You can install an electric fireplace in the bathroom provided you install it in accordance with the applicable international and local codes. The electric fireplace should be designed for use in bathrooms where there is high moisture content. Electric fireplaces provide both heat and style.
When it comes to electric fireplaces in the bathroom, there are several distinct aspects to consider:
- Safety codes
- Product choice and design
- Positioning in the bathroom for maximum effectiveness
Let’s take a look at these now so that you can decide whether an electric fireplace will suit your bathroom.
Are There Rules Governing Electric Fireplaces in Bathrooms?
Whether it is possible to install an electric fireplace is irrelevant if doing so would contravene any law, code, or rule stipulated by the governing authorities. Consider the international codes as well as your local code.
The IRC Does Not Mention Electric Fireplaces
The International Residential Code (IRC), one of the main codes governing home design and construction, does not state anything specifically regarding electric fireplaces in the bathroom.
However, there are some general guidelines that need to be followed regarding appliance installation. Here are the basic rules:
- Follow the manufacturer’s setup instructions.
- Keep combustible materials away from your electric fireplace.
- Make sure you have a way to disconnect the electric fireplace.
Check Your Local Codes Too
There are also local building codes that apply to different states and areas. You should always check these before altering your home in any non-superficial way, such as installing a new electrical fireplace in your bathroom.
Look for a Waterproof Electric Fireplace
Not all electric fireplaces are suitable for use in bathrooms. You should specifically look for products that are listed for indoor AND outdoor use, or ones that specifically say they are safe to use in bathrooms.
Electric fireplaces that are designed for outdoor use or use in bathrooms are designed to be waterproof because it is almost inevitable that water will come into contact with an electric fireplace installed in these locations.
A great example is the Remii 45” Extra Slim Indoor or Outdoor Electric Fireplace (pictured above). This explicitly states in the product information (and even the name!) that it can be used indoors or outdoors, including use in bathrooms.
The Remii 45” has a BTU (British Thermal Unit) output of 4800 and has a heating zone of approximately 500 square feet. This means that it is not just protected from moisture, but it will also provide plenty of heat in the bathroom.
Beware of Outdoor-Only Electric Fireplaces
If you were to install an outdoor-only electric fireplace in your bathroom, you would potentially turn it into a furnace!
Outdoor-only electric fireplaces are designed to warm an open area. So, they need to produce enough heat to continuously warm outside air sufficiently that you can feel the difference.
The volume of air in a bathroom, even a very large bathroom, is limited, and the turnover of air is much slower than outdoors, especially if you close the bathroom door while you bathe or shower. So an outdoor electric fireplace is not likely to work optimally in your bathroom.
Advantages of an Electric Fireplace in the Bathroom
Obviously, electric fireplaces act as a source of heat in the bathroom. This can extend your enjoyment of long, soaking baths well into the winter months.
Combine your electric fireplace with the best bathtub material for optimal heat retention, and you’ll be all set for a long hot soak, no matter what the outside temperatures are!
While electric heaters also provide heat, an electric fireplace adds to the décor and style of the bathroom.
They are also versatile when it comes to décor style.
For example, you can use an electric fireplace to make your bathroom look luxurious and chic. A sleek little black-framed number like the Amantii Panorama Slim Built Electric Fireplace (pictured above) is absolutely gorgeous and bathroom-approved.
The long, slim lines of the Amantii Panorama are timelessly elegant and allow the fireplace to be recessed into the wall, giving you a clean and modern look.
Moreover, while you have the option of the classic orange and yellow flames, you can also bring in a contemporary twist with the blue, rose, and violet flames.
Advantages Compared to Gas or Wood-Burning Fireplaces
No Fumes or Smoke
When you use gas or wood-burning fireplaces in the bathroom, you will have to deal with the resultant fumes and smoke. First and foremost, this includes venting the fireplace to the outside of the house.
Second, there will always be some blowback of ashes (in the case of wood-burning fireplaces) and odors. This can permeate your towels and, after time, even your wooden furniture.
There are no fumes or smoke produced by an electric heater, so you don’t have to install a vent. This makes electric fireplaces much less expensive (unless you get a particularly expensive model) and much less invasive to install.
You also don’t have to deal with odor permeation and ash.
In addition, if you rely solely on natural ventilation in your bathroom, i.e., windows and doors instead of a bathroom exhaust fan, then installing a gas or wood-burning fireplace could also necessitate the installation of a bathroom fan, even if the fireplace was vented itself. (Read my comprehensive guide to buying a great (quiet!) bathroom fan for your space.)
If you’re contemplating a bathroom fireplace as part of a luxury bathroom remodel, you might also consider a bathroom skylight to maximize ventilation.
No Risk of Gas Leaks
Gas fireplaces in the bathroom would be both a fire hazard and create the risk of a gas leak. Electric fireplaces do not create this additional risk.
No Clean up Required
When you would like to turn off the electric fireplace, you do just that. You turn it off with a button.
If you were to have a wood-burning fireplace, you would have to extinguish the fire properly and safely and then clean all the ash out of the grate.
Disadvantages of an Electric Fireplace in the Bathroom
Beyond the safety issues, there is one other disadvantage of electric fireplaces in the bathroom.
Limited Heat Output
Electric fireplaces like the Remii and the Amantii produce sufficient heat for an average-sized bathroom. However, if you have an especially large bathroom, you’ll need to strategically position the fireplace near the bathtub to keep you warm and toasty when you get out.
Uses Up Wall Space
Most electric fireplaces will install into your bathroom wall. But this can be a problem if you have a small bathroom with limited wall space.
You can investigate the Napoleon Allure Vertical Wall Hanging Electric Fireplace (pictured above). As the name suggests, this fireplace is tall as opposed to wide, giving a different dynamic and also making it suitable for a smaller bathroom with limited wall space.
Now, I want to note here that the Napoleon Allure fireplace does not say that it is approved for use in a bathroom, but several people have used it successfully in their own bathrooms. Be sure to check with your electrician regarding whether this model can work safely in your space.
Potential Fire Hazard
Electric fireplaces are a fire hazard if they are not installed and maintained properly. However, this safety warning applies to any piece of active electrical equipment. The risk with an electric fireplace is higher in a moisture-generating room like a bathroom, and this is why high-quality electrical installation is so important.
Ways to Minimize the Fire Hazard
- Install a waterproof electric fireplace in your bathroom to ensure that it has been designed to withstand some contact with moisture.
- Hire a certified electrician to install your new fixture; make sure any exposed connection points are tucked well out of reach of moisture. This may require sealing the unit into the wall with waterproof and heatproof material.
- Secure the unit so there is no chance of it falling out of or off the wall, particularly if you are going to put it by your bathtub.
- Keep any flammable materials such as towels or shower curtains well away from your electric fireplace. If you have a bathroom window, consider if a breeze could blow something flammable in the path of the fireplace.
If the installation is done up to code, and you take all the necessary precautions to ensure that the fire hazard risk is mitigated, you can definitely lay back and enjoy the added style and warmth from an electric fireplace in your bathroom
Install Safely: Consult an Electrical Professional
It’s a great idea to consult an electrician about your plans to install an electric fireplace in the bathroom.
Ask for an Assessment
If you want to go the DIY route to install your new appliance, you can still ask an electrician to come in and advise you on how to do it safely.
Of course, some may be leery of giving out information without confirmation of the job, but if you have paid an assessment call-out fee or an inspection fee, then there should be no problem getting the information you need.
This is especially important for older houses that often have outdated wiring and electrical systems, which could make the installation of an electric fireplace in the bathroom more complicated than it should be.
Hire the Professional
Then there is also the option of hiring an electrician or a building contractor to do the installation. However, it may be cheaper to hire an electrician directly because many contractors will outsource the job to an electrician anyway.
Bathroom Fireplace Designs
There are so many amazing design possibilities for an electric fireplace in the bathroom.
The Mantle Look
You can go full out and surround the fireplace with a magnificent mantle. This is more appropriate for grand bathrooms than small bathrooms.
This option introduces new spaces for design as well, i.e., the mantle shelf and the area above it.
Tile or Brick
Instead of a big mantle, you can surround the electric fireplace with stone or brick for a rustic, outdoorsy feel. However, you don’t have to go rustic with this option. Tile works just as well and gives you a wider design range.
If you have a smaller bathroom, brick and tile are a better option than a mantle.
The Floating Wall Look
There are electric fireplaces that are encased with glass on both sides and which you can install in the wall between your bathroom and bedroom. This not only creates a dramatic look as the wall seemingly floats over the fireplace, but it also allows you to heat two rooms with one fireplace (just make sure that it is strong enough for this).
Clean and Minimalist
For a really clean and contemporary look, recess the electric fireplace into a bare, light-colored wall.
You Can Put an Electric Fireplace in the Bathroom
You can install an electric fireplace in the bathroom, but, as with all electrical installations, it will have to follow the governing rules and codes to ensure safety since electric fireplaces are a potential fire hazard.
Of all the fireplace options, electric is the simplest to install and maintain, making it a great heating option. Not only that, but electric fireplaces have so many amazing and versatile design features. Surely there is one to fit your bathroom size and decor.
The best and safest option is to get a waterproof electric fireplace for your bathroom. These may be marketed for use “indoors and outdoors, including bathrooms.”