For several centuries, the real but flickering flames on the hearth have been providing pleasant and protective warmth anytime during those chilly winters. Nobody would deny the peaceful ambiance that forms when open hearth fire ignites. However, with the evolution of heating and cooking mechanisms, the open flames are now being turned into electric closed flames in most of our homes. Certainly, this is happening for several good reasons. This guide will help you find the best electric fireplace for your home.
- 1 Why Choose Electric Fireplaces
- 2 Top 6 Electric Fireplaces
Why Choose Electric Fireplaces
Electric fireplaces are perhaps the easiest way to bring in the original and gratifying effect of burning wood anywhere in the home, while ensuring cleaner and safer warmth more efficiently. They are easy to use with just an electric switch to start and off, easy to install anywhere with just space and outlet in need, quite affordable and portable, easy to move frequently anywhere, and are safest options as compared to wood and gas counterparts.
With so many convenient benefits, it does not take time for these modern fireplaces to become an integral part of any home. Even after bringing into the home, the working is so effective that you can expect a visually appealing as well as functional performance every time you use it.
An electric fireplace has two primary functions namely, of electric heater and flame effect. Those real looking flames are formed fur to small LED bulbs glowing with a random lightning pattern of finished and rotating fingers. Made up of metal, these fingers reflect light onto a glass screen due to which that changing 3D flame effect occurs.
These so-called realistic open fire flames look so real that you may feel afraid to touch the surface although it is really cool. This appeals to those who do not the wood burning mess up and emissions inside as well as outside their homes through a flue or chimney.
Coming to the built in heater, it functions by allowing the current to move via the metal coils for heating them. This generates radiant heat that moves out of the fireplace through a super-quiet fan that circulates the warm air within the room. Alternative to heater, infrared quartz is used to deliver heat via the intangible infrared light that warms up the items it comes in contact with, in a room rather than circulating the air around. Moreover, there is no need of venting and that almost zero percent maintenance is ensured.
With such a functioning ability and efficiency, there is no doubt that electric fireplaces are becoming popular for adding that quick ambiance to any room. Moreover, with original appearing flames, the units provide supplemental heat without any emissions or quality issues that exist with conventional fireplaces. Through just 120v plug, models with heater are capable of heating up an area of up to 400 square feet, while those with infrared light are for warming up a room of up to 1000 square feet.
Today, several types of designs and models are being sold in the market, a majority of which are truly inexpensive to run. This can make it confusing for you to choose the most suitable one for your home. To prevent this confusion and simplify this critical task of selection, here are the major buying factors for you to consider.
Buying Factor 1: Types
Well, there are many types of electric fireplaces to consider. However, you can choose the best one as per your requirements and budget.
- Wall-Mounted: Here, you have two options namely, those mounted and those recessed into a wall. Mounted to wall models are more straightforward to install, although many choose built-into a wall model. Because these models do not consume floor space, they are ideal for lobbies, apartments, and condos. Such fireplaces are shipped with mounting materials and brackets, and prove to be more portable than other types of fireplaces. Most of them add character and style through those clean edges in mirrored glass, chrome, stone, brushed stainless steel, wood, or gun metal finishes. While a few come with traditional looking logs, several others have glass flame beds or embellishing fill. You can even choose a model with a thermostat controlled fan-based heater for enjoying animated flames throughout the year.
- Wall/Corner: A fireplace placed against a wall is one of the most widely used electric models. These are much like the conventional fireplaces, but take no time in being the room’s new focal point. Similar to wall fireplaces are corner models, but are designed to stand in a corner. However nowadays, you may find hybrid ones with collapsible panels that allow the units to sit in a corner or against a wall. Most of the corner and wall models come with a mantel for embellishment, but you need to take into account the mantel support weight prior to investment.
- Mantels: These are furniture-grade fireplace mantels with amazing wood detailing and real appearing flames. They are suitable for any room of your home. You can choose from conventional, corner, modern, and rolling mantels. Most of these models also have a remote control and an air purifier. You may also find cost-efficient models operable with or without heat (4-season enjoyment). Consider mantel fireplaces as a supplementing source for zoned heating.
- Fireplace Inserts: As the name indicates, these models are designed to be inserted in a prevalent conventional fireplace. Consider an insert to transform your existing wood-burning fireplace releasing carbon dioxide into a more efficient and zero-emission electric fireplace as well as boost humidity. It is actually easier to use and maintain an insert due to which it is ideal for those who do not want to use the conventional fireplace but still wish to enjoy its ambiance. There are two types of inserts to choose: Easy to install log inserts ideal for conventional gas or wood fireplaces and electric fireboxes for plug-in installations. Most of them fit almost any fireplace, give real flame looks, and come with remote control for quick operation.
- Media Consoles: These models are long lasting entertainment centers that come with a special place for flat screen TV apart from the capability of adding heat and ambiance. Featuring designs that are analogous to wall fireplaces, these models have enough storage area for media equipments/electronic appliances. Most of them are such that they can match with any indoor décor.
- Freestanding/Stoves: These are similar to electric fireplaces, but look more conventional in terms of style. They are standalone models that work with plug-n-play mechanism. There is no soot, spark, or ash produced, unlike wood fireplaces. They also need less maintenance, often purify air, require no gas line or chimney, and are quite portable. You can get 100% energy-efficient stoves offering supplemental heat for warming up 400 to 600 sq. ft. of area, which varies from one model to another.
- Infrared: These fireplaces are ideal for enjoying the robust supplemental heat for bigger rooms of up to 1,000 sq. ft. in area. Featuring quartz infrared technology for heating, these models produce moist and soft heat while retaining cool surface for making themselves safe for kids and pets. The technology also makes these models incredibly cost efficient as well as effective with just a few cents per hour to work.
Buying Factor 2: Size
Here, size refers to both that of the room as well as fireplace to be purchased. In case you go for a small fireplace, it might happen that it may be infeasible for heating up a room that is big. Similarly, if you choose a bigger fireplace, it may be infeasible if your room is small. Therefore, check the size of both the electric fireplace and room.
While measuring the room area, you should also consider the location where the fireplace will reside, items surrounding it, and the way in which the fireplace will reside (mounting or recessed). You also need to consider the dimensions of residing location and that of the fireplace, to ensure a perfect fit.
Moreover, it is also essential to ensure that the room can handle the load of current required by the fireplace. As per the fireplace size, there might also be the need of an electrician for forming a dedicated circuit to keep overloading at bay.
Buying Factor 3: Heating Power
Electric fireplaces just plug into a power outlet in a wall for working properly and that most rely upon 120v plug for operating in any residential area. For extra protection from fire, these plugs are grounded. Majority of electric fireplaces provide 750 and 1500 watts of power for two heat settings namely, low and high. Because the power is only for supplementing heat for a 400 square feet room, the electric fireplaces are ideal for offices, basements, and living rooms. However, you can consider as a primary heat source for small spaces.
There are a few electric fireplaces that demand a higher voltage such as 240v to deliver a higher range of wattages. Therefore, you need to find out which of the two categories best fits for your home. As a tip, consider a fireplace wherein heat and flame work independently. In this way, you can enjoy that fire crackling look even when there is no need of additional heat.
Buying Factor 4: Style and Finish
The style to be chosen is ideally dependent upon the current home/room décor as well as your personal taste. For example, a rustic-style model shall not gel easily with an ultra-modern interior. Similarly, a model with espresso finish is likely to look odd when kept besides a matching furnishing in veneer.
In the market, you will find all possible styles and finishes, ranging from sleet to rustic and modern to old-fashioned ones. Whether your home is rustic or urban, you need to look honestly at your décor aspects including flooring and evaluate your own preferred style. If you are still confused in choosing the style and finish, consider bringing some pictures of the room to the store. If online, consider consulting the shop owner or manufacturer through online chat.
Broadly, for a modern home, a modern fireplace should be with minimalist design such as the one with a stainless steel mantle. However, if you wish a traditional design with more detailing, you can go with that too, as long as there is a perfect match.
In case of finishes, you still have several options and you will quickly find one that matches with your home décor. A few popular options are espresso, stone, mahogany, oak, stainless steel, white, black, and ivory. Moreover, you can even consider flame bed choices such as modern glass, traditional log set, and stone carving.
Buying Factor 5: Firebox
While buying an electric fireplace, you also need to consider the design or the style of its core called a firebox where fire literally ignites. Fireboxes have their own features and differ in terms of technology and size. For us, the most critical aspect is size. Although available in a variety of sizes, typical fireboxes have a width of between 18 and 33 inches.
In terms of technology, fireboxes differ as to how the original looking flame is triggered, ranging from a simple flat panel fire to 3D ones. The latter one is an illusion of original fire flames and is seen in upscale fireboxes with beds having rocks, glow logs, or embers from where the flames trigger. The movement of flames tend to imitate real patterns to augment the overall usage experience. A few fireplaces also are capable of emitting fine mist into the firebox for mimicking smoke as well.
There are some more features for you to consider while choosing a firebox. For instance, a few come with an air treatment system for removing irritants incessantly through an advanced air filtration technology. This means you can expect automatic removal of pet dander, mold, and dust from your air by pulling air, heating and filtering it, and emitting it back neat. The filters are washable but you need to change them once a year.
As a tip, consider a firebox that slides smoothly into the prevalent fireplace, which is not only convenient but also time as well as space saving.
Buying Factor 6: Features
The modern, cost-effective electric fireplaces come with many energy-efficient and expedient features that are described below. You can decide which features you need and which you do not, so that you end up only paying for what you want.
- Portability: Look for this feature if you reside in a small condo or wish to use in different rooms.
- Self-Trimming Firebox: Having such a firebox glides into place automatically for offering quick heat. There is no need to trim or add anything for aesthetic or installation reasons, with such a feature.
- Adjustable Thermostat: This feature of an electric fireplace allows determining the rate at which heat gets emitted into your space.
- Flame-Only Working: This feature is ideal for those who want only the fireplace ambiance and not the heating option always. It allows enjoying the original flame look throughout the year without heating up your room.
- Controls: Well, these can be multiple depending upon the model you choose. You can choose to have a flame-speed control for adjusting the pace at which the flames flicker. There are also digital controls to regulate the working or heat rate digitally either through a digital board or remote control. Having them surely ensures extra convenience. Through the board, you can also adjust the fire brightness as per your preference. In case of a remote control, changing the desired settings is a breeze. Apart from turning the unit on or off, the remote control allows controlling firebox options, heat level, regulating flame speed, and adjusting the interior light from anywhere in the room.
- Safety: Electric fireplaces are certainly safe, but they get safer with more protective features. While their flames and firebox are built safe, they come with some more safety features such as overheat protection and cool to touch surface. A built-in switch turns off the unit in case overheating is sensed at any point in time. Similarly, there is no risk of getting burned if you touch the surface, regardless of the mode, in case the unit has a cool-to-touch glass or covering. This feature is essential for those having kids or pets. For ensuring complete safety and efficiency, consider looking for CSA and UL certifications. Their presence ensures successful safety tests and adherence to national and international standards.
Buying Factor 7: Eco-friendliness
Because there are no ventilation needs or smoke/gas emission, electric fireplaces are considered highly eco-friendly in relation to wood and gas counterparts. They are, thus, better for healthy indoor air. There is no risk of hazardous emissions or messy maintenance linked to conventional fireplaces.
Buying Factor 8: Operational Cost
Besides being green, electric fireplaces are also economical to run. The operative cost of several models is as meagre as a cent per hour when it is run in flame-only mode. In case of heating mode also, the operative cost is quite less, say around eight cents. This means your energy bills do not get a boost at all!
Most electric fireplaces have a flame only mode and no heat mode because they are meant for supplementing the existing heating system and adding style and ambiance. They are not meant for use as the main heat source.
Top 6 Electric Fireplaces
This one offers infrared warmth to a big room and trigger realistic fire with or without heat. It features a surround of stylish mantle in oak, two heat settings, quiet fan, E-Z glide casters, and a digital thermostat with remote.
This is an elegant freestanding model with the classic design in black finish. Designed for office, basement, or home usage, this fireplace features realistic log flame effect with adjustable flame brightness, even without heat. It features two settings, safety thermal cut off to prevent overheating, and adjustable thermostat control.
With all mounting hardware included, this smokeless ventless fireplace needs no gas, mantel, stove, insert space, or ethanol to operate. Only 1500 watts can heat up a big room, which you can control with the remote control’s three variable settings (no heat, low, and high). With flame effect, the power consumed is only 2.5 watts per hour. There is also a timer control for the unit to shut down automatically. However, the remote control does not come with the batteries (need to purchase separately). The fireplace is ideal for any kind of traditional or contemporary home.
Entertainment plus warmth are now affordable and enjoyable through this fireplace at home in winter. With 12.5 amperes, this fireplace can easily heat up to 1500 cubic feet in less than half an hour. It comes with adjustable thermostat and brightness control, thermal overload protector, long lasting LED lights, original looking flickering flame effect; cool to touch glass surface, mantel and cherry finish build, and two adjustable shelves.
This one is known for realistic flame effect, 85-pound mantel support, lasting LED lights, support for 47-inch flat screen TV, and adjustable brightness control. Above all, the most commendable feature is its great espresso hue boosted with embellished earthly tiles, a curve above the firebox, and shiny columns. The fireplace also comes with a remote control and cool to touch surface. The unit is designed in such a way that it can fit in a corner or against a wall without creating any difficulty.
SEI Elkmont Salem:
This one has almost the same features of the above mentioned fireplace from SEI. However, it supports a TV with a width of 43.5 inches and features an elegantly rustic style draped in antique oak finish exuding style and character. There are small marks and stains to give this effect. There is also a faux slate front with striking tile pattern curving across the front. Moreover, this fireplace is highly portable and easy to assemble.