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Best Electric Fireplace: A Complete Buying Guide for Home Use

By Modern Ethanol Fireplaces July 14, 2021

Electric fireplaces

A home can sometimes get so cold and unwelcoming, and you’ve realized that an electric fireplace might just be the solution to your problems. 

But there are so many options on the market, which one do you choose?

You can opt for an electric insert if you already have a fireplace. You can also go for a wall mount option for your home if you don’t have an existing fireplace. 

An electric fireplace is a welcome alternative to traditional wood fireplaces. Who wants to struggle with all the smoke and extra additions such as chimneys and vents? Not forgetting the hassle of lighting one. 

It’s also a great alternative to an ethanol or propane fireplace. For one, electricity is cleaner than gas energy, you won’t incur the extra costs of maintenance, and you’ll be contributing to environmental conservation. 

How cool is that?

What Is an Electric Fireplace?

An electric fireplace is a source of heat that looks like a traditional wood or ethanol fireplace. The only difference is that it uses electricity as a source of energy. 

Types of Electric Fireplaces

There are several types of electric fireplaces, namely:

  • A wall mount electric fireplace
  • An electric fireplace insert
  • An electric fireplace mantel
  • Logs electric fireplace
  • TV stand electric fireplace
  • Stoves electric fireplaces
  • Outdoor rated electric fireplaces

Each type has a unique design and different features that you should understand to decide which is most appropriate for your home. 

Wall Mount Electric Fireplace

Touchstone 80004 - The Sideline Electric Fireplace
Source: Amazon

If you don’t have an existing fireplace in your home or are looking to save some floor space, then the wall mount electric fireplace is the ideal option. 

The fireplace is mounted on the wall and takes up little to no room. You should insert a wall bracket strong enough to hold your electric fireplace, then mount it to the surface. 

This model is more linear, meaning that it’s wider than it is tall. 

A wall-mounted electric fireplace, like the Touchstone 80004, can either be connected via a direct wire or be a plug-in. However, most direct wire models come with a plug-in kit if you change your mind and prefer to use an already existing electric socket. 

Most of the mounted electric fireplaces on the market are either partially or fully recessed to help you save on wall space. 

They’re either 3 sided or see-through depending on your preference. 

The three-sided models can be viewed from each side and the front. 

The see-through models have both front and back views. 

Electric Fireplace Inserts

There are two main options under this category:

  • Plug-in electric fireplace inserts
  • Built-in electric fireplace inserts

Plug-In Electric Fireplace Inserts

DIMPLEX Electric Fireplace, Black
Source: Amazon

If you have an existing fireplace that you want to convert into an electric one, then the plug-in electric fireplace inserts are a fantastic option. 

A model like the Dimplex Electric Fireplace comes with a plug-in cable which you can use with an existing electrical outlet in your traditional fireplace. If you don’t have an electric socket there, you can get an electrician to insert one for you. 

When buying one of these beautiful models, make sure that you get one slightly smaller than your fireplace. The extra space is ideal for venting. You can use a surround to cover the extra gaps where needed. 

Built-in Electric Fireplace Inserts

This is a more permanent electric fireplace option, whether you have an existing traditional fireplace or not. 

Their main difference from the plug-in option is that they require hard wiring to be functional. 

They are ventless, so you won’t have to leave any extra space at the back. 

They come with a power cable, and others have a plug-in kit. You can also purchase a plug-in kit if your unit didn’t come with one. 

TV Stand Electric Fireplaces

Ameriwood Home Edgewood Fireplace 55
Source: Amazon

Are you looking to save on floor space and still have a visual boost in your living room? Then this is a wonderful option for you. 

The TV stand electric fireplace is a combination of a stand and electric fireplace insert. Could it get any more convenient?

The fireplace helps you save on your floor space by doubling up as a tv stand and a fireplace. 

They come with:

  • Side cabinets
  • Open storage areas
  • Media console areas

They also have a high storage capacity because you can place other complementary equipment on them and make your living room more spacious. 

The sizes and colors available may vary depending on your preference, so shop around and decide on your favorite piece.

Important Note: If you already have a TV stand, make sure you buy an electric fireplace that matches the size of the space available. 

These electric fireplaces come with either a conventional fan heater or an infrared one.

A fan heater can heat up to 400 square feet, while an infrared heater can heat up to 1000 square feet. 

Log Electric Fireplaces

DIMPLEX Revillusion 25
Source: Amazon

Do you like the idea of logs burning but don’t want to deal with the hassle of a traditional fireplace? Here’s your most conventional solution. 

A log electric fireplace, like the Dimplex Revillusion 25”, works more like an electric fireplace insert, only without the firebox surround. 

The other difference from an electric fireplace insert is that you’ll only get a fireplace grate and an ember bed. 

On the upside, this unit is more versatile because it’s smaller and compact. 

You can use it in an existing fireplace or any other room in the house, depending on your preference.

This one is a plug-in appliance, and if you want to achieve a more built-in appearance, you can hide the cables behind the unit.  

The unit can be either:

  • Rear projection or
  • Panel projection

A rear projection unit shows the effects of the flames on the back wall of your fireplace. 

The flame effects on the panel projection model are displayed on the unit itself. This is how the flames appear on most electric fireplaces. 

If you love the fire crackle effect, you can buy one of the units that come with fire crackle sounds. 

Stove Electric Fireplace

Antratic Star 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Stove
Source: Amazon

If you like a traditional and rustic feel to your house, here’s an excellent option for you. 

The stove electric fireplace imitates the traditional wood-burning stove. 

It’s flexible, meaning you can position it anywhere in the house. It’s also conveniently small, so it doesn’t eat up much space. 

Most of the models on the market have either a convenient fan heater or an infrared one. A conventional heater works in small spaces, while the infrared one, like the one in the Antarctic Star 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Stove, is much better for a more expansive room. 

These electric fireplaces come in different colors, with black being the most common. 

Freestanding Mantels Electric Fireplaces

Ameriwood Home Lamont Mantel Fireplace, White,1815096COM
Source: Amazon

If you’re looking to bring an open fireplace ambiance in to brighten up a room, this is the one to go for. 

A freestanding mantel electric fireplace, like the Ameriwood Home Lamont Mantel Fireplace,

combines an electric fireplace insert, surround, and mantel to give you a rustic style in your favorite room. 

You’re spoilt for choice with these fireplaces because they come in a variety of styles and colors. 

They are best placed against a wall close to an electric socket. If you don’t have a socket on the wall, hire an electrician to make the installation. 

You can pick a mantel electric unit with a fan heater if you only need to warm 400 square feet or less of your house. If you need to warm a larger area, go for a model with an infrared heater. 

The best aspect of this unit is that the mantel creates more space, so you can place items such as flower vases or other decor pieces on top. 

Outdoor Rated Electric Fireplaces

If you want an electric fireplace for outdoors, there are some stunning options available. 

NB: You cannot use an indoor electric fireplace for outdoor purposes; neither can you convert one into an outdoor electric fireplace. 

Outdoor electric fireplaces come with a protective cover to shield the unit from harsh climate conditions. Some even have waterproof elements so that you can use them in the rain. 

Points to Consider Before Buying an Electric Fireplace for Your Home

Before you buy yourself an electric fireplace, you should understand the features that determine its performance and suitability for your home.

Power

Every electric fireplace requires a main source of electricity. You could either plug it into one of the main electrical sockets in your house or hardwire it to the main electricity supply in your home.  

Most models have a plug-in or hardwire option in their collection. 

Hardwire electric fireplaces like the Dimplex Prism Series 74" also tend to come with plug-in kits—and if not, you can buy one separately.

The power output in your home should also guide you on the model to choose. Large consumption models will require a higher power output than their low consumption counterparts. 

Flame Effects

The flames in electric fireplaces are perhaps the most important feature, and you'll need to make sure you get them right.  

The flames give your house the look and ambiance of a traditional fireplace despite not being real. 

The flame appeal is created by reflecting light on rotating mirrors to create flickering flames that could easily pass as real ones. 

The flame realism in your unit depends on your model. Generally, the more expensive units have a more realistic flame effect. 

Heaters

Most electric fireplaces come with a conventional fan heater, which performs by blowing hot air to produce heat. 

The downside to buying one with a conventional fan heater is that it can only heat a maximum of 400 square feet. 

There are other models with infrared heaters that can heat up to 1000 square feet. These are usually more expensive but are ideal if you want to cover a wider area. 

Installation Methods

There are different installation methods available for electric fireplaces. You can buy a wall-mounted fireplace or go for the more common types that can be positioned anywhere in your home. 

Wall-mounted or TV stand units are great options if you’re looking to save on floor space.

Maintenance

The beauty of electric fireplaces is that they don’t require high-level maintenance. However, it wouldn't hurt to know a little more about what you need to do to ensure that your unit lasts a long time and keeps working well. 

Read the descriptions on the models, or ask for expert advice from the manufacturers.

Check out the warranties, terms, and viability periods to get yourself the best deal available. 

Extra Features

What sets each unit apart from the others on the market?

All electric fireplaces have different features, but if you’re going to invest in one of these valuable units, here are some extras you should consider:

  • Thermostatic control
  • Remote control
  • The functionality of the timer
  • Flame colors
  • Flame only features
  • Protection from overheating
  • The speed of the flames
  • Brightness control
  • Wi-fi and smart home connect
  • Bluetooth audio speakers

While some of these features are secondary to the performance of the electric fireplaces, they define the efficacy of every unit. 

A thermostat control will allow you to set the desired temperature. It also allows the unit to turn itself on and off automatically. 

A remote control gives you the power to control and adjust the features of your fireplace from the comfort of your couch. 

Electric fireplaces with an overheat protection feature are less likely to suffer heat damage. 

Advantages of Electric Fireplaces

Low Cost

Electric fireplaces are cheaper than any other models on the market, and so are their installation and maintenance costs. 

You only need to plug electric fireplaces into an electric socket and get them up and running. Mounted electric fireplaces and those that require hardwiring are also relatively cheap and easy to install. 

Most electric fireplaces require little to no maintenance and save you the frequent servicing needs with other models. With the long-lasting LED lights that come with most of these units, you rarely have to worry about spare parts. 

Clean Warmth

Electric fireplaces are clean to use. You won’t have to deal with smoke, ashes, and smoky chimneys as you would with traditional fireplaces. 

They also use electricity, which is a clean form of energy compared to natural gas and logs used in other models. 

Full Energy Use

All the energy channeled into your electric fireplaces is consumed and converted into heat. Some of the energy made from burning logs and natural gas escapes, leading to energy loss. 

Safe as Can Be

One of the most impressive features of electric fireplaces is that no matter how much heat they emit, the outer cover doesn’t get hot. 

The fireplaces are safe to use on your floors, even with children around. 

Aesthetic Touch to Your Home

Electric fireplaces add an aesthetic touch to your home with their LED lights and multi-colored flames. 

Your home will never look the same once you install one of these units, whether recessed or free standing

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do you need a vent for the electric fireplaces?

    The simple answer is no. 

    Electric fireplaces don’t emit smoke because the flames aren’t real. You don’t need any vents or chimneys to enjoy their warmth in your home.

  2. Are the flames real?

    No, the flames in electric fireplaces aren’t real. 

    They are created by reflecting LED light on rotating mirrors, giving the ambiance of a real fire.

  3. Do electric fireplaces produce heat?

    Yes!

    Electric fireplaces can be used for beauty and to make your home warmer. 

    The units produce heat in different variations, and most come with thermostats to control the heat from low to medium to high. 

    They have on-demand heat, which means that you can enjoy warmth when you need it and keep the unit for its aesthetic appeal even when you don’t need to warm up.

  4. Are electric fireplaces safe?

    All electric fireplaces are safe to use in your home. They don’t heat on the outside and can be kept on the floor without burning it. 

    Your children are safe around the units.

  5. Where can you place electric fireplaces?

    Most electric fireplaces can be placed in any room you want to be heated. You can put them in the bedroom, living room, or outside depending on your needs and preferences.

  6. Do I need to make a hearth

    No. Electric fireplaces are safe to place on the floor without fear of damaging your floors.

Let's Warm Up Your Home with an Electric Fireplace 

Electric fireplaces are now the safest, cleanest, and most affordable way to warm your home and do away with the old fireplaces. 

Unlike those old and smoky chimneys that threaten your very existence, electric fireplaces give you a combination of warmth, comfort, and beauty, all in one package.

Select one from the many styles available and transform the overall look and ambiance of your home.



Featured Image from: Pxhere by The Original Flame


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