Electric Fireplaces

Electric Fireplaces

Electric Fireplaces

Electric Fireplace Buying Guide

Electric fireplaces are an affordable and energy efficient alternative to traditional wood or gas fireplaces.  These easy to install fireplaces are used for supplemental heating in just about any room in your home, office or apartment.  Designed to be installed without the help of a contractor, electric fireplaces provide the ambiance of realistic looking flames with or without heat.  Available in many styles from traditional to contemporary, there is an electric fireplace to compliment every style.

60" Challenger Electric Fireplace

What Is An Electric Fireplace?

An electric fireplace is an electric heater that mimics a traditional wood or gas burning fireplace, plugs into a standard 120V outlet on a dedicated breaker or can be hardwired in. The use of an extension cord is prohibited.  Electric fireplaces are an affordable and eco-friendly alternate heating source and is a popular way to bring the experience of having a real fire into your home without having to set up, maintain or clean up after a real gas or wood burning fire.  There is no fuel to burn in an electric fireplace and so an electrical supply is used to operate a number of electrical components that help to imitate the experience of a real fire.  Electric fireplaces are safer than any other type of fireplace because there is no actual fire. These fireplaces stay cool to the touch when the heat is on and can be installed into combustible materials such as drywall or cabinetry.

How Do Electric Fireplaces Work?

The artificial fireplace operates by creating the effect of a combustible fuel fed fireplace.  The flames on an electric fireplace are produced a few different ways. LED lighting is projected onto a screen in a randomized pattern.  Some models have one line  of LED lights at the bottom while others have two or more LED strips for added flame color options, depth and realism.  Some manufacturers use built in holograms, smoke machines and mirrored interiors to take the flame effects to the next level of realism. LED lights consume little energy and do not have to be replaced too often with a serving time of 50,000 hours.  Most LED fireplaces come with interior decoration such as logs, stones or tempered fire beads which are used to camouflage the LED light strips while allowing you to customize the look of your indoor electric fireplace.

Most electric fireplaces are not designed for use as a primary heat source. They can generally heat a room up to 400 square feet, or the equivalent of a 20 by 20 square foot room.  A LED electric fireplace draws cold air into the electric unit which is then heated by a heating coil.  Once the air is heated to the desired temperature, the heated air is pushed back into the room by a fan system.  Unlike fireplaces that use wood, coal, pellets or gas, these fireplaces are maintenance-free, clean and safe as they do not use combustible fuel.  Most electric fireplaces allow the built-in heater to work independently from the flames so you can turn the heat off and enjoy the flames year-round.  An electric fireplace with the heater on typically operates at around 12 amps and uses approximately 1500 watts per hour.  If using solar or wind-powered electrical systems, be sure it is capable of handing 1.5 kilowatts per hour when using the heat.  The usage is significantly lower when not using the heating option.  

Types of Electric Fireplaces

Since venting isn't required, electric fireplaces are designed to be used anywhere zone heating is necessary and come in four standard styles:

 Wall-Mounted/Recessed Electric Fireplace

Wall-mount electric fireplaces are hanging models that can mount directly on a wall of a home or office. Wall mounted electric fireplaces are great if you are looking to help  transform a wall in any room. Wall-mount electric fireplaces are primarily linear, however, vertical wall mount versions are available.  While most wall mounted electric fireplaces are viewed from the front, there are some models that are multi-view, allowing the flames to be seen from two or three sides.

Recessed electric fireplaces fit into the wall while protruding slightly from the wall. Slim models are available for 2x4 installs. These models can be recessed into a 2x4 wall without building it out and taking up extra space in the room.  Other models are a little deeper, however, they are installed in a way that allows the fireplace to stick out of the wall just enough to compensate for the depth.

Any space may be instantly improved by adding a distinctly modern style, whether it has heat or not. After being placed on the wall, these devices merely need to be plugged in. The usual multi-color LED backlighting is offered in two sizes and works with any decor. The 58" wall mounted electric fireplace has a front comprised of black glass. There is a stand for tabletop use included.

Electric Fireplace Inserts

Electric fireplace inserts are designed to give your old gas or wood burning fireplace a new look while saving money on energy costs.  Firebox inserts look just like a built-in fireplace.  Find the correct size, insert the firebox into your existing fireplace, plug it in and enjoy.  Electric log inserts look like a grate with logs and built in lights that creates a flame like effect on the walls of your existing fireplace.  Log inserts have a built in heater and most come with a remote control. 

Built-in Electric Fireplaces

Built-in electric fireplaces have a sleek, more finished look as they do not stick out of the wall.  Installing a built-in fireplace is a little more complex than installing a wall mount.  A niche where you would insert your fireplace will have to be constructed. Installation also requires external frames that can fit the dimensions of the firebox.  Hiring a professional to help install a built-in electric fireplace is recommended, especially if it will be hardwired in.  Built-in electric fireplaces are ideal for new construction, condos, apartments or room renovations.  

Freestanding Electric Fireplaces

Freestanding electric fireplaces are available as media cabinets or stand-alone models.  Media cabinets have the electric fireplace built in and serve as a TV stand making them perfect for apartments or smaller spaces. Stand-alone electric fireplaces have all the same features as a wall-mount fireplace except these units come with a pedestal or base for a table top installation.

Can You Install Electric Fireplaces Outside?

There are several outdoor-rated electric fireplaces available on the market.  Outdoor electric fireplaces are designed for outdoor installations under a roof.  Outdoor rated electric fireplaces typically have a weatherproof casing.  Some manufacturers require the outdoor rated electric fireplace to be purchased with an Outdoor Cover.  Some outdoor-rated models can be used without purchasing an outdoor cover but are unable to produce any supplementary heat.

What Are The Benefits of an Electric Fireplace?

  • Low Cost; More affordable and less expensive to operate.
  • Easy Installation; Most are ready to go right out of the box. Simply plug it in!
  • No Mess to Clean; No ash or soot to remove.
  • No Emissions, Clean Air; Does not use combustible fuel. 
  • Zone Heating; No loss of energy as it is all converted into heat.
  • Safe for Children and Pets; Cool to the touch
  • No Maintenance; Long-lasting LED lights 

Safety Tips for an Electric Fireplace:

  • Always unplug the fireplace when not in use.
  • To avoid electrocution or the risk of a fire, do not plug the unit into a damaged or malfunction outlet.
  • Only use outdoor-rated electric fireplaces for outdoor installations.
  • Do not use in bathrooms, laundry rooms, garages or sheds.
  • Keep the hot air discharge vents free of any obstacles.
  • Do not use an extension cord, power strip or a relocatable outlet for plugging the heater in. 


Q: How do electric fireplaces work?

A: The flames on an electric fireplace are produced a few different ways. One of the way is LED lighting is projected onto a screen in a randomized pattern. Some models have one line of LED light at the bottom while others have two or more LED strips for added flame color options, depth, and realism. Some manufacturers use built in holograms, smoke machines, and mirrored interiors to take the flame effects to the next level. LED lights don't consume a lot of energy and do not have to be replaced often, usually lasting around 50,000 hours.

Q: Can I install an electric fireplace outside?

A: Yes, there are several outdoor rated electric fireplaces available on the market. Outdoor electric fireplaces are designed for outdoor installations under a roof. Outdoor rated electric fireplaces typically have a weatherproof casing and some manufacturers require the unit to be purchased with an outdoor cover. Other outdoor rated models can be used without purchasing a cover but are unable to produce an supplementary heat.

Q: Do electric fireplaces give off heat?

A: Yes, modern electric fireplaces give off around 4,800 BTUs of heat on average, however many models offer the capability to increase the BTU output to 10,000! That's enough to heat a 1,000 sq ft. room! Smaller units may only produce enough heat to supplement your main heating source in large rooms, but may work amazingly in small offices or other small spaces.

Q: Do electric fireplaces use a lot of electricity?

A: No, the best electric fireplaces run on 120 volts and only utilize around 20 watts of electricity when the heater is not running, and 1500 watts when the heater is running full force. In comparison, an electric furnace uses 10,000 to 50,000 watts of electricity when running. Choosing to install an electric fireplace could dramatically lower your electric bill by decreasing the amount of time you would have to run another, more expensive, heat source.

Q: Do electric fireplaces have to be vented?

A: No, one of the many amazing features of owning an electric fireplace is the design flexibility they offer because a vent or chimney is not required to enjoy them in your home. Electric fireplaces do not produce true fire and do not combust, therefore do not produce smoke, soot, or other toxic emissions that would have to be vented.


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