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Is there anything more inviting than a flickering flame, a tall armchair, and a good book? Our unanimous answer at House Method is simply no. Whether you want to take the chill off at home or love the look of a hearth aglow, an electric fireplace is a low-maintenance option that checks both boxes. In our buyer’s guide below, we’ll go into the types and styles of fireplaces as well as installation and safety tips. We’ll also answer some of your burning questions regarding electric fireplaces.
The flicker and warmth of a fireplace can make a house feel like home. However, a “real” fireplace requires a lot of attention from homeowners. You have to clean it often, buy and store firewood, and take extensive safety precautions to protect your furniture, house, and family members. If you’re a renter, an open fire probably isn’t even an option for you.
Enter the electric fireplace. Faux flames are contained, adjustable, and safe and you can start heating your home in a matter of minutes—most electric fireplaces are remote-controlled.
Shopping for a new electric fireplace can be a challenge without the proper information. That’s where the House Method team comes in. We compared how realistic each fireplace is and considered installation, adjustability, and safety. We also included key factors that are sure to inform your purchase. Browse our top picks above or read our comprehensive guide below and let us help you find the best electric fireplace for your home.
There are two ways an electric fireplace produces heat: infrared heaters and forced fans.
Similar to the sun, infrared fireplaces send out a beam of light that will warm any person or object directly in front of it. These heaters don’t come with a fan or built-in motor, so they’re some of the quietest fireplaces on our list. Infrared heaters are great for bedrooms and home offices.
With these electric fireplaces, cool air is drawn in and heated with a coil. Warm air is then returned back into the room. Some forced fan fireplaces can cover up to 400 square feet, making them a lovely option for living rooms.
Infrared heaters heat up very quickly, but forced fans generate sustainable heat that’ll last long after the fireplace is turned off.”
Freestanding stove—Electric stoves have a rustic, old-world charm that we find extra cozy. They’re portable, so you can move them from room to room.
Mantel—When you think “fireplace,” this is the style that likely comes to mind. Mantel fireplaces look like your traditional fireplace with a mantel designed for decorating.
Corner—These fireplaces fit neatly into a corner of the room. Many corner electric fireplaces double as TV stands. They follow a transitional style that should blend right in with your décor and furniture layout.
Wall-mounted—If you want a contemporary electric fireplace, opt for a wall-mounted fireplace. This type of fireplace resembles an HDTV with many homeowners mounting it directly beneath their flat screen.
Insert—Transform a recessed space—be it a media cabinet or an existing fireplace—by plugging in a panel or bundle of faux logs. These inserts are the most versatile electric fireplaces.
If design is important to you, consider the style categories each type of fireplace falls into. Inserts are possibly the most versatile electric fireplace since you can transform any cabinet or enclosure into a flickering display.”
Electric fireplaces are easier to install than gas-powered or woodburning fireplaces because they don’t require ventilation, so you can accomplish setup without hiring a professional. However, the ease of installation will largely depend on the type of fireplace you purchase. For example, filling an existing but unused fireplace with an electric insert should be fairly straightforward, but carving out space for a recessed wall mount will take some planning. Additionally, carrying a lightweight stove will be simple, but moving a 100-pound, mantel-style electric fireplace takes some extra effort.
From flicker speed to flame brightness, you’ll be able to create a picture-perfect fire according to your activity and mood. Set a low, dim flicker as you curl up with a good book or enjoy a fast, bright flicker when guests are over.
Another electric fireplace feature we love is the ability to control the temperature of the heat it produces. Some fireplaces are limited to two or three heat settings while others allow you to adjust a thermostat down to the degree. If you have children or pets, look for electric fireplaces that are cool to the touch.
Although electric fireplaces vary in size, all of the ones we reviewed have a coverage area of 400 square feet. Note: Infrared heaters may have a larger coverage area, but you’ll have to be positioned directly in front of the fireplace to feel the difference.
With an electric fireplace, you don’t have to worry about accidentally dozing off in front of an open fire. Not only are these faux flames contained, but some electric fireplaces have a built-in timer that you can set from 30 minutes to eight hours. Auto shut-off is a safety feature that will automatically power down if the unit is knocked over or moved.
Some fireplaces are also self-regulated. With these products, the heating component will automatically shut off after the desired temperature is met.
Measure your space before buying an electric fireplace. Corner, insert, and wall-mounted fireplaces are all space-saving solutions.”
We feature some really reputable brands in our top five: Touchstone, e-Flame USA, PuraFlame, Southern Enterprises, and Dimplex. Fireplace manufacturers may not be as well-known as other household names, so we relied on some other trust indicators, like verified customer reviews. The Touchstone Onyx electric fireplace has more than 400 customer reviews and 347 answered questions on Amazon alone. The PuraFlame electric fireplace insert is Amazon’s #1 best seller in the category. Meanwhile, Dimplex showed up seven times in the top 100.
Electric fireplaces are much more cost- and energy-efficient than gas-powered or woodburning fireplaces. In fact, they are about 90% more efficient than gas fireplaces. On average, they cost about 18 cents per hour of runtime. Many models have adjustable brightness and heat as well a no-heat option that conserves even more energy.
The Dimplex Holbrook is the most realistic electric fireplace. Dimplex has patented the 3D flame technology they use—it’s that good.
Yes, electric fireplaces do produce heat. All of the fireplaces we reviewed have adjustable heat with a no-heat option. Some, like the Touchstone Onyx and e-Flame USA Aspen stove, have low- and high-heat settings while others, like the PuraFlame insert and Southern Enterprises Calvert, have remote-controlled adjustable thermostats that range from 60 to 84 degrees.
There are two types of electric fireplaces: infrared heaters and forced fans. Infrared fireplaces produce heat via light that will warm any person or object directly in front of it. Forced fans take in cool air, heat it with a coil, and return it back into the room.
Electric fireplaces are significantly safer than real fireplaces. You don’t have to worry about breathing in ashes or fumes—electric fireplaces don’t require any ventilation and the flames are merely a light display. For additional safety measures, you can use the no-heat setting when children are near or find a fireplace with a built-in timer that automatically shuts off the system as you fall asleep.