The 10 Best Electric Fireplaces
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in March of 2015. While few things can replicate the ambiance of a genuine crackling flame, the work required to build a fire and clean up afterwards is a hassle. Plus, they necessitate that you always keep wood on hand, which for some can be problematic due to storage space issues. But with one of these electric fireplaces, you can get almost the same effect, but without any chopping logs, soot and ash, or smoke. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
January 22, 2021:
After careful evaluation of the electric fireplaces on the market today, we still stand by our previous recommendations. Not only didn't we feel the need to replace any, as they all continue to function reliably, but there weren't any models with amazing new features that demanded a spot. This is a category where the purchase decision is just as equally based on style as functionality, and we feel that our current selection continues to represent a majority of the various designs on offer.
December 20, 2019:
When evaluating the best electric fireplaces safety was a top priority especially since concern about fire safety is a top reason people opt for an electric model. All of our choices do not get hot to the touch even though they provide some warmth to the room. Electric fireplaces also provide homes without a chimney an inexpensive way to enjoy that relaxing glow. With this in mind, we included a few small, highly portable options that even renters can enjoy, or just for those who want to use it in multiple rooms.
In the portable category we added the Duraflame 3D Infrared for its precise digital temperature control, plus unlike our other portable option, the E-Flame Hamilton, the Duraflame incorporates infrared heating to retain the natural humidity in the air, so there's less dry air blowing around.
We replaced the Dimplex Purifire due to a decline in the quality of materials used over time. If you're looking for an insert to an existing fireplace, the Pura Flame Western offers very realistic logs and a wide range of size options so you won't have to do a lot of customizing to your existing structure.
Glamm Kit 3D Plus Imported from Portugal, the Glammfire brand offers an electric log insert with remarkably realistic flame created with its unique flame image projected onto a fine water vapor. It looks genuine even close up and the brand prides itself on being an eco-friendly option to a wood burning fire. glammfire.com
European Home E72 Only available through specialized dealers, the European Home E72 has a modern, three-sided display so occupants in a larger room can enjoy its glow from multiple angles. And at a full six feet in length, it's designed pull together exceptionally large rooms with a warm inviting focal point. The trimless finish enhances the contemporary feel. europeanhome.com
Choosing A Great Electric Fireplace
This applies both to the space available in the room where you hope to place an electric fireplace and to the size of the unit you're considering.
An electric fireplace is a wonderful way to bring warmth and charm to almost any room. It typically doesn't require any specialized installation or venting, nor does it produce any off-putting odors or messes that require cleaning. Thus the popularity of this device among homeowners, for hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast interior designers, and even for use in offices.
The first issue to be weighed is size. This applies both to the space available in the room where you hope to place an electric fireplace and to the size of the unit you're considering. Many electric fireplaces are designed to fit into the opening carved out for an existing fireplace. If you find one that fits your fireplace well, you would be wise to opt for it. If you're placing an electric fireplace on a wall without an existing mantle, measure the depth of any unit to make sure it won't protrude too far into the room, and make sure it can accommodate your television, speakers, books, or any other objects you hope to perch on the unit. Keep in mind there are slender electric fireplaces available that can even be wall mounted and only reach a few inches off the wall; these options won't serve as a traditional fireplace and mantle would, but they still provide warmth and a pleasant flicker.
Next make sure to consider the aesthetics of an electric fireplace. Some models are elegantly simply and perfect for the modern home, while others are quite traditional in appearance, with molding, panels, and even faux stone work. Electric fireplaces that feature lavish detail will call attention to themselves, so be sure you're pleased with that idea before making a purchase. Simpler, more demure units provide heat and soft glowing light without greatly changing the look or feel of a room.
Finally, make sure you have considered the primary function of your electric fireplace. That is to ask whether your electric fireplace is mainly purchased for heating, adding warmth to a room or an area of a property, or if you are buying it primarily for appearances. If the latter is the case, be sure you are happy with the actual simulated flame and the log graphics of a unit, not just with how it looks sitting there in the room.
Electric Fireplace Energy Efficiency
Electric fireplaces are extremely efficient in their energy use. Well over ninety percent of the electricity these units draw is directly converted into heat. You pair that with the fact that they utilize LED bulbs for their visualize effects, and you wind up with a very affordable way to heat and improve the ambiance of your home.
However, despite their relatively low energy consumption ratings, electric fireplaces are also usually only suitable for heating one decent sized room, with some warmed air making its way into the adjoining rooms. Thus an electric fireplace is not a whole home heating solution. This is not necessarily an issue, though, if you place your electric fireplace in the room you most often want heated. Putting a unit in your living room can keep that room warm while allowing you to reduce the setting of your central heating, for example, saving you overall HVAC expenses and providing comfort where you need it.
And even though an electric fireplace cannot heat an entire home, at least they will not lower the temperature in rooms they don't warm as an actual wood fire can do: wood burning fireplaces can create updrafts that actually draw heat out of rooms all around a home, ultimately leaving your property colder, not warmer.
A Brief History Of The Hearth
Fire has played a role in human life for hundreds of thousands of years, and some approximation of the fireplace has been an aspect of human dwelling for tens of thousands of years. Traditional fireplaces were often referred to as "hearths" and consisted of nothing more than an area of a domicile designated for burning fires. The hearth could take the shape of a large slab off stone, an area demarcated by bricks, or through other simple designs.
Fireplaces evolved over the centuries, with smoke capturing and directing features becoming common in the early Middle Ages. Fireplaces of the Medieval and Renaissance periods were designed with ever more durable materials, and the chimney became a standard feature. Chimneys direct smoke up and away from the home, keeping interior air safer for breathing and reducing the chance of errant embers from causing injury or damage.
Fireplace "technology" would improve slowly through the Renaissance all the way to the 19th Century, the era in which new fireplace options, such as gas burning units, finally became available.
Electric fireplaces were conceived of in the early 20th century with artificially illuminated models such as we know today not seeing widespread use until the 1980s.