The 9 Best Electric Fireplaces
9. Summer Corner Media TV Stand Combo
- comes with a 1-year warranty
- works fine against flat walls
- particle board not solid wood
|Brand||Summer Corner Media TV|
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
8. AKDY Black Freestanding Insert
- flat panel glass front
- starts up at the push of a button
- doesn't get hot enough
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
7. Pleasant Hearth Riley Espresso
- beautifully glowing ember bed
- simple flame and temp controls
- extremely heavy and hard to move
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
6. Touchstone 80001 Onyx
- five flame intensity settings
- heat override safety switch
- expensive electrical draw
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
5. Pleasant Hearth 248-44-34M
- 1350-watt heater
- backlit lcd temperature readout
- simple screwdriver assembly
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
4. SEI Antebellum Media White
- mantel supports up to 85 lbs
- heats 1500 cubic feet
- scratches easily
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
3. SEI Cartwright Convertible Classic Espresso
- plugs into any standard wall outlet
- leds won't burn out
- uses very little energy
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
2. Real Flame Crawford Slim Line
- gives off 4700 btus per hour
- firmly anchors to the wall
- timer runs automatically
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
1. SEI Tennyson Bookcase
- intuitive thermostat
- adjustable flame and brightness
- protective glass stays cool
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
Choosing A Great Electric Fireplace
An electric fireplace is a wonderful way to bring warmth and charm to almost any room. They require no specialized installation, don't require venting, and produce no odors that can be off-putting or messes that require cleaning. Thus the popularity of these devices among homeowners, for hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast interior designers, and even for use in offices.
Most electric fireplaces cost several hundred dollars; some are priced below two hundred dollars; some cost more than five hundred dollars. The majority of such units are in the range of affordability for the homeowner, business owner, or for the renter who wants to embrace their space.
Beyond budget, there are three major factors to be considered.
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. With its heater on high, most electric fireplaces will cost less than twenty cents per hour of operation in energy costs. That equates to less then five dollars per day, and it's unlikely you will ever leave your electric fireplace running for a full 24 hours anyway. (In "flame effect" mode, without the heat switched on, these units usually consume only about two cents of electricity per hour thanks to their efficient LED bulbs. That means less than fifty cents for an entire day's worth of pleasant flickering glow.)
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. Consider that with the hundreds or even thousands of dollars a wood fireplace can cost annually, what with the cost of wood itself, inspections, cleanings, and repairs that a traditional fireplace periodically needs, and an electric fireplace becomes ever more alluring.
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.