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How Do Electric Fireplaces Work

how do electric fireplaces work

It’s always comforting to get out of the cold and step into a living room with a warm fireplace waiting for you. The cozy ambiance that the glow of a fireplace provides is unrivaled. However, these days, traditional fireplaces are becoming increasingly less common. Potential homeowners are finding it difficult to find a newer home with a fireplace due to increased regulation in many areas. Additionally, some people live in apartments or condos where having or building a new fireplace isn’t really feasible.

Of course, there are alternatives to having a wood fireplace. Some people choose to get one of the different types of gas fireplaces. While a gas fireplace can be a decent real fire alternative to wood-burning, they tend to have strange colored flames that make them not quite look like the real thing. On top of that, it requires the costly hassle of getting gas lines installed in the location of the fireplace.

Luckily, there is another great alternative to wood-burning fireplaces: an electric fireplace. Modern electric fireplaces have come a long way over the years. They have a variety of methods that they use to simulate real flames. Some also produce crackling log sounds so that it is difficult to distinguish an electric fireplace from a traditional wood-burning one.

This post is going to answer the question: how do electric fireplaces work? It will also help you decide if an electric fireplace is a good fit for your home.

In this post, you will learn:

  • What Are The Different Types Of Electric Fireplaces? – We go over the different kinds of electric fireplaces and which should be used in different home situations. 
  • How Do Electric Fireplaces Work To Make Heat? – This will explain how exactly electric fireplaces produce heat compared to wood or gas. 
  • How Do Electric Fireplaces Work To Make Flickering Flames? – This will go over different types of technology that electric fireplaces use to produce a flame effect. 
  • How Do Electric Fireplaces Work To Make Crackling Log Sounds? – An explanation of the sounds that accompany the realistic flames technology and how it pushes the emersion. 
  • What Are The Downsides To Traditional Fireplaces? – We will cover all of the downsides that come with fireplaces that run on wood. We’ll also look at why fireplaces that run on gas also have some downsides. 
  • What Are The Benefits of Electric Fireplaces? – We cover all of the incredible benefits of having a fireplace that runs purely on electricity. 
  • What is MagikFlame? – We jump into the MagikFlame story and examine some of the products in their lineup. 
  • How Many Electric Fireplaces Does A Home Need? – We explain how zone heating works and if it is needed in your home. 
  • Do Electric Fireplaces Need Extensive Construction Work To Install? – We cover how much actual construction is needed by installing an electric fireplace. 
  • Can You Convert A Traditional Fireplace Into An Electric Fireplace? – We teach you how to convert your existing fireplace into one that is electric.

What Are The Different Types Of Electric Fireplaces?

While there are several different varieties and options when it comes to electric fireplaces, with different technology included, they will usually fit into one of these four general types:

  • Electric Fireplace Mantels – These are units that already include the mantle and can simply be placed against a wall and plugged into any standard 120-volt electrical outlet. Sometimes these come in a single unit, but they can also be found as a two-piece combo. You will have the mantel that is placed against the wall and the actual fireplace unit that is placed below it where the firebox would be. Some of these versions come as part of a larger media center with an included TV stand for a more modern look. 
  • Wall Mounted Electric Fireplaces – These are fireplaces that can hang on a wall. Some can even be inserted directly into the drywall if you want your fireplace to be flush against the wall. When purchasing a wall-mounted version, it will usually include all of the necessary equipment to mount it yourself. If you don’t want an extension cord hanging down the wall, you may need to have an electrician install a new outlet or fish the line inside the wall down to an outlet you already have. 
  • Electric Fireplace Inserts – If you already have an open chimney style fireplace, one of these electric fireplaces can insert into the firebox. A fireplace insert gains all the benefits of using an electric fireplace compared to the old fireplace in your home, plus you still get the authentic chimney look. 
  • Freestanding Electric Fireplaces – These fireplaces work much in the same way as a regular space heater that can be moved from room to room. Unlike a traditional space heating device, this is designed with a fireplace aesthetic. While it is convenient to be able to easily move these between rooms, it is the least authentic-looking fireplace on this list.

How Do Electric Fireplaces Work To Make Heat?

Electric fireplaces make heat by using convection. Convection is the transfer of heat that occurs during the bulk movement of a gas or liquid.

First, an electric fireplace will draw cool air into the unit. A heating element, usually in the form of a heating coil, warms the air inside of the unit. The warmed air is then gently circulated back into the room by a blower. Because the warm air is produced by an electric heater, there is no burning or emissions of any kind.

How Do Electric Fireplaces Work To Make Flickering Flames?

There are many different ways that electric fireplaces replicate the flames of a fireplace. Some brands like Dimplex use water vapor to get a 3D effect. Some brands use a combination of mechanical motors, light bulbs, LED lights, and more. These more mechanical types are popular for the lower end but aren’t quite as realistic.

The most realistic fireplaces are ones like MagikFlame that use holographic flame technology. This futuristic technology is when holographic flames are projected onto a physical set of logs. Because the flames are virtual, it allows a lot more variety of flame style and color. This allows it to be much more realistic and truly capture the feel of a more traditional fireplace.

How Do Electric Fireplaces Work To Make Crackling Log Sounds?

While not all electric fireplaces have realistic sounds to accompany the flames, the best ones do. These sounds are usually produced by quality speakers and electronic devices embedded inside of the fireplace.

By including the sound of crackling logs to an electric fireplace with quality simulated flames, it makes the experience feel incredibly realistic and almost indistinguishable from sitting in front of a real fireplace.

What Are The Downsides To Traditional Fireplaces?

There are several downsides to fireplaces that burn wood as well as downsides to fireplaces that burn gas.

Fireplaces that involve any kind of burning, especially ones that burn wood, always add to the risk of a house fire. This makes them a little less safe compared to an electric one. Fires can start from excess soot build up inside of the chimney, a random spark popping off a log into the room, or even a fiery log rolling out of the fireplace.

Fireplaces that burn wood require regular clean up. You need to clean ash out of it, and you need to have soot cleaned out of the flue several times per year.

Burning wood and even gas can lead to an incomplete burn. An incomplete burn produces carbon monoxide that can dangerously fill your home.

A fireplace that burns wood requires you to have a large supply of wood that is good for burning. Not only do you need a place to store all of this wood, but wood burning can be a very expensive way to heat your home. It also produces smoke that can give your home and clothes a smoky smell. This smoky smell can be quite difficult to get out.

A common open-hearth style fireplace usually requires you to keep a window cracked. By cracking a window it allows a steady stream of fresh air to help keep the fire burning hot. Unfortunately, this also causes a cold draft near the window and makes it less efficient to heat the home.

Although gas fireplaces are more efficient than one that burns wood, their flames aren’t nearly realistic enough. The vented style fireplaces burn yellow and orange, but still have an artificial quality to them. The unvented style gas fireplaces burn blue and look completely unnatural. In addition, sometimes gas fireplaces can give off a slight natural gas smell similar to a stove or oven.

What Are The Benefits of Electric Fireplaces?

Between a fireplace that burns wood, a fireplace that burns gas, and a fireplace that runs on electricity, electric fireplaces are the most cost-effective way to heat your home. With the addition of heating your home in zones, you can see a significant difference in the amount you spend every winter to keep your home warm.

Electric fireplaces are incredibly safe for your home. An old fireplace that burns wood is one of the most common causes of devastating house fires. Because there is no burning involved, electric fireplaces are much safer. Because there is no burning, there is also no added risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from a fireplace that runs on electricity.

There is no cleanup or flame maintenance required with an electric fireplace. Fireplaces that burn wood require the flames to constantly be stoked and new logs to be placed. You also have to clean the leftover ash up from the fireplace daily. On top of all of this, you need to have your chimney cleaned several times per year by a professional.

Electric fireplaces don’t require venting of any kind. Fireplaces that burn wood and some that burn gas requires ventilation for them to be safe to use in your home. The ventilation also needs to be cleaned and maintained. If you don’t already have a chimney or venting system, it can be an incredibly expensive construction project to have it built onto your home.

Many electric fireplaces come with remotes so that you can easily turn the unit on and off. It also allows you to control the thermostat from the comfort of your seat. The remote control will usually have additional options involving the flame visuals and sounds.

If the electric fireplace unit you purchase doesn’t have heat that blows directly up, it is safe to hang a wall mounted TV right above your fireplace. This isn’t usually safe with a normal fireplace as the rising heat can damage the TV. The TV can also start to have a problem with soot building up on it.

how do electric fireplaces work

What is MagikFlame?

MagikFlame is one of the most advanced brands that make electric fireplaces. Their fireplaces use futuristic holographic flame technology that projects flames directly onto a physical log set. It produces 30 different ultra-realistic flames for any mood.

In addition to the flames, MagikFlame electric fireplaces produce authentic crackling log sounds so that you feel like you are in front of a real fireplace. Because of the addition of the crackling log sound to the authentic-looking flames, many guests won’t even be aware that you are using an electric fireplace.

The built-in heater that comes with MagikFlame electric fireplaces produces 5,200 BTUs of heat. This will help keep your home incredibly warm and cozy during the colder parts of the year.

MagikFlame offers several different models of electric fireplaces to fit your different needs. Let’s highlight a few of them:

  • ArtemisFor a luxurious, modern look to your home, MagikFlame offers the Artemis fireplace. The mantle of this fireplace has a bright white color to contrast the black fireplace that it houses. Featuring sleek right angles, interesting square and rectangle shapes, and beautiful crown molding, the Artemis will be the focal point of any room that it occupies. The mantle is made from high quality wood. The fireplace unit itself comes fully featured like all MagikFlame products. 
  • ChurchillThe Churchill is the perfect fireplace for smaller homes, apartments, and condos. This fireplace fits snugly into the corner, taking up very little space in the room compared to the units that take up more space along the wall. The sturdy build and spacious top can support TVs up to a certain size. This fireplace is better for people who want their fireplace a little bit more out of the way instead of the main feature of the room. 
  • MagikFlame InsertThe MagikFlame fireplace insert allows you to convert any other fireplace that burns wood or gas into a fireplace that runs completely on electricity. By doing so, you save money heating your home because wood and gas will cost you more for the same amount of heat generated. If you don’t already have a fireplace to convert, these inserts also work well if you want to build yourself a custom fireplace mantle. If this is the route you want to go, just be sure to keep the proper amount of space under your mantle for the insert to fit.

These are just a few of the electric fireplace models that MagikFlame offers. Many more fireplace models can be seen on our website.

If you are thinking that a MagikFlame electric fireplace might be for you, you’re curious how MagikFlame is built, or you want to see some MagikFlame reviews, check out the MagikFlame electric fireplace buying guide.

How Many Electric Fireplaces Does A Home Need?

The amount of electric fireplaces needed for a home is largely going to depend on how many rooms you have, how many people live there, and the number of square feet involved.

If you just have a small apartment or condo with a single bedroom, then one electric fireplace may be enough to heat your home. However if you have a large home, a big family, and several rooms, you may want to consider getting one electric fireplace for the main room and additional ones for other rooms.

While it can seem expensive to get so many electric fireplaces for a home, because of zone heating, you can actually save a lot on your electrical bill compared to using a central heating system. You simply turn on the fireplaces only when rooms are being used.

For many people, you would turn on the fireplace in the main room during the day and keep the doors closed off to the additional bedrooms. At night when people go to sleep, you can turn off the main fireplace and then turn on the electric fireplaces in rooms that are being used. If the doors of the rooms are kept shut, it takes little energy to keep the room warm throughout the night.

Do Electric Fireplaces Need Extensive Construction Work To Install?

Electric fireplaces need very little to no construction. Most units can be installed simply by placing them against the wall and plugging them in.

Any kind of construction is only needed if you are doing things like building a custom mantle around a unit or installing a new electrical outlet. Even in these situations, the work needed is incredibly minimal compared to the work needed to build a new fireplace that burns wood or gas.

Can You Convert A Traditional Fireplace Into An Electric Fireplace?

Yes, you can covert an open fireplace that burns wood into one that is electric. After thoroughly cleaning out the fireplace and securely closing off the flue, there are electrical fireplaces that can be installed into the opening of the old fireplace. This kind of setup will genuinely feel the most authentic, especially if you are working with a brick fireplace and chimney.

Many people choose to do this conversion because of the added safety, cost-effectiveness, and convenience of choosing an electric fireplace.

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