Many people are starting to see all the problems using their traditional fireplace that burns wood. Some people don’t even have a fireplace yet, and can’t legally construct them because fireplaces are regulated in their area due to the fire safety hazards.
People in both situations are looking for alternatives. One alternative some homeowners have found is installing a gas fireplace. While this can be a slight improvement over wood-burning fireplaces, it still comes with a few problems and isn’t the most cost-effective solution.
This is why so many people are choosing to install a new electric fireplace into their home or convert their existing fireplace into one that runs on electricity by using an electric fireplace insert kit.
Of course, people also wonder about the benefits of electric fireplaces over the other types, how safe electric fireplaces are, and what they need to know when installing one. This guide will help answer all of those questions and more.
In this post, you will learn:
- The Problems That Come With Wood Fireplaces – This section will highlight the four common types of traditional fireplaces usually found in older homes. It will also explain all of the downsides of using one of these fireplaces, including all of the problems with safety.
- Why Gas Fireplaces Still Have Their Problems – There are two main types of gas fireplaces. Despite gas fireplaces being a little better than one that uses wood as its fuel source, these fireplaces still have their own problems and safety concerns to worry about.
- Different Types Of Electric Fireplaces – Electric fireplaces have come a long way. This section will list the four main types of electric fireplaces that people choose to install in their homes and all of the benefits that come with them.
- Why You Should Consider A MagikFlame Electric Fireplace – Here, we will talk about the best electric fireplace on the market and why it is probably the best choice for your home.
- Are There Safety Hazards That Come With Electric Fireplaces? – This section covers the few safety hazards of installing an electric fireplace.
- Where Can I Safely Plug In My Electric Fireplace? – The importance of choosing the right place to plug-in electric fireplaces.
- Can I Use A Surge Protector Or Extension Cord? – This section covers the safety concerns of using extension cords or surge protectors with electric fireplaces.
- Is Installing A New Electrical Outlet Difficult? – Here, we will talk about putting a new outlet into your home if there isn’t one within a reasonable distance of your electric-style fireplace.
- My Home Has Old Wiring. Should I Call An Electrician? – When and why you should call a licensed professional to help you with your home wiring before installing electric fireplaces.
The problems that come with wood fireplaces
There are four main types of wood-burning fireplaces, and each of these has their own problems to worry about:
- Traditional Open Hearth Fireplace – These are your typical fireplaces. They have a large open firebox where logs are burned. Usually, people place a screen in front of the fire. This slightly helps protect against random sparks or a fiery log that can land on your flammable carpeting or throw rugs.
- Enclosed Wood-Burning Fireplace – These are similar to the open hearth style fireplaces listed above, but they have a full enclosure in the front for safety and to help the wood burn a little more efficiently. The front enclosure is usually made of glass so that the fire is easily visible. Despite these being slightly safer than an open-hearth fireplace, they still risk combustible soot build-up in the chimney starting home fires.
- Wood Stoves – These aren’t really what people picture in their head when they hear the word fireplace. However, these are still popular in small cabins or other wilderness dwellings. Wood is placed inside and burned, and smoke escapes through a vent pipe that is run through the roof of the home. As wood burns, the metal stove radiates heat to warm the room, and some simple cooking can be done on the top of the stove. Because it’s based on the wood burning inside, there is no real way to regulate heat when cooking other than the distance of the pan to the stove.
- Enclosed Fireplace Insert Kits – These are kits that allow you to insert an enclosed fireplace unit into the space of an open-hearth fireplace. Many people install these to make their fireplaces a little safer and more efficient. Still, these goals can be better achieved by installing an insert that runs entirely on electricity with a conversion kit.
Because traditional wood-burning fireplaces are some of the most common reasons for house fires, the National Fire Protection Association has codes and regulations that must be followed.
Traditional fireplaces like this also have high risks of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning due to an incomplete burn of wood used.
On top of all the safety hazards, wood-burning fireplaces are also just a pain to maintain and clean. To continue to use the fireplace, you have to regularly add new logs on when the old ones are almost burned up. You have to clean up all of the messy ash left at the bottom of your fireplace after each fire. On top of all of this, you also have to call a professional to thoroughly clean your chimney at least a couple of times per year, depending on how often you use your fireplace.
Why gas fireplaces still have their problems
Gas fireplaces come off as a reasonable alternative to wood fireplaces, but many people don’t realize all of the problems that still come with them. There are two main types of gas fireplaces, and each has their different issues:
- Direct Vented Built-In Gas Fireplace – These are gas fireplaces that use a gas that requires venting. The as used produces an orangish or yellowish color of flame that somewhat looks like the fire of a traditional wood fireplace.
- Ventless Built-In Gas Fireplace – These are fireplaces that use a different type of gas that doesn’t require any kind of ventilation. Because of the gas used, the flame of these kinds of fireplaces is usually blue.
Gas fireplaces definitely burn a little cleaner than fireplaces that burn wood. This makes them slightly safer since you won’t be inhaling any smoke. However, they can still produce carbon monoxide from an incomplete burn of the gas. Additionally, anytime you have any kind of flame present, the risk of a house fire is increased.
The flame of a gas fireplace tends to look a little weak and doesn’t necessarily resemble the flickering flame of a traditional wood fireplace that well. The orange or yellow glow of a vented gas fireplace still doesn’t quite match the color of a traditional fire that well. The blue glow of a ventless gas fireplace doesn’t look authentic.
No matter which kind of fireplace you want to install, you would have to install new gas lines to the fireplace, which can be a costly and time-consuming construction project requiring professionals’ help.
Different types of electric fireplaces
There are four main types of electric fireplaces that people commonly put in their homes. Each has its own advantages based on what your situation calls for. Here are the four types:
- Fireplace Mantel – This is the standard type of electric fireplace. These can be a unit that sits flat against the wall or even a corner unit. Typically, these units come in two different parts so it is easier to install so that customers can choose a specific mantel style for their home. Sometimes, these fireplaces can be incorporated into a TV stand to help save additional room in small dwellings like apartments or condos.
- Wall Mount Fireplace – A wall mount fireplace is an electric fireplace that can be mounted directly onto a wall, just as the name suggests. For a more modern look, you can also install these to be flush inside of the drywall. Units like these will usually come with any necessary equipment or brackets that are needed to hang these safely.
- Fireplace Insert – These are electric fireplaces that can be inserted inside of an open hearth or other fireplaces. Essentially, it is the same fireplace unit with the fireplace mantel listed above, except these don’t have the mantel. These are the ones that people tend to get if they have an existing fireplace but want to switch to a safer, more energy-efficient fireplace that runs entirely on electricity.
- Freestanding Fireplace – These are basically space heaters made to look like fireplaces. They are mobile and can be moved into different rooms as needed. They tend to be smaller and produce slightly less heat. They usually don’t look as realistic as the other electric fireplaces on this list. There are more safety concerns with these due to different outlets being used and the possibility of cord damage from repeatedly plugging it in and out.
Not needing ventilation or major construction to install electric fireplaces is a huge benefit. They are also significantly more cost-effective to heat your home when compared to fireplaces that burn gas or wood. Including zone heating with multiple electric fireplaces in your home makes them even more energy efficient. The savings in your heating bill from a high-end electric fireplace will allow it to pay for itself.
The heating elements in electric fireplaces are much safer because they are safely enclosed within the unit and utilize no burning of any kind. The lack of burning also makes the air you breathe in your home much safer compared to the potentially toxic air of a wood or gas fireplace.
Many quality electric fireplaces on the market come with a remote control that allows you to turn the fireplace on or off, change the thermostat settings, and toggle additional features like crackling sound effects.
Why you should consider a MagikFlame electric fireplace
MagikFlame electric fireplaces are one of the most realistic electric fireplaces that you can find on the market. This is due to their unique futuristic HoloFlame technology. These units have 30 different flames that you can switch between depending on the mood that you are going for. A holographic flickering flame is projected directly onto a physical log set for amazingly realistic 3D visuals.
The realistic flame effect of MagikFlame electric fireplaces is made that much more realistic due to the authentic crackling log sounds that can be heard. You can also use the MagikFlame smartphone app to switch it to nature sounds whenever you want to.
The visual and sound effects combine to make these electric fireplaces so realistic that many guests who come to your home for the first time may not realize it is an electric fireplace.
It’s not just the visuals and sounds but the warmth as well. Each MagikFlame fireplace comes with a powerful 5,200 BTU heater built directly into it. Depending on its size, this will heat big rooms of large houses or even warm an entire condo, small home, or apartment.
Check out the MagikFlame fireplace buyer guide.
Are there safety hazards that come with electric fireplaces?
There aren’t too many safety hazards with electric fireplaces compared to ones that burn wood or gas.
The most important safety hazard to be aware of is if your home has proper wiring that is up to code. Bad wiring in a home can be an electrical fire waiting to happen. If you live in an old house or are unsure about your wiring situation, it is easy to call a professional to take a look at everything. They can even inspect the specific outlet where you plan to plug in your new fireplace to ensure there won’t be any problems.
Another concern is things obstructing the source of the heat. Ensure there is nothing in the way of space where heat blows out of your electric fireplace to prevent overheating. You also want to make sure anything combustible is far enough from the heat source so that it doesn’t randomly catch fire. This is unlikely to be an issue as long as you keep the area around your electric fireplace clean, organized, and free of clutter.
Where can I safely plug in my electric fireplace?
Your electric fireplace should be plugged directly into a standard home outlet. It should have a third hole for the ground wire to ensure maximum safety. If you don’t currently have an outlet near the location where you will be installing your electric fireplace, you can have a new outlet put in quite easily by a professional.
Can I use a surge protector or extension cord?
While some electrical devices can sometimes safely be plugged into a power strip or surge protector, like a coffee maker, toaster, or microwave oven, you should never plug electric fireplaces into one of these.
Using a power strip with electric fireplaces can cause serious problems, especially when you don’t know how many amps the power strip is rated for.
Instead, it is recommended that you always plug the power cord directly into a standard 120-volt outlet. If the wall outlet is a GFI type, that’s even better as they monitor the flow of electricity for additional safety and to prevent electric shock. Once a surge to the ground wire is detected, the outlet will shut off.
This is also true for a heavy-duty space heater. A space heater should always be plugged into its own dedicated receptacle to prevent problems that could cause overheating that can lead to a fire. Proper wiring and a quality electric fireplace make your device’s overheating less likely.
Additionally, you want to make sure any electric heater, space heater, or otherwise doesn’t have a damaged cord. This can lead to electric shock or fire.
Is installing a new electrical outlet difficult?
It isn’t very expensive or time-consuming to install a new outlet in your home if you need one where you will be placing your electric fireplace. However, you should call a licensed professional to do this for you to ensure that it is done right and up to code. Doing this yourself without professional experience can result in dangerous electrical problems.
My home has old wiring. should I call an electrician?
Yes, absolutely. Any wiring in an old home should be looked at by a professional who can ensure that your wiring is up to code and safe for your home. This is true even if you aren’t installing an electric-style fireplace. Some old homes had different standards when they were built and may not be rated for modern-day devices. A professional can check all of the outlets, the circuit breaker, the ground wire, and more to ensure your house is safe.