Unless you are living alone in a cabin in the woods with a wood stove that uses a wood pellet or logs as its main source of heating, you are probably going to want to get something a bit more modern, but still fits a traditional fireplace aesthetic. If this sounds like you, you should look into getting an electric fireplace hearth for your home.
A fireplace hearth is traditionally defined as the floor of a fireplace, originating from the edge of the firebox where wood is burned, and often extending out in the room for additional protection from the heat. Typically, the hearth is made out of some kind of stone or concrete. The hearth can be flush to the floor, or it can be raised.
In traditional fireplaces, hearths were important not only to protect a wood floor from the fire, but it is also useful when cooking in a fireplace. Hot embers can be dragged out a bit to make a rudimentary stove to cook on. However, in modern times, people tend to use hearth as the description of a fireplace in general, as long as it looks somewhat like an open hearth style fireplace. Using hearth as a description can work for wood fireplaces, gas fireplaces, and electric fireplaces.
There are quite a lot of gas hearths out there like Fireside hearth fireplaces. A Fireside hearth fireplace is one that typically uses gas logs to attempt to look like a real fire. Other companies that produces gas hearths is Quadra Fire or Heat & Glo.
While gas hearths are a cleaner alternative to traditional open hearth fireplaces that burn wood as fuel, they still aren’t the best. Many people are choosing electric hearths as their choice of fireplace so that they can get the look and feel of a traditional fireplace without any of the hassle or problems that come with them.
Hearth and Home are hearth experts that put out a magazine that talks all about home fireplaces. They often give insights into some of the best products, ideas for custom fireplaces, and more. They have a wide tool set when it comes to their knowledge about all types of home fireplaces including wood, gas, and electric.
In the January 2020 issue of Hearth and Home, they highlighted electric fireplace hearths and talked about the innovative technology used in fireplaces such as MagikFlame.
There are many reasons that you might want to get an electric hearth instead of a wood one or even a gas one. Let’s break down all of the problems that come with wood hearths. Here are some problems specifically for wood fireplaces:
House Fire Risk – Wood fireplaces are at a constant risk of starting a house fire and it is one of the leading causes of them. Any fire that is exposed to flammable materials in the room is a huge risk, especially if that fire gets out of hand. Even more dangerous is when soot starts to build on the inner side of the chimney. This soot is very flammable, that’s why you have to call a professional to come and clean out the chimney multiple times per year. If it isn’t regularly cleaned out, that soot can catch on fire and eventually engulf your entire home in flames.
Noxious Emissions – Burning wood for fuel has two main emissions that are dangerous: smoke and carbon monoxide. While having good ventilation through the flue will help a lot when it comes to keeping these emissions out of your home, some will inevitably leak into your home. This means that you will always be a risk to smoke inhalation and potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.
Constant Hassle – Even when your fireplace is safe, it is still a big hassle just to use it. Before even using your fireplace you have to clean out the excess ash from the day before. Then you have to go to the trouble of building a fire. After waiting for the fire to finally start burning well enough, you have to continue to keep a close watch on it, both for safety and to add new wood when the fire begins to die down.
Can’t Hang TV – You can’t mount a TV above a wood fireplace due to the severe damage that will be caused to your TV. Don’t even try to risk it. Smoke damage from hanging a TV above a wood fireplace won’t be covered by most TV warranties. Because you can’t hang a TV there, you are losing out on valuable wall space which can be a problem for smaller rooms.
Smokey Smell – There is no escaping the smell of smoke from burning wood. It will fill your home and even after the fire has died out, it will still be deep in your furniture, your clothes, the curtains, and any carpet or rugs. Even if you think you can’t smell it anymore, it is usually just because you got used to it. If someone came over to your home, or you left wearing the same clothes that you wore in the room with the fireplace, other people will surely smell the smoke.
Stains – The smoke smell is only made worse when you realize that smoke stains everything in that room over time. Say goodbye to white walls and any light colored furniture. After a winter or two of fireplace use, you can expect a nice tint to anything in that room that was originally white or a lighter color.
Wood Storage – Burning wood to keep your fireplace warm for an entire winter can take a lot of wood. This can be so much wood that you don’t even have enough for storage. You will likely have to have multiple deliveries every year just to keep enough wood for fireplace usage.
Not Heat Efficient – Burning wood is wildly inefficient when it comes to heat usage. So much of that heat is lost through the chimney and there is nothing you can do about it because you need that ventilation for removing smoke and carbon monoxide. To add to this, you usually have to keep a window cracked in a room with a wood fireplace so that there is a steady stream of fresh air keeping the fire burning well. For all of these reasons, you have to burn a lot of wood to make up for all of this heat loss.
Gas fireplaces, while a little better, still have quite a few issues of their own:
Still Some Safety Concerns – While there aren’t nearly as many safety concerns as wood fireplaces, a gas fireplace still has some issues. First, fire is still present. If this fire isn’t enclosed behind a glass barrier, then it has the same risk of being exposed to flammable materials. While a gas fireplace doesn’t produce smoke, it still produces carbon monoxide when the gas that it burns doesn’t burn completely at the molecular level. This carbon monoxide issue can be even more dangerous because it’s not as obvious when it is entering the room without the smoke with it.
Gas Line Installation – Most types of gas fireplace need to have gas lines installed along with them. This can be costly and makes them a much more involved installation than a simple electric fireplace.
Poor Flame Quality – The flame quality tends to be quite poor. Unless you want to burn a ton of gas to keep a large flame, a gas fireplace usually has a rather weak flame that doesn’t flicker a whole lot like a traditional fire would.
Weird Flame Colors – Some types of gas fireplace use a gas that has a strange blue flame color that looks completely fake and unauthentic. If you at all care about having a hearth that looks somewhat traditional, you have to completely avoid these blue flames or other weird colors.
Gassy Smell – Although it isn’t quite as bad as the smoke from a wood fireplace, a gas fireplace still lets off a bit of a gassy smell that can be a bit unpleasant when it fills your home.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, electric fireplaces have tons of benefits:
Absolutely Safe – Electric fireplaces don’t have any of the harsh safety concerns like a fireplace that uses wood or gas as its fuel source. Electric fireplaces don’t involve any kind of fire at all and they don’t have anything harmful that fills the air of your home other than clean, warm air.
Peace of Mind – When using an electric fireplace in your home you have the peace of mind of not having to worry about safety but also the hassle of using the fireplace. This is because electric fireplaces are super simple to use and they will keep your home warm with an automatic thermostat.
Remote Control – If you do want to turn it on or off, or change any of the settings, you can do it comfortably from your seat with a convenient remote control.
Can Hang a TV – It is perfectly safe to hang a TV above an electric fireplace. There is no risk of damage from smoke.
Super Simple Installation – The installation of an electric fireplace is about as easy as it comes: you set it down and plug it in.
Cost Effective – Electric fireplaces are actually one of the most cost effective types of fireplaces to heat your home, both because of efficient infrared heating devices and automatic thermostats, but also because there is no heat loss since electric fireplaces don’t need any kind of ventilation. This means heat stays in the room much longer, allowing the fireplace to do a lot less work.
“Yes, if you currently have a wood open hearth style fireplace, you can easily convert it to an electric one with an insert unit”. These are placed into the firebox and allow you to use your existing hearth for the aesthetics but with all of the benefits of an electric fireplace.
There are two main things you need to look for in an electric fireplace: how well it heats and the visual flame quality. For heating, you should stick with an electric hearth that uses infrared quartz to warm a room. For visual effects, you want to go with something that is realistic and 3D like holographic flames.
Magnolia lifestyle products are a great way to decorate the area around your electric hearth and make it feel more like a part of your home. On top of hanging an interesting piece of wall art above your electric fireplace, there are many other things that you can use to decorate due to the safety of an electric fireplace. Many of these items can’t be used near a traditional fireplace due to their combustibility near the flames.
Here are some good Magnolia lifestyle products you can use to help decorate your new electric fireplace hearth:
Decorative Storage Shelves – On one or both sides of the hearth, you can place decorative wood storage shelves that match the color and material of your fireplace. This can be used to display some choice books, a small clock, or other decorative items.
Faux Potted Plants – If you want to give the look of greenery in the home, you can place some of these smaller faux potted plants on the mantle or some large ones on the floor next to the electric fireplace. These faux plants look incredibly real compared to most faux greenery that you might normally see for sale.
Oil Diffuser – To bring a fresh, pleasant smell of fragrant essential oils into your home, consider one of their minimal and clean oil diffusers.
Fluted Ceramic Candles – While the fireplace itself has a great sense of lighting, you can add some more dynamic lighting to the mantle top which will give the hearth an inverted triable shape to its glow. To do this, place one of these fluted ceramic candles on either side. Consider using scented candles for some added olfactory enhancement.
Decorative Glass Vases – Instead of using faux potted plants, add some greenery to your home by using the real thing. If you grow flowers outside, you can regularly cut fresh flowers and put it in one of these decorative glass vases. Just be sure to clean the water regularly so that the flowers stay fresh longer and the vase stays clean as well.
There are many brands out there. While you should avoid all of the cheap generic brands, when searching for good brands you should focus on electric hearths that have the most realistic visual flame effects possible. This will usually be a brand that uses holographic flames like MagikFlame.
If you want an electric hearth unit, you should go with something like a MagikFlame for these three reasons:
3D holographic flame technology with 30 different flames to choose from.
Powerful 5,200 infrared quartz heating unit inside.
Realistic sounds of crackling logs to further push the fireplace atmosphere.