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What Is An Electric Fireplace?

what is an electric fireplace

There is nothing quite like the warm, comforting glow of a fireplace on a cold, dark winter’s night. The idea alone conjures up feelings of nostalgia and cherished cozy moments that we share with our ancestors who have been warming themselves at fireplaces for generations. Fireplaces are still a wonderful focal point to the design aesthetics of the modern day living area.

Unfortunately, wood fireplaces aren’t really as great as they used to be. These days, there are much safer and cost-effective ways to heat your home. Nevertheless, we still yearn for the ambiance and atmosphere that fireplaces provide.

This is where electric fireplaces come into play. Electric fireplaces have many misconceptions about their ease of use, ability to warm your home, and even how well they can replicate the look and feel of a traditional wood fireplaces. However, electric fireplaces work well as a heating system, and their ability to replicate realistic flames have come such a long way.

This post is going to break down the major benefits that electric fireplaces have over fireplaces that are more traditional. We will explain exactly how these incredible machines work better than a wood fireplace and why it is a great alternative for your home’s living room.

In This Post, You Will Learn:

  • Wood-Burning Fireplaces and Why They Aren’t As Great As You Think – Here we’ll break down the common types of wood fireplaces, safety concerns, and the hassle of maintaining them.
  • Why A Gas Fireplace Will Never Be The Best Alternative To A Traditional Fireplace – While some people think a gas style fireplace is a good alternative to ones that burn wood, we will break down why this isn’t exactly the case and why there is a much better alternative.
  • Common Misconceptions About Electric Fireplaces – There are quite a few myths about electric fireplaces that simply aren’t true and we are here to help correct these misconceptions.
  • The Different Types of Electric Fireplaces – Breaking down the different types of electric fireplaces that people can choose to put in their home and the benefits of using an electric fireplace.
  • All Electric Fireplaces Aren’t Created Equally – Why different brands and models of electric fireplaces can vary wildly in quality and why it is important to choose the right one.
  • How Electric Fireplaces Heat Your Home – From the heat source to the heating element, how the electric heaters of these fireplaces efficiently work to keep your home feeling nice and toasty.
  • The Different Ways Electric Fireplaces Produce A Flame Effect – Realistically simulating a real flame is vital to a good fireplace. This section covers how different technology works to reproduce these flames.
  • Why You Should Consider A MagikFlame Electric Fireplace – Highlighting one of the absolute best electric fireplaces that are on the market today and exactly what sets them apart from the competition.
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Fireplaces – Answering questions that frequently come up about electric fireplaces.

Wood-Burning Fireplaces and Why They Aren’t As Great As You Think

There are four main types of fireplaces that burn wood:

  • Open Hearth – An open hearth fireplace is the traditional fireplace that you’re thinking of. It has a large open firebox for wood to be burned. It is connected to a chimney or some other venting. These aren’t very energy efficient due to a lot of heat being lost through the chimney.
  • Enclosed – An enclosed fireplace is almost the same as an open hearth fireplace. The major difference is that a glass panel encloses the firebox for more efficient use. Heat is dispersed through separate vents into the room rather than the large opening of an open hearth style fireplace.
  • Insert – A fireplace insert is simply an enclosed system that can be installed into an open hearth version of a fireplace to convert into something that is slightly safer and more energy eficient.
  • Wood Stove – Wood stoves are fireplace-like devices that are commonly used in wilderness dwellings like cabins or hunting lodges. Wood burning inside of the stove allows heat to radiate and warm the room. The top is flat so that some basic cooking can be done on it.

Wood fireplaces are very unsafe. Sparks from the logs can shoot out and singe carpets or furniture. A fiery log can even roll out of the fireplace onto your floor. Excess soot build up inside of the flue can lead to a bad house fire. Additionally, there is a serious risk of smoke inhalation and poisoning from carbon monoxide, not to be confused with carbon dioxide.

Wood fireplaces require a lot of expensive wood to be purchased to keep you warm throughout the winter. This wood also needs a large area to store it.

Maintaining wood fireplaces can be a problem. You have to add logs to the fireplace regularly. You need to keep the fireplace free of excess ash buildup. You also have to pay a professional to clean your flue several times per year for safety reasons.

Why A Gas Fireplace Will Never Be The Best Alternative To A Traditional Fireplace

While a gas fireplace sounds like a slightly better option, it’s not the best. Here are the main two types of gas fireplaces:

  • Ventless Built-In Gas Fireplaces – These kinds of gas fireplaces don’t require any kind of ventilation, but they require a specific type of gas to be used that produces a blue flame.
  • Direct Vented Built-In Gas Fireplaces – These kinds of fireplaces produce an orange or yellow flame color. However, the gas used requires that they have ventilation installed, usually in the form of a pipe.

Anywhere that you want to install a gas style fireplace, you will have to hire a professional to run expensive gas lines to that location. You also need to build a housing unit for these gas fireplaces because they can’t be simply placed against the wall.

The blue flame looks completely unnatural. Even the orange and yellow flame of the vented variety looks a little off compared to a fireplace that burns wood. Some gas fireplaces come with log inserts, but the flames tend to be weak and not flicker properly. This leaves you with a fireplace that simply doesn’t look very authentic. Additionally, the flames on these fireplaces can sometimes give off a slight gassy smell like when you turn on your kitchen stove.

Common Misconceptions About Electric Fireplaces

There are a few misconceptions about electric fireplaces that prevent them from being seen as the ideal solution to home heating.

  • Myth: They Are Hard To Install

    An electric fireplace actually involves a very easy installation. For most units you simply place it where you want it into an electrical outlet. You don’t have to do any serious construction work. All you need is a wall outlet close so you can avoid using an extension cord.
  • Myth: They Cost Too Much To Run

    Electric fireplaces are actually the most cost-effective way to heat your home when it comes to fireplaces. With the added benefit of zone heating from having multiple fireplaces in a large home, you’ll actually have a very low cost on your energy bills. Much less than using wood or gas for the same amount of heat.
  • Myth: They Don’t Look Realistic

    While some electric fireplaces can look cheap and tacky, high end electric fireplaces with realistic flame effects are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
  • Myth: They Don’t Produce Enough Heat

    This simply isn’t true. Many luxury electric fireplaces have a powerful fireplace heater that can often outperform heat from fireplaces that burn wood or gas. Depending on the square feet of your home, they may be able to heat the entire home with one fireplace. When using zone heating, you can further reduce the loss of supplemental heat by closing off rooms that aren’t being used.

The Different Types of Electric Fireplaces

There are four main types of completely electric fireplaces that homeowners choose to use:

  • Electric Fireplace Mantel – These fireplaces are easily placed against a wall or in the corner depending on what style you have. They tend to look very traditional. Commonly, these units will come in two pieces, the fireplace, and the mantle itself. This makes them easier to install and allows customers to choose a mantle style that fits their preferences. Sometimes these come as part of a larger entertainment center or TV stand.
  • Wall Mount Electric Fireplace – These are units that you can hang on your wall, or sometimes install flush into the drywall instead of sitting on the floor. They usually come with all of the proper equipment for you to be able to mount it yourself.
  • Electric Fireplace Insert – The electric insert kit is the main part of the fireplace without the mantle included. This allows them to convert existing fireplaces into ones that run on electricity. If you install one of these in an open hearth style fireplace, they tend to look the most traditional.
  • Freestanding Electric Fireplace – These are more like space heaters than traditional fireplaces. They have the advantage of being easier to move from room to room, but they tend to not work as well or look as authentic.

All Electric Fireplaces Aren’t Created Equally

It’s important to note that all electric fireplaces aren’t created equal. The amount of heat they produce, how realistic the effects of their flames are, and their general aesthetic can vary wildly.

Brands and models make a big difference when purchasing an electric fireplace for your home. Cheap brands that can easily be found on Amazon will have tacky mechanical flame effects that are nothing more than light bulbs reflecting off of a spinning cylinder.

For this reason, it is vital that you choose a high end, luxury electric fireplace so that you don’t regret your purchase that will certainly happen if you go with a cheap one on Amazon. Because the high end electric fireplaces produce so much heat efficiently compared to cheaper models, it is incredibly easy to justify the more expensive purchase. It’s good not to think of it as an additional cost but an investment in your home and your family.

When choosing an electric fireplace, find something that realistically mimics the visuals and atmosphere that standard wood fireplaces have. Make sure that it has a powerful heater, plenty of additional features, and an easy way to control it like a remote control or, even better, a smartphone app.

How Electric Fireplaces Heat Your Home

While traditional fireplaces that burn wood or gas typically radiate heat, an electric fireplace uses convection to keep your home warm. The cool air of the room is pulled into the electric fireplace unit and warmed around a heating coil. Once the air inside is warm, it is then gently and quietly recirculated back into the room.

Since electric fireplaces are an enclosed system that don’t require venting, there is no heat loss leaving the home through a chimney or pipe. The heat is efficiently used. Closing off doors to unused rooms allows the fireplaces to be used even more efficiently.

The Different Ways Electric Fireplaces Produce A Flame Effect

There are a variety of ways that electric fireplaces produce flame effects.

Cheap electric fireplaces could be as simple as some colored lights turning on and off in front of a colored flame shaped panel.

Electric fireplaces start to get a little better when they use more advanced technology. Dimplex starts to get there a little bit with their Dimplex Opti-Myst fireplace that projects light effects onto water vapor. However, this still isn’t quite as realistic as it can be.

MagikFlame is definitely the most realistic electric fireplace on the market. They use unique holographic technology called holoflame. This projects realistic flames and embers as a hologram onto a physical log set. This provides a realistic 3D experience that other brands have trouble competing with in today’s market.

what is an electric fireplace

Why You Should Consider A MagikFlame Electric Fireplace

The previously mentioned holoflame technology that is used in MagikFlame electric fireplaces produces 30 different types of flames. With these options, you can select the right flames for the right mood.

Along with their unparalleled flame technology, MagikFlame fireplaces have realistic crackling log sounds to give you the full sense that you are sitting in front of a real fireplace.

Combining the audio with the visuals will make many guests not even realize they are standing in front of an electric fireplace.

The heater that comes inside every MagikFlame unit produces a toasty 5,200 BTUs of heat. A single unit can easily warm a large room or even an entire home depending on the size.

If that weren’t enough, MagikFlame has a great, easy to use smartphone app that allows you to control the thermostat and other features from anywhere in your home.

If MagikFlame sounds like it might be the perfect solution for you and you want to learn more, check out this MagikFlame electric fireplace buying guide.

If you want to see some MagikFlame products in action, check out the MagikFlame video demo gallery.

If you want to see how a MagikFlame product can improve the aesthetics of your home, check out the MagikFlame photo idea gallery.

Check here if you want to see exactly how MagikFlame is built and why they are one of the highest quality luxury fireplaces on the market.

Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Fireplaces

  • Can I hang a TV above my electric fireplace?

    Yes, with most electric fireplaces it is safe to hang your TV above the fireplace as long as the heat doesn’t exit the fireplace at an upward angle. This is much better than wood fireplaces that will cause damage if you hang TVs above them.
  • Can I turn my existing fireplace into an electric fireplace?

    Yes, with an electric fireplace insert, you can easily convert existing fireplaces into a much more energy efficient electric fireplace.
  • What kind of electric fireplace has the most realistic flame effects?

    Fireplaces that use holoflame technology will produce the most realistic flame effects. This technology and realistic flame effects can be found with MagikFlame electric fireplaces.
  • Are electric fireplaces expensive?

    The cost of electric fireplaces can vary a lot depending on the brand and model. Like most things, what you pay for is what you get. It’s a good idea to invest in a higher end electric fireplace. The larger savings on your energy bill will easily justify the extra cost.
  • Will electric fireplaces give you a high energy bill?

    Compared to burning wood or gas, the amount you pay to heat your home will be significantly less.
  • How many electric fireplaces do I need in my home?

    If you have a small home with few rooms, one high quality electric fireplace will usually be enough. If you have a much larger home with several rooms and bedrooms, you can get multiple electric fireplaces and set it up for zone heating so fireplaces are only on when rooms are being used.
  • Can I plug an electric fireplace into a surge protector?

    You should plug an electric fireplace directly into standard, up to code wall plug socket. Using a surge protector or power strip can be a fire hazard or trip the circuit breaker.
  • Do I need to hire a professional to install an electric fireplace?

    For most situations, no. You simply put the fireplace where you want it and plug it in. If you need a new outlet installed in the location where you want your fireplace, you should have a professional do this for you.
  • Can I control my electric fireplace remotely?

    Many electric fireplaces come with remote controls. The high end fireplaces allow you to control it with a smartphone app.
  • Do all electric fireplaces produce realistic sounds?

    No, many do not. Only high end electric fireplaces produce realistic crackling log sounds.
  • Will I regret buying the cheapest electric fireplace I can find?

    Absolutely, yes. When it comes to electric fireplaces, it’s always best to invest in a high quality fireplace from a reputable company. It will eventually pay for itself in all of your energy savings.
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