The living room has always been the gathering place of the household. It’s where a family joins each other and bonds through a variety of activities. Often, they will gather around the warm glow of a fireplace during a cold night, as our ancestors have for several generations. These are the simple moments that make life the amazing thing that it is.
However, not every home in the world comes with a fireplace. There are those people that live in apartments or condos where fireplaces aren’t feasible. Some people have a home but the construction of a traditional fireplace that burns wood isn’t legal. Others can legally build their fireplace, but it is simply too expensive of an undertaking.
Luckily there are several options out there. While some homeowners have chosen to go the route of building a gas fireplace into their home, more and more people are deciding to install an electric fireplace into their home.
While electric fireplaces have improved so much over the years, there are still many people out there that ask the question: Are electric fireplaces tacky?
Let’s dive deep into this question so that you can decide if an electric fireplace is right for you. However, first, we need to cover a few topics so that we know what kind of options we have to work with. We will examine the different types of wood and gas fireplaces that are available for your home. We will then talk about the different types of electric fireplaces that you may want to consider. Finally, we will answer that important question: Are electric fireplaces tacky?
In This Post, You Will Learn:
- The Importance of A Visual Striking Fireplace – We will talk about the visual impact that a fireplace has on a home and exactly what it means to be tacky.
- Different Types of Wood Burning Fireplaces – Here we will list the common types of fireplaces that burn wood.
- Downsides To Wood-Burning Fireplaces – We explain all of the downsides that come with owning a fireplace that burns wood.
- Different Types of Gas Fireplaces – We list the common types of fireplaces that use gas.
- Downsides To Gas Fireplaces – We explain why installing a gas fireplace may not be the best alternative.
- Different Types of Electric Fireplaces – Here we cover all the types of electric fireplaces that you can have installed in your home.
- Benefits of Electric Fireplaces – We list the many benefits that come with choosing an electric fireplace over a more traditional wood or gas one.
- Are Electric Fireplaces Tacky? – We get to the root of the question and find out if electric fireplaces are classy or not.
- How To Ensure My Electric Fireplace Doesn’t Look Cheap – We give tips on how to make sure your electric fireplace is everything that you hoped for.
- Electric Fireplaces Heat Production – We get into the details of how an electric fireplace produces heat.
- Electric Fireplace Flame Effects – We cover all of the interesting ways that electric fireplaces produce a flame effect.
- MagikFlame Electric Fireplaces – We go into detail about one of the best electric fireplaces that are on the market.
- Electric Fireplace Mantle Styles – We explain the different types of mantle styles that come with electric fireplaces so that you can choose one that works for you.
- Custom Electric Fireplace Mantle – How you can build your own custom mantle for an electric fireplace insert.
- Electric Fireplace Mantle Decoration – How to decorate your fireplace mantle in a classy way.
The Importance of A Visual Striking Fireplace
What does it mean to be tacky? While the word does highly depend on some personal opinions, let’s try to make things more concrete so that we can examine this from a more objective point of view. Let’s define it as things that look trashy, tawdry, loud, gaudy, garish, flashy, or cheap. The opposite of this word would probably be classy. We can all agree that we would prefer to have things that look classy in our homes, not just by our own perception, but by the perception of any guests that we have over.
It’s incredibly important to have a classy looking fireplace in your living room. Keep in mind, when we say classy, it doesn’t have to necessarily look luxurious. However, it should look like it is of a high quality and is aesthetically pleasing to look at.
In many homes, the fireplace becomes the focal point of the family room. You want to make sure that you are always happy with the visuals of your home, and you want to make sure that your fireplace makes a great first impression on any new guests. Having a fireplace that stands out as looking cheap or lacking class can be embarrassing.
When looking at electric fireplaces, tacky is a word that can be used to describe some that are available. However, this is also the case for traditional fireplaces that use wood or gas as their fuel sources. That’s why it is so incredibly important to choose an electric fireplace that exudes classiness. Luckily, there are some types of electric fireplaces that meet this requirement.
Before we go over those types of fireplaces, let’s examine the different types of traditional fireplaces and why they might not be right for your home.
What Are The Different Types of Wood Burning Fireplaces?
While there are a few other types of fireplaces that aren’t nearly as common inside of homes, here are the most common ones you will find:
- Open Hearth Fireplace – This is the typical fireplace that you will picture in your head when someone is talking about a wood fireplace. These are a large open firebox that is connected to a classic chimney or some other venting. Wood is usually burned on a metal grate with a basic screen placed in front of the fire to help prevent fiery logs from rolling out. The ambiance of these fireplaces is the type that most electric fireplaces are trying to replicate.
- Wood-Burning Stove – Of course, these aren’t really a typical fireplace, but they work in much the same way. Fire is burned inside of these stoves, with smoke and other emissions running through a pipe out of the home. The stove itself radiates heat to the room and the top surface can be used for cooking.
- Enclosed Fireplace – This is similar to an open-hearth fireplace except that it is a completely enclosed system. There is usually a glass panel in front of the firebox so that you can still see the flames. Compared to an open-hearth fireplace these are slightly safer and more efficient.
- Fireplace Insert – These are inserts that you can purchase to convert an open-hearth fireplace into an enclosed fireplace.
What Are The Downsides To Wood Burning Fireplaces?
Despite the nostalgia that surrounds a fireplace that burns wood, they are the least cost-effective way to heat your home. They require large expensive piles of quality wood to burn.
These fireplaces require the most maintenance and upkeep which can become a large hassle. While the fire is going, you regularly have to move wood around and stoke the fire. You also have to place new logs on the fire to keep it burning warm enough.
Speaking of upkeep, a wood-burning fireplace requires you to regularly clean the ash out of the bottom of the firebox. On top of this, you need to have the soot cleaned out of the flue several times per year or you risk it catching fire and burning your house down.
To keep a fire burning strongly, a real fire usually requires you to keep a window cracked to supply the fire with a fresh stream of air. Not only does this cause a cold draft in parts of the room, but despite the large flames of the heat source, it also adds to the inefficiency of the heat output into the room.
Even with good ventilation, smoke can become a problem in the room. This can cause a smoky smell that is hard to get out of both your furniture and your clothes. More importantly, an incomplete burn of the logs and a lack of good ventilation can cause carbon monoxide to fill your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be lethal.
Even with screen protection, a fiery log can roll into the room or a random spark can fly out and singe something. This can lead to a house fire.
What Are The Different Types of Gas Fireplaces?
Gas fireplaces tend to come in one of two types:
- Directed-Vented Built-in Fireplaces – These are gas fireplaces that require ventilation. This can be through a pipe that you install or it can be directed through an existing chimney that you already have. They often produce an orange or yellow flame.
- Ventless Built-in Fireplaces – These are gas fireplaces that don’t require any ventilation at all. Although a lack of ventilation is nice, a different type of gas is required that usually produces a blue flame instead of orange or yellow.
What Are The Downsides To Gas Fireplaces?
Any kind of fireplace that runs on gas will require you to have a new gas line run to the area where this fireplace will be located. This can be a costly construction project, and in many apartments and condos, it may not even be possible to do.
While the direct-vented gas fireplaces try to better replicate the color of a real flame from a fireplace that uses wood, they tend to still fall short and not quite look as realistic as they should. The ventless gas fireplaces are completely artificial-looking and not a good choice at all if you want a more authentic experience.
While gas fireplaces tend to be a cheaper alternative to ones that use wood, they still aren’t quite as cost-effective as an electric fireplace.
Gas fireplaces tend to burn clean, however, there is still the risk of an incomplete burn causing carbon monoxide emissions to be released into your home. Additionally, gas fireplaces tend to have a slight hint of a natural gas smell when on for a significant amount of time.
What Are The Different Types of Electric Fireplaces
There is a huge variety of electric fireplaces on the market and not all are created equally. That being said, they will usually fit into one of these four categories:
- Electric Fireplace Mantel – An fireplace mantel is a combination unit that looks like a fireplace that is more traditional. Sometimes it can be one complete unit, but often it comes in two separate pieces that are installed together. These types of fireplaces can also come as part of a full entertainment center or a TV stand.
- Wall Mount Electric Fireplace – These are electric fireplaces that can be mounted on the wall or sometimes even inserted directly into the drywall. When you buy one of these units they usually have all of the mounting equipment ready for you to do it yourself. However, for larger units, you may need to call for pros to come install it for you.
- Electric Fireplace Insert – These are electric fireplace units that can be installed directly into your existing fireplace. If you already have an open hearth style fireplace with a traditional brick chimney, these can result in one of the most authentic fireplace experiences.
- Freestanding Electric Fireplaces – These are similar to a space heater but they are made to look more like a fireplace than a simple mobile heating source. While it can be useful to move your fireplace from room to room as needed, they tend to look the cheapest and not very realistic.
What Are The Benefits of Electric Fireplaces?
Electric fireplaces are often incredibly easy to install. For the most part, you simply place it where you want to and plug it into a normal electrical outlet. This makes it very attractive compared to the expensive construction involved with installing other types of fireplaces. If you are looking to do a home remodel, an electric fireplace can be a great addition.
When it comes to fireplaces, electric fireplaces are one of the most cost-effective ways for you to keep your home warm during the winter months. This is especially true if you have multiple electric fireplaces in your home set up for zone heating. Even when paying extra for a high-end fireplace that runs on electricity, it eventually ends up paying for itself with all of the additional savings compared to wood or gas.
Many electric fireplaces come with a remote control or a smartphone app that can be used to switch the fireplace on or off, control the thermostat, and toggle other options depending on the model that you have.
If you look in electric fireplaces, you will find that many have a physical log set to better simulate a real fireplace that is fueled by wood.
Because electric fireplaces don’t actually burn anything, it significantly reduces the chance of starting a house fire compared to one that burns gas or wood. This also means that it is not adding any carbon monoxide into your home. However, be sure to always have both carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms for safety.
Are Electric Fireplaces Tacky?
So what’s the answer to the big question: are electric fireplaces tacky? If you simply buy the cheapest one you can find off of Amazon, yes, it probably is. However, if you properly invest and get a quality one like MagikFlame with holographic technology that simulates realistic flames, then they are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Not only can a quality fireplace look absolutely classy in your home, but you get all the benefits that come with a fireplace that burns wood without all of the extra work and hassle that comes with them.
How To Ensure My Electric Fireplace Doesn’t Look Cheap
The best way to ensure that your fireplace doesn’t look cheap is to invest in a high end one.
First, it needs to sufficiently put out enough heat to warm the area. If it can’t properly warm the room or needs help from an additional electric heater, then it isn’t doing its primary job.
Second, it needs to realistically simulate the actual look and atmosphere that comes with a fireplace that burns wood. The flames should look realistic but also have additional elements that help add to the full immersion of the fireplace.
Let’s cover how electric fireplaces make heat and how they produce their flame visuals so that you can make sure you are buying an electric fireplace that fits these requirements.
How Do Electric Fireplaces Make Heat?
Electric fireplaces primarily make heat through convection. First, the fireplace draws cooler air from the room into the fireplace itself. Inside, a heat source like a heating coil will make the air warm. Then the warm air is circulated back out into the room.
The heating units within electric fireplaces can vary quite a bit depending on the quality of the model. Before buying one, you should compare how much heat they put out. The heat will be measured as a BTU number. This stands for British Thermal Unit. The higher BTUs, the more heat that this fireplace can produce.
How Do Electric Fireplaces Make Flame Effects?
Electric fireplaces make flame effects in a wide variety of ways. Some look cheap and artificial, some look like the real thing. It highly depends on the brand. There are brands like Dimplex, MagikFlame, and more that strive for realistic-looking flames. There are also a lot of off-brand electric fireplaces that look terrible with mechanical spinning light shows.
Dimplex has a fireplace, the Dimplex Opti Myst, that uses light projected onto water vapor to produce its flame visuals. While this looks decent, it isn’t quite as realistic as it could be. For a very realistic experience, something like MagikFlame should be considered.
Why You Should Consider A MagikFlame Electric Fireplace
MagikFlame has some of the most realistic simulated flames on the market. They use futuristic holographic flame technology, projected onto a physical log set. It produces 30 different types of ultra-realistic flames that can be controlled remotely. Having such a large amount of flames lets you set the mood exactly right for the occasion.
The built-in heater of a MagikFlame produces 5,200 BTUs of heat. This will help keep your home warm and cozy throughout a cold winter.
To further add to the immersion of one of their electric fireplaces, MagikFlame also produces realistic crackling log sounds. This is a feature that many competitors don’t offer. By adding the crackling log sounds to the realistic flame visuals, many guests in your house won’t even realize your fireplace is completely electric.
MagikFlame offers both a payment plan and financing. They regularly have specials and promotions. If you think MagikFlame might be right for you and you want to see some pics of their different models, please check out the MagikFlame electric fireplace buying guide.
What Kind of Mantle Styles Do Electric Fireplaces Come In?
You can get electric fireplaces in a wide variety of mantle styles. If you look on MagikFlame’s website, you can see all of their different products and the many different styles they have to choose from.
If you have a country-style home and are looking for something more rustic, you can find something with a darker wood with a rich grain and texture.
For something that is more sleek and modern, look for something with strong lines and shapes, with a minimalist design. You want to avoid intricate, ornate detail and instead let the shape of the mantle speak for itself.
If you are interested in a more luxurious and grand look, choose a mantle with a more ornate design. Crown molding on your mantle is a great option if you want the fireplace in your home to have a sense of luxury.
There are a lot of other mantle styles that you can choose from for electric fireplaces. If you are really adventurous, you can even break out the tools and choose to build a custom mantle for yourself.
Can You Build A Custom Mantle For An Electric Fireplace?
If you enjoy woodworking and incredibly rewarding DIY projects, you might want to consider building your own custom mantle for your fireplace that runs on electricity. Just make sure that you leave the proper space under the mantle for the fireplace insert by checking the dimensions on the manufacturer’s website. As long as you have the correct dimensions, you can build your custom mantle and have it ready for the fireplace insert to be installed once it arrives.
If you are planning to build a custom mantle for your new fireplace, be sure to do thorough research of the fireplace style that you want to go with. There are plenty of blueprints and tutorials that you can find online. For a lot of the more difficult techniques when building your mantle, you can find quite a few demonstrations by professionals on YouTube.
Just keep in mind that if you go this route, you want to exercise proper safety precautions and use all necessary safety gear like eye protection and protective work gloves. This is especially important if you choose to use any power tools during your project.
Can You Convert A Traditional Fireplace Into An Electric Fireplace?
Yes, absolutely. Just like a custom mantle, you can purchase a fireplace insert that is completely electric. MagikFlame makes inserts like these that can be installed directly into an open hearth or other fireplaces that you already have in your home.
This is an excellent option for fireplaces that run on wood or gas. Not only will you have a much more cost-effective way to heat your home when it is cold outside, but it is a lot safer for you and your family as well.
Decorating An Electric Fireplace
Once you have one or more high-end electric fireplaces in your home, it is important to decorate them in a way that is also classy. You don’t want to go to all that effort to get a great fireplace just to make it look cheap again with bad decorating.
First, remember that less is more. It is better to have a few quality items to decorate the mantle of your fireplace than it is to fill it with tons of small knick-knacks that will collect dust and make your home look like a flea market.
Choose a strong anchor piece to either sit in the center of the mantle or hang just above it. This will usually be the largest piece and should be chosen carefully. You can put a piece of art, a professional family portrait, or even a mirror to make the room look larger. With electric fireplaces like MagikFlame, you can also hang a flat-screen television above the mantle for a more modern look. This is something you can’t do with fireplaces that burn wood or gas due to damage it can cause your TV.
After you have an anchor piece, choose a couple of things to accompany it. This can be additional lighting elements, fresh flowers, or even smaller family photos.