The living room has always been the gathering place of the household. It’s where a family joins together and bonds through various 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 who live in apartments or condos where fireplaces aren’t feasible. Some people have a home, but building 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 build a gas fireplace in their homes, more and more people are deciding to install an electric fireplace in their homes.
While electric fireplaces have improved quite a bit over the years, many people ask: 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 to know what kind of options we have to work with. We will examine the different wood and gas fireplaces 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 Visually Striking Fireplace – We will talk about the visual impact of a fireplace in a home and exactly what it means to be tacky.
- Different Types of Wood Burning Fireplaces – Here, we will list the common types of wood-burning fireplaces.
- Downsides To Wood-Burning Fireplaces – We explain the downsides of owning a fireplace that burns wood.
- Different Types of Gas Fireplaces – We list the common 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 of 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 ensuring your electric fireplace is everything 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 the interesting ways 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 Mantel Styles – We explain the different mantel styles that come with electric fireplaces and how to choose one that works for you.
- Custom Electric Fireplace Mantel – How you can build your own custom mantel for an electric fireplace insert.
- Electric Fireplace Mantel Decoration – How to decorate your fireplace mantel in a classy way.
The importance of a visually striking fireplace
What does it mean to be tacky? While the word depends highly on some personal opinions, let’s try to make things more concrete and examine this from a more objective point of view. Let’s define it as things that look trashy, tawdry, loud, gaudy, showy, 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 perception but by the perception of any guests that we have over.
It’s essential to have a classy-looking fireplace in your living room. Keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily have to look luxurious when we say classy. However, it should look like it is of high quality and is aesthetically pleasing to look at.
In many homes, the fireplace becomes the family room’s focal point. You want to make sure that you are always happy with the visual appeal of your home, and you want to make sure that your fireplace makes a great first impression with any new guests. Having a fireplace that looks cheap or lacks class can be embarrassing.
When looking at the quality electric fireplace, tacky is a word that can 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 essential to choose an electric fireplace that exudes classiness. Luckily, some types of electric fireplaces 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 suitable 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 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 large open fireboxes 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 realistic 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 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 it is a completely enclosed system. There is usually a glass panel in the front of the firebox to still see the flames. Compared to an open-hearth fireplace, these are slightly safer and more efficient.
- Fireplace Insert – You can purchase these inserts to convert an open-hearth fireplace into an enclosed fireplace.
What are the downsides to wood burning fireplaces?
Despite the nostalgia surrounding 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, becoming an incredible hassle. While the fire is burning, 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 chimney several times per year, or you risk it catching fire and burning your house down.
To keep a fire burning intensely, 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 your furniture and clothes. More importantly, a lack of good ventilation and an incomplete burn of the logs 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 burn 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 directly through an existing chimney 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. 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 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 it may not even be possible in many apartments and condos.
While the direct-vented gas fireplaces try to replicate the color of a real flame from a fireplace that uses wood, they tend to fall short and not look as realistic as they should. The ventless gas fireplaces are completely artificial-looking and not a good choice 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 wide variety of electric fireplaces on the market, and not all are created equal. That being said, they will usually fit into one of these four categories:
- Electric Fireplace Mantel – A fireplace mantel is a combination unit that looks like a more traditional fireplace. Sometimes it can be one complete unit, but it often comes in two separate pieces installed together. These fireplaces can also be part of a full entertainment center or a TV stand.
- Wall Mount Electric Fireplace – These electric fireplaces can be mounted on the wall or 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, you may need to call a local pro to install it for you for larger units.
- Electric Fireplace Insert – These electric fireplace units can be installed directly into your existing fireplace. If you already have an open hearth-style fireplace with a traditional brick chimney, this can result in one of the most authentic fireplace experiences.
- Freestanding Electric Fireplaces are similar to a space heater but 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 cheap 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 standard 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, MagikFlame electric fireplaces are one of the most cost-effective ways to keep your home warm during the winter months. This is especially true if you have multiple electric fireplaces set up for zone heating in your home. Even when paying extra for a high-end fireplace that runs on electricity, it eventually ends up paying for itself with all the additional savings compared to wood or gas.
Many electric fireplaces come with a remote control or a smartphone app that can switch the fireplace on or off, control the thermostat, and toggle other options depending on the model you have.
If you look up electric fireplaces, you will find that many have a physical log set to better simulate a real fireplace 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 from Amazon, yes, it probably is. However, if you properly invest and get a quality one like MagikFlame with holographic technology that simulates realistic flames, 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
Investing in a high-end electric fireplace is the best way to ensure that your fireplace doesn’t look cheap..
First, it needs to put out enough heat to warm the area sufficiently. It isn’t doing its primary job if it can’t properly warm the room or needs help from an additional electric heater.
Second, it needs to realistically simulate the actual look and atmosphere that comes with a fireplace that burns wood. The flames should look realistic and have additional elements that help add to the total immersion of the fireplace.
Let’s cover how electric fireplaces make heat and how they produce their flame visuals to make sure you buy 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 warm the air. 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 an authentic experience, something like MagikFlame should be considered.
Why should you 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 many 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 engagement 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 entirely 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 want to see some images of their different models, please check out the MagikFlame electric fireplace buying guide.
What kind of mantel styles do electric fireplaces come in?
You can get electric fireplaces in a wide variety of media mantels styles. If you look on MagikFlame’s website, you can see all 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 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 mantel speak for itself.
If you are interested in a more luxurious and grand look, choose a mantel with a more ornate design. Crown molding on your mantel is a great option if you want the fireplace in your home to have a sense of luxury.
There are a lot of other mantel styles that you can choose from for electric fireplaces. If you are really adventurous, you can even break out the tools and decide to build a custom mantel for yourself.
Can you build a custom mantel for an electric fireplace?
If you enjoy woodworking and incredibly rewarding DIY projects, you might consider building your own custom mantel for your electric fireplace. Just make sure that you leave the proper space under the mantel 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 mantel and have it ready for the fireplace insert to be installed once it arrives.
If you are planning to build a custom mantel for your new fireplace, do thorough research on the fireplace style you want to go with. There are plenty of blueprints and tutorials that you can find online. You can find quite a few demonstrations by professionals on YouTube for many more complex techniques when building your mantel.
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 mantel, you can purchase a completely electric fireplace insert. 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 also a lot safer for you and your family.
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 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 mantel 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 mantel 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 mantel 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 to 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.