Fire is an amazing thing. We use it in so many parts of our daily lives, that we don’t realize it’s impact on us. This could be with cooking for hot meals, boiling water, or other natural use cases. Flame effects that are derived from a traditional, wood-burning experience can also provide a stress-free, relaxing moment with ambiance if they are controlled in the right indoor or outdoor environment. 

In this post, you will learn:

  • What is fire?
  • How do the flames work on an electric fireplace?
  • Most realistic electric fireplace product on the market today

What is fire? According to Webster’s Dictionary, fire is the phenomenon of combustion manifested in light, flame, and heat.

Think of an indoor setting such as a family or living room where a traditional fireplace or gas fireplaces may be located. We have a mantel, possible fireplace screen, and fireplace accessories to manage the heating element and chimney. Inside wood fireplaces is a chimney and a metal grill at the base is where firewood is placed for burning. 

To create fire, a chemical reaction between oxygen in the atmosphere and some sort of fuel (wood or gasoline, for example) needs to occur. Real wood and gasoline don’t spontaneously catch on fire just because they’re surrounded by oxygen. For the combustion reaction to happen, heating the fuel to its ignition temperature is critically important.

As combustion happens – voila! Homeowners can rejoice now that a heat source or sphere in microgravity is activated. A blue “halo effect” from the activation is a visual that represents significant heat as it burns through oxygen and forms vanilla, red or white colors – all in a nanosecond.

How do the flames work on an electric fireplace?

We just touched on a traditional fireplace that burns wood through a chimney and flue at a  high-level. The flame effect from real fire has been converted into several forms that improves on safety, while providing the benefits of relaxation and increased quality of life. 

In today’s marketplace as an alternative to traditional fireplaces, gas and electric fireplaces have grown in popularity. A majority of mechanical electric fireplaces use a combination of an electric motor and rotating shaft parts with mirrors to reflect LED lights and through a solulette and onto a panel behind a log set to illuminate flickering flames. The LED bulbs or light bulbs attempt to create a real flame. Unfortunately, the attempt and experience to create realistic flames is like being at an old disco lounge with lights projected from an entertainment center across a room.

The good news is that mechanical electric fireplaces, although low-cost solutions that mimic real flames, there are many other technology solutions available on the market. (See more in our electric fireplace buying guide)

Breaking down the different technologies in electric fireplaces and more analysis on how the flames work: 

  • Mechanical – A rotating cylinder with LED lights
  • Steam or Mist – Water is vaporized and tinted orange to simulate flames
  • Gel – A combustible fuel source is burned as an alternative to gas or wood
  • Holographic – video of real flames is projected onto a log set creating the illusion of real fire

Water or steam-based electric fireplaces create a more realistic flame effect than mechanical systems, while other fireplaces burn gels or other fuels that do produce real flames, but also emit fumes. 

The latest developments in fireplace technology by cutting edge manufactures have furthered blurred the line between realism and simulated flames. 

The state-of-the-art holographic technology simulates actual flames that closely resemble the real thing. These flames are beautifully detailed and life-like, and deliver the illusion of authentic, traditional fireplace flames that other electric products cannot offer. In turn, premium electrics can provide the most realistic electric fireplaces for any living space.

As you can see, there are various electric fireplace technologies that simulate actual flames. MagikFlame is a premier manufacturer of holographic fireplace models such as a firebox or electric fireplace insert. When thinking about modern electric fireplaces and flame realism, the illusion of the real thing through video projection easily exceeds any realism that includes LED lighting. 

Most realistic electric fireplace product on the market today

If flame realism and varied flame selection are features and key buying decision factors, then there is no doubt a holographic fireplace is the way to go. 

Keep in mind, this technology is considerably more expensive than the rest of the list. If you can not install a traditional fireplace into your home or wish to convert, but require the realism we highly recommend a freestanding, wall mounted electric fireplace with holographic technology —  which is capable of warming your home without additional clean up or hassle.

In general, electric fireplaces today have far superior flame effects than those of even a couple years ago. A holographic electric fireplace is high-end to mimic natural flames. They are built with top parts (built-in electric heater with 5k+ btu as a secondary supplemental heat source and components with a solid warranty for energy efficiency. This includes zone heating, infrared quartz, thermostat — all without a traditional remote control as smartphone apps are the standard.

Most mechanical units produce a satisfactory effect, but are costly in maintenance and part repairs. Our suggestion is to look for videos online (see MagikFlame flame  gallery) to view flame effects for yourself. 

Various fireplace manufacturers will focus on producing realistic flames while others have special effects with blue and purple flames.