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How Does an Electric Fireplace Heater Work?

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It is of little surprise that so many people are choosing electric fireplaces as their primary means of warmth during the winter. Technology for electric fireplaces have improved so much over the years. Modern electric fireplaces are more efficient, more powerful, and can capture the ambiance of a traditional fireplace with a realistic flame effect.

Homeowners are now choosing to install an electric fireplace into their living room as their next home improvement project. Sometimes, they are even converting an old wood-burning fireplace into an electric one with a conversion kit insert.

Of course, there is a chance that you are still on the fence and unsure if an electric fireplace is right for you. You might have some questions like how does an electric fireplace heater work? Why are electric fireplaces better than traditional ones? Is one electric fireplace enough to heat my home? Continue reading this post to learn the answers to these questions and more.

In The Post Below, You Will Learn:

  • The Reasons Electric Fireplaces Will Always Be Better Than A Wood Or Gas Fireplace – If you aren’t quite sure why so many people are making the switch to electric fireplaces, our first section here is going to list everything wrong with wood and gas fireplaces, and everything right with electric fireplaces.
  • A List Of The Common Electric Fireplace Types – There are a handful of different fireplace types out there when it comes to ones that run on electricity. Even more when selecting between different brands and the models they offer. This section of the post will focus on the main categories of electric fireplaces that people might choose to install in their house.
  • How Does An Electric Fireplace Heater Work? – There are so many different ways to heat a home, you may not quite understand how these electrical fireplaces even work to heat a home. Here we will cover the technical details and the benefits of the method of heating most electric fireplaces employ.
  • How Much Space Can An Electric Fireplace Heater Realistically Keep Warm? – Whether dealing with small spaces like a studio apartment, or large spaces like homes with a lot of square feet, you need to know if an electric fireplaces will be powerful enough for your needs.
  • The Various Ways Electric Fireplaces Simulate Fire Effects – To simulate a real flame, different companies use different techniques. Some of these are more successful than others. We list some of the different ways that these companies try to mimic a 3D flame, and which one does it the best.
  • A Warning Against Buying Cheap Fireplaces – Before rushing out to Walmart or jumping on Amazon, read this warming before grabbing the first electric fireplace you see on sale. This section can save you a lot of money and an even bigger headache.
  • The Facts About MagikFlame Electric Fireplaces – You’ve probably already heard of these extremely popular electric fireplaces. If not, here are all the facts you need to know about the leading electrical fireplace in the market.

The Reasons Electric Fireplaces Will Always Be Better Than A Wood Or Gas Fireplace

If you have already completely made up your mind that you know you are getting an electric fireplace, this section may not necessarily be of much interest to you. However, if you still don’t know why electric fireplaces are superior to the other types of home fireplaces, this will set you straight. Read this section thoroughly if you are trying to make up your mind if electric fireplaces are right for you, or if you are curious about all the different reasons.

To start, there are four essential kinds of wood fireplaces out there:

  • Open Hearth – The classic fireplaces with a normal opening for fire building is called an open hearth fireplace. These are the ones that always come to mind when someone says the word fireplace. Out of all of the wood fireplaces, the open hearth type is easily the least energy-efficient.
  • Enclosed – A fireplace that doesn’t have a normal opening, but instead is boxed in with a glass door in front is called an enclosed fireplace. These fireplaces are a bit more efficient at burning wood than the open hearth variety. They are also slightly safer, but not completely safe.
  • Insert – When you have an open hearth fireplace and you want to change it into an enclosed fireplace, you would use one of these wood burning inserts. Using these were a common way to improve your open hearth fireplace until electrical fireplaces improved enough that electrical inserts became common.
  • Stove – These aren’t to be confused with an electric fireplace stove or even a gas stove. We are talking about a wood stove. A wood stove is usually a large cast-iron unit that sits on the open floor with a venting pipe running to the roof. As wood burns inside, the entire unit gets burning hot and radiates heat to warm the room while the top surface can be used for cooking. Typically, a stove heater is found in cabins but not your average home.

All of these wood fireplaces come with so many downsides. Compared to gas, and even more electricity, wood fireplaces cost the most to heat your home. They burn through expensive piles of wood quickly and you have to also have a location to store all that wood at your house.

Wood fireplaces are an absolute hassle. Wood splitting, fire building, stoking the fire, sweeping up ash out of the fireplace’s firebox, calling a chimney sweep to take care of the inside of the flue from time to time, keeping your eye on the fire in case something catches fire that shouldn’t; all of these tasks can begin to feel a bit like a part time job just to keep your home warm. If you don’t maintain them and keep your eye on them relentlessly, you are putting your home at a serious risk of house fire.

Noxious fumes like smoke and carbon monoxide can also become a serious issue for your health since wood doesn’t burn very clean. Even with decent ventilation, some still seeps into your home. Carbon monoxide has its obvious carbon monoxide poisoning problem to worry about. Even a little smoke every day, over all of that time can be harmful. And that’s not even considering the smell that the smoke will add to your home, furniture, and the clothes you’re wearing.

Before electric fireplaces became the realistic flame simulation powerhouses that they are today, people started choosing gas fireplaces as a cleaner, safer alternative to wood fireplaces. This is all well and good, but they have plenty of their own issues. First, the two gas-style fireplace types are:

  • Direct Vented – When fireplaces use gas as a fuel where the fireplace requires ventilation, this is called a direct vented fireplace. The gas these fireplaces use almost burns a normal color.
  • Ventless – When fireplaces use gas as a fuel where the fireplace doesn’t require ventilation, this is called a ventless fireplace. The gas these fireplaces use burns a strange blue color.

Yes, these fireplaces burn cleaner. However, they can still release some carbon monoxide that you need to be careful of.

Yes, these fireplaces have a real flame, not a simulation. However, the flame is so weak and off color even in the direct vented version. The ventless blue version isn’t even close to what a fireplace glow should look like, therefore they have a very weird aesthetic look to them. Sometimes direct vented fireplaces come with a log set or ember bed, but the flames still look weak coming out of them, nothing like a real fireplace.

Additionally, anytime a flame is present, house fire risk increases.

Now you are probably starting to see the picture. To further elaborate, here are are the amazing benefits electric fireplaces have:

  • Lowest Cost To Heat – Without a doubt, good quality electric fireplaces producing supplemental heat alone or in a system of multiple fireplace, is a vastly lower cost alternative compared to other fireplace types. One of the best aspects of green technologies like solar panels is that they eventually pay for themselves due to the savings. This is the same concept with electric fireplaces.
  • Safest Fireplace of Them All – No flames. No poisonous emissions. No smoke smell or staining. Electric fireplaces are easily safer than wood and gas fireplaces. The higher quality electric fireplace you purchase, the safer it will be due to all of the additional safety features they include like automatic shut off when overheating or other problems are detected.
  • No Upkeep or Hassle – There isn’t any kind of upkeep or maintenance with electric fireplaces. You don’t have to watch it closely and stoke the fire. You don’t have to clean it daily or call a professional to have the flue cleaned since there is no ventilation needed.
  • More Options To Choose From – With all of the different fireplace types, brands, and models, you will usually have an easy time finding one that suits you. When it comes to wood or gas fireplaces, you are pretty much limited to the standard basics. There isn’t a lot of room for innovative designs or interesting fireplace placement.
  • Ease of Use – Installation is a snap. Set it down or mount it and plug it in. Operation is a snap. Pick up the remote control and set the thermostat. It’s just as easy to select flame styles or relaxing sound clips with the same remote or smartphone app.
  • Visual Satisfaction Overload – With the ultra-realistic electric fireplaces that are on the market like MagikFlame electric fireplaces, you don’t have to worry about the fireplace not being convincing enough. When 3D holographic flames and dancing embers get projected onto realistic logs, you can’t even tell that it is a simulation.
  • Better Than The Real Thing – Because you can capture all of the best aspects of having a traditional wood-fueled fireplace without any of the downsides or issues that come with one, electric fireplaces can actually be better than the real thing.

A List Of The Common Electric Fireplace Types

Now that you understand with all certainty that electric fireplaces are a better choice than wood or gas, here are the common types of electric fireplaces homeowners choose to get:

  • Fireplace Mantel Wall Unit – This is one of the standard electric fireplace units that sit against the wall, placed on the ground. They come with a mantel housing. Most companies have multiple mantels for you to choose from.
  • Corner Electric Fireplace – Very similar to the mantel unit above is the corner unit. These will also have a mantle, but everything is shaped to fit snugly into the corner of the room instead of against a flat wall.
  • Fireplace Media Console – This is basically a fireplace TV stand. Companies like Espresso made these popular for people that want the convenience of an electric fireplace but are really tight with very little sq. ft. in their small studio apartment. This causes a need to consolidate some of their furniture into one simple item. However, these TV stand fireplaces aren’t only limited to small spaces with almost no sq. ft., that’s just where they are most popular due to the additional accessibility and floor space.
  • Wall Mounted Electric Fireplace – A wall mount electric fireplace is just as it sounds, it is mounted on the wall. A wall mounted fireplace can also be installed into the drywall to make a recessed fireplace. The wall mounted fireplace can either be completely recessed, or only partially recessed.
  • Electric Fireplace Insert – These inserts are just like the wood ones, except the fireplace is completely electric instead of an enclosed wood fireplace. These inserts can also be used if you bought a third-party mantel or you build your own mantel.
  • Freestanding Electric Fireplace – A freestanding electric fireplace is a freestanding fireplace that is no different than your average space heater except it has been built to look like a fireplace. Like a space heater, these aren’t very powerful and can’t help warm a room much if it has a lot of square feet. Using one of these in place of proper electric fireplaces is like using fans in place of air conditioners: they have their uses, but they will never be as good.

How Does An Electric Fireplace Heater Work?

Cool air from the room goes into the fireplace, warm air comes out. That’s the simplified version.

As air from the room is brought into the fireplace through the cool air uptake, it then is quickly heated, usually by an infrared quartz heater. Once the infrared heat has quickly warmed the air, it is then immediately cycled right back into the room to warm it. Because these heating elements work so well, they don’t need much time to start working. Once they are on, you can feel warm air coming out almost right away.

How Much Space Can An Electric Fireplace Heater Realistically Keep Warm?

This depends a lot on the electric fireplace you purchased. If you got a high end one with a powerful internal heater, you might be surprised how well it can heat a home. For instance, the 5,200 BTU heater that MagikFlame has inside can essentially keep a space of about 1,000 square feet warm as a secondary heat source. This is equal to an apartment, a small house, or a very large room of a very large house.

This means that a single MagikFlame fireplace will work in most scenarios. A large house likely wouldn’t need more than one or two to keep the whole home warm all winter long.

The Various Ways Electric Fireplaces Simulate Fire Effects

The technology used to simulate fire effects really just comes down to the brand that is behind that specific fireplace. Jump on Amazon and pick up a generic electric fireplace, and you can expect nothing more than some mechanical spinning lights.

There are several different brands that produce better effects than this. Duraflame (yes like the Duraflame starter logs), Touchstone, Dimplex, MagikFlame, and more.

Dimplex has an intriguing method of simulating 3D flames with the Dimplex Opti Myst where they use water vapor and reflect LED lights off of it. This can produce a decent effect, but it’s limited to a single flame.

For the most authentic virtual flames that are practically indistinguishable from the real thing, you go with MagikFlame electric fireplaces due to their patented Holoflame holographic technology. The way this works is that real moving holograms of flickering flames and embers get projected onto a 3D space over a real log set.

A Warning Against Buying Cheap Fireplaces

If this hasn’t been said enough, you really should buy a cheap electrical fireplace. It will disappoint you in every way and you will come to completely regret your purchasing decision. They break down easily, their heaters aren’t very powerful, they lack safety standards, they have terrible flame simulation, and they don’t come with many additional quality of life features.

If you can’t yet swing the cost of a high end fireplace like a MagikFlame, it is a good idea to save a bit more so that you can just get the right fireplace the first time around. Luckily, MagikFlame electric fireplaces have excellent financing and payment plans so that eager customers can get them right away. With the payment plans, it is useful to know that the immediate savings you get on your heating bill will help out with the regular payments.

If you end up getting a cheap, generic fireplace, you will end up having to replace it with a better one later anyway. It will eventually stop working on you or you will just see how tacky it really is. For all of these reasons, just get the good one from the start.

The Facts About MagikFlame Electric Fireplaces

MagikFlame has three primary features that sets them apart from everyone else:

  • 30 Variations of Hologram Flame Effects
  • Many Crackling Log and Nature Sounds To Cycle Through
  • A Beastly 5,200 BTU Heater To Keep You Toasty

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