A fireplace has always been that part of the home that just makes it feel a little extra cozy. For most people, when they hear the word fireplace, it instantly conjures visions of family members sitting around the warm glow of the fire while the snow gently falls just outside of the window. It’s easy to picture yourself bundled up on the couch in front of the fireplace, reading a good book, and sipping a warm drink all while your pet is curled up on the floor beside you.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of it all, having a traditional fireplace isn’t always that feasible. There are plenty of reasons you may not be able to have a traditional fireplace. You might live in an apartment or condo where you can’t have one built. You may live in an area where new fireplaces aren’t legal. Or, the cost of building a traditional fireplace onto your home might just be too expensive.
The truth is, you might just not want to deal with the hassle of using the traditional fireplace that already exists in your home. You might also worry about safety concerns when using a more traditional fireplace. You may even already have a fireplace, but want some supplemental heat in other parts of the house.
For all of these reasons and more, you may want to consider using an electric fireplace. However, before you make your decision, you might want to know more about different types of fireplaces in your home, what the pros and cons of each are, and how electric fireplace technology even works.
In This Post, You Will Learn:
- Different Types of Wood Burning and Gas Fireplaces – We will cover the different types of traditional wood-burning fireplaces as well as gas fireplace alternatives.
- Downsides of Wood Burning and Gas When It Comes To Fireplaces – This section will go over some of the downsides that come with both gas and wood-burning fireplaces.
- Types of Electric Fireplaces – Here we will cover all of the types of electric fireplaces that you can get for your home.
- Benefits of Electric Fireplaces – Covering all of the benefits of an electric fireplace in comparison to gas and wood-burning fireplaces.
- How Electric Fireplace Technology Works – Here we will get to the core of how electric fireplace technology works.
- What Style of Electric Fireplace is Right For You? – Here we will help you decide what kind of electric fireplace might be best for your home.
- MagikFlame Fireplaces – This part details a brand of electric fireplace and what sets it apart.
- Electric Fireplace Efficiency Tips – We offer some tips on how to get the most out of your electric fireplace.
- Decorating An Electric Fireplace – Here we share how you can decorate your electric fireplace.
Different Types of Wood Burning Fireplaces
There are several types of wood-burning fireplaces, and many electric fireplaces are visual stand-ins for one. Here are the most common types of wood-burning fireplaces that you would find in a home:
- Open Hearth – A traditional open-hearth fireplace is a typical fireplace that people think of. This is an open area under a chimney for wood burning. While it’s not necessarily the most efficient wood-burning fireplace, it is the type that has been around for the longest. These are usually made from brick. Logs are typically burned on top of a metal stand that sits in the firebox. Smoke escapes up the flue and out of the chimney above the house.
- Wood Burning Stove – A wood-burning fireplace stove isn’t really what people think of when they hear the word fireplace, but it works very much in the same fashion. Wood is burned inside of the stove and smoke escape through the roof of the home due to a pipe. Heat radiates from the stove, providing heat to the room and allowing the top to be used as a cooking surface. A fireplace stove has its place in cabins and cottages, but they aren’t commonly found in your typical home.
- Enclosed Fireplace – These are fireplaces with a completely enclosed fire. It is usually covered in the front with glass doors so that the flames can still be seen. Enclosed fireplaces are slightly more efficient with the heat than an open-hearth fireplace. They can warm a room longer while burning less wood. They also tend to be a bit safer.
- Traditional Fireplace Insert – A traditional fireplace insert is a hybrid of an open hearth and an enclosed fireplace. Essentially, you can install an insert into your existing open-hearth fireplace to make it more efficient and safer.
Now that we’ve gone over the different types of fireplaces that burn wood, what are some of the downsides?
Downsides of Wood Burning Fireplaces
There are a few different downsides to a wood fireplace that tend to make people consider alternatives like installing an electric fireplace.
First, they are the least efficient and cost-effective way to keep your home warm. You will go through piles and piles of wood to heat your home.
Traditional fireplaces are one of the most common reasons for a house fire. The inside of the chimney can catch fire if the soot isn’t cleaned out regularly. Additionally, sparks from the logs can jump out and singe carpet and furniture.
They require you to watch the fire regularly and maintain it to keep it burning warm enough.
Many modern houses aren’t built with chimneys and building regulations have new chimney construction banned in several areas.
Without proper ventilation, smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation can become a problem.
Different Types of Gas Fireplaces
Fireplaces that use gas instead of wood-burning are another option that people sometimes use. Typically, there are two different types of these fireplaces that burn gas:
- Vented Gas Built-in Fireplaces – These are fireplaces that have ventilation to the roof, usually in the form of a pipe. The flames for these tend to burn a yellow or orange, making the color look somewhat similar to a wood-burning fireplace. Compared to traditional chimneys, construction for one of these is easier and cheaper, however, there is still quite a bit more involved than installing an electric fireplace. Typically, linear fireplaces that run along an entire wall will run on gas.
- Unvented Gas Built-in Fireplaces – These are fireplaces that burn gas but don’t require any kind of venting. Because of the gas that is burned, the flame is typically blue.
While fireplaces that use gas tend to be cleaner than fireplaces that burn wood, they still have a few downsides that we need to cover.
Downsides of Gas Fireplaces
There are a few downsides to having a fireplace that burns gas that makes many people lean towards installing electric fireplaces as an alternative.
Fireplaces that burn gas often come up short when trying to imitate a natural wood-burning fireplace. While they have come a long way and sometimes include artificial log stacks, they don’t quite reach the level of realism that an electric fireplace can.
Flame colors tend to not look quite right, even with vented versions that produce a yellow or orange flame.
While gas tends to burn a lot cleaner and environmentally friendly than one that burns wood, there is still the risk of producing carbon monoxide from an incomplete burn.
Fireplaces that run on gas require access to gas lines, which could end up being significant construction if one isn’t close to the fireplace location.
Different Types of Electric Fireplaces
Electric fireplace technology has come a long way over the decades and there are several different electric fireplaces to choose from that fit all kinds of home situations. Electric fireplaces don’t use a real flame, instead, they simulate realistic flames in several different ways. Here are some of the more common electric fireplace types that you can install in your home:
- Electric Fireplace Mantels – Modern electric fireplaces are good at imitating a traditional fireplace even if a chimney isn’t present. A fireplace mantel helps set the ambiance of the room and allows it to feel like a permanent fixture. While these fireplace mantels can sometimes be a singular combined unit, it is usually two separate pieces that come together. These pieces will be the mantel, or outer housing of the fireplace, and the electric insert that fits into it. Sometimes these types of units are part of a larger media center and have space for a TV. They can also come with additional storage and shelving depending on what type you get and if your living room has the space for it.
- Wall Mounted Electric Fireplace – This is typically a lighter version of an electric fireplace that is designed for wall hanging. Sometimes, these units can be installed directly into the drywall. Usually, a wall-mounted electric fireplace will have everything you need for mounting and installation. However, some larger types may require you to hire a professional for installation so that you can make sure it passes building codes.
- Electric Fireplace Inserts – An electric fireplace insert is a standalone unit that is built to be installed directly into the firebox of an existing traditional fireplace such as an open-hearth fireplace. This allows you to convert your traditional fireplace into one that is completely electric. If you already have a chimney, there are one of the best options to go with because they will look the most authentic while still having all the benefits that comes with electric fireplace technology.
- Freestanding Electric Fireplaces – These are electric fireplaces that are closer to a typical space heater but have a fireplace aesthetic to them. While a freestanding fireplace is mobile and easier to move from room to room, they tend to be the least authentic-looking electric fireplaces compared to the others that are listed above.
There aren’t many downsides to choosing to use electric fireplace technology over burning wood or gas. The only real downside is if you are the kind of person that likes the tradition of burning real wood. However, even in those circumstances, electric fireplaces are still worth looking into. Let’s look at all of the benefits that they have to offer.
Benefits of an Electric Fireplace
Electric fireplace technology is one of the most energy efficient and cost-effective ways to heat your home while still getting an authentic fireplace aesthetic. If you set your home up for zone heating, it can add up to some significant savings on your electric bill.
An electric heater puts out no emissions that are harmful to the environment. And while you should always have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, electric fireplaces don’t burn anything, so carbon monoxide in your home is less of a risk.
Electric fireplace inserts can easily be installed in your existing fireplace or mantel. There is no need for any additional construction with an insert kit.
Because some electric fireplaces can double as a TV stand, they take up less space. In fact, if you have a small apartment or condo and not a lot of square feet, an electric fireplace TV stand is one of the best ways to optimize the square feet that you have available.
Many electric fireplaces come with a remote control. Not only does the remote control allow you to turn the fireplace on and off, but it also can allow you to control the thermostat to get the right amount of heat for your home.
Because of breakthroughs in flame effects and their ability to simulate real fire, homeowners will be happy that the flame technology looks so much like the real thing.
Having an electric firebox instead of a traditional flame is much safer and drastically minimizes the chance of a house fire.
Because you only need to have access to an electrical outlet, there is a ton of flexibility when it comes to the area of your home you want your fireplace.
The warm glow of electric fireplaces are much more calming at night compared to harsh, bright white LED lights.
Many of the most realistic electric fireplaces come with a log set, to further add to the traditional look. The most realistic electric fireplaces will sometimes also include an ember bed to get that nostalgic ember glow.
How Electric Fireplace Technology Works
Electric fireplaces typically create heat by convection. Cool air from the room is drawn into the fireplace, where a heating element, usually in the form of a heating coil, heats the air, and then the warm air gently gets circulated back into the room. This heat source works similarly to space heaters. The unit of heat is in the form of BTU or British Thermal Unit. The amount of BTUs that the fireplace can produce should be checked before buying.
The way that electric fireplaces produce the different effects that make them look like authentic flames is as varied as there are brands. Something like ClassicFlame is available on Amazon, however, something like MagikFlame should be considered over ClassicFlame for people who are looking for the best electric fireplace. Another brand is Dimplex, with their Opti-Myst and Opti-V fireplaces. The Dimplex Opti-V is a virtual flame, while the Dimplex Opti-Myst uses water vapor to make a 3D flame effect. Another brand is Amantii. Amantii is similar to the other fireplaces listed here with different options, however, because MagikFlame has some of the best features out of all listed, let’s look into it with a bit more detail.
Why You Should Consider a MagikFlame Electric Fireplace
MagikFlame electric fireplaces use holographic flame technology and can produce 30 different ultra-realistic flames. This makes their flames look like some of the most realistic compared to other brands of electric fireplaces.
The video flames of MagikFlame electric fireplaces are accompanied by crackling log sounds to help set the atmosphere.
Not only are MagikFlame incredibly cost-effective, but they manage to produce a significant 5,200 BTUs of heat to help keep your home warm and cozy.
If MagikFlame sound interesting to you, you should check out the MagikFlame electric fireplace buying guide. In the buying guide, you can see the different options they have, how MagikFlame is built, and much more.
What Style of Electric Fireplace Is Right for You?
The style of fireplace you should choose largely depends on features your home already has, the size of the space you have available, and personal preference.
If you are incredibly limited on space you can try out one of the electric fireplaces that are wall-mounted, or one that doubles as an entertainment center.
If you currently have a traditional chimney, you should look into one of the electric fireplaces that can be inserted directly into it for the most authentic look. If you don’t have a chimney but still want the authentic look, you should look into one of the mantel units so that it can be a focal point in your home.
If you need something that can be moved from room to room, you can go with a freestanding fireplace. However, keep in mind that these don’t look nearly as authentic as one of the other electric fireplaces that have been mentioned.
Other than these guidelines, it really just depends on what kind of look you are going for. Do you want something that is modern and can be installed into the drywall? Do you want that classic rustic look with a mantel? Luckily, there is a great variety of electric fireplaces to choose from.
How To Get the Most Out of Your Electric Fireplace
Like any space heater, electric fireplaces are most efficient the less space it actually needs to heat. Therefore, you should only have the fireplace on when you are using the room that it is in. If you have a fireplace in the living room, you can close off all of the doors to other rooms. This will use less electricity to heat a smaller amount of space.
If you have a large house, or maybe you just want it extra warm in the master bedroom, consider installing multiple electric fireplaces to meet your needs. While it can initially seem more expensive to buy a second or third fireplace for your home, by being able to heat it in zones, you will actually save a significant amount on your electric bill when turning them off in unoccupied rooms.
Lastly, while traditional fireplaces that burn wood usually need a window cracked so a steady flow of fresh air can keep the fire roaring, electric fireplaces work best with all of the windows shut. Not only will you save money, but you don’t have to worry about that chilly draft when walking by a cracked window.
How To Decorate an Electric Fireplace
Electric fireplaces can more or less be decorated the same way that traditional ones can. If your fireplace has a mantel, you can place a lot of small sentimental things on it. You can place candles for some additional lighting elements, or even hang a couple of wall sconces above the mantel.
If you have a garden with fresh, seasonal flowers, you can regularly put fresh flowers in a vase or two on your mantel. Not only will this bring in some nice color, but it will also help add a wonderful smell to your home.
Consider hanging a main anchor piece above the mantel. This will be something like a family portrait, artwork, a clock, or a mirror. Regardless of what you choose, this should be the most prominent piece other than the fireplace itself.
Around the holidays, you can put a wreath above your fireplace. You can also hang some Christmas lights along the edge of the mantel, as well as add some Christmas plants like holly.
If you have one of the electric fireplaces that double as an entertainment center, this is a great way to show off your movie collection. Since some of these units have additional shelving, you can also put some of your favorite books so that they are readily available when you desire a cozy reading session.
If your house has a modern, minimalist style, you don’t need to put anything up at all, and instead can allow the lines and shapes of the fireplace to be the focus.