Homeowners are starting to see the extreme downsides of having a wood-burning fireplace. Sure, a wood-burning fireplace has a certain ambiance and atmosphere that people love. However, there are great alternatives to a wood fire. These alternatives don’t require all of the hassle that comes with traditional fireplaces. Instead, you can have a fireplace that is low maintenance and free of all of the safety concerns that comes with a traditional wood one.
The two main alternatives to the old style fireplaces are gas and electric fireplaces. Both of these types of fireplaces are cost-effective, can have great heat output, and can mimic the visual aesthetics of the real thing.
The real question is: are gas or electric fireplaces better? Let’s find out which is best for your living room.
Topics Covered In This Post:
- Are Gas or Electric Fireplaces Better? – We break down which categories are important to look at when answering the question: are gas or electric fireplaces better?
- Different Kinds of Gas Fireplaces – Examining the two different kinds of gas-burning fireplaces people might consider for their home.
- Different Kinds of Electric Fireplaces – A closer look at the four styles of electrical fireplaces that are commonly purchased.
- Installation of Gas Fireplaces – How hard are gas fireplaces to install?
- Installation of Electric Fireplaces – Are electric fireplaces easier to install than gas fireplaces?
- Safety of Gas Fireplaces – What are some safety issues that gas fireplaces might have?
- Safety of Electric Fireplaces – Are electric fireplaces safer than gas fireplaces?
- Energy Use of Gas Fireplaces – Are gas fireplaces energy efficient?
- Energy Use of Electric Fireplaces – How is the energy efficiency of electric fireplaces?
- Heat Production of Gas Fireplaces – Do gas fireplaces produce a good amount of heat?
- Heat Production of Electric Fireplaces – Do electric fireplaces produce heat better than gas fireplaces?
- Aesthetics of Gas Fireplaces – Do gas fireplaces look good?
- Aesthetics of Electric Fireplaces – How do electric fireplaces look?
- Additional Benefits of Gas Fireplaces – What else do gas fireplaces have to offer?
- Additional Benefits of Electric Fireplaces – What else do electric fireplaces have to offer?
- The Verdict – Here we answer the question: are gas or electric fireplaces better?
- All About MagikFlame – Some important information regarding one of the best fireplaces that is available today.
Are Gas or Electric Fireplaces Better?
To answer the question “are gas or electric fireplaces better?” It is important to look at several different aspects of what makes a fireplace great.
The different categories that we are basing our decision off of are:
- Easy of Installation
- Overall Safety
- Energy Use
- Heat Production
- Visual Aesthetics
- Other Type-specific Benefits
To properly answer the question “are gas or electric fireplaces better?” We will compare and contrast both kinds of fireplaces in each specific category and then we will see which comes out on top as a whole.
Different Kinds of Gas Fireplaces
There are essentially just two types of gas fireplaces that people have to choose from:
- Vented Gas Fireplace – A direct-vented built-in gas fireplace is one that requires ventilation to be installed with it for it to function properly and safely. People usually just have a simple ventilation pipe installed that leads to the roof. However, if you are converting an old fireplace that burns wood, you can use the flue for ventilation.
- Ventless Gas Fireplace – Vent-free gas fireplaces are just that: they don’t require any kind of venting to be installed with them. However, due to the gas needed for these kinds of fireplaces, they will often have a blue flame color.
Different Kinds of Electric Fireplaces
Electric fireplaces have twice as many types to choose from. Of course, with between different brands, models, and styles that are out there, it can seem like many more. The four basics types are:
- Mantle Electric Fireplace – This kind of electric fireplace is made to look like a standard fireplace. Most of the time, they come in two pieces, the fireplace itself and the mantle that connects to it. Companies often have them separated like this so that customers can fit a mantle style that fits the current architecture and interior design of their home.
- Electric Fireplace Inserts – Electric fireplace inserts are electric fireplaces that can convert a traditional fireplace into an electric one by being installed into its firebox. By installing an electric unit into an existing firebox, you can continue to utilize the aesthetics of the chimney and mantle already present.
- Wall Mount Electric Fireplace – A wall mount electric fireplace is one that can be mounted to studs in the wall so that it is raised above the ground. These units can also be recessed into the wall, partially or fully depending on the model of fireplace and your space available.
- Electric Fireplace Space Heaters – These are the least sought after electrical fireplaces. While they can easily be moved between rooms, they tend to be the weakest and least visually appealing.
Installation of Gas Fireplaces
Gas fireplaces need gas: natural gas or even liquified petroleum that is found in propane tanks.
Since needing to regularly change a propane tank is out of the question for most people and prefer to go with natural gas, you will need a gas line ran to the location where you are going to install your gas fireplace. This can be an expensive project.
Because of the presence of real flames, a gas fireplace usually requires a protective housing to be built into the wall. This can also be a bit of a hassle to install.
Keep in mind that some gas fireplaces will also need that ventilation installed which further adds to the effort, time, and cost of installation.
Installation of Electric Fireplaces
Electric fireplaces are much easier than gas fireplaces when it comes to installation. For your average electrical fireplace there are two easy steps:
- Place it against the wall where you want it to be.
- Plug it into an electrical outlet.
There is a bit more work involved if you choose a wall-mounted option or if you need a new outlet installed close to your fireplace location. However, it is still generally easier to install electric fireplaces over gas fireplaces.
Safety of Gas Fireplaces
It’s true that gas fireplaces are much safer than wood ones. However, there are a few things that owners will still need to keep in mind.
Gas fireplace, especially those using a gas that burns some kind of natural color like orange or yellow, have an incomplete burn of the gas. This is why ventilation is required. The emissions coming off can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Even with sufficient ventilation there is still a risk of these toxic fumes filling your home. It also doesn’t help that these fireplaces can also have an unpleasant gassy smell to them.
Since gas fireplaces burn a real flame, it is always a fire hazard. The fire always has a chance to burn something flammable that is nearby. Most gas fireplaces don’t even use glass doors like some wood burning fireplaces use.
Safety of Electric Fireplaces
High quality electric fireplaces are much safer than gas fireplaces. They don’t have a flame that can catch anything on fire. They also don’t produce carbon monoxide or any other harmful emissions.
That being said, some low quality electric fireplaces can be dangerous due to poor build quality and materials. This is especially true for cheap electric space heaters that can easily be moved from room to room.
If going with an electric fireplace, it is important to invest in a quality, high end model. These units typically don’t have any safety concerns at all.
Energy Use of Gas Fireplaces
The cost of warming your home sufficiently using gas can be quite high, especially during a particularly cold winter. Even with an efficient vented gas fireplace, you will still be losing heat through the ventilation, the same as a fireplace that burns wood.
Energy Use of Electric Fireplaces
Electric fireplaces are generally an incredibly efficient way to heat your home. Because there is no ventilation required, you aren’t losing much-needed heat through a chimney or ventilation pipe. This means that the residual heat stays in the room much longer, requiring less energy to keep your home warm.
Electric fireplaces can also be set up as a zone heating system. This is very useful where people have a lot of square feet to their home with several rooms. Essentially, you have electric fireplaces in the most-used rooms. The fireplaces are only turned on in rooms when they are being used. When a room is not in use, the fireplace is off and you should keep those doors closed. By setting a large home up this way, you get even deeper discounts on your energy bill.
Heat Production of Gas Fireplaces
The amount of heat that gas fireplaces can put out varies a lot depending on the make and model. They can usually do a decent job heating a home, but they require a lot of gas at a high cost to do so. Cheaper gas fireplaces may be a lot weaker and not heat a home very well despite the heavy gas cost.
Heat Production of Electric Fireplaces
Electric fireplaces also vary depending on the make and model of the fireplace involved. Of course, cheap fireplaces aren’t very reliable when it comes to producing heat. However, high end electric fireplaces can produce a lot of heat to keep your home very warm and comfortable. To see how well electric fireplaces can warm your home, you need to check its BTU rating. BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It’s the basic measurement for heat production. A fireplace that says it produces a high amount of BTUs will be a better heat source than one with low BTUs.
Aesthetics of Gas Fireplaces
Gas fireplaces can sometimes have a sleek, modern look to their design. They can also go the other way and attempt to look like a fireplace that burns wood by having the flames come out of fake logs.
However, for both types of gas fireplaces, the actual visuals of the flames tend to be lacking. For starters, the flame is almost smooth, weak, and boring. You don’t really have the interesting flickering flames of a real fireplace, along with the occasional snapping embers you see rising. This lack of flame texture makes gas fireplaces look really artificial.
With a vented system, the flame color can be a bit off. The orange flame doesn’t really have the same color that burn logs tend to produce.
Ventless gas fireplaces look even more fake. The blue flame produced by the gas needed by ventless fireplaces isn’t appealing to most people. Unless you want a weird blue glow in your home instead of a warm and inviting glow, it is probably best to avoid these fireplaces completely.
Aesthetics of Electric Fireplaces
The aesthetics of electric fireplaces are where they really shine. While some cheap electric fireplaces look terrible with their mechanical spinning parts and LED lights, there are a few high end electric fireplaces on the market that really nail a realistic flame simulation.
Some electric fireplaces do a halfway decent job by shining colored lights on steam vapor to get a randomized flame pattern. Of course, there are better alternatives for realistic visuals.
The best electric fireplaces on the market will use some kind of holographic technology to simulate 3D flames. MagikFlame is the only electric fireplace on the market that uses Holoflame technology. With holographic technology like this, you can produce extremely realistic flames and embers. It can be so realistic that many people that come over to your house won’t even realize they are looking at an electrical fireplace.
Additional Benefits of Gas Fireplaces
The only real additional benefit that gas fireplaces might have are in the case of a power outage. If your home loses power, gas fireplaces should generally still work and keep your home warm, as well as produce a bit of extra light.
Additional Benefits of Electric Fireplaces
Electric fireplaces usually come with a remote control or you can control it via a smartphone app. With a remote control you can turn the fireplace off or on, set the thermostat exactly to your liking, and more.
Many electric fireplaces also come with audio enhancement to mimic the sound of a real fireplace. This adds a lot to the atmosphere and makes it feel more realistic.
So, are gas or electric fireplaces better? With these fireplaces, we have examined how easy they are to install one into your home, the safety issues they have, how cost-effective they are when it comes to your energy bill, how much heat they can produce, how their visuals look, and any additional benefits that they might have.
In every single category, electric fireplaces seem to come out on top. Which means, as a whole, a high end electric fireplace will usually be the best choice for your home.
All About MagikFlame
We mentioned before MagikFlame electric fireplaces. While this post discovered that electric fireplaces are better than gas fireplaces, it didn’t really answer what the best electric fireplace actually is.
Many people believe that it is MagikFlame.
The previously mentioned Holoflame technology is unlike anything else that you can find in electric fireplaces. For starters, it produces 30 different incredibly realistic flames. These flame and ember patterns can easily be switched between so that you can have the exact flame style that you are looking for at any given time. Unlike some electric fireplaces that simply show fire on an LCD screen, MagikFlame electric fireplaces actually project 3D holographic flames right onto a super realistic physical log set.
For many people, the realistic flames are more than enough to make this one of the best electric fireplaces. However, to completely make these fireplaces feel like you are sitting in front of the real thing, they also have absolutely satisfying crackling log sounds that compliment the visuals perfectly. Other than just crackling log sounds, you can also choose to turn on nature sounds for some additional atmosphere.
Since it is important a fireplace can actually heat a home properly, each MagikFlame unit has a powerful 5,200 heater built into it. This will allow your home to be warm and toasting, no matter how cold it is outside.
MagikFlame fireplaces can be controlled with their intuitive and super easy to use smartphone app. The app has large buttons that make it easy to quickly turn the fireplace on or off, even from the other room. You can also set your temperature and toggle any other additional features.
If you think that a MagikFlame electric fireplace might be a good fit for you, check out some of these other resources below: