You have likely seen the infomercials or read the ads for the miracle Amish heater. It promises to slash your electric bill while you watch people tearing their own bills to shreds. Then you see plain men and women carefully handcrafting wooden mantels. An Amish man had a miracle idea, and you can save money if you get one.
The ad leaves you believing you are buying a fully American product hand made in the US. You are not. Only the mantles are made in Amish Country. The fireplace is a cheap Chinese import.
In this post you will learn:
- About the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow controversy
- What is the miracle heater?
- Is it a miracle?
- Who are the Amish?
- What does the Amish name mean or imply?
- What expectations should you have?
- What does it mean to be American made?
- MagikFlame fireplaces are made in America
- The MagikFlame Morpheus
- The electric fireplace insert
- Different heaters, different heat
- Amish fireplace heater
- Infrared quartz heater
- Zone heating
- When is it time for a new electric fireplace?
About the Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow controversy
Heat Surge is an electric fireplace heater company based in North Canton, Ohio that makes the Roll-n-Glow fireplaces. Holmes County, where the company employs/contracts 300 people, is home to Old Order and New Order sects. Heat Surge’s employees there include both Amish and other people. These 300 workers make fireplace mantels at home out of oak and cherry wood, which they send to North Canton.
The ads you might remember:
- “Amish man’s miracle idea”
- “Saves money, uses less energy than a coffeemaker”
- “Leave it on day and night and never be cold again”
- “How to get two free heaters”
- “Rolls anywhere to throw an instant heatwave”
- “No chimney, no vents, no wood, no smoke”
- “Craftsmen, under strain of Christmas rush, impose a limit of two”
- “Miracle heaters being given away for free”
What is the “miracle” heater?
In the small print, you can read that the mantels are made in America. In smaller print, you can see that the heaters come from China.
The heating units have solid wood mantels and some solid wood trim out of oak or “cherry” wood. The sides are of a lesser grade wood, a wood-plywood combination with wood veneer on the outside. (This is a higher-grade material than particle board.) The “cherry” is popular with a cherry veneer.
They made the wood mantel and trim in several home workshops. They installed the heater at assembly shops in Winesburg and Middleford. A factory in Asia built the heater and shipped it to the US. It is a standard low-grade heater, equal to many bargain heaters you find online.
Is it a miracle?
Advertising hyped the qualities of this fireplace heater saying, “Saves money, uses less energy than a coffeemaker, so leave it on day and night and never be cold again.” The company no longer makes the coffee maker claim.
The “miracle heater” has two marks of quality behind it: Underwriters Laboratory and the Good Housekeeping. Underwriters Laboratory only tests for safety including fire, electrical shock and mechanical hazards. They do not even test if the product works properly. Good Housekeeping gives its Seal of Approval when it evaluates a product to meet the claims it makes, measured against accepted industry standards. Under some circumstances, you can return the product to Good Housekeeping for a limited refund. The heater is a normal electric space heater.
Consumer Reports rated the heater as “no miracle.” While it worked well, it was the same mechanism as a $30 space heater you could buy in any store. David Baker, Heat Surge vice president, recently told The New York Times, “If someone would come to me and say, ‘I need a heater and I want to spend as little as possible,’ I would say go to a local big-box store and buy one for $29.99. Our heater represents a fireplace rather than just some space heater.”
Heat Surge claimed its device was a “miracle heater” that only cost 8 cents an hour to run. If you run that number through the energy math, you find a regular 500-watt heater. (8 cents/hour X 1 kilowatt-hour/16 cents =.5 kilowatts = 500 watts). Its high setting gives you 1500 watts. These numbers are the same as most other heaters that you can buy at Amazon or Lowes. They will give you the same fuel efficiency and costs. There is no miracle.
They no longer make the claims above, now they say the Amish fireplace heater produces 4606 BTU instead of 5,119 BTU. They also say it can handle a 325 sq. ft. room for about 18 cents an hour. Nothing unbelievable or miraculous there.
The company claims that the “miracle” part applies to their “Fireless Flame” technology which provided the visual look of the flame. (Hint – it is not miraculous or even close to a top-of-the-line heater like MagikFlame or Dimplex.)
Who are the Amish?
Ohio hosts the largest number of Amish communities in North America. Pennsylvania is a close second. Holmes County is home to 227 church districts and 30,000 individuals. Geauga County has 80 church districts.
They are Anabaptists, religious dissenters who started in 16th Century Europe and wanted a church separate from the government so they could practice the teachings of Jesus in everyday life and live separate from the rest of society. They try to live simply and reject much modern technology because it gets in the way of this simple life.
These groups are religiously diverse, including 11 different affiliations. Some are quite liberal and even use electricity. Some send their children to public schools. Others are very traditional and conservative, keeping separated from American life. The Swartzentruber group are the most conservative, rejecting even indoor plumbing. Different groups accept and use levels of technology that they feel is appropriate. The difference in religious belief is larger.
Many Amish in the area are dairy farmers, but farming is shrinking even in the Amish community. Wood working or furniture making shops are increasing. Machine shops, construction, and food-based businesses employ most of the rest.
What does the Amish name mean or imply?
In America, Amish is a brand that is cultivated and marketed by the Amish themselves. It means quality because of work, largely by hand. However, Amish farms will never have the word “Amish” in their names. The Ohio Amish make excellent furniture and woodwork. They have a reputation that they want to keep control of.
Non-Amish people often take over and use the name as a brand. Amish Supplies clothing brand comes from Italy. The Amish Kitchen brand of noodles is owned by T. Marzetti, the salad dressing maker. Amish Country Cheeses are good cheeses made in the area where Amish live, but they are not made by the Amish. We expect that. Just like Quaker Oats is not owned or operated by Quakers.
They make the wood mantel in Amish territory, either Holmes or Geauga Counties. However, the makers cannot provide proof that all of their woodworking subcontractors are Amish. Certainly, many of them are.
The Amish fireplace heater is a cheap import from China.
What expectations should you have?
We all know that advertisers can tilt the facts in favor of their product. The skateboard will not fly like it does in the ad. Your children like that brand of green beans if they don’t like beans already.
Heat Surge also marketed the heater as part of a “heating bill relief program” that just plain did not exist. To add to the advertisement’s fun, they offered the product as “two free heaters” if the customer paid $600 in shipping and handling. Reading the fine print on the same ad, they did not even claim to be giving away two heaters, only one. Or – they claimed to be giving the heaters away for free when you bought the mantle. Is the mantle worth $300 as a piece of furniture?
Only 39 of the 238 complaints lodged with the Canton Better Business Bureau last year are for advertising claims. Other complaints raised against the company included poor customer service. One customer service phone number given out was a bad number that reached nobody. Other customers claimed to have their cancellation requests ignored.
Customers also complained about the quality of the heater, claiming several types of breakdowns. The problems included noise, smoke, and other malfunctions.
What does it mean to be American made?
Today, many people believe in the “Made in the USA” label. That says your purchase keeps Americans working and contributes to the American economy. The label speaks of faith in American workers and pride in the quality products they make. When people advertise their product as “made in America”, it is reasonable to expect that all of it is made in America.
That is what the Federal Trade Commission says. If a maker puts a “Made in USA” label on the product, that means all, or virtually all, of the product came from America. Otherwise it is illegal to use the label.
MagikFlame fireplaces are made in America
We make all parts of the MagikFlame electric fireplace in America. We make the heaters in America. We make the mantles in America. Howard Bernbaum, and his team of engineers and special effects experts designed the flame in America. When we sell electric fireplaces, it creates jobs and boosts the economy of the US, not China.
Our inserts are all made in Nashville, Tennessee. We run a precision manufacturing plant there and hire trained engineers to create and improve our product. These engineers created the HoloFlame using CAD technology from the US Navy. In the plant, our computer operated laser cutting machines are accurate to thousandths of an inch. Every step is necessary to create a perfect fireplace with the right ambiance for you.
Once made, trained technicians put every piece together by hand. This human involvement ensures that each fireplace is made perfectly. We do not do mass production because we cannot do it and keep our quality as high as it is. Then, our people subject every fireplace to a thorough inspection before sending it out to our customers. Another group of skilled carpenters and artisans make our mantles to AAA+ standards. Using high quality wood and precision tools, every mantel is hand made. We take great pride that each mantel is an object of art.
The MagikFlame Morpheus
The Morpheus is a modern-designed small fireplace. Its look is contemporary and minimalist to fit into most home’s interior design schemes. The electric fireplace measures 45 inches wide by 42 inches tall by 15 inches deep. At that size it easily fits into small spaces, like the living room in an apartment or a bedroom.
Inside, the Morpheus makes all the heat of any MagikFlame heater, enough to heat 1000 square feet. The infrared quartz heater quickly heats you, and your room, with radiant heat. This heat is safe, and fully adjustable with the remote control. You can set timers and adjust temperature from your seat.
You can see the handcrafting in the fluted side posts and mantle details. It comes in classic white, which can slip in almost anywhere. Skilled artisans make the mantles and frames in America. The Amish do not have a lock on talented carpenters, and we will pit ours against them any day.
The flame looks real because it is – just brought to you by Hollywood’s best holographic technology and special effects. The real flame technology was designed and built in America. We film the flames and then build them in layers into your electric fireplace. These layers rise from the glowing log at the base to the top layer of 3D holograms and crackling fire sounds. The secret is that we offer not one but 30 flames that you can choose from using the remote control.
The electric fireplace insert
If you have chosen a mantle of your own, you can still get the MagikFlame technology in our fireplace insert. It slips right into most mantles, whether existing or just purchased. But the electric fireplace insert does not need a chimney or a vent. All it needs is an outlet or a builder to wire it into your home’s electrical system.
MagikFlame is an American company that is actively seeking new customers. We believe in the strength and beauty of the electric fireplaces we make. Our fireplaces are sound and a long-term home improvement project.
We guarantee your happiness with our electric fireplaces and back it up. The MagikFlame guarantee comes in several parts. First, we have a 30-day guarantee. If you don’t love your fireplace, send it back. We will refund your purchase price or send you a new fireplace – your choice. Our fireplaces are defect free, and we back this with a 1-Year Warranty. If your fireplace unit fails in the first year, we will replace or repair it at no cost to you.
When you order from MagikFlame, we ship our product to you quickly and free. We typically ship fireplaces in 1-3 days (although it occasionally goes up to 5 days.) We ship through FedEx Ground Service or LTL Carriers, both known for their speed and reliability. We ship from within the US, and this speeds up movement a lot.
You can order a MagikFlame on Amazon for convenience. Or you can contact us for manufacturer direct pricing. MagikFlame is a high-end heater paired with a world-class flame and a hand-crafted mantle. Our products do not contain cheap Chinese heaters.
Different heaters, different heat
The miraculous heater that the infomercials offer is not very miraculous. It is a regular space heater operating with older technology. Other types of heaters include forced air heaters which have a fan to blow the heat around the room. Radiant heaters heat in a single direction. The Roll-n-Glow portable heater uses ceramic heating. The MagikFlame uses infrared quartz technology.
Amish fireplace heater
The Heat Surge Roll-n-Glow ceramic heating with an internal mini-furnace. This is a convection heater which moves the heat around the room. Inside of the heater is a hot ceramic plate or coil. This ceramic part heats, and a blower moves the air out of the heater to the room. The body of the heater stays cool.
There’s nothing wrong with a ceramic heater, but it is an older technology and there is better technology today. The ceramic heater also requires moving parts (the fan) which gives it a higher chance of breaking down. You will need to do repairs and buy parts more often with this heater.
Infrared quartz heater
MagikFlame models have an infrared quartz heater. This is the newest, state-of-the-art technology. With no moving parts to break down, the machine beams infrared light into the room. This light warms every surface it hits, including you.
We built the infrared heater to last. It is unlikely you will make a service call soon, if at all. The infrared heater is more efficient than other heater types. Creating this light takes much less energy than heating a ceramic plate and blowing the air around the room. This heater, when used properly, will lower your heat bills. One way to do this is to heat by zones.
The Amish electric fireplace claimed much lower heating bills. In order to get these, you need to set the temperature for your entire house at 50-60 degrees F. Then you turn the heater on in the room you occupy and roll it along with you to any other room you go to. This is a clunky version of a good idea called zone heating. If you run the heater at the same time as keeping your central heat on, your heating costs will rise.
Zone designed heating is an old idea that is becoming popular today with smart thermostats. Old houses once had fireplaces in several rooms. You would lay fires in the areas where people stayed. If they changed rooms, you put out the fire in the old room and start one in the new room. Thus, you only heat the rooms you use.
Today, there are better ways to do it. Many smart thermostats can heat different rooms to different temperatures. You may want to keep the bedrooms cool during the day when you are not using them, but have the bathrooms heated all the time. You could heat your living room in the evenings, but not during the day. You might heat your kitchen less than other rooms because cooking makes it hot in there. Heat what you use.
An electric fireplace, if it runs more efficiently than your current heat source, can help lower heating costs. The room it sits in becomes a zone that is heated at a much lower level. When you want warmth, you turn on the fireplace. It’s a good idea and works with MagikFlame or any other heater.
You do not, however, turn the heat entirely off in your home during the winter. That can lead to several problems including mold and broken pipes. Use your primary heating system to keep all rooms at 50-60 degrees F.
When is it time for a new electric fireplace?
The easiest time to install a new fireplace is when you are building a new home or renovating your home. Your architect and your home builder will know about fireplaces and help guide you to which model you want and where you want to put it. However, one of the best features of the MagikFlame fireplace is that you can unplug it and move it into a different location if it works better elsewhere after a remodel.
A fireplace is the center of your room, and people have always gathered around the hearth. That makes it more than a piece of home decor, it is actively a home improvement. Work with your interior designer to make the electric fireplace work for you. And remember, if you find a mantle unit elsewhere as part of the interior design process, you can still purchase a MagikFlame insert to fill it.
To learn more about MagikFlame, its technology, and its electric fireplaces, visit the MagikFlame Electric Fireplace Buying Guide. It explains how different fireplaces work (even ones we do not sell) and how to select a fireplace that fits your needs. The Amish fireplace heater is not what it promises to be. It’s an okay heater in a nice mantel, but you can do better. You can buy an electric space heater. Or you can buy an infrared quartz electric fireplace. It’s time to turn up the thermostat and kick your feet up to enjoy the ambiance of a fireplace with realistic flame. Rest assured that a MagikFlame is solid American craftsmanship.