electric fireplace

As we reach the end of summer and make our way into fall, most of us begin to make plans to take the chill off of those dreary winter days. And nothing makes a cool evening more enjoyable than snuggling up in front of a crackling fire. Unfortunately not everyone has the money or space to properly and safely install a real, wood-burning fireplace. Plus there is the work, mess and expense of firewood, the hassles of maintenance and the hazards of smoke and fire. But what if you could get the ambiance and the extra warmth without all of the troubles? That’s where electric fireplaces come in.


Electric fireplaces are swiftly becoming the latest, greatest trend in contemporary home furnishing. There are, almost, limitless number of styles, colours and finishes available to suit a wide range of decors. In addition, improvements in technology have made the flames look so realistic in some units that you will forget that you don’t need to throw another log on the fire.


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Reasons to get an Electric Fireplace

Good looks aside though, there are a number of other excellent reasons for choosing an electric fireplace over wood or gas-fuelled units;


  1. They’re Easy to Use.

    There’s no firewood to chop, no gas to run out of and no maintenance required beyond the occasional dusting. Just plug the unit into a standard wall outlet and turn your fire on with the flip of a switch.

  2. They're Easy to Install.

    Installing a wood or gas fireplace is an enormous project which requires the help of professionals. Everything needs to be installed and vented according to specific safety standards to protect your home from fire and air-quality issues. Plus there are many dwellings such as mobile homes, apartments and condos which are difficult or completely impossible to fit with a traditional fireplace or woodstove. Electric fireplaces, however, can be installed virtually anywhere, in any home. All you need is the space to put it and an outlet in easy reach.


    Extra Credit! Want to know how much it’s going to cost to run your fireplace? Divide the wattage of the unit by 1000 to get kilo-Watt hours. Then multiply that number by the cost of electricity in your area. So for example, a fireplace of 1350 watts produces 1.35 kWh. In an area that charges $0.09380/kWh it will cost approximately $0.13 to run it for one hour. (1350W / 1000 = 1.35 kWh x $0.09380 per kWh = $0.13 per hour)

  3. They're Affordable.

    If you’re looking for a basic unit, electric fireplaces start in the $300 to $400 range and go up from there depending on the size, materials and extra features. This is considerably less than the cost of a new wood or gas burning unit and that’s even before you factor in the installation costs.

  4. They Can Go Anywhere.

    Tired of having a fireplace in the living room? Move it to the bedroom. Tired of having a fireplace in the bedroom? Move it to the den. Tired of your old house? Take the fireplace with you when you move to your new home. The joy of these units is that you can move them around as frequently as you want. All you need is an available outlet and someone to help move the unit.

  5. They're the Safest Fire on the Market.

    Mostly because it’s not a real fire. Wood and gas burning units come with a whole slew of safety hazards ranging from chimney fires and gas leaks to air quality issues and burn-related injuries. Electric fire places have none of those issues. They are clean, they don’t require a chimney and because there isn’t an actual flame behind the glass, it stays cool to the touch even during operation.


Things to Consider Before Purchasing

So you’ve decided that an electric fireplace is the right choice for you. But which unit is the right one for your home sweet home? Here are a few considerations that should factor into your purchasing decision

  1. Size.

    If you’re in an apartment or a smaller home you may not want to take up all of your living space with a full size unit. The best thing to do is break out the measuring tape and measure the space where you’re planning to install the unit. You’ll need the width, the height and how far the unit should project from the wall. These three numbers will help you select a unit that will fit easily into your décor plans. If your space is extremely limited you may also want to consider a corner design which can be tucked easily into the corner of a more crowded room.


    Safety First! It may not be a real fire but it’s still an electric appliance. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for information on the safe set-up and operation of your fireplace.

  2. Location.

    Yes, these units can go anywhere but because they run on electricity, you do need to be within easy reach of a standard wall outlet. Most electric fireplaces are not recommended for use with extension cords because of the potential fire hazard so you need to make sure that the cord that comes with the unit is long enough to reach the outlet, and won’t be easily tripped over. Also, keep in mind that even if the glass in front of the flames stays cool to the touch, the unit is still producing a lot of heat. Make sure that items such as curtains are positioned well away from the blower.

  3. Style and Finish.

    The style of fireplace you choose will depend entirely upon your personal tastes and your current décor. A rustic-style fireplace is not going to blend effortlessly into an ultra-modern décor. A fireplace with a rich, espresso finish is going to look out of place next to a matching collection of light oak furniture. Take an honest look at your furniture, flooring and other décor choices to assess your personal style and take notes for when you start shopping. You could even take a few pictures to bring with you to the store. That way you’ll know instantly if the fireplace you fall in love with in the store will fit with your current look, or stick out like a sore thumb.

  4. Heat Output.

    Most electric fireplaces produce about the same amount of heat and cost the same amount to run as an electric space heater. That being said, you’re obviously not going to use one of these units to heat your entire house. They are, however, an excellent and attractive choice for a supplementary heat source. Look for a unit that has the flame and heat working independently of one another. That way you can always enjoy the look of a crackling fire, even on days when you don’t need, or want, the extra heat.

  5. Extras.

    The difference is often in the details. Many electric fireplaces have extra features designed for your convenience and enjoyment. Some models feature remote control operation which allows you to adjust the settings and turn the unit on or off from the comfort of your chair. Some units also come with extra storage or are designed for use as media centres. Some will even hold television sets or audio visual equipment which is ideal if you have limited space or enjoy the convenience of multi-purpose furniture. Other extras to look for include; realistic flame effects, multiple heat settings for additional comfort control and a built-in thermostat so you can tell at a glance, how much heat the unit is putting out.


What about those of you who already have a mantel in place? Many older homes have beautiful old wood fireplaces that can no longer be used due to safety or environmental concerns. If this is the case for you then an electric fireplace insert might be the answer. An insert is simply the “firebox” of an electric fireplace that comes without the surrounding mantel. They operate in very much the same way and come in a variety of sizes. Simply select the size you need and slide it into your existing hearth to bring your old, retired fireplace back to life.

Now that you know the basics you are ready to go out and start shopping around. Remember to keep your space and style requirements in mind or better yet, on a list, and be sure to keep an eye open for all those little extras that will make your electric fireplace a welcome part of your décor for years to come.


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