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Electric Fireplace Buying Guide

By UJJBARAN October 19, 2021

For homes without a fireplace, an electric version is a great addition to any room — no chimney needed.

What Is an Electric Fireplace?

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An electric fireplace is essentially an electric heater that mimics the look of a conventional fireplace. A light-emitting diode (LED) light and a mirror element that rolls and reflects the light create the fire-like effect. Because electric fireplaces can be used with or without heat, they’re great for creating a cozy look without additional heating. Many electric fireplaces feature thermostats and remote controls for easy operation and heat regulation.

The typical electric fireplace operates on a standard 120-volt outlet and works with two types of heat: forced fan and infrared quartz.

Forced Fan: A silent fan blows over heated coils to produce heat in the room.

Infrared Quartz: Heat is delivered through invisible infrared light. The light warms the things it touches instead of the air around it — people, furniture, bodies — to create more comfortable surroundings a safe 3 feet away. Infrared quartz heat leaves humidity in the air creating a more comfortable home environment.

When either type of fireplace is in operation, everything except the area housing the heating element remains cool to the touch. This makes an electric fireplace an attractive option for people with young children or pets.

Electric fireplaces are available as all-in-one units and as fireplace inserts or logs for an existing fireplace and chimney. Every type of electric fireplace operates safely without venting.

For those who prefer an all-in-one unit, traditional mantels and media stands are available. Media stands have hidden media components to conceal electronics and double as a television stand.

Wall-hanging units deliver a more modern look and hang on the wall with brackets, much like a wall-mount television.

Freestanding models may be used flush against a flat wall or in a corner.

Electric fireplaces are available in modern, transitional and traditional styles, so you're sure to find a fireplace to coordinate with your home’s style. 

Most electric fireplaces plug into a regular wall outlet with no special installation required.

Many fireplaces can double as a TV stand or other piece of functional furniture. Always read the product specs for maximum size and weight for anything you place on top. Also be aware that those items may pose a tip-over hazard.

How Do I Choose an Electric Fireplace?

When selecting your electric fireplace, consider how you’ll use the unit and the size of the space you’re heating. Forced fan fireplaces are best for areas around 400 square feet, while infrared quartz units are best suited for rooms around 1,000 square feet. The maximum size for any heater to work efficiently is about 1,500 square feet.

Keep in mind that heating is subject to the home’s environment. Spaces with high ceilings, windows and drafts retain heat differently and impact the effectiveness of the electric fireplace.

Keep the fireplace clear of fabrics that may overheat and ignite. Don't hang Christmas stockings on the mantel while the heating unit is in use.

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