Features to consider while choosing an electric fireplace
There are many types of electric fireplaces to choose from and the amount of possible features can quickly become overwhelming. To help you narrow down your choices, these are the features to look for to find the best electric fireplace.
There are three main types of electric fireplaces. Freestanding fireplaces mean they have their own legs and do not need to be attached to a wall. These are great if you are short on wall space or don’t want to go to much trouble to install a fireplace. On our list, the Duraflame DFI-5010, the Ameriwood Home Chicago Electric Fireplace TV Console, the Valuxhome Electric Fireplace Stove Space Heater, and the ClassicFlame Eugene Wall Mantel are all freestanding. However, within these models are vast differences. Some are small and some can support a large TV.
If you have an existing fireplace but don’t want to the bother of having to light wood and clean up ashes, an insert is a good idea. These fit inside the existing hole and give the appearance of a fire, without all the hassle. On our list, the Dimplex DFI2309, the Pleasant Hearth LH-24, the
PuraFlame 33 Western Electric Fireplace Insert, and the Regal Flame Curved Electric Fireplace Insert are all inserts.
Finally, if you want a real touch of modern decors, a wall mounted fireplace is the way to go. These are mounted directly on your wall and can be placed just about anywhere in a room. They are often sleekly designed and are meant to be both practical and decorative. On our list, the XtremepowerUS Allure Linear Wall Mount Electric Fireplace and the Touchstone Onyx Electric Fireplace are wall mounts.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and really it means how hot your fireplace can get. The higher the BTU number is, the hotter your fireplace will go. All fireplaces on our list have different settings, so don’t panic as your new purchase won’t have to be cranked to the max at all times. And really, except for extremely cold climates, most of the time you won’t want your fireplace to be at max heat.
On average, expect an electric fireplace to have a BTU output of around 5,000 units. On our list, products range from 4,600 units with the Pleasant Hearth LH-24 and the PuraFlame 33 Western Electric Fireplace Insert, up to 5,900 units with the Regal Flame Curved Electric Fireplace Insert. If you have a very drafty house or live up north, then definitely narrow your search to a fireplace with a higher BTU output. For all other circumstances, pick any fireplace, regardless of BTU output.
The heating area of an electric fireplace refers to how much area around the fireplace can be heated. This is usually connected to the BTU output. Generally, 400 square feet is the normal, which means you should be able to heat a living room or a small apartment. Some electric fireplaces are more powerful. For instance, the Duraflame DFI-5010 and the ClassicFlame Eugene Wall Mantel can heat up to 1,000 square feet.
Just be aware that while a manufactured states the maximum heating area, other factors can impact reality. If you have a particularly drafty room or it’s quite cold out, you might not be able to heat all the space. Furthermore, heating may require keeping the heat to the maximum setting and using the fan which can be a bit noisy.
Modes and settings
There are two types of settings with electric fireplaces. The first is all about the heat. Most electric fireplaces will have at least three heat settings, of low, medium, and high. Others will have thermostats with more varying heat options. Most will also have the option of keeping the flame light on but turning off the heat, so your fireplace can be used for mood lighting. Finally, there may be a setting involving a fan or blower. This will work to blow heat further around the room although this setting can be a bit loud.
The other type of settings refers to the flames. Sometimes, you can change the flames, making them dimmer or brighter. Some models will even let you change the color of the flames. Not all electric fireplaces have flame settings and they are usually reserved for more modern designs and certainly for more expensive designs.
Electric fireplaces come in all shapes and sizes. You can find a compact one, like the Pleasant Hearth LH-24 which only measures 23 by 13 by 9 inches. On the larger end of the scale is an item like the Ameriwood Home Chicago Electric Fireplace TV Console. It measures 47.2 by 31.8 by 15.9 inches and is so large you can actually put a 50-inch TV on top of it.
To help you narrow down your choices, the best thing is to think about where you plan on placing your electric fireplace. Think carefully as you won’t want to move it later on. For freestanding or wall-mounted fireplaces, thing about the area around the fireplace and how close it might be to a TV, for noise purposes.
For fireplace inserts, check the dimensions of your existing fireplace. Some inserts have a frame around them while some are just the log setup.
Fireplaces give off heat so you want to find one with important safety features. To start with, while the flame itself is an LED light and therefore not hot, electric fireplaces function as heaters which means they blow out hot air. If you have children, consider placing a gate in front of the fireplace, just in case.
For freestanding fireplaces, you’ll want to look for a tip over function. This means that if your unit tips over the sensor will trigger and it will automatically turn the heater off.
Some fireplaces will turn off automatically after certain times, and some can be programmed to turn off after a pre-determined length of time.
Ease of installation
Technology has come a long way with electric fireplaces and thankfully, most of them are easy to install. Freestanding fireplaces are the easiest. Simply decide where you want your model to, set it up if need be, and plug it in.
Inserts are also easy to install. Some can simply be placed inside the existing fireplace. Those with frames might need to be measured but it should be as simple as plugging in and placing it. Inserts usually need their own power outlet so if you don’t want cords running around, you will have to do a bit of DIY work to get everything set up.
Wall mounted electric fireplaces can be a bit tricky as you need to find the right place for it. Similar to mounting a TV, mounting a fireplace requires a bit of patience and a lot of accuracy for a level setup.
Even if fireplaces are lightweight, it’s always recommended to have a friend help you.
For some reason, even the best rated electric fireplaces don’t have the best warranties. Not one product on our list has a warranty longer than one year. For more expensive units, you might want to consider purchasing an extra warranty, just in case.
Electric fireplaces run the gamut on extra features. The most basic is the inclusion of a remote control. Many units will have this and it’s a convenient way to change the settings on your fireplace.
More modern electric fireplaces will give you the option of the material used. For example, the Touchstone Onyx Electric Fireplace provides you with both faux-logs and crystals to use. You get to choose when setting up and can even change them out when you want.
As to be expected, basic electric fireplaces are far more budget friendly. If you’re paying over $400 for a new fireplace, you should be expecting a few exciting features.