Electric Fireplaces Buyers Guide: Styles and Features Explained

What You Need To Consider When Choosing an Electric Fireplace

  1. The style of your electric fireplace
  2. The type of flames and whether you want them to look realistic or not
  3. The type of fuel bed based on the aesthetics of your electric fireplace
  4. The source of power for your electric fireplace
  5. The type of heating element considering the size of the room
  6. The maintenance of your electric fireplace
  7. Any additional features in terms of safety and functionality

1. Style of Electric Fireplace

The first element to consider when choosing your new electric fireplace is the style that you want. You have a huge amount of flexibility with the aesthetics of your fireplace, as you can choose from a range of different shapes, sizes, and styles, as well as being able to choose the type of flame and fuel bed it has. Electric fireplaces can be grouped into six main styles:

Stove

Stove-style electric fireplaces recreate the look and feel of traditional wood-burning stoves. They are freestanding, meaning you can easily move them between rooms in your home. 

These models are great if you want this style of fireplace without the hassle of having to acquire real logs or clean up messy ash. More expensive models may come with features like opening doors that enable you to see more of the flames. 

Suite 

Suites provide the full package of a fireplace, as these models feature the fire along with a full surround. Many suites are able be instantly installed simply by removing them from the box and placing them flat against the wall. If you’d prefer a slimmer look to your suite fireplace, it may be necessary to recess the fireplace into a small cavity in the wall. 

Inset

Inset or insert fires are a better option for those who want a less intrusive fireplace. They are typically installed by placing them into an opening or cavity in your wall. This cavity can either be a surround that can accommodate the back portion of the fireplace or the space where an old fireplace used to be. If you aren’t able to create a suitable cavity, many inset fireplaces come with ‘spacer kits’ that you can use to make the fireplace freestanding. 

Wall-Mounted

Wall-mounted fireplaces are another good option if you want a fireplace that doesn’t take up a lot of space. Some models of this style hang off the wall, while others are built-in. They enable you to have a sleek, aesthetically pleasing fireplace without the need for floor space. You can also mount and dismount these fireplaces with relative ease. 

Basket

Basket fires mimic the look of a traditional open fireplace. These are a great choice if you want your fireplace to feel rustic and authentic. Some models of basket-style electric fireplaces also come with an optional faux ash bed to make them feel even more realistic.

Radiant Bar

Radiant bar fireplaces are those that use radiant heat. This type of electric fireplace generates instant cosy warmth that radiates throughout the room. They are another option for those looking for a traditional, vintage style of electric fireplace.

2. Type of Flames in Electric Fireplace

 As we’ve explained in our article on how they work, the flames in electric fireplaces aren’t real. Instead of using real fire, electric fireplaces contain rotating mirrors that reflect LED light to create the illusion of 3D flickering flames. Basically, the flames act as the aesthetic focal point of your electric fireplace rather than producing any actual heat.

How realistic these flames look will vary between models and manufacturers. As a general rule, more expensive models of electric fireplaces will have more realistic and aesthetically pleasing flames. Take this into consideration, as the flames will be one of the most important visual elements of your new electric fireplace.

3. Type of Fuel Bed in Electric Fireplace

Another essential design element that you need to consider is the type of fuel bed in your electric fireplace. There is a range of different styles of fuel beds for you to choose from depending on the look and feel that you want your fireplace to have. 

For example, if you want to create the look of a more traditional fireplace, you could pick a gently glowing log or coal bed. If you would rather have a more modern, contemporary style, you may prefer a fuel bed made from pebbles or crystals. Ultimately, this choice is purely aesthetic and will have no effect on the operation of your fireplace. 

4. Source of Power for Electric Fireplace

As electric fireplaces run on electricity, you will need an available source of mains electricity to power your new fireplace. You need to investigate whether the fireplace you want can be plugged into a socket or whether it will need to be hard-wired into your home. 

Power-Corded Electric Fireplaces

The majority of electric fireplace models are powered by a standard power cord and plug. Typically you will be able to use these models straight out of the box, as all they require is a standard electrical plug socket. You simply have to plug the power cord into the wall and your fireplace will start running immediately. 

Hard-Wired Electric Fireplaces

Alternatively, there are other types of electric fireplaces that will need to be hard-wired into your home electric system. These fireplaces are designed to be a permanent feature in your property, thus requiring more of a complex installation process. With that said, many of these models will include a plug-kit; this gives you the option of plugging the fireplace into an outlet instead. If your model doesn’t come with a plug-in kit as standard, you can often buy the kit as an additional purchase. 

5. Type of Heating Element in Electric Fireplace

Electric fireplaces are able to produce heat and warm up a room as a traditional fireplace would. As the flames in an electric fireplace aren’t real, it instead generates heat through an internal heater. These heaters come in two main types; either fan-forced or infrared.

Fan-Forced Heaters (For Rooms Up to 400 Square Feet)

The most common type of heating mechanism used in electric fireplaces is a fan-forced heater. They function in the same way as conventional space heaters, using an electric coil and a fan. The fireplace uses a fan to take in cool air from the room, before heating it up using a heated electric coil then expelling and circulating the hot air back into the room. These types of fireplaces are typically cheaper and are best for smaller rooms of up to 400 square feet.

Infrared Heaters (For Rooms Up to 1000 Square Feet)

Infrared heaters are the second main type of heating element found in electric fireplaces. This type of heating mechanism works to heat up a room using a quartz tube heater

and infrared light. After the quartz tube heater heats up, the fireplace radiates the heat out into the room in the form of infrared light. Due to this mechanism, infrared heaters are quicker to produce heat than fan-forced heaters, but also quicker to lose heat once they have been switched off. Infrared heaters are typically more expensive than fan-forced heaters and best suited for larger rooms of up to 1000 square feet.

6. Maintenance of Electric Fireplace

One of the biggest benefits of electric fireplaces over traditional types is the reduced need for maintenance. Since there are no flames, you don’t need to spend time cleaning up messy ash, nor do you have to worry about maintaining a chimney or flue. With that said, electric fireplaces still require some minor maintenance to keep them looking and functioning at their best.

While the majority of modern electric fireplace models create the effect of flames using LED lights, some still use traditional halogen bulbs. If you choose a fireplace with an LED light, it’s unlikely you will have to change the bulb as LEDs are designed to last a long time before dying. However, for electric fireplaces with traditional bulbs, it will be necessary to change the bulb out every couple of years. 

The only other essential maintenance activity you need to consider with an electric fireplace is dusting it. You will need to remove any dust that accumulates on the heater inlet and outlet as necessary, but other than this, there are no major cleaning requirements for an electric fireplace. 

Model 700 Fireplace 2

7. Additional Features and Accessories

On top of the ability to create realistic flames and heat up a room, electric fireplaces can come with several other additional features. These include: 

Thermostatic Control

Electric fireplaces often come with thermostatic controls. This feature enables you to set your desired temperature for the room; the electric fireplace will heat the room up to your desired temperature, then maintains this temperature by switching itself on and off automatically. 

Timer Functionality

Many models of electric fireplaces will come with a timer function. This enables you to set the fireplace to run for a certain amount of time before shutting itself off. Not only is this feature handy for safety reasons, it also helps to cut down on unnecessary energy usage.

Overheat Protection

Overheat protection is another important safety feature on electric fireplaces. If your model has overheat protection, it will shut itself off in the case that the fireplace becomes dangerously hot. 

Remote Control

Many modern electric fireplaces come with their own remote control. With this feature, you’re able to control the temperature and functions of the fireplace from the comfort of your seat.

Flame-Only Function

If your model has a flame-only function, you will be able to turn on the fireplace’s flames without turning on its heater. This feature is great for when you want to enjoy the look of the fireplace but you don’t need it to generate heat. 

Adjustable Flames

With electric fireplaces, you often have the ability to change the look of the flames to suit your preferences. For instance, you may be able to adjust the colour, brightness, and flicker speed of the flames. 

Choosing the Right Electric Fireplace For You

Ultimately, your choice of an electric fireplace will depend on three factors: the style that you prefer, the features you want it to have, and your budget. There are endless different combinations of styles and functionalities that you can choose from to find a fireplace that suits your needs completely. Read over the information in this guide and consider which type of electric fireplace suits you best based on these essential factors.