What Are Electric Fireplaces and How Do They Work?

What Are Electric Fireplaces?

Unlike traditional fireplaces, electric fireplaces produce no fire, no smoke, and no other gas byproducts. In addition to this, electric fireplaces do not require any combustible fuels or real flames to produce heat. All of these elements of traditional fireplaces are replaced with the electrical components of the electric fireplace.

How Do Electric Fireplaces Work?

Instead of being powered by wood or gas, all that is required for an electric fireplace is an outlet and a plug socket. You can simply plug in the fireplace and turn it on straight away with the push of a button. 

You have the option of using electrical fireplaces on either a ‘flame only’ setting to create the illusion of a fire without the heat, or a heated setting to also produce the warmth of a real fireplace. When turned on to the heated setting, the fireplace will then begin to produce heat from its heating element; it will utilize one of several heating methods, such as a heated coil or infrared technology, to create the illusion of a warm fire. 

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How Do Electric Fireplaces Heat a Room?

The heat given off by an electric fireplace feels just like the heat from a real fire. Although it varies from model to model, all electric fireplaces achieve this effect using the same basic mechanisms. 

To create this illusion, electric fireplaces generate their heat using an electronically-powered heating element. The fireplace uses a fan to take in cool air from the room, it heats the air up with its metal coils, then expels the hot air to spread it throughout the rest of the room. Due to the lack of real flames, electric fireplaces do not require chimney flues or vents; they don’t emit any smoke, fumes, or gases, nor do they produce dirt or ash.

Do Electric Fireplaces Produce Real Flames?

Electric fireplaces are not designed to accommodate real fires and therefore do not produce real flames. This is one of the biggest reasons why many homeowners opt for an electric fireplace; without real flames, there is much less to be concerned about regarding safety and mess. You don’t have to spend time cleaning up messy piles of ash, nor do you need to worry about the harmful carbon emissions that real fires produce. On top of this, electric fires eliminate the need to purchase constant supplies of fuel, such as kindling or wooden logs.

How Do the Flames in an Electric Fireplace Work?

Even though the fire in an electric fireplace can appear to be highly realistic, the flames aren’t actually real. The flames that you can see are an illusion of light that the internal components of the fireplace create. Modern electric fireplaces use advanced technology to create realistic 3D flames that dance, flicker, and change colour, just as the flames in a real fireplace would.


Electric fireplaces create the illusion of flames by shining the light of an LED onto a spinning refractor that is made up of 3D patterns. The light reflects off the refractor, which in turn emulates the flickering light and soft glow of a real fireplace. Some models of electric fireplaces produce a crackling sound to enhance the realism of the synthetic flames.

Types of Electric Fireplace

There are a few different types of electric fireplaces available for you to choose from. These include:

Electric Stoves

Electric stoves are a great alternative for those who want the aesthetics of a wood-burning stove without the maintenance or need for a chimney. You can place them anywhere in your home, from wall mounts to inlays. You can adjust the settings for the electric stove’s heat and flame intensity using a remote control.

Electric Fire Baskets

Electric fire baskets also provide the look and feel of an authentic, traditional fireplace without the necessity of real flames or a chimney. They are designed to look like traditional fire baskets, typically being made from aluminium, cast iron, or other similar metals. Electric fire baskets can either be completely decorative or incorporated into a working fireplace.

Wall-Mounted Electric Fires

Wall-mounted electric fires are, as the name suggests, electric fires that are mounted onto walls. These fireplaces come in a huge variety of styles, from contemporary models to those that look more modern. The versatility in the aesthetics of these fireplaces means you can choose the perfect model to suit your interior décor. Another big benefit of wall-mounted electric fires is the lack of commitment to where you install them; you can easily dismount and reinstall these fireplaces if redecorating or moving. 

Electric Inset Fires

Electric inset fires share all of the same features as wall-mounted electric fires, with the exception that they’re installed into a wall rather than mounted onto it. The benefit of this type of fireplace is that instead of sticking out of the wall, the fireplace sits flat within it. While the installation of this fireplace is a bit more complicated, it ultimately creates a more finished, aesthetically pleasing look.