With the advancement of modern technology, electric fireplaces are becoming an increasingly viable alternative to their gas and wood burning counterparts. Not only are they convenient, effective and efficient, but they look more authentic than ever. In this guide we go through everything you need to know about choosing the best electric fireplace for your home.
We also take a look at when an electric fireplace is the right choice, and when you might be better off with an alternative.
This is a general cover-all guide for choosing the best electric fireplace. If you already have a specific type in mind, you can check out our more in-depth guides where we look at comparisons of specific models.
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5 Touchstone 80001 Onyx
Price $$$ $$ $$$$ $$$ $$ Our Rating Watts 1500 1500 1500 1400 1375 Type Wall Mounted Freestanding Stove Corner/Convertible TV Stand Insert Style Contemporary Traditional Traditional Contemporary Universal Suitable For Medium Sized Room Medium-sized Room Medium-sized rooms Medium-sized rooms Small Rooms Dimensions Weight 46 lb 37.6 lbs 36 lbs 95 lbs 33 lbs Features Auto shut off timer, five flame settings, two heat settings, realistic log flame, can run without heat. Can run without heat, on/off remote control, thermostat control. Can run without heat, optional down light illumination, remote control, adjustable thermostat, timer, logs, and flames, automatic shut off. Integrated cable management, adjustable shelving. Can run without heat, two heat settings, built-in fan-forced heater. Pros NA NA NA NA NA Cons NA NA NA NA NA Where To Buy?
Above is a comparison table featuring our top picks for the ‘best all-rounders’ from each of the five types of electric fireplaces we talk about later.
Is An Electric Fireplace Right For You?
If you’re already set on getting one, you can skip this section by clicking here. But for those who aren’t 100% sure, this should help you decide if an electric fireplace is right for you, or if you would be better off with one of the alternatives.
What Is An Electric Fireplace?
Essentially, they are space heaters with artificial flames for a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. Many styles, sizes and types are available. They’ve become quite popular recently with the development of modern technology. The artificial flames on some of the higher end models are surprisingly realistic.
When You Should Consider An Electric Fireplace
- If convenience is important – for the most part, electric fireplaces are very easy to setup and use, and – importantly for many – they are portable. Simply plug them in and you’re good to go. However, you should note that some types do require mounting. Free-standing models are usually the most convenient.
- If you have small children or pets – electric fireplaces don’t produce real flames so they are far less of a fire hazard than burning gas or wood. Additionally, apart from the heating discharge vent, they are cool to the touch. Obviously, because they are electric and produce heat, there is some risk, but are generally a safer option.
- If you need something compact – although som are quite bulky and cumbersome, wall mounted electric fireplaces sit tight against your wall and really do open up your room. Some can even be built in and sit perfectly flush with the wall.
- If you’re not TOO bothered about authenticity – although the lack of real flames is great for safety concerns, it does mean that electric fireplaces will never look 100% authentic. This is especially true for cheaper models, although some of the better quality electric fireplaces do produce some impressively realistic looking flames.
- If electricity is cheaper than gas in your area – electric fireplaces are always more energy efficient than gas. But depending on the prices in your area, it still might be cheaper to run a gas fireplace. If running costs are important to you, this is something you need to consider.
When You Should Consider An Alternative
- If you want the real thing – as realistic as some of the electric fireplaces are, they’re not the real thing. The most authentic choice would be a wood-burning fireplace (of course), but these can be very costly and require more maintenance. The next best thing is a gas fireplace. These create real flames over artificial logs or coal for a great authentic look. However, gas fireplaces aren’t as convenient as electric fireplaces and they do pose a higher safety risk.
- If you need to heat the whole house – electric fireplaces are similar to space heaters in that they are only really designed to heat one smallish room. You will be better off with a central heating system if you want to heat your whole house as even the best electric fireplace isn’t up to the job. Most electric fireplaces operate at 1500 watts. This equates to around 5100 BTU’s per hour which is enough to comfortably heat 150 square feet.
- If you will rely on it as a primary heat source – unfortunately power cuts happen. And you don’t want to be relying on electricity to heat your home when they do. If you live in an area where it never gets too cold, this isn’t too much of a problem. However, if it does get cold where you live, you will want to have an alternative heat source. Gas fireplaces are much more reliable in this sense.
- If you’re not interested in aesthetics – they look great and all, but if you just want a cheap and cheerful heater, there are better alternatives. A standard space heater will do the trick, or if want something more out of the way, have a look at a wall mounted heater.
This isn’t meant to persuade you any particular way. We just want to give you all the information you need to make the best buying decision possible. Next we’re going to look at the alternatives.
Best Electric Fireplace Alternatives
Gas fireplaces produce real flames over artificial wood or coal. They generally look much more authentic than electric fireplaces. They less convenient though and more complicated to install. Usually, they can produce more heat than electric fireplaces.
Wood Burning Fireplace
A real wood burning fireplace is, of course, the best choice of authenticity. It’s hard to beat the gentle crackling and incredible warmth. However, if you don’t already have one built, they are incredibly costly. They require more maintenance too.
Electric Space Heater
An electric space heater is essentially the same as an electric fireplace, but without the artificial flames. If you want some cheap and cheerful heat, this is the way to go.
Types of Electric Fireplace
There are quite a few different types, so it’s important to pick the best electric fireplace for your situation. In this section, we’ll briefly go over each type and give our recommendations. We will then link to our more in-depth guides where you can view comparisons of specific models.
As you have probably guessed, wall mounted models attach to your wall. There are two main types. The most common models simply hook onto your wall and are relatively easy to install.
The other type is recessed and sits flush with your wall. These are much harder to install and are more costly, but do look great if done correctly.
The benefit of a wall mounted electric fireplace is that they take up very little room because they sit tight against your wall. They are particularly useful for smaller contemporary rooms.
Although they look stunning in modern rooms, most wall mounted electric fireplaces don’t fit in with the décor of traditional rooms. You would be better off looking for an alternative style. They also lack the functionality of other types like those with mantels or TV stands.
One of the most popular models (and our favorite) is the Touchstone 80001 Onyx, as pictured above. For a more in-depth look at wall mounted electric fireplaces and a comparison chart, click on the link below.
More info: Coming Soon
Freestanding electric stoves are by far the most convenient and easiest to use. No installation is required, simply plug it in and you’re good to go. This also means they are very portable so the go to choice if you will be moving it frequently.
Depending on the size, you can also make good use of the top. (remember, the fire isn’t real so it won’t get too hot!) There are plenty of styles available so it shouldn’t be too difficult finding one that fits with your room.
Although they’re not as bulky as electric fireplaces with mantels or TV stands, they’re not as compact as wall mounted models or inserts. So you will have to sacrifice some floor space.
Our favorite freestanding electric stove is the Dimplex CS33116A. The Dimplex’s simple design compliments most rooms, and it’s reasonably priced too. For a more in-depth guide and comparison, you can find out guide below.
More info: Coming Soon
Corner or Wall
If you’re looking for the best electric fireplace to fit in the corner of your room, then (you’ve guessed it), you probably want a corner fireplace. These are specifically designed for a snug fit in the corner. Some models are convertible (like the one pictured) and suitable for corners or walls.
Most corner electric fireplaces are large enough to put a flat screen TV on the top. There are plenty of styles available so it shouldn’t be a problem finding one suitable for your room.
One issue with corner fireplaces is that they can be quite expensive (although they do look very good). They are usually more expensive than freestanding electric stoves or wall mounted electric fireplaces. They obviously take up a lot more room than wall mounted fireplaces, but then again, you can make use of the large surface area on the top.
Our favorite is the Cartwright Convertible. This model is visually appealing, reasonably priced and receives great reviews. It’s also available in three colors. Check out our guide below where we look at some more options and comparisons.
More info: Coming Soon
TV stand electric fireplaces are a popular choice. They have a large top for your TV and ample storage at the sides. Usually suited for a more contemporary room, although some will fit in with more traditional décor.
They are quite large so you might want to consider an alternative if space is an issue, although the storage space and size of the top does somewhat make up for this.
One of the best electric fireplace with a TV stand is the Walker Edison W58FP18ES. This is one of the more popular models with a nice, clean look suitable for most styles of room. Check out our more in-depth guide and comparison.
More info: Coming Soon
An electric fireplace insert fits into an already built, unused fireplace. If you’re tired of the hassle of a real fireplace, or the fireplace can’t be used for any reason, an insert is the way to go. As the fireplace is already there, inserts don’t take up any space. They look authentic too because it feels like they’re in the right place.
The obvious issue with inserts is that you need a pre-existing fireplace. Unfortunately there’s nothing that can be done about this, and if you don’t already have a fireplace, you will have to look at another option. It also isn’t portable like some of the other types, particularity the freestanding electric stoves.
The Dimplex DFI2309 is a great all-round fireplace insert. It’s reasonably priced, has a clean and simple design, and fairly easy to install. Check out our more in-depth guide where we look at some more options.
More info: Coming Soon
The Best Electric Fireplace For Your Room
There are three key points to consider when choosing the best electric fireplace for your room. The size and style of your room, and any additional features you require.
The size of the room is important because:
- A larger room will require a more powerful heater.
- A smaller room will benefit from a compact model.
You also need to consider the style of your room. Some electric fireplaces have a more contemporary design which wouldn’t fit in with more traditional décor, and vice versa.
Different models come with different features. We’ll cover them in this section to help you find the best electric fireplace for your circumstances, without going too over the top with unneeded bells and whistles.
Best Electric Fireplace For Large Rooms
Electric fireplaces might look impressive, but you do need to remember that they are still just plug-in heaters. Although they DO produce heat, they’re not particularly effective at heating large rooms on their own.
However, some are more effective than others. The most powerful and best electric fireplaces we have come across are 1500 watts (although there may be more powerful, less well-known models available. We’ll keep looking and keep this section updated). 1500 watts is also the most common. A few of the smaller models aren’t quite as powerful so do make sure you check before buying.
You might want the aesthetics of an electric fireplace but need a more effective heat source. For this, we recommend combining the fireplace with another heat source such as central heating.
Best Electric Fireplace For Small Rooms
Finding the best electric fireplace for smaller rooms is much easier. Almost all models should provide sufficient heat, but there are a few points to consider.
Firstly, you need to think about space. If you have a pre-existing fireplace, an insert would be your best option. The next best thing would be a wall mounted unit. For something more portable, a small freestanding electric stove is a good choice.
Secondly, you will probably want a model with multiple heat adjustments. If the electric fireplace only has one option, 100%, you might find your room gets too hot. Many models come with remote controls which allow you to easily change the heat settings.
Contemporary Electric Fireplaces
It’s generally easier to find the best electric fireplace for a room with contemporary décor. Most types have many suitable styles.
Our favorite type of electric fireplace for a contemporary room are wall mounted models. They look great, don’t take up too much space and are usually very affordable.
Traditional Electric Fireplaces
It’s much trickier finding the best electric fireplace for a traditional room.
With a contemporary room you can get away with an artificial looking flame, but not so much with traditional décor. It’s key to find as realistic a flame as possible.
Also, there aren’t as many designs that suit a traditional room. A good starting point would be our recommendation for the corner electric fireplace, the Cartwright Convertible.
Additional Features of an Electric Fireplace
- Flame-only Mode – this setting is for when you want the aesthetics of an electric fireplace without the heat. Most models have this option.
- Adjustable Heat – being able to adjust the heat is useful if you want to use your electric fireplace all year round. Some models only have one or two settings, some have many more.
- Multiple Flame Settings – this setting enables you to change the appearance of the flames.
- Remote Control – most electric fireplaces come with remote controls. But do makes sure to check before buying as some don’t.
- Safety Features – electric fireplaces are generally a safer heating option. But some models have additional safety features. The most common is an automatic shut off for when the unit overheats.
Electric Fireplace FAQ’s
How much do electric fireplaces cost to run?
The cost to operate an electric fireplace really does depend. You might have seen advertisers claim electric fireplaces are better than gas because they are 100% efficient. Whilst this is technically true, it doesn’t take into account the cost of electricity vs. cost of gas. These prices vary between different areas.
Another thing to consider is the portability. It wouldn’t be practical to move a large electric fireplace regularly, but it is feasible to take a small electric stove from room to room with you. This means you only have to heat the room you are in and not your whole house.
How much heat do electric fireplaces generate?
The majority of electric fireplaces are 1500 watts which equates to about 5100 BTU’s per hour. This is enough to heat a room around 150 square feet quite comfortably, but won’t be effective at heating a room much larger.
As an additional heat source, an electric fireplace is a great choice for larger rooms.We don’t recommended using an one as a primary heat source though.
How realistic are electric fireplaces?
The quality of the flames on an electric fireplace varies. As with anything, the general rule of thumb is the more you pay, the better the results. With modern technology, the artificial flames on a good quality electric fireplace do look very impressive.
However, even the best electric fireplace can’t compete with the real thing.
Are electric fireplaces safe?
Electric fireplaces are a very safe heating option. Of course, because they are electric there is always SOME element of risk. But there are no real flames involved, and the unit doesn’t get hot (other than the heating element), so they are ideal for homes with pets and small children.
Some models have additional safety features such as an automatic shut off for when the unit overheats.
Are Electric Fireplaces Environmentally Friendly?
Yes, for the most part electric fireplaces are environmentally friendly. They don’t give off any harmful emissions and they are 100% efficient.
Not all electricity is generated using green methods though. Our advice is to make sure your house is properly insulated so you can cut down on your electricity use. And you’re bill will be a lot friendlier too!
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully this guide will help you make the best buying choice possible. Whether that be for an electric fireplace or one of the alternatives. We’ve linked to various other articles where we look at the best electric fireplace for each type in more depth. Make sure you check them out.
Make sure you take your time to pick the best electric fireplace for your room.
If you have any questions or comments about this article or specific fireplaces, feel free to let us know down below!