Do Electric Fireplaces Look Real?

In Electric Fireplaces by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Electric fireplaces aim to replicate the experience of having a real fire in your home, with many imitating the look of another type of fireplace such as wood burning fireplaces or stoves.

Electric fireplaces don’t have real flames and so produce their own flame effects and use a heater to generate heat.

So do electric fireplaces look real?

Modern electric fireplaces can provide a very close look and feel of a real fire. The realism of an electric fireplace will be influenced by the quality of the flame effects, technology and materials used to create the look of a real fireplace.

We’ve discussed in more detail below whether electric fireplaces look real and why some can look more real than others, as well as showing what our own electric fireplace looks like in terms of realism.

Do Electric Fireplaces Look Real?

Electric fireplaces don’t have a real fire and so the flames in an electric fireplace needs to be produced artificially.

A real fire can be hard to imitate with a high level of realism, but the technology for flame effects in electric fireplace has developed over recent years and many modern electric fireplaces can offer very realistic fire experiences.

Some electric fireplaces will look more realistic than others. Many will use simpler ways to produce the flame effects while others will go all out in producing the best looking fire possible.

How real an electric fireplace look can be influenced by:

  • The quality of the materials used throughout the electric fireplace.
  • The technology used to create the flame effects.
  • Others features to make the fires more realistic, such as smoke or fire noises.
  • The color, brightness and effects of the flames.


Higher quality (and typically more expensive) electric fireplaces will generally look more realistic compared to cheaply made electric fireplaces.

One of the aims of an electric fireplace can be to resemble a particular real fireplace, such as a fireplace insert or a wood burning stove. In order for an electric fireplace to look like the real thing it needs to be of sufficient quality.

Thankfully, even the cheapest of electric fireplaces can look very real in terms of its quality.

We have a low cost electric fireplace stove, but it still has a metal body and good quality components that make it look like a real wood burning stove, wherever it’s placed in our home.

Freestanding Electric Fireplace Depth
Even our relatively inexpensive electric fireplace stove is made from good quality materials which helps add to the realism

The downsides to our electric fireplace stove are that the logs don’t look very real close up, and there’s no flue sticking out the top or back of the unit. You can however buy an add-on flue for electric fireplace stoves to make them look more realistic.

Electric Fireplace Logs
The logs on our electric fireplace don’t look very realistic, but can look much more realistic on more expensive models

Fire Effects

One of the most important aspects of how real an electric fireplace looks can be how well it produces the effects of the flames.

The realism of the fire can be down to the technology used to create the flame effects. The majority of electric fireplaces will use rotating mirrors and lights to produce flickering flames but many different manufacturers use their own technology to bring the flames to life.

Higher end electric fireplaces and those with less space available (such as wall mount electric fireplaces) may use LED lighting to create the look of a real fire.

On electric fireplaces that use LED lights to produce the flame effects it can be common to have the ability to change the color, speed and effects of the flames. This allows you to change the look and feel of the flames to suit your preference or to make them look more realistic.

Other electric fireplaces and those with more space available inside the unit (such as electric fireplace stoves) may use a combination of rotating mirrors and lighting to project the look of flickering flames onto the back of a panel.

Our electric fireplaces stove uses this method of rotating mirrors and lights to generate the flames.

There’s no ability to change the color or flame effects on our particular model of electric fireplace but the brightness of the flames can be changed.

Each model of electric fireplace will also have its own ember bed look, which is the materials used at the base of the fire to represent burning wood, coal or other materials.

Along with the flames, the realism of the ember bed will also add to how real an electric fireplace looks.

On some models of electric fireplace you’re able to choose the type of ember bed to go with your fireplace when buying it, or can even come with a range of ember bed options out of the box.

Our electric fireplace stove has logs at the bed of the fire. A light is located underneath the logs inside the unit that’s dedicated to keeping the log lit.

The logs lit up on our electric fireplace

We don’t think that the logs on our electric fireplace look very realistic and is one of the downsides, but it’s an inexpensive electric fireplace and we would need to pay more for an electric fireplace to get a more realistic looking fire.

Hand finished ember beds on electric fireplace can look the most realistic.

Other Features

Electric fireplaces can also have other features to provide a more realistic fireplace experience.

Many electric fireplaces can be purchased with a crackler sound system as an optional extra that helps to provide a more realistic fireplace experience.

These sound systems will generate the pops and crackles of a real wood burning fire.

See more information about a typical electric fireplace sound system here.

The realism can be taken even further on some electric fireplaces by using water vapor to create a look of smoke being created by the fire.

You’ll find this technology on certain Dimplex electric fireplace log sets, and an ultrasonic fine water mist is used to create both the flame and smoke effects.

As for the Dimplex Opti-Myst range with smoke, you may find that you have to sacrifice the ability for the electric fireplace to produce heat in order to get the most realistic looking fires.

What Electric Fireplace Looks The Most Real?

The majority of electric fireplaces on the market today can look very realistic in terms of both flame effects and the design of the unit.

For the most realistic experience from an electric fireplace you may have to pay a premium, but the wide range of choice available for electric fireplaces means that you’ll be able to find the perfect one for your home.

If you’re looking to buy the most realistic electric fireplace, look to buy an electric fireplace that:

  • Uses LED lights to create the flame effects.
  • Is built from high quality materials.
  • Has a hand finished ember bed.
  • Is made by a reputable brand.
  • Can come with a sound system or has one integrated.
  • Has additional realistic features such as smoke effects.

Electric Fireplace Buying Guides

For more information on the different types of electric fireplaces you can buy and what the best and most realistic fireplaces are in each category, take a look at our buying guides.

Best Electric Fireplace TV Stands

Best Built-in Electric Fireplaces

Best Electric Fireplace Inserts

Best Electric Fireplace Heaters

Best Wall Mount Electric Fireplaces

Best Electric Fireplace Mantels

Best Electric Fireplace Stoves

Best Electric Fireplace Log Sets

Best Small Electric Fireplaces

Best Corner Electric Fireplaces

Further Reading

How To Use An Electric Fireplace

How Electric Fireplaces Work

Electric Fireplace Common Problems And Solutions

What Is An Electric Fireplace?

What Is An Infrared Electric Fireplace?

Leave a Comment