I had been looking to buy an electric fireplace for our spare bedroom (and because I wanted to find the perfect fireplace) I did a ton of research into what would be the best electric fireplace for our spare room.
We wanted an electric fireplace in the spare bedroom so that guests could be able to provide heat to the room whenever they wished, without the need for the central heating to be turned on. The visuals of a roaring fire were also an added bonus for any guests that stay over.
As an electric fireplace is really quite different to other types of fireplace, I thought I would share everything that I needed to consider before buying one for our home.
To help you decide what kind of electric fireplace you should purchase, and where you should put your fireplace, I’ve put together the top things you need to know and consider before buying an electric fireplace.
What To Know When Buying An Electric Fireplace
– There’s no real flame.
– You don’t need a chimney, flue or vent.
– You’ll need a nearby electrical wall socket supply.
– You can buy electric fireplaces that can be inserted into your existing fireplace, ones that are free standing, or even ones that can be mounted on the wall.
– You’ll need to make sure that the heater wattage is enough to heat the size of your room.
– Electric fireplaces usually come with a 1 to 2 year warranty.
– Electric fireplaces can come with a range of options including a remote control, a thermostat, and LED side lights.
Have a read on because I go into more detail about each point you need to consider when buying an electric fireplace.
The Flame Isn’t Real
That’s right, the flame on an electric fireplace isn’t real.
The flame is instead created using a visual screen, just like your TV, or using light from a light bulb that is refracted onto a screen to give the impression of flickering flames.
You can read more about how an electric fireplace flame works here.
If you still want to keep a real flame then an electric fireplace may not be for you. Wood burning stoves, pellet stoves and gas fireplaces all produce a real flame, and therefore others types of fireplace such as these may be more suited to you than an electric fireplace.
The flames on newer models of electric fireplace however, look very realistic. It’s worth considering whether the loss of a real flame outweighs the other benefits provided by an electric fireplace.
We’d decided that we would put an electric fireplace in a room that doesn’t currently already have a fireplace in it. This means that we’re not losing our existing open fireplace located in the living room. If we had gone for an electric fireplace insert to be placed inside the open fireplace, we would have lost the ability to have a real fire in our home.
It’s therefore worth considering whether you want an electric fireplace to replace your existing open fireplace or stove, which would remove the ability to have a real fire, or locate an electric fireplace somewhere else in your home.
We decided that we didn’t want to lose the ability to have a real fire in our living room open fireplace, and came to a conclusion that an electric fireplace would be more suited to our spare bedroom.
You Don’t Need A Chimney
Since the flames on an electric fireplace aren’t real, no waste smoke or gases are produced. This means that you won’t need to have an existing chimney or flue in your home, or require one to be installed, in order to enjoy an electric fireplace. (Read more about it here)
Electric fireplaces are therefore a great way to be able to have a fireplace when living in an apartment and you don’t have access to a chimney.
Even for homes with existing open fireplaces and chimneys, electric fireplaces don’t need to be vented and so have much more flexibility in where they can be located compared to other types of fireplaces.
Wood burning fireplaces, wood burn stoves and gas fireplace all require venting, and so there’s less flexibility on where they can be located in your home.
Therefore, consider where in your home you think you’d be able to place an electric fireplace knowing that it doesn’t need to be vented, and doesn’t require an existing fireplace or chimney to operate.
Decide Which Room The Electric Fireplace Will Be Located
Before buying an electric fireplace, you should have a clear understanding of which room in your home you want the fireplace to be located. This will help you narrow down a perfect place for an electric fireplace and prevent any problems trying to find a place for a fireplace further down the line.
Although electric fireplaces can be bought as inserts for use in open fireplaces, you don’t need to vent an electric fireplace, and so there are far more possibilities on where you can locate one in your house compared to other types of fireplace.
Electric fireplaces can be located in pretty much any room in your home with an electrical supply, even in basements.
Some things to you decide which room you should put an electric fireplace includes:
- Where might the electric fireplace have the most use?
- Who will enjoy the fireplace more, yourself or guests?
- Will the electric fireplace be used as a form of heating instead of central heating?
By deciding who will be using the electric fireplace, and for what reason will they be using the fireplace (enjoyment of the fire and/or heating), you’ll be able to help decide in which room you want the electric fireplace to be located.
We decided that our electric fireplace would be most suited for the guest bedroom. It would provide another form of heating to the room over central heating, and our guests that stay over would be able to enjoy the views of a fireplace and feel more relaxed during their stay.
Decide Where In The Room You Want It Placed
Once you’ve decided which room your electric fireplace will be placed, you’ll need to think about where in the room you’ll locate it.
Electric fireplace can be bought in various different models that are designed to be placed in a specific location, including:
- Fireplace inserts to be placed directly into your existing fireplace
- Freestanding units
- Wall-mounted units
- Units designed specifically for corners
- TV stand units
With such a range of different types of electric fireplaces on the market today, there’s an electric fireplace fit for every purpose.
If, like us, you don’t have much floor space available in your room, you can opt for a wall-mountable electric fireplace. These types of electric fireplace can put straight onto any stable wall in your home.
As there isn’t much free floor space in our spare bedroom, we had decided that our new electric fireplace would be going on the wall by the door.
In this case we needed a slim, wall-mounted electric fireplace so that it wouldn’t protrude too far into the room and wouldn’t space available for our guests.
To help you decide where in the room the electric fireplace should be located, consider whether the fireplace would be best suited freestanding on the floor, on the wall, or even used as a TV stand or inserted into your existing fireplace. This will also help you decide what type of electric fireplace you should be looking to buy.
Wherever you decide to locate your electric fireplace, it should be away from curtains and any other furniture that could block either the inlet our outlet to the heater.
Choose The Right Heat Output For The Room
Electric fireplace heat outputs are measured in BTUs. The higher the BTU, the higher the heat output will be from the electric fireplace.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and is a unit that is traditionally used to measure heat.
Before buying an electric fireplace you’ll need to consider what power fireplace you’ll require that is sufficient enough to heat the room. This will come down to the size of room that you’ll be heating.
A standard electric fireplace with a 1500W fan heater will heat up to 150 square foot in room area, while a 1000W electric fireplace fan heater will be able to heat a 100 square foot room (and so on).
Electric fireplaces with infrared heaters will be able to heat larger sized rooms.
As our guest bedroom is a little over 100 square foot in size, we could be sure that a standard electric fireplace with a 1500W heater would be more than sufficient for heating the room.
You’ll therefore need to consider what size heater you’ll need on your electric fireplace by measuring the size of the room. Simply measure the length and width of your room with a tape measure in feet, and times them together to give you the area of the room. You’ll then need to ensure that any electric fireplace you look to purchase has 1000W of power for every 100 square foot of room area.
By measuring the size of our spare room we were able to choose an electric fireplace with a sufficiently sized heater.
You’ll Need a Nearby Electric Supply
Electric fireplaces need to be plugged into a nearby power socket in your home to work.
Before buying an electric fireplace you’ll therefore need to consider whether your chosen location is close enough to a wall socket, without the need for an extension cable.
Electric fireplaces should never be connected into an extension lead, but instead always plugged straight into a wall socket.
You’ll also need to look at how long the power supply cable is for the electric fireplace and take it into consideration when choosing which one to buy. Electric fireplace aren’t much use if they can’t be turned on!
For us, there wasn’t an electrical socket in very close proximity to our chosen location for the fireplace. There was however, a wall socket on an adjacent wall that wasn’t too far away.
When I had been looking at which electric fireplace to buy, I had to take into account the distance between the fireplace and the nearest socket, which worked out at approximately 1.5m. I was also having to take into account the extra distance required to route the cable around the edge of the room (otherwise the cable will be left dragging across the floor).
Therefore, when buying an electric fireplace you’ll need to take into consideration:
- Whether there is an electrical socket near enough to the chosen location, without using an extension lead.
- How long the power cable is when choosing a fireplace.
- Whether there is enough length on the power cable to be able to route it around the edge of the room (if required).
You can also buy electric fireplace that need to be hard-wired into your home electrics. These fireplaces generally have double the heat output as those that run off power from a power socket but need to be wired in a result. It’s recommended that a professional undertakes this work.
It Can’t Be Used In A Power Outage
Being electrical, an electric fireplace can’t be used during a power outage as it requires a constant supply of electricity to operate.
If you’re concerned about not being able to use your fireplace in a power outage, or you live in an area that suffers regular power outages, you may want to consider whether other types of fireplace would be more suited to your home. Wood burning stoves and some models of gas fireplace don’t require an electrical supply to work, and can therefore be used in a power outage.
We don’t have regular power outages, and even if we did we would still be able to use our living room wood burning fireplace to provide heat to our home (because we’re not replacing it with an electric fireplace insert).
The Flames and Heat Can Be Used Separately
On many models of electric fireplace, you don’t have to have the heat on while enjoying the view of the flames, and vice versa.
This allows an electric fireplace to be enjoyed throughout the year, as the flames can be enjoyed even during the summer months without making your room hotter.
We made sure that our chosen electric fireplace had this functionality as we wanted our guests to be able to enjoy the feel of a fireplace without the need to have the heater on.
If you want to be able to use the flames and heater on an electric fireplace separately, be sure to check that the fireplace definitely has this functionality when buying.
Consider what design of fireplace will compliment your home.
Electric fireplaces can come in all sorts of designs and shapes, including modern, traditional, open fireplace, and even ones that are designed to look just like wood burning stoves.
We love modern looking houses and furniture and our homes color scheme is white, black, grey, and more grey! We therefore went for a modern looking electric fireplace so that it most suited the look of our home.
Depending on where your fireplace will be located, many of models of electric fireplace won’t require professional installation.
The majority of electric fireplaces will work straight out of the box once connected to a wall socket.
Standalone electric fireplaces shouldn’t require anything else other than just plugging in.
Installing a wall-mounted electric fireplace also shouldn’t be too difficult a job for fairly competent DIYers.
If you’re looking to install an electric fireplace insert into your open fireplace then you’ll need an electrical supply located within that fireplace. It’s recommended that a professional electrician provides an electrical supply to your fireplace if you don’t already have one.
Consider whether you are able to install a wall-mounted electric fireplace yourself, or require professional installation for wall-mounted or insert type units. Professional installation will increase the costs of buying an electric fireplace.
I would say that I’m ok at DIY, and I was able to install our wall-mounted electric fireplace fine with a little help from my partner to hold it up.
A Remote Control
Many models of electric fireplace come with a remote control that operates all of the fireplaces functions.
If this feature appeals to you, check before buying an electric fireplace that the unit comes with a remote, and also check what features can be controlled using that remote.
Consider whether controlling the electric fireplace via a remote would be beneficial to whoever will use it, and look for the right fireplace accordingly.
It’s something that we were looking for in an electric fireplace. We wanted our guests to be able to control and enjoy the fireplace from the comfort of the bed, to make their stay just that bit more enjoyable.
Check For A Warranty
An electric fireplace has a number of electric parts that operate both the heater and the flame elements of the fireplace.
Before buying an electric fireplace, check for a manufacturer’s warranty. Longer warranties are better, as your investment is protected for longer and it shows that the manufacturer has belief that their product will last.
A warranty of 1 to 2 years seems to be common with electric fireplaces.
As electric fireplaces don’t have a real flame, and don’t produce any byproducts, there’s minimal maintenance required for operation, and no mess to be cleaned up between uses. The vents on the heater will need to be cleaned of any dust periodically to ensure that in operate smoothly, and that the fireplace lasts for as long possible.
When buying an electric fireplace check what warranty is offered and take into consideration whether a longer warranty would be beneficial.
Things to Consider Before Buying An Electric Fireplace
Before buying an electric fireplace you should consider who would be using your fireplace, what room in your home the fireplace will be most suited, and where in that room it would be best placed.
This will help you to narrow down what type of electric fireplace you should be looking to buy, whether it’s a freestanding one, a wall-mounted one, or even one to replace your existing open fireplace as an insert.
As an electric fireplace doesn’t have a real flame, it doesn’t need to be vented, and so it can be placed in numerous locations around your home, as long as there is an electric wall socket within reasonable distance. An electric fireplace is also very portable, and so freestanding units can be moved around your home as see fit.
You should also consider whether you’d be able to setup and/or install the electric fireplace yourself, or would require professional help.
You can then start to consider what type of fireplace design that would fit the décor of your home, what length of warranty you’d want, and what options you’d like included with the fireplace, including a remote control, a thermostat and more.
You can also have a read of my 24 reasons to buy an electric fireplace.