Electric fireplaces are a common way to bring the experience of having a real fire in a fireplace into your home without the downsides of having to setup, maintain and clean a real fire.
Electric fireplaces have become very popular within the last couple of years, so what is an electric fireplace?
An electric fireplace is an electrical appliance that imitates a real fireplace fire using flames effects and a heat source. An electric fireplace runs on electricity only and can be found in many forms including freestanding, wall mounted and built-in.
We’ve explained what electric fireplaces are in more detail below, including discussing what the different forms of electric fireplace are, and showing what our own electric fireplace looks like.
What Is An Electric Fireplace?
Electric fireplaces are a type of fireplace. Fireplaces burn fuel in order to produce heat as well as providing the experience and enjoyment of having a fire in your home.
Electric fireplaces run on electricity and can’t operate without this source of power. In order to use an electric fireplace they typically need plugging into a nearby electrical outlet and they can be used straight out of the box.
Some forms of electric fireplace, such as built-in, may be required to be direct-wired into home electrics in order to work.
Unlike other forms of fireplace such as gas and wood burning, electric fireplaces don’t produce real flames.
There’s no fuel to burn in an electric fireplace and so an electrical supply is used to operate a number of electrical components that help to imitate the experience of a real fire.
The flames on an electric fireplace are produced either through LED lights or from the combination of light sources and rotating mirrors to generate the effect of flickering flames.
The type and realism of the flame effects used in an electric fireplace will be influenced by the quality of the product and the technology used to create the flame effects. More expensive electric fireplaces will typically use more realistic and better quality flames effects than cheaper models.
We have a relatively inexpensive electric fireplace stove in our home and it produces flames using a light source and rotating mirrors.
As our electric fireplace is designed to represent a wood burning stove, there’s plenty of room within the unit to contain the components that create these flame effects:
As electric fireplaces don’t produce real flames, they therefore need another way to produce the heat that would have been generated by a real fire. Electric fireplaces therefore use a separate heater to produce the required heat.
Different forms of heater can be found on an electric fireplace, with two most common types of heat being:
- Fan forced
Conventional heaters that use a blower to force air over a heating element can be the most common form of heater found on an electric fireplace. Our electric fireplace stove uses this type of heater.
Infrared heaters can generally be found on more expensive models of electric fireplace and have some added benefits over fan forced heaters including larger heating areas and faster heat.
For more information about infrared electric fireplaces we have a complete guide to them here.
Types Of Electric Fireplace
Electric fireplaces don’t produce real flames and generate heat artificially, and so they can be more flexible in where they can be located in your home compared to other types of fireplace.
Many electric fireplaces are also designed to imitate other types of fireplace, such as open wood fireplaces and wood burning stoves.
Types of electric fireplaces include:
- Electric fireplace stoves
- Electric fireplace log sets
- Built-in electric fireplaces
- Electric fireplace inserts
- Wall-mounted or recessed electric fireplaces
- Electric fireplace TV stands
- Electric fireplace mantels
The versatility of electric fireplace allows them to be placed inside or built into existing fireplaces, be freestanding where an electrical outlet is located nearby, or even built into mantels, entertainment centers or walls.
Electric Fireplace Stoves
You can buy electric fireplaces that are designed to look like wood burning stoves, with a black stove design, legs and the effect of roaring flames inside.
We have an electric fireplace stove and its flexibility in where it can be located means we can move it around our home into any room we want to heat as we please.
Electric Fireplace Log Sets
Electric fireplace logs imitate the look of wood logs inside a fireplace grate and so they’re best placed inside an existing open fireplace for best effect.
These electric log sets produce the look of a smoldering fire but can also project flames onto the back of the fireplace firebox. Some higher end logs even have realistic looking smoke effects integrated into them for added effect.
See the list of best electric fireplace log sets that you buy right now.
Built-in Electric Fireplaces
Electric fireplaces can also be built into many different home installations such as entertainment centers or installed directly into walls.
Built-in electric fireplaces can be more of a permanent solution and are typically direct wired into your home electrics.
Check out our complete guide to the best built-in electric fireplaces.
Electric Fireplace Inserts
For a less permanent solution compared to built-in electric fireplaces, electric fireplaces can also be used as inserts into existing open fireplaces.
Electric fireplaces inserts fit directly into an existing open fireplace and a surround can be used to fill any gap between the unit and the edge of the fireplace to make it look more built-in.
These fireplace inserts are typically plug-in and so you may need to have an electrical outlet installed within the firebox of your open fireplace.
For more information see our buyers guide to the best electric fireplace inserts.
Wall Mount Electric Fireplaces
Some models of electric fireplace can also be mounted on any wall in your home with a nearby electrical outlet, which helps to save space if you’re living in a small home or apartment.
Some models of wall mount electric fireplace also give you the option to partially recess or fully recess them into walls to save even more space and look more built-in.
We have a guide to be best wall mount electric fireplaces right here.
Electric Fireplace TV Stands
Electric fireplace TV stands incorporate an electric fireplace into a TV stand with a range of different features such as open media consoles areas and storage cabinets to bring you the best all-round entertainment center for your home.
See our complete buyers guide to the best electric fireplace TV stands.
Electric Fireplace Mantels
Electric fireplaces can also come in mantel suites that create the look and feel of an open fireplace in one package.
Electric fireplace mantels are therefore great for any home that doesn’t have a real open fireplace or for when you want to bring the experience of an open fireplace into another room.
We have a buyers guide to the best electric fireplace mantels here.
What Is An Electric Fireplace Insert?
An electric fireplace insert is an electric fireplace that can be installed in either an existing open fireplace or frame to imitate the look and feel of a real fireplace.
The following range of electric fireplaces can be categorized as ‘inserts’:
- Plug-in electric fireplaces
- Built-in electric fireplaces
- Electric fireplaces logs
Plug-in electric fireplace inserts are typically used inside an open fireplace to turn it from wood-burning to electric.
Built-in electric fireplace inserts can be used in walls and installations such as entertainment centers, as well as being placed in existing fireplaces for a more permanent solution than plug-in inserts.
Electric fireplace log set inserts are designed to be placed on the base (hearth) of your open fireplace to represent a fireplace grate with burning logs. Unlike plug-in inserts and built-in inserts, log inserts don’t take up the whole opening of an open fireplace.