What are the TOP-5 best electric fireplaces and their types? What benefits do their offer and how each type of an electric fireplace should be installed? Learn answers to these and other questions asked by consumers and find beneficial information on the product’s most important features, such as the number of fire levels, heat range, and others.

In spite of being, by all technicality, an obsolete and very inefficient way to heat a big space, fireplaces have a permanent place in our culture that isn’t likely to ever truly go away. There’s something homey, nostalgic, and elegant about a fireplace. They have a romance, a charm that really no other ambient element in décor can produce.

Sadly, fireplaces aren’t always a practical choice to make. Installing a real fireplace requires a structure to accommodate it, which makes most apartments, rentals and other such situations just not viable for them. Burning wood is also dangerous and expensive, and environmental regulations in some areas may not even permit it to save specific times of the year.

What, then, shall a lover of fireside relaxation do, if they just can’t have a real fireplace? Thankfully, since the latter half of the last century, electric fireplaces have not only existed but consistently grown in their quality and realism. Today, some of these fireplaces are so realistic at a first glance, that you’d not realize they weren’t “real”.

What You Will Learn From This Guide:

Pros & Cons Of Using Electric Fireplaces

Apart from being realistic, they also have the added benefit of using uniform, high-energy electric heat, not unlike home space heaters, that can provide real, efficient heat for a room. It’s directional like a real fireplace too, which adds to the experience significantly. Another added benefit with these is, if you move, they can come with you. They’re essentially furniture, which means you can place them anywhere in a room, giving you the option to rearrange your domicile without having to accommodate a stationary, “real” fireplace.

The downside is, being electrical, they don’t do much good when it comes to emergency heating, which real fireplaces can. Should a blizzard blow in and the power fail, these won’t work. However, if you live in an area that prone to destructive blizzards, you probably have a real fireplace, or a gas/wood stove to begin with, and this is a non-issue.

How Do Electric Fireplaces Work? Explaining The Technologies Behind

Electric fireplaces are actually decidedly simple technology, at their core. Essentially, they’re a space heater, which comprises heating elements and a quiet fan, to produce the actual heat. The effect of the fire and coals is achieved in a few different ways.

Most of the time, the coals glow through fiber-optic technology and focusing glass, directing light out of specific parts of the logs. Variation of the light, or rotating mechanisms to dim them, will cause a smoldering look. These logs are not hot, despite very much appearing to be.

The fire effect itself is achieved by projection, or more trickery with LEDs, lenses, and fiber-optic technology.

There are exceptions, with air-burning fireplaces that produce real heat and flames, but these aren’t common, and none of the ones we will be looking at today work like this. Others use digital technologies to render flames, and something similar to “Pepper’s ghost” to make the flames look like they’re three-dimensionally present, through the angled glass. 

What Are The Types of Electric Fireplaces And Their Differences?

The technology that achieves the flames isn’t really that important, as the end result is mostly the same, depending on how much love was put into engineering the effect itself. That in mind, what we want to look at are the four basic groups of form factor these can take.

Wall Mount

These, obviously, mount on a wall, and a lot of these don’t actually produce heat, merely the flame illusion, and sometimes crackling sound effects. If you don’t need heat, these are a less space-consuming solution.

Built-In Electric

I don’t personally see the point of built-in electric fireplaces unless you really want the complete illusion, complete with brick or stone finish. In which case, this is the choice to go with, as that’s exactly what they are – fireplace mortar work, with an artificial unit where the fire chamber would be.

Electric Fireplace Inserts

These are installed in existing fireplaces, for those that want the effect, without burning anything. They can be a nightmare to run power to, and require the chimney and flu to be sealed.

Stand Alone

This is the most common form factor, which is basically a piece of furniture, with the electric fireplace component featured in the center. These often double as TV stands, or other surfaces, with shelves and cabinets, and tend to be the preferred solution by most people due to mobility, and the ability to take it with you, should you move. They have no installation issues, either.

What To Look For When Buying A Product?

There are a few things to consider when buying an electric fireplace. This requires less consideration than something like a “real” fireplace, but you’ll want to think this through before you buy one, naturally.

  • Heat – Do you want it to produce actual effective heat, for use in a room, just a little-localized heat for effect, or do you not care about heat at all? This is a big factor to consider because any electric heat source is going to consume significant power among other things.
  • Usability – Do you want this to be a central focus of your room’s layout? Then you will probably want one with cabinets, space for a TV and electronics, etc.
  • Portability – Do you expect to potentially move at some point, because you rent, or want to relocate eventually? Then you’ll want to be sure it’s a stand-alone or wall-mount unit you can take with you, or sell separately.

My Personal Experience with Electric Fireplaces

I’ve only ever had one of these, and it actually belonged to my landlady, not myself. She had a stand-alone unit, which she used only when we had guests over, because this is Florida, and even when it’s cold, it’s hot here. It had a remote control, though, and being careful with the remote is what I want to tell you about here.

She also had one of those Bose Wave Radios (those things are criminally overrated I might add), and it too had a remote. Not being that technologically-inclined herself, she had me trying to program the clock and so forth on that radio. As I worked, out of nowhere, that fireplace kicked on, at full blast, scaring the living daylights out of us both. I went and turned it off manually (as the remote had gone missing), we shrugged, and went back to messing with the radio.

As I continued to work, it kept coming on, and she insisted there was a ghost in the house. Well, I don’t personally believe in those (no offense to anyone who does), so I insisted maybe something was wrong with the fireplace, such as a short or a damaged capacitor which just let it kick on at random.

The process of elimination eventually led us to determine the “Aux On/Off” button of the Bose radio, sent the same RF signal that turned the fireplace on and off. The lesson to take away from this one is, be wary of remote controller quality. RFID remotes are prone to this kind of problem, where optical (UV or IR) remotes tend not to overlap like this.

TOP-5 Best Electric Fireplaces

Below, you will find a review of TOP-5 best electric fireplaces within the price range from $150 to $600. The products differ in the number of fire levels — from 2 to 5, while the heat range is typically the same and amounts to 1,000 square feet. There are also different size options, with some of them being as large as 50 inches.

Simple Electric Fireplace for a Large Room | Lifesmart

Lifesmart Electric Fireplace for a Large Room: photo

This is the quintessential, simple fireplace. However, don’t let its simplicity fool you, the attractive burnished oak is a timeless, elegant style, and it produces a surprising level of heat. The fire could stand to be more realistic in this one, but the glowing embers are really well-done, and it’s nice and compact, while not being too small to be effective.

Features

  • Form Factor: Stand-Alone, singular unit.
  • Finish: Burnished oak.
  • Heat Source: Quartz.
  • Heat Output: 5100 BTU.
  • Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Remote Control: Yes.
  • Noise Factor: Very quiet.
  • Optical: Projection/Fiberoptic.
  • Size: 28”
  • Fire Levels: 2 glow levels.

Performance

This puts out quite a bit of heat, and with quartz-based elements, it’s very power efficient. It’s attractive, fitting in rustic, classical or modern environments nicely, and it has a very nice level of customization for the flames and glow. It’s very quiet, but I don’t think the fire effect on this one is as convincing as in some other models. The oak is also slightly fragile, so if you move, move this one carefully.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Good heat range and level. 
  • Attractive finish. 
  • Solid remote, and level control. 
  • Embers look nice.
  • A tad is heavy and fragile.
  • The flame effect is kind of fake-looking. 
  • Green LED breaks the look a bit.

Conclusion 

This fireplace looks nice, but again, the flames could be more convincing, but I’m a stickler for good visual effects, so this could be a nitpick. I recommend this to someone who needs a space heater anyhow.

Lifesmart: CCheck the current price

Electric Fireplace with 3D Flame Effect | Duraflame

Electric Fireplace with 3D Flame Effect: photo

This one looks more like a wood stove, which could be polarizing depending on tastes, but the three-sided glass panels allow for a really neat 3D flame effect. This is achieved through thin-reflection similar to the Pepper’s ghost illusion used for holographic concerts and for ghosts or effects in theme park rides. It’s a neat effect, but simple to produce.

Features

  • Form Factor: Stand-Alone, singular unit.
  • Finish: Steel.
  • Heat Source: Quartz.
  • Heat Output: 5,200 BTU.
  • Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Remote Control: No.
  • Noise Factor: Very quiet.
  • Optical: Projection/Fiberoptic/”Ghost” illusion technique.
  • Size: 28”
  • Fire Levels: 2 glow levels.

Performance

This one puts out a lot of heat, with infrared quartz heat, which, again, is very efficient, compared to tungsten heating elements. It’s got a really cool, very realistic 3D flame effect that, while it’s a tad “ghostly” due to how it’s done, makes quite an impressive ambient effect nonetheless. People may or may not like the old world stove appearance of it, though. I’m not a fan of rustic décor myself, so that’d be a clincher for me.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Good heat range and level. 
  • Embers look nice. 
  • Really cool 3D flame effect.
  • The style isn’t for everyone. 
  • No remote. 
  • The top might get hot.

Conclusion 

If you don’t mind the style of this one (I’m not a fan of colonial designs myself), then you’ll love this fireplace. I want to see this effect done in less rustic styles.

Duraflame: Check the current price

Modern Electric Fireplace | Touchstone 80001

Touchstone - Modern Electric Fireplace: photo

This wall-mounted behemoth is really cool, though the flame effect isn’t super-realistic, it just looks so cool mounted under a big flat screen TV. I wouldn’t mind something like this myself, if I didn’t live in an environment that was hot, even in the winter time.

Features

  • Form Factor: Wall-mount.
  • Finish: Wood.
  • Heat Source: Quartz.
  • Heat Output: 5,000 BTU.
  • Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Remote Control: Yes.
  • Noise Factor: Very quiet.
  • Optical: Projection/Fiberoptic.
  • Size: 50”.
  • Fire Levels: 5 glow levels.

Performance

This is a really neat fireplace, despite the flames not feeling that realistic. The flat, wide display and really nice embers make for a modern, elegant fireplace solution that compliments a wall-mounted fireplace quite nicely.

It puts out lots of heat, it’s quiet and efficient. However, wall-mount units tend to be thinner, so it doesn’t have the facilities to push the heat out as far, so while it will do a thousand square feet, it takes a while to reach that distance.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Good heat range and level. 
  • Embers look nice. 
  • Elegant shape.
  • Flames look kind of fake.
  • Heat doesn’t travel as well. 
  • Very heavy. 
  • Shallow.

Conclusion 

If you want something modern, then this is definitely the solution for you. Just know, mounting this needs studs, it’s quite heavy.

Touchstone: Check the current price

Electric Fireplace Deluxe — Elegant Insert Solution | Dimplex DFI2310

 Electric Fireplace Deluxe: photo

This is the one insert we’re going to look at, as these are less commonly needed. However, despite the flame projection looking fake, the embers look fantastic on this one, and it puts out decent heat, with remote control, and easy hookup to a standard wall outlet.

Features

  • Form Factor: Insert.
  • Finish: N/A – it’s an insert.
  • Heat Source: Quartz.
  • Heat Output: 5,000 BTU.
  • Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Remote Control: Yes.
  • Noise Factor: Very quiet.
  • Optical: Projection/Fiberoptic.
  • Size: 23.2”.
  • Fire Levels: 2 glow levels.

Performance

This insert is pretty nicely-engineered, but the flames kind of look fake and cartoony, which is a consistent problem with these electric fireplaces. However, if you get the angles and lighting just right, you only see the fakeness of it when you’re right on top of it, which you shouldn’t do – you’ll overheat because this puppy puts out a lot of useable heat.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Good heat range and level. 
  • Embers look nice. 
  • Easy to install.
  • Flames look kind of fake.
  • Heavy. 
  • Logs are fragile and prone to chipping. 
  • Can be tricky to hook up, because you need a wall outlet. 
  • You have to seal off the chimney to prevent shorts and damage to the unit.

Conclusion 

If you have a fireplace already, or feel like building a façade for one, then this is an ideal solution. I don’t like the way the flames look, but I’m particular with illusions – they need to wow me. To be honest, most people won’t mind.

Dimplex: Check the current price

Electric Fireplace with TV Console | Ameriwood Home

Electric Fireplace with TV Console - Ameriwood Home: photo

This is the TV stand form factor that’s become much more popular in modern times, and this is probably the one I’d go with were I in the market for a fireplace right now. I like the dark espresso finish, and it’s a solid fireplace with a good flame effect and nice embers too.

Features

  • Form Factor: TV Stand.
  • Finish: Espresso (wood).
  • Heat Source: Quartz.
  • Heat Output: 5,000 BTU.
  • Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Remote Control: Yes.
  • Noise Factor: Very quiet.
  • Optical: Projection/Fiberoptic.
  • Size: 31” (50” unit).
  • Fire Levels: 4 glow levels.

Performance

This one is nice, because it also is a very handsome TV stand, meaning even when you don’t want to use the fireplace, space it’s taking up is still occupied by something you get a lot of positive use out of.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Good heat range and level. 
  • Embers look nice. 
  • Attractive, useful furniture.
  • Heavy.
  • Requires assembly. 
  • Cannot hold a 60” TV.

Conclusion 

I am most comfortable recommending this model because most people will get a lot of extra use out of the attractive TV stand this doubles as. Hook your TV, your DVR, your Blu-Ray player (if you still use one of those), and your game consoles up, and enjoy some games by the fire.

Ameriwood Home: Check the current price

Comparative Chart Of Electric Fireplace Effectiveness

Product Features

Lifesmart

• Heat Source: Quartz.
• Heat Output: 5100 BTU.
• Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
• Remote Control: Yes.
• Noise Factor: Very quiet.
• Optical: Projection / Fiberoptic.
• Size: 28”
• Fire Levels: 2 glow levels.

Duraflame

• Heat Source: Quartz.
• Heat Output: 5,200 BTU.
• Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
• Remote Control: No.
• Noise Factor: Very quiet.
• Optical: Projection/Fiberoptic/”Ghost” illusion technique.
• Size: 28”
• Fire Levels: 2 glow levels.

Touchstone

• Heat Source: Quartz.
• Heat Output: 5,000 BTU.
• Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
• Remote Control: Yes.
• Noise Factor: Very quiet.
• Optical: Projection/Fiberoptic.
• Size: 50”.
• Fire Levels: 5 glow levels.

Dimplex

Electric Fireplace Deluxe min: photo

• Heat Source: Quartz.
• Heat Output: 5,000 BTU.
• Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
• Remote Control: Yes.
• Noise Factor: Very quiet.
• Optical: Projection/Fiberoptic.
• Size: 23.2”.
• Fire Levels: 2 glow levels.

Ameriwood Home

• Heat Source: Quartz.
• Heat Output: 5,000 BTU.
• Heat Range: 1,000 sq. ft.
• Remote Control: Yes.
• Noise Factor: Very quiet.
• Optical: Projection/Fiberoptic.
• Size: 31” (50” unit).
• Fire Levels: 4 glow levels.

FAQ 

Which electric fireplace heats the best?
The Ameriwood, overall.

Can this device be converted to gas?
No.

How to install an electric fireplace insert?
Take the log cradle out, seal the flu, clean it out, and simply slide it in.

Can it sit on the carpet?
No, it produces only hot air.

Are these appliances safe?
Yes, they’re just electric heaters with an optical illusion.

Conclusion

If you like the look of a fireplace, but don’t want to burn wood, or a real fireplace just isn’t practical, one of these will suit you quite nicely. I want that Ameriwood, and I might just get it, despite not needing heat down here.