If you long for the glowing warmth of a crackling fire, but installing a gas or wood-burning fireplace is impractical, consider an electric alternative. Unlike gas and wood fireplaces that require chimneys for ventilation, electric fireplaces can be installed in any room, no vent needed. They don't create fumes or soot, which makes them safer than traditional fireplaces, yet their flickering flames are remarkably realistic. And they can be quite affordable, depending on the size and the quality of the materials.
If you're intrigued by the idea of an electric fireplace, keep reading to learn the most important shopping considerations-and why homeowners consider the following models to be the best electric fireplace options on the market.
- BEST ELECTRIC FIREPLACE WITH A TRADITIONAL LOOK: Southern Enterprises Calvert Carved Electric Fireplace
- BEST RECESSED PANEL ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: Valuxhome Recessed Electric Fireplace
- BEST SMALL FREESTANDING FIREPLACE: JAMFLY Infrared Log Electric Fireplace
- BEST STOVE-STYLE ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: Duraflame Infrared Electric Fireplace
- BEST BUDGET ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: JAMFLY 7-Log Freestanding Electric Fireplace
- BEST COLOR-ADJUSTABLE ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: 3GPlus Changeable Flame Electric Fireplace
- BEST ELECTRIC FIREPLACE FOR CORNER LOCATIONS: Southern Enterprises Rollins Corner Electric Fireplace
While a handful of today's electric fireplaces are for looks only, meaning they produce light but no heat, the majority generate warmth in much the same way a space heater does. Some come with thermostats to help maintain a steady temperature in the room, while others feature basic settings, such as “Low,” “Medium,” or “High.” All electric fireplaces offer the illusion of flickering flames, but heat options come in three basic types.
- Fan-Type Electric: Many of the electric fireplaces on the market today are fan-type models that heat a room by blowing air over a series of hot coils and out of one or more vents located along the bottom or sides of the unit. Fan-type fireplaces offer supplemental heat for rooms up to 450 square feet in size.
- Infrared: Rather than heat the air, infrared fireplaces heat the objects in the room. Like the rays of the sun, infrared heat is heated light, warming whatever it shines upon. Infrared fireplaces can heat rooms up to 1,000 square feet, but you must be in the direct line of its light rays to feel the warmth.
- Convection: Electric convection fireplaces allow air to circulate naturally. Cool air enters through a vent near the bottom, flows upward over the heated ceramic plates, and then flows out through an upper vent into the room. Some convection fireplaces come with a fan to help direct the flow of air, and they can heat rooms up to 600 square feet. Electric convection fireplaces without fans heat a smaller area near the fireplace itself and are best suited to rooms without drafts. Convection fireplaces are widely available but reputed to be less popular than fan-type and infrared fireplaces.
The Illusion of Fire
Advances in LED light technology, in combination with the use of small rolling mirrors, create the illusion of genuine flames in today's electric fireplaces. But why stop at realism? Some units let you select flame color, such as gold to match holiday decor or green for a spring look; you can even choose purple or pink flames to match your décor or to set a specific mood.
Installation and Design
Easy installation is a big selling point of electrical fireplaces. They simply plug into a wall outlet. The caveat, however, is that an electric fireplace that produces heat should only be plugged into a dedicated outlet. This means that the wires supplying power to the outlet do not supply power to any other outlet. If you don't have a dedicated outlet in the spot where you want to put the fireplace, have one professionally installed.
Most models require very little else in the way of installation:
- Wall-mounted fireplaces resemble flat-screen TVs and can be hung via brackets (usually included).
- Recessed units, similar in appearance to wall-mounted panels, are designed to fit into a wall cavity, so that the surface will be flush with the wall. This involves cutting into and re-framing wall studs to accommodate the unit, a task that requires carpentry skills. If you're not well-versed in wall framing, hire a professional carpenter.
- Freestanding mantle fireplaces mimic the look of traditional fireplaces, complete with mantles and hearths made from a variety of materials, including medium-density fiberboard (MDF), plywood, hardwood, and even slate or ceramic. They can be positioned along a wall to look as if they are built in place. Mantle fireplaces also come in corner configurations to fit into the corner of a room.
- Freestanding stove-type fireplaces offer the rustic look of a wood cookstove and can be positioned anywhere in the room.
While electric fireplaces are pretty straightforward, you can find some fun bells and whistles, such as:
- Remote controls.
- Programmable timers that turn the fireplace off after you fall asleep, or turn it on before you wake up in the morning.
- Touch-screen controls.
- Nightlight features that emit the softest glow.
- Bluetooth speakers to play the sound of a crackling fire or your favorite tunes.
The plug-and-play electric fireplaces earn high marks with consumers and are sure to bring warmth and beauty to your home.
1. BEST ELECTRIC FIREPLACE WITH A TRADITIONAL LOOK: Southern Enterprises Calvert Carved Electric Fireplace
The Southern Enterprises Calvert Carved Electric Fireplace combines the convenience of electric heat with the look of a traditional wood-burning fireplace. This freestanding, fan-type fireplace features a classic mantle and elegant floral trim and it offers supplemental heat for rooms up to 400 square feet. It comes with a remote and features a thermostat, a programmable timer, and adjustable flames. It stands 40.25-inches high, 44.5 inches wide, and has a depth of 14 inches.
2. BEST RECESSED PANEL ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: Valuxhome Recessed Electric Fireplace
For supplemental heat and a sleek look, it's hard to beat the Valuxhome Recessed Electric Fireplace. This fan-type electric fireplace features “High” and “Low” heat settings, a timer, and a remote control, and it heats rooms up to 450 square feet. The panel is 60 inches long, 21.65 inches high, and 5.5 inches deep. Wall studs will need to be reframed in order to accommodate the Valuxhome, and professional installation is recommended, but once installed, the front of the panel is almost flush with the surface of the wall.
3. BEST SMALL FREESTANDING FIREPLACE: JAMFLY Infrared Log Electric Fireplace
For small spaces, the JAMFLY Infrared Log Electric Fireplace is just 24.8 inches high, 11.61 inches deep and 26 inches wide, yet this infrared fireplace is big on heat and beauty. It closely mimics a wood-burning fireplace, complete with stacked logs and realistic flames, and features high-intensity LED flames and a classically crafted mantle in either rich brown or black. The fireplace comes with an adjustable thermostat and a remote control, and can heat a room up to 400 square feet.
4. BEST STOVE-STYLE ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: Duraflame Infrared Electric Fireplace
For the traditional style of a wood-burning stove without the hassle, the Duraflame Infrared Electric Fireplace fits the bill. This little infrared fireplace is a powerhouse that can heat rooms up to 1,000 square feet. It's patent-pending 3D flames realistically mimic a real wood fire, and the unit comes with an adjustable thermostat and a remote control.
5. BEST BUDGET ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: JAMFLY 7-Log Freestanding Electric Fireplace
The JAMFLY 7-Log Freestanding Electric Fireplace offers glowing warmth at an affordable price. This fan-type electric fireplace heats up to 450 square feet, offers realistic flame technology, seven flame brightness settings, and two heat settings. At 18.54 inches high, 19.66 inches wide, and 9.85 inches deep, it can be positioned as a standalone unit or inserted into an existing fireplace opening. The JAMFLY's affordability, lifelike flames, and toasty warmth wins over shoppers.
6. BEST COLOR-ADJUSTABLE ELECTRIC FIREPLACE: 3GPlus Changeable Flame Electric Fireplace
For supplemental heat and decorative flair, check out the 3GPlus Changeable Flame Electric Fireplace. Set the mood with warming amber flames, cool blue flames, or a combination of both. The realistic flames (brightness is adjustable) can be used with or without the fan-type heat, and the fireplace is suitable for heating rooms up to 400 square feet. It comes with touch-screen controls and two remotes, and features a stylish white front that suits any décor. The 3GPlus features two heat settings, a programmable timer, and it can be either wall-mounted or recessed.
7. BEST ELECTRIC FIREPLACE FOR CORNER LOCATIONS: Southern Enterprises Rollins Corner Electric Fireplace
If you'd like a fireplace to fit into a corner, the Southern Enterprises Rollins Corner Electric Fireplace has a tapered cabinet designed to do just that. Homeowners appreciate this fan-type electric fireplace's adjustable flame height and optional back-lighting feature, which casts a rosy glow on the inside of the firebox for additional luminance. It stands 36.5 inches high, 52.2 inches wide, and 25.2 inches deep, comes with a remote control, and boasts a classic white faux stone exterior. It's perfect for adding supplemental heat to a room up to 400 square feet, and the heating feature can be turned off when all you want is the look of a fire.