Whether you want to heat your home or create a cozy aesthetic, an electric fireplace can be an affordable and low-maintenance option. In this review, the This Old House Reviews team looks at the five best electric fireplaces on Amazon to help you select one that’s right for your home.
The inviting aura of an electric fireplace can make any house feel like a home. While traditional fireplaces require attention and the constant feeding of wood or propane, an electric fireplace is a great option for those that want to take the chill out of the air without the work or smell of a “real” fireplace. To help you find an electric fireplace that fits your home, we’ve researched online models and created a list of the five best electric fireplaces.
You can find numerous electric fireplaces online, making the process of finding the right one challenging. That’s why the This Old House Reviews team looked into the products for you, evaluating their installation, adjustability, and safety. We also included key factors and pros and cons to help you make a more informed purchase. If you want to learn more about electric fireplaces and what they have to offer, read our buyer’s guide below.
Buyer’s Guide to Electric Fireplaces
Before you commit to a model, read about how electric fireplaces work, the various types of electric fireplaces available, and the features we looked into when considering the best products.
How Do Electric Fireplaces Work?
There are two ways an electric fireplace produces heat: infrared heaters and forced fans.
Infrared heaters are some of the quietest models on the market because they don’t utilize a fan or motor to push heat out into a room. Instead, they send out a beam of light that warms the surrounding room, making them great for bedrooms or home offices. Take a look at the pros and cons of infrared heaters:
- Pros: Quick to heat. Because they don’t require air to produce heat, they don’t reduce the oxygen or humidity levels in a room.
- Cons: Heat doesn’t fill the room, only what’s directly in front of it. The user loses heat immediately after turning it off. Hot to the touch.
As the name suggests, forced fans draw cool air in, heat it with a coil, and push it back out using its motorized fan. Forced fans are some of the most powerful electric fireplaces, with some models covering up to 400 square feet of space. Check out the pros and cons of forced fans:
- Pros: Heats the entire space within the room. Since the air is heated, the room retains heat even after the fireplace has been turned off.
- Cons: Takes time to build-up the heat generated.
Types of Electric Fireplaces
When shopping for an electric fireplace, it’s important to understand the differences in various models. Typically, there are five types of electric fireplaces, including freestanding stove, mantel, corner, wall-mounted, and insert.
Freestanding stove—Freestanding electric fireplaces, sometimes called stoves, are heaters that give off an old, rustic look that adds character to any room in the home. The main benefit of this type of electric fireplace is that it’s portable, so you can move it from room to room as needed.
Our recommendation for a freestanding fireplace is the Duraflame 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Stove, which offers realistic, 3D flames powered by infrared quartz heat.
Mantel—When you think of a fireplace, typically what comes to mind is a mantel fireplace, fueled by wood or propane. However, there are electric fireplaces that mimic the style of traditional fireplaces and are surrounded by a decorative mantel.
Corner—These electric fireplaces fit snugly within most corners of a room to maximize space while still producing heat. Many corner fireplaces double as television stands, though most follow a transitional style that blends in with your home’s décor. The best corner electric fireplace is the Ameriwood Home Chicago Electric Fireplace TV Console, a television stand that provides customers with a heat source and ample storage.
Wall-mounted—Wall-mounted electric fireplaces add modern design to your home. This type of fireplace resembles an HDTV, with many homeowners installing them underneath their existing flat screen.
Our recommendation for a wall-mounted electric fireplace is the Touchstone Onyx Electric Fireplace, which offers customers a modern design and a five-flame brightness setting.
Insert—Insert electric fireplaces are installed within an existing recessed space, like a media cabinet or fireplace. These versatile fireplaces work by simply plugging into a panel or a bundle of faux logs.
The best insert electric fireplace is the PuraFlame 33” Western Electric Fireplace Insert with Remote Control, which offers customers a traditional fireplace look through its three-sided interior brick wall design.
Electric Fireplace Features We Investigated
When selecting our top picks for electric fireplaces, we looked into five features, including installation, flame settings, heat control, and safety.
While electric fireplaces don’t typically require professional services, the ease of installation will depend on the type of fireplace you purchase. For example, filling an existing fireplace area with an electric insert should be straightforward, but carving out space for a recessed mount might take some extra planning. Additionally, transporting a lightweight, portable stove will be simple compared to moving a heavier mantel-style electric fireplace.
Flame settings include everything from flicker speed to flame brightness and will vary greatly based on the selected model. Some electric fireplaces offer variable flicker speed while others may only have an on and off switch.
A benefit of electric fireplaces is the ability to control the temperature of the heat that’s produced. Some electric fireplaces on the market offer two or three heat settings while others provide an adjustable thermostat.
The good part of owning an electric fireplace is that there’s no need to worry about dozing off in front of the flame. Not only is the flame contained, but some electric fireplaces even offer a built-in timer that automatically shuts the unit down after a certain period. Some electronic fireplaces are even self-regulated, meaning they’ll shut off after the desired temperature is met.
Fire Safety Tips
Here are a few safety tips to consider when operating and living around electric fireplaces:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions during installation to ensure that the electrical wiring and equipment is installed correctly.
- Do not use an extension cord or power strip when powering your electric fireplace.
- Be sure to remove objects from the intake fans and heaters.
- Keep children and pets away from electric fireplaces that are hot to the touch.
- Keep electric fireplaces dry and indoors at all times.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best brand of electric fireplaces?
Our top recommendation is a recessed and mounted electric fireplace from R.W.FLAME. This high-quality electric fireplace heats up to 400 square feet, comes with a one-year warranty, and contains multiple settings for a customized fireplace experience.
How do electric fireplaces work?
There are two types of electric fireplaces: infrared heaters and forced fans. Infrared fireplaces produce heat through the light while forced fans take in cool air, heat it with a coil, and return it into the room.
Are electric fireplaces safe?
Electric fireplaces are significantly safer than real fireplaces. You don’t have to worry about breathing in ashes or fumes and electric fireplaces don’t require any ventilation. For additional safety measures, you can use the no-heat setting when children are near or find a fireplace with a built-in timer that automatically shuts off the system after a predetermined amount of time.
Are electric fireplaces expensive to use?
Electric fireplaces are much more cost- and energy-efficient than gas-powered or woodburning fireplaces. They are about 90% more efficient than gas fireplaces. On average, they cost about 18 cents per hour of runtime. Many models have adjustable brightness and heat as well as a no-heat option that conserves even more energy.