Are you thinking about an electric fireplace? They’re versatile, affordable, easy to install, and offer many advantages when you’re looking to add extra warmth and coziness to a room.
In this article, we’ll go over the pros and cons of electric fireplaces. The table below provides a quick overview of electric fireplace pros and cons. After that, we’ll provide more details and help you avoid common mistakes with tips from our NFI certified Master Hearth Professionals.
Easy to install
Flexibility of placement
Many style options
Control with a remote or mobile app
Modify flame color
Works in any type of home
Affordable to operate
Can run with or without the heater
Safer for homes with children and pets
No chimney or venting system needed
Clean and eco-friendly
Lack of natural fire smell
Lack of natural fire look
Lack of natural fire sound
Not an emergency heat source (requires electricity)
Moderate heat output
Some cheaper units have non-replaceable parts (lack of repair options)
PROS AND CONS: ADDITIONAL DETAILS
Let’s dig into the pros and cons listed above. We’ve grouped them together to make it easier to focus on what you care about most.
Pros: Easy to Install, Use, and Maintain
Electric fireplaces are easy to install and won’t require expensive or time-consuming home renovations. Basically, they just need to be plugged in to a standard outlet or hardwired to your electrical system.
Electric fireplaces don’t create harmful emissions or smoke. Unlike wood fireplaces you won’t have to hire a professional for installation or chimney maintenance. And, unlike gas fireplaces you won’t have to hire a professional to install a gas line. You also won’t have to worry about keeping a supply of firewood on hand or expensive gas bills.
You can install electric fireplaces in any room, including bedrooms, bathrooms, or offices. Most units won’t need any kind of maintenance, other than the occasional dusting, and can be controlled remotely or with your mobile device.
Many electric fireplaces are very thin. They have a small ‘footprint’. This means they can be installed into just about any room or wall.
Pros: Wide Variety of Styles and Colorful Flames
There are nearly endless electric fireplace styles. Some mimic traditional fireplaces right down to the burning logs, while others are ultra-modern in appearance. You can easily find a look and feel that matches any room or house style.
With many electric fireplaces, you can even change the flame color and pattern with the click of a remote or tap of a mobile app. Hosting a party for the big game? Set the flames to your team’s color!
Pros: Temperature Control and Remote Operation
Electric fireplaces give off heat and you can turn the heat down or turn it off completely and just enjoy the ambiance from the flames.
Many models include a wireless remote for turning the fire off and on, or even controlling the flame color and style and adjusting heat output. Other models have mobile apps or can integrate with your smart home system. How cool would it be to turn your fireplace on and off with voice commands?
Also, if you didn’t know, wood fireplaces may pull heat away from most typical homes. With an electric fireplace, all the heat produced is pushed directly out into your space.
Pros: Clean-Burning and Safe
Since wood fires create smoke and embers, they need a working chimney to vent properly. Even with most of the smoke going out your chimney, wood fires can decrease the air quality of your home, sometimes causing problems for those with asthma or other breathing conditions.
Chimneys require a lot of care and maintenance. They should be visually inspected every few months and professionally serviced each year to keep your home free from dangerous fire hazards.
Cons: Lack of Real Fire Smell
Electric fireplaces won’t emit that nostalgic, smokey campfire smell like a classic wood burning fire. You may consider this a good thing considering this pleasant smell can also decrease your air quality.
Cons: Lack of Real Fire Look
Perhaps the biggest con against electric fireplaces is that they lack real flames. Wood and gas fireplaces create authentic fires, while electric units use LED lighting to simulate a fire. Some would argue that nothing beats the timeless visual appeal of real flames.
The good news is that electric fireplaces get better every year. Many of today’s units have head-spinning realistic flame simulations. Since many electric models allow you to change the flame size, style, and color, most people won’t notice or miss the difference.
Cons: Requires Electricity (Not An Emergency Heat Source)
Obviously, electric fireplaces require electricity. This is important to note because many people enjoy having gas stoves or wood/gas fireplaces because they provide an alternate source of heat if the power goes out. If you live in an area where wood or gas is a cheaper energy source than electricity, an electric fireplace won't be the best fit for your home or lifestyle.
Cons: Potential Shorter Lifespan and Moving Parts
Wood fireplaces have no moving or mechanical parts. Gas fireplaces have pipes, ignitors, and flame controllers, but they tend to have a long lifespan.
Electric fireplaces, on the other hand, have many moving parts. They have heating coils, a blower or fan, and other dynamic components to create the fire simulation. These parts can break.
With cheap or non-reputable brands, it’s hard to track down the manufacturer for replacement parts. Sometimes, it can be more expensive to repair a unit than to replace it. You can minimize this risk by choosing a reputable brand that provides a warranty.
COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID
As we discussed above, there are many advantages to electric fireplaces. However, their ease of use can lead to some problems. Here are the mistakes to avoid.
Mistake: Wrong Electrical Setup
Electric fireplaces come with a standard electrical plug or bare wires that need to be connected to electrical system. Be sure to select a plug-in model if you want the safest and easiest option.
For hardwired models it’s important to hire a licensed electrician for installation. You need to make sure your electric fireplace is wired to a circuit with enough wattage.
Mistake: Buying Cheap Fireplace Units
Buying the least expensive design works better for iPhone cases than it does for fireplaces. Avoid cheaply made models from brands with little, no, or bad reputations. Cheap models often have inferior parts that break down and little or no warranty to protect your investment.
We stock the top reputable North American electric fireplace brands, including Amantii, Dimplex, Empire, FireCraft, Fire Sense, Modern Flames, Napoleon, Real Flame, Simplifire, Superior Products, and The Outdoor GreatRoom.
Mistake: Not Buying from The Experts
It’s best to purchase fireplaces of any kind from fire experts. At Woodland Direct, we have more certified fire safety experts on staff than anyone else in the industry. They’re available Monday through Saturday to help you make the best buying decisions, so you can confidently move forward with your fire projects.
When you don’t buy from the experts, you might experience:
- Slow shipping – We stock many of the most popular brands in our warehouse and offer 2-day quick shipping
- Complicated shipping – Many large fireplace items have to be shipped freight. Freight is slower, and often you’re provided with an 8-hour window for delivery, instead of ground shipping (via FedEx or UPS) with a tracking code. We’re obsessed with finding new ways to ship items via ground shipping. Especially with our FlameCraft product lines.
- Poor Packaging – We're always looking for ways to make sure your product arrives in mint condition. Sometimes we make improvements to the packaging set up to ensure safer delivery.
- Lack of trim options – Many websites can’t handle the plethora of options a fireplace unit offers, so they won't display all the possible options for trim, style, or even safety. We understand these products better than anyone and customize our online shopping experience to give you the most options.
- Missing accessories – Some online sellers use get-you-in-the-door pricing for their products and skip the mandatory accessories to make the price appear cheaper. You end up with a unit that doesn’t work until you purchase the remote, heat controller, or other mandatory accessories. We recommend you read product descriptions carefully and compare prices.
Mistake: Incorrect Placement (Not Observing Clearances)
Since electric fireplaces are easy to install, you’re more likely to install it incorrectly. Each fireplace unit has clearance guidelines that specify how far away from walls, appliances, or electronics you need to place your fireplace. Be sure to read the manual or talk to our experts for help.