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Choosing the right electric fireplace

An electric fireplace makes a stylish and functional addition to any space in your home, whether you would like some extra heat in a bedroom or living area. Here is everything you need to know about finding the perfect fireplace for your needs.

Benefits

Electric fireplaces offer a wide range of benefits, including:

Supplementary heat

Get the exact temperature you desire without having to wait for your home heating system to do the job. Electric fireplaces are great for chilly winter days and drafty or basement rooms.

Safe operation

Electric fireplaces don’t produce an actual flame and remain cool to the touch. They are a good choice for homes with children and pets.

Zone heating

With an electric fireplace, you can easily increase the temperature in one room without having to increase the temperature throughout your entire home.

Energy savings

Using an electric fireplace for zone heating can help you reduce your overall heating costs, as it will allow you to set your thermostat to a lower temperature.

Design variety

Electric fireplaces come in a wide variety of styles, allowing you to choose one that best complements your existing furniture and decor.

Four types of fireplace

Features

You have many different options when it comes to electric fireplace features. Here are some that you may want to consider.
  • Adjustable heat: Different heat settings will provide you with greater control over heat output and temperature, making the space feel more comfortable.
  • Variable flame settings: The ability to change the colour, height, and intensity of the flames can help you set just the right ambience.
  • Heatless operation: Enjoy the look of the flames without any additional heat by choosing a fireplace with heatless operation.
  • Timer: A timer allows you to run the fireplace for a specific length of time, automatically shutting it off afterwards.
  • Remote control: With a remote control, you can turn your electric fireplace on and off or adjust the heat without having to get up from the sofa.
  • Hidden manual controls: Many electric fireplaces have a panel that can be closed over the manual controls, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the unit.

The right size

Electric fireplaces come in many different sizes. The following three considerations can help you choose the size that will work best for your home.

1. Where the fireplace will go

Your choice of fireplace size will likely depend most on which room you are buying it for. For example, larger fireplaces are generally better suited to a living room than a bedroom, and vice versa.

2. How much space is available

After identifying where the fireplace will go, it’s time to measure the width and depth of the available space. Once you know the maximum dimensions of a fireplace that could fit into the space, you’ll have an easier time narrowing your selection.

3. How the fireplace will look with the surrounding furniture and decor

Properly sizing a fireplace isn’t just about making sure it will fit. It also needs to be scaled to the surrounding furniture and decor. If you want to use it as a focal point, then a larger fireplace is a good choice. You can even dress it up with some fireplace accessories such as an ash shovel and bucket for a more authentic look. If the room already has a focal point, then you may want to choose a smaller fireplace that doesn’t stand out as much.

Understanding BTUs and Watts

When shopping for electric fireplaces, you’ll notice that they come in a range of different BTUs and watts. Here is what these numbers mean.

BTUs

A BTU (British thermal unit) represents a unit of heat. The higher an electric fireplace’s BTU rating, the better its heat output and heating performance will be. In general, an electric fireplace that can deliver around 4,600 BTUs can provide adequate zone heating for an area of about 400 square feet.

Watts

Watts are a measure of energy output, which also has an impact on heating performance. The more watts an electric fireplace uses, the more heat it will give off. Electric fireplaces typically come as either 750-watt or 1,500-watt models. For a smaller room, 750 watts should be adequate. To heat a larger room, you’ll likely need a 1,500-watt fireplace.

Types of heat: fan and infrared quarts

Electric fireplaces provide either forced fan heating or infrared quartz heat (also known as radiant heat). Considering the differences between how they operate can help you choose the right addition to your existing home heating solutions.

Forced fan heating

The most common of the two, forced fan electric fireplaces have a fan that blows air over heated coils. The heated air then comes out of a vent and diffuses throughout the room. Most forced fan fireplaces have a heating capacity of around 400 square feet, though some are made for larger spaces as well.

Infrared quartz heating

An infrared quartz fireplace generates heat by producing infrared light. When this light makes contact with people and objects in the room, it warms them up. Infrared quartz fireplaces can usually provide supplemental heat for rooms as large as 1,000 square feet.

Installation

An electric fireplace couldn’t be easier to install. All you really have to do is plug it in and turn it on. For safe and effective long-term operation, however, it’s important to keep a few simple considerations in mind before flicking the switch.
  • Most fireplaces are made to plug into a standard household outlet. Before purchasing a new electric fireplace, make sure there is an available and properly working wall receptacle in the place where you want to set it up.
  • Ideally, your electric fireplace will be plugged into its own dedicated circuit that isn’t shared with any other outlets or fixtures.
  • If this is not possible, then make sure that all of the fixtures and outlets on the circuit will not cause it to overload. At the very least, there should be no other large appliances on the same circuit.
  • After installing your fireplace, pay attention to whether it causes your lights to dim when it is running. This is a sign that the circuit is being overloaded.

Pro tip

Don’t plug your electric fireplace into an extension cord. Extension cords are not generally meant for permanent use or to provide power for high-energy appliances.

Maintenance

Electric fireplaces need only minimal maintenance to keep looking great and operating efficiently. There are just six components which will require your attention. Note that you should always unplug your fireplace before doing any maintenance.
  • Exterior: To clean the exterior of an electric fireplace, begin by dusting the surfaces with a duster or a dry cloth. Then, gently buff the exterior with a soft, damp cloth.
  • Glass: Remove the front glass panel according to the owner’s manual instructions and clean both sides of the glass with a lint-free cloth and some warm, soapy water. Stay away from abrasive cleaners.
  • Interior: If any dust has accumulated behind the glass, simply dust and clean the same way as the exterior. When you are finished, you can reinstall the front glass panel.
  • Vents: To clean a forced air electric fireplace’s heating vents of any accumulated dust and debris, just use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment and run it over the vents.
  • Fan: Consult your owner’s manual for how to access your fireplace’s fan. Then, use a vacuum with a wand nozzle attachment to remove any dust or other particles that have built up between the blades.
  • Light bulbs: An electric fireplace’s light bulbs may need to be replaced after a couple of years. Check your owner’s manual for the type of bulbs needed and how to remove the rear panel and replace the bulbs.

Suggested products

See all electric fireplaces