How to Choose an Electric Fireplace
The top performers in our review are the Napoleon Slimline EFL32H, the Gold Award winner; the Moda Flame Houston MFE5050BK, the Silver Award winner; and the Touchstone Onyx 80001, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing an electric fireplace to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of products.
A fireplace adds both warmth and a relaxing ambiance to any home, but standard fireplaces also require a lot of effort to get the heat and atmosphere you might be looking to give your home. Additionally, regular fireplaces require a chimney or a flue, have live flames and smoke, and take a lot of maintenance to keep clean.
Electric fireplaces, however, give you the heat a space heater would give you, but also the ambiance that flames can provide. The best part is you won't be chopping wood, dealing with coal or building the fire. To learn more, check out our articles about electric fireplaces.
Electric vs. Standard
Along with the low maintenance and virtually no effort, electric wall fireplaces have a handful of other benefits and advantages over traditional fireplaces. First and foremost, an electric fireplace provides heat to any room in a matter of minutes, and all you have to do is push a button. Additionally, you can operate the fireplace from across the room with the remote control.
Smokeless fireplaces also don't require all the work that a standard fireplace does, such as chopping or purchasing wood, building the fire, cleaning the unit, and making sure the chimney stays clean. Furthermore, you can even just have the ambiance a fireplace can provide without the heat aspect if you want.
Wall-mount electric fireplaces operate so simply – all you have to do is plug the unit into an electrical outlet and turn it on, adjusting the settings on either the control panel or with the remote control.
But how do electric fireplaces work? When you turn the unit on, the metal coils inside heat up and the fan pushes the warm air out of the vent, which is usually on the top or the bottom of the unit, and into the room. They really are that simple. And depending on the unit, you could be looking at up to 5,000 Btu of heat, which is a lot.
Most electric fireplaces only have a few different settings – low, high and no heat. However, many units also have temperatures settings, allowing you to determine the temperature you want the room to be.
Compared to standard fireplaces that have live flames and smoke and are hot to the touch, electric fireplaces are much safer for homes with children. Additionally, most electric fireplaces have a shut-off feature that ensures the unit turns off if it gets too hot.
Smokeless fireplaces are very simple to use, too. Most can be controlled with the touch of a button on the unit or with a remote control.
Electric Fireplaces: What We Evaluated, What We Found
During our evaluation of electric fireplaces, we considered the heating ability, design and convenience of each unit. Heating ability and design were weighted heavier than the convenience features of the unit.
Heating ability is the most important aspect of an electric fireplace that you should consider before determining which one is right for your home. We looked at the number of heat settings each unit had – most units come with two, just a low and a high setting, but some have more. We also considered the best room size, in square footage, that an electric fireplace can heat. Finally, we considered the power aspect of the unit – the Btu and wattage.
The Btu of an electric fireplace is essentially its ability to heat the desired area. Most electric fireplaces are designed to heat a 400-square-foot room fairly quickly and have a Btu capacity of 4,500 to 5,000. The larger the Btu capacity, the quicker the unit will heat the recommended area. Additionally, the wattage is the required power it takes to operate the unit. A unit with a higher wattage draws more power to operate. Most electric fireplaces have wattage of 1,400 to 1,500.
Design was also a major consideration in our evaluation of electric fireplaces. We looked at the weight and dimensions of each unit, and features that make them modern and sleek. The weight and dimensions of the units are important to consider when determining which electric fireplace you want to place in your home, but they did not affect the ranking of the electric fireplaces on the lineup.
Many electric fireplaces come with flame effect, which gives you the ambiance of a fireplace with or without the heat output. Other design features include the fuel bed and LEDs that give the fireplace its life.
What Else Is Important in Selecting an Electric Fireplace?
Aside from heating ability, design and convenience features, there are a couple things you should consider before adding an electric fireplace to your home and determining which one is right for you.
Depending on where in your home you're going to install your wall-mounted electric fireplace, you'll need to consider the size. These smokeless fireplaces come in all different widths and heights. However, in general, they range in size from 26 inches wide to 50 inches wide and 17 inches high to 24 inches high.
Installing a wall-mounted electric fireplace in your home doesn't require major remodeling of your home or reconstruction of the wall you plan to put it on. Electric fireplaces can be installed quickly and without much effort, too. Most units come with the required mounting hardware and instructions to mount the unit by yourself in a matter of minutes.
Wall-mounted electric fireplaces are generally covered by a one-year warranty. However, some manufacturers offer an extended warranty for the unit at an additional cost at the time of purchase.
Electric Fireplaces: Our Verdict and Recommendations
Three electric fireplaces topped our lineup thanks to their heating ability, overall design and convenience features. Our top product, the Napoleon Slimline EFL32H, is designed to heat a room of up to 400 square feet, offers two heat settings, and has a timer and an automatic shut-off feature. The Moda Flame Houston MFE5050BK and the Touchstone Onyx 80001, our other top electric fireplaces, ranked high for their ability to heat a large room, their high Btu numbers, and design and convenience features.
An electric fireplace provides similar heating results to a standard fireplace. However, electric fireplaces offer all of the heat and ambiance you might be looking to add to your home without the hassle a standard fireplace requires. Additionally, the modern and sleek look of a wall-mounted electric fireplace will give any room in your home an instant makeover.