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Electric Fireplaces Buying Guide

electric fireplace buying guide
Electric fireplaces can offer the same real flame look and heating effects as gas or wood-burning fireplaces, but are often more efficient and cost less to operate. In this guide, we take a look at the benefits and installation options of electric fireplaces. We also list some important-to-know units of measurement to consider as you decide on a fireplace.

Benefits of Electric Fireplaces

 
In addition to the wide variety of design styles (from modern to traditional) and the realistic flame, log, and glowing ember features of electric fireplaces, there are many other upsides to owning one.

Cost-Efficient

  • Electric fireplaces allow the users to turn the central heating unit in the home to a lower temperature and heat only the most-used rooms with an electric fireplace. This saves the user on their monthly heating bills.
  • Electric fireplaces cost between 7 and 13 cents per hour to operate. Gas systems can cost upwards of 20 cents per hour to operate, depending upon local utility rates.
  • Installation costs on electric fireplaces are very low as most models do not need to be connected to a gas line or chimney. 

Safety Features

  • No actual flame is produced, which makes electric fireplaces safer for kids and pets. Most electric fireplaces propel heat into a room using a fan, which blows across a heated electric coil within the unit.
  • Can be turned on and off, unlike a wood-burning fireplace
  • Many electric fireplaces have self-timer settings 

Year-Round Use

  • On most electric fireplaces, the flame feature can operate independently of the heat feature, so a flickering fire can be enjoyed in comfort all year long. 

Versatility

  • Because of the wide range of installation options (see below) and design styles, an electric fireplace can fit in nearly any home. 


​Installation Options

 
The variety of installation options for electric fireplaces makes it one of the easiest ways to give your home a working fireplace, whether you have an existing mantel or not.
electric log inserts


​Log Inserts


  • Will replace gas or wood logs in an existing fireplace.
  • Can produce up to 4,600 BTUs of heat, enough to heat 400 square feet.
  • Most versions will plug right into a standard 110 volt household outlet.

plug in fireplace insert

Plug-in Inserts

 
  • Typically, plug-in inserts are installed in existing mantels, but they can also be used in other situations with ventilation and access.
  • Can produce up to 4,600 BTUs of heat, enough to heat 400 square feet.
  • Most versions will plug right into a standard 110 volt household outlet.
  • Plug-in firebox inserts are front serviceable.

built in fireplace insert

Built-in Inserts


  • Generally built-in inserts are installed into an existing mantel or wall. They can also be put into cabinets.
  • Built-in inserts are usually hardwired, and can come with wither 110 volt or 220 volt plug kits.
  • A 220 volt version can produce 9,600 BTUs of heat, enough to heat 800 square feet. A 110 volt version can produce 4,600 BTUs of heat, enough to heat 400 square feet.
  • Plug-in firebox inserts are front serviceable.

Important Units of Measurement to Consider


BTUs

  • A BTU (British thermal unit) rating can assist you when comparing the energy output of heaters.
  • The higher a heater's BTU rating, the better its heating performance. Other factors that impact heating performance include the room's current temperature, the room's size, and the room's dimensions.

Volts

  • The majority of standard power outlets in the United States are 120 volts and have spots for two plugs and are rated for 15 amps.

Watts

  • Watts is a metric unit of power equal to one joule of energy per second.
  • The standard ratio of watts to square foot heated used in residential measurements is 10 watts to 1 square foot.
  • Electric fireplaces typically range from 700 to 1500 watts. For a small room, a 700 watt fireplace will work. However, colder climates and larger rooms will most likely require a 1500 watt fireplace.
An electric fireplace, like any other appliance, can overload your home's electrical system. To avoid an overload be sure to check if your system can handle the wattage of a fireplace and refrain from running multiple large appliances at the same time.

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