Electric Fireplaces: They’re Eco-friendly But Do They Really Work?

Image Credit: Valley City Supply, OH via DesignMine

Many people love the way that technology is reinventing the way we live.  Electric Fireplaces were initially pioneered by Glen Dimplex back in 1995 but many people are a still skeptical, wondering if they really work or not.  Electric fireplaces provide ample heat for even the most lavish of homes.

Do Electric Fireplaces Really Work?

While some of the claims you see listed by manufacturers may be called into question, the most trusted brands have been known to deliver just what they promise.  If you’re thinking about converting to an electric fireplace, stick with brands like Twinstar International, Dimplex, Classic Flame, Real Flame and Holly & Martin. 

So how do we know that they work?  Well for one, since they qualify as a home appliance, all claims must be backed by research and testing.  Underwriters Laboratories verify the safety and performance of all electronic products, and not just electric fireplaces.  Check to make sure that the unit you are interested in purchasing is UL Listed or UL Certified.

Image Credit: PortableFireplace.com

Some people say that electric fireplaces don’t work because they don’t heat your entire house.  That’s failing to ignore the intended purpose of these units.  Electric fireplaces are zone heaters meaning they are supposed to heat only a specific area of the home.  Central heating and cooling systems provide much more heat but these systems are designed to heat your entire home.  Learn more about zone heating vs central heating.

How Much Heat Are We Really Talkin’?                                                               

Standard 1,500 watt electric fireplaces produce around 4,000 BTU’s of heat.  This is enough to heat a 400 sq. ft. room which is equivalent to a 20’ x 20’ living area.  Recently, Classic Flame introduced a new type of heating method that more than doubles heating capacity.  These are called infrared electric fireplaces.

Classic Flame has developed a way to heat a 1,000 square foot space using the same 1,500 watts of power.  These infrared electric fireplaces are still plugin models that work on standard 120v electrical outlets.  Intertek tested and certified Classic Flame’s infrared fireplaces, concluding that they do in fact have the ability to heat a 1,000 sq. ft. room consistently for a period of 24 hours.  BTU ratings for electric fireplaces range from 4,000-8,000 BTU’s.

Enhanced Realism by Advanced Technology

Silverton White Electric Fireplace. Image Credit: Real Flame

Cheap electric fireplaces look fake, but the latest models are incredibly realistic. Dimplex has a model called the Opti-Myst that uses water vapor to simulate the smoke given off by a real wood burning fireplace.  Another one of the latest includes the Opti-Virtual or Opti-V for short.  This model has been noted as the most realistic electric fireplace to date.

Cheap electric fireplaces are usually older models that are now out of pace with the current rate of change.  These models often don’t look very realistc and have a faux appearance.  Do some research and you’ll be able to find up to date information on the most realistic electric fireplaces.

A traditional wood or gas fireplace won’t heat your entire house so why would you expect an electric fireplace to do so?  Electric fireplaces are designed to be supplemental heating sources and not the primary source of heat for your entire home.  However, you can use them to heat multiple rooms because electric fireplaces are portable and can be moved from one room to the next with minimal effort.  All you have to do is plug it into a wall outlet and you’re in business!

The Perks of Converting to an Electric Fireplace

Electric fireplaces have become very popular for many reasons and many homeowners are happy with the results.  Here are some of the main benefits of converting to an electric fireplace:

  • Reduce heating bill by 20-40%
  • Operate at just 11 cents per hour!
  • Electric fireplaces do not require a vent. You don’t need a chimney so they are ideal for condos and apartments.
  • No need to chop fire wood.
  • No smoke inside your home.  Dimplex even makes a model called the Purifire that filters the air inside your home.
  • Clean up is a breeze.
  • Enjoy instant heat, no need to get your fire going.
  • Lowest installation cost compared to wood and gas fireplaces. 

Author Bio: Cheryl Khan is an interior designer and contributing author at Portable Fireplace.com. While she has a love for the aesthetics of home décor, she is an expert on the technical details related to electric fireplaces with years of experience.