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What is an Electric Fireplace?

Summer is in full swing, and while we’re all enjoying the sunshine and warm weather, it’s never too early to start preparing for the colder months ahead (we know how those CO and MA winters can get). As the temperatures drop and the leaves begin to change, creating a warm and cozy atmosphere in your home becomes a top priority. That’s why now is the perfect time to consider upgrading your fireplace, or to at least become educated on the less-expensive, energy-efficient alternative: electric fireplaces.

Electric fireplace

If you’re searching for a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and safe alternative to traditional fireplaces, look no further than electric fireplaces. These modern marvels offer a range of advantages that make them an excellent choice for any homeowner, not just in terms of convenience and comfort, but also in terms of reducing carbon emissions and promoting sustainability. 

In this blog post, we’ll explore the various benefits and considerations of upgrading, including:

  1. Lower costs
  2. Reduced carbon emissions
  3. Increased energy efficiency
  4. Improved safety
  5. Ambiance options
  6. Model types

Ready? Let’s dive into it.

Say Goodbye to High Costs

Let’s start with the most compelling reason to consider an electric fireplace: cost-effectiveness. About 30% less expensive to operate than traditional gas fireplaces, electric fireplaces provide an economical heating solution that won’t break the bank. By using a small amount of electricity, these fireplaces ensure that you can stay warm without worrying about excessive utility bills.

Understanding the Numbers

Wondering how this works? The typical cost of electricity on a national scale is approximately 13 cents for each kilowatt-hour (kWh), whereas the average cost for natural gas is around $1.22 per therm (100,000 Btu). As a result of this, if you have an electric fireplace that uses 1.5 kilowatts and produces about 5,000 units of heat called Btu, it would cost you around 19.5 cents to run it for an hour. Now, if you have a gas fireplace that gives off a lot more heat, around 25,000 Btu, using it with natural gas would cost you roughly 30.5 cents per hour.

In simple terms, it’s like comparing the cost of running two different types of fireplaces – one that uses electricity and another that uses gas. The electric one is cheaper to run for smaller heat, but the gas one gets more expensive when you need more heat.

Environmentally Friendly Heating

In addition to being cost-effective, electric fireplaces are also environmentally friendly, making them an eco-conscious alternative to traditional wood-burning or gas-powered fireplaces. By opting for an electric fireplace, you’re making a conscious choice to reduce your carbon footprint and minimize your impact on the environment. Enjoy the warmth and comfort of a fireplace without compromising the air quality or the planet’s well-being.

Peak Efficiency

Electric fireplaces are not only cost-effective and environmentally friendly, but they are also highly efficient. By utilizing advanced technology and innovative design, they excel at converting electrical energy into heat. Electric fireplaces convert 100% of the energy into heat, whereas gas fireplaces convert 70-90% of the energy used into heat. Also, unlike traditional wood-burning fireplaces that lose a significant amount of heat through the chimney, they distribute heat evenly throughout the room, ensuring that every corner is comfortably warm. This efficient heat distribution minimizes energy waste and maximizes your savings on heating costs.

Safety First

When it comes to safety, electric fireplaces offer peace of mind. Unlike traditional fireplaces, they do not produce sparks or smoke, eliminating the risk of accidental fires. Additionally, since they do not emit any harmful gasses, they do not require ventilation systems or chimneys. This means you can install one in any room without worrying about the logistics of ventilation. Built-in safety features such as automatic shut-off mechanisms and cool-touch exteriors further enhance the safety aspect, making them an ideal choice for families with children or pets.

Create Your Desired Ambiance

Beyond their cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency, and safety features, electric fireplaces also offer versatility and customization options. We get it! The look of your home matters too. Most models come with adjustable heat settings and flame intensity controls, allowing you to create the perfect ambiance for any occasion. Whether you desire a gentle, warm glow for a cozy evening or a brighter flame for a more dramatic effect, each model gives you the flexibility to tailor the atmosphere of your space. Some models even offer flame effects without heat, allowing you to enjoy the visual beauty of a fireplace year-round.

Model Types

As mentioned before, there are several available options when it comes to electric fireplaces. Depending on quality, an electric fireplace costs between $600 and $10,000. This wide range of pricing is based on the available options, customization, and size of each fireplace. Below we’ll briefly break down each basic model type:

Prefab Fireplace

Prefab electric fireplaces are the most cost-effective option, designed for easy installation by plugging into your home’s power supply. Resembling flatscreen televisions, they offer a convenient and affordable heating solution, with prices ranging from $400 to $4,000. Models with built-in features tend to be on the higher end of this price spectrum.

Prefab electric fireplace

Custom Fireplace

Custom electric fireplaces provide a traditional aesthetic and often double as room dividers. These units require unique installation due to their tailored design, resulting in a price range of $2,000 to $10,000. Their elevated cost reflects the personalized craftsmanship and distinctive appearance they bring to your space.

Custom electric fireplace

Wall-Mounted Fireplace

Wall-mounted electric fireplaces mimic the appearance of hanging flatscreen TVs, delivering both warmth and style. Depending on the model’s features and design, these fireplaces cost between $300 and several thousand dollars, offering an affordable yet stylish heating solution.

Wall-mounted electric fireplace

Electric Fireplace Inserts

Electric fireplace inserts come in various styles, such as artificial log inserts or fireboxes, aiming to replicate the look of a traditional fireplace. Firebox inserts, in particular, provide a classic ambiance and fall within the price range of $400 to $3,000, catering to those who desire a realistic fireplace experience.

Electric fireplace insert

Recessed Electric Fireplaces

Recessed electric fireplaces create a traditional fireplace appearance by being partially embedded in the wall. Prefabricated options range from $400 to $7,000, while custom designs may include additional features and thus cost more. These fireplaces offer a blend of elegance and functionality.

Built-In Electric Fireplaces

Built-in electric fireplaces are designed to fit within a wall cavity and often come with a mantel, hearth, and surround. These substantial units enhance the ambiance of any space but come at a higher price point, ranging from $3,000 to over $10,000. The added features contribute to their luxurious appeal.

Water Vapor Electric Fireplaces

Water vapor electric fireplaces introduce innovation to the realm of electric heating. Utilizing advanced technology, they create remarkably realistic flame effects that closely resemble authentic wood-burning fires. These innovative fireplaces, which range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more, provide a unique and captivating visual experience.

Note: Depending on the model, electric fireplaces will operate on either 120 volts or 240 volts of electricity. Most common is 120 volts and they plug into a standard wall outlet.

Need recommendations? Modern Blaze walks through the best electric fireplaces of 2023 by type here.

Wrapping Up

The bottom line: electric fireplaces are a wise investment for any homeowner seeking an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly heating solution. With their low operating costs, energy efficiency, and built-in safety features, electric fireplaces provide the perfect balance of comfort and peace of mind. Upgrade your home heating today and enjoy the warmth and savings (that’s on both $ and our earth) that electric fireplaces bring.

Want to learn more about home electrification but unsure where to start? Check out our free tool, Your Electrification Roadmap®. It uses your individual priorities and preferences to simplify your electrification journey.