The Best Electric Fireplace Inserts of 2022

Electric fireplace inserts add warmth to your home. Explore the best options in these energy-efficient heaters.

By Bob Beacham | Updated Jan 26, 2022 2:23 PM

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The Best Electric Fireplace Insert Option

Photo: amazon.com

Electric fireplace inserts, popular electric room heaters, are not only energy-efficient and relatively easy to install, but they also have a range of user-friendly features. Manufacturers offer a wide choice of styles and sizes to supply cozy warmth to virtually any room.

However, the range of options can make selecting the right model challenging. Here, you’ll find important shopping considerations, as well as a showcase of top performers. The information that follows should help you find the best electric fireplace insert for your home.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Homedex Recessed Mounted Electric Fireplace Insert
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Costway 28.5″ Fireplace Electric Embedded Insert
  3. BEST COMPACT: Classic Flame Ventless Electric Fireplace Insert
  4. BEST LOG EFFECT: Masarflame 40″ Electric Fireplace Insert, Retro
  5. BEST SMART FIREPLACE: Touchstone Sideline Elite Electric Fireplace Insert
  6. BEST WALL-MOUNTED: R.W.FLAME 68 inch Recessed Electric Fireplace
  7. HONORABLE MENTION: Dimplex Deluxe 23″ Electric Fireplace Insert
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: Della 26 Inch 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Insert
The Best Electric Fireplace Insert Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Electric Fireplace Insert

While the best freestanding electric fireplace is often just plug in and go, an electric fireplace insert typically requires at least minimal installation. Apart from that, along with their general appearance, they frequently share similar features. The following section explores the issues that buyers need to think about when choosing the best recessed electric fireplace for a particular location.

Type of Fireplace Insert

Many types of electric fireplaces can be called “inserts;” however, the term usually describes those units that fit into a recess in the wall. These can either be pre-existing (replacing a gas or log fire) or new additions. A new installation can be installed at floor level or recessed into the wall above it. Several models have the flexibility to be used in either position.

Some electric fireplaces come as part of a complete surround and mantel package that’s fitted to the wall, mimicking a “real” fire. While these are sometimes called inserts, that’s not a very accurate description and can lead to confusion. The same also can be said of electric log sets that sit in the space formerly used by the grate of a log fire.

Heating Capacity

Regardless of their physical size, even the best electric fireplaces seldom use more than 1,500 watts (W) of electricity. More power than that, and the unit could trip a standard breaker. Many models have two power settings to help save on costs.

In actual heat capacity, 1,500 watts of power are generally considered sufficient to maintain comfortable warmth in a room of up to 400 square feet. The high setting could be used for initial warmth, then lowered to maintain that temperature.

Heating capacity also may be listed in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Technically 1 BTU is the energy required to raise 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. At full power, most electric fireplace inserts emit about 4,000 to 5,000 BTUs. While useful for comparison, the figures don’t offer much practical help, and many manufacturers don’t even supply them.

Size

Physical size is important for two reasons: first, it helps determine the insert’s appearance in the intended location, and second, size affects the installation.

Generally, width is the main dimension used when describing an electric fireplace insert. The smallest unit currently on the market is just 22 inches wide, while the largest measures 100 inches. Height and depth also should appear in the details. The fireplace insert’s dimensions invariably differ from the dimensions of the recess required, so it’s important to have those measurements, too.

Visualizing actual size from the dimensions can pose a challenge. To help judge the impact the fireplace insert will make, use low-tack tape to outline the fireplace on the intended wall.

Installation

Installing an electric fireplace insert is generally much easier than installing gas or real fire alternatives. While it can be fitted as a replacement for either of these, an electric fireplace doesn’t need a chimney, flue, or venting.

Depending on the wall structure, electric fireplace inserts can be recessed at floor level or higher. If the existing walls are brick or concrete, experts may advise building out a false wall, which also can serve as a decorative element.

Most electric fireplace inserts need only to be plugged into a convenient wall outlet. Often, it’s possible to wire one into the recess or permanently hardwired. Experienced DIYers may be able to perform the task, though it’s probably better to contact a qualified professional.

Programmable Thermostat and Other Features

A programmable thermostat, which is a popular option, can help reduce heating costs. Once set to the desired level, the fireplace automatically varies its output to maintain it, so no energy is wasted. A shut-off timer also is frequently included.

Many manufacturers offer flame effects and colors to create a welcoming ambiance without heat. Realistic log-crackling sounds also help enhance the atmosphere. Control is usually possible via a handheld remote, but the most advanced electric fireplace inserts also allow smart control via Wi-Fi and integration with home hubs that allow voice commands.

Safety is an important consideration. The best electric fireplace heater options have thermal overload protection that cuts the power if the device overheats. Cool-touch exteriors also are available.

Our Top Picks

These top picks offer practical examples that illustrate the range of features in electric inserts. Each has been assigned a different category, making it easier to find the best electric fireplace insert for every purpose.

Best Overall

The Best Electric Fireplace Insert Option: Homedex 36" Recessed Mounted Electric Fireplace
Photo: amazon.com

Selecting a single best electric fireplace insert is challenging because so much depends on personal taste. However, this Homedex 36-inch model, which offers a combination of sleek appearance, competitive performance, user-friendly controls, and multiple flame effects, is suitable for many different rooms.

Like most electric fireplace inserts, the Homedex 36-inch unit is rated for rooms up to 400 square feet. Two heat settings and a programmable thermostat adjust from 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 97 degrees Fahrenheit. A timer can be set to turn off the fireplace at any time during a 12-hour period.

The Homedex offers nine possible flame colors with five levels of intensity. Other options include log or crystal effects. The Homedex can be fitted as an insert, but it also includes hardware for wall mounting.

Product Specs

  • Size: 36 inches by 19 inches
  • Power settings: 750W / 1,500W
  • Controls: Touch screen or remote

Pros

  • Programmable thermostat
  • 12-hour timer
  • CSA safety certification

Cons

  • Flames may not appear as vivid as in photos
  • Customer support may be inconsistent

Get the Homedex 36 Fireplace Insert on Amazon.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Electric Fireplace Insert Option: Costway 28.5" Fireplace Electric Embedded Insert
Photo: walmart.com

The relatively low-cost Costway 28.5-inch electric fireplace insert offers performance similar to many more expensive competitors, with two heat settings: 750W and 1,500W. The manufacturer is one of few that also quotes BTU output at 2,559 and 5,118, respectively. Control it via the onboard controls behind a hidden panel, or use the intuitive remote.

A programmable thermostat maintains the selected heat settings between 62 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The unit includes an 8-hour timer and three flame effects, each with five levels of brightness. The Costway complies with ETL safety certification.

While this model cannot be mounted to a surface, it weighs just 27.5 pounds, making it easy to insert into stud walls, fireplace surrounds, or cabinets.

Product Specs

  • Size: 28.5 inches by 21 inches
  • Power settings: 750W / 1,500W
  • Controls: Concealed panel or remote

Pros

  • Programmable thermostat
  • 8-hour timer
  • ETL safety certification

Cons

  • Short warranty, depending on the retailer
  • Inconsistent quality control

Get the Costway 28.5 Fireplace Insert at Walmart, Overstock, or Target.

Best Compact

The Best Electric Fireplace Insert Option: Classic Flame 23 in. Ventless Infrared Electric
Photo: homedepot.com

Many electric fireplaces use a barely audible fan to gently push warm air into the room. However, the Classic Flame fireplace insert uses infrared technology, which doesn’t heat the air; instead, it heats the people within the space.

This makes for very low energy consumption and the sensation that the room heats up more quickly. The manufacturer rates it to heat up to 1,000 square feet.

A digital thermostat offers precise control over output. The 3D flame and log effect can be set for color, brightness, and speed, with 125 total variations. Safer Plug technology switches off the Classic Flame fireplace if it detects overheating.

Product Specs

  • Size: 23 inches by 20 inches
  • Power settings: 1,500W
  • Controls: Touch screen or remote

Pros

  • Digital thermostat
  • Safer Plug safety system
  • Can show flame effects without heat

Cons

  • Single power setting
  • No timer

Get the Classic Flame 23 Fireplace Insert at The Home Depot or Electric Fireplaces Direct.

Best Log Effect

The Best Electric Fireplace Insert Option: Masarflame 40" Electric Fireplace Insert, Retro
Photo: amazon.com

The Masarflame 40-inch electric fireplace insert’s stand-out feature is its accurate rendering of an authentic log fire. Rather than a simple black interior, the sides have a brick pattern that adds visual depth. This is enhanced by lifelike resin logs with three different lighting effects and five flame heights. A crackling sound completes the retro effect.

Two heat settings offer competitive performance, but the unit doesn’t have a programmable thermostat. However, it does feature a 9-hour timer and a safety cutout to prevent overheating. The Masarflame can be installed into a wall recess or cabinet, but it may look best in a false fireplace surround.

Product Specs

  • Size: 40 inches by 27 inches
  • Power settings: 750W / 1,500W
  • Controls: Concealed panel or remote

Pros

  • 9-hour timer
  • Log-crackling sounds add realism
  • Can operate without heat

Cons

  • No thermostat
  • Top of the surround is a little clunky

Get the Masarflame 40 Electric Fireplace Insert on Amazon.

Best Smart Fireplace

The Best Electric Fireplace Insert Option: Touchstone Sideline Elite Electric Fireplace Insert
Photo: walmart.com

The slender frame on the Touchstone Sideline Elite gives it a sleek, contemporary appearance. While a remote is provided, this fireplace is also ready for Wi-Fi. The free smartphone app, which adds a range of additional functions, integrates with Alexa or Google Home.

Two power settings and a programmable thermostat can be set between 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. The model contains an 8-hour timer. It comes in log, driftwood, and crystal bed effects in 10 color choices, plus flames that can be set to six colors and three speeds.

The Touchstone Sideline has ETL safety certification and overheating protection.

Product Specs

  • Size: 49¾ inches by 19¼ inches
  • Heat settings: 750W / 1,500W
  • Controls: Remote and Wi-Fi with voice via Alexa or Google Home

Pros

  • Programmable thermostat
  • 8-hour timer
  • Wi-Fi enabled

Cons

  • Premium price
  • Occasionally reported as noisier than expected

Get the Touchstone Sideline Elite Fireplace Insert at Walmart or on Amazon.

Best Wall-Mounted

The Best Electric Fireplace Insert Option: R.W.FLAME 68 inch Recessed Electric Fireplace
Photo: amazon.com

At 68 inches wide but just 18 inches tall, the R.W.Flame electric fireplace insert makes an impression. A choice of 12 bed colors, 12 flame colors, and five flame speeds allows variety in visual impact and ambiance.

The two power modes work in conjunction with a programmable thermostat to control room temperatures between 68 degrees Fahrenheit and 88 degrees Fahrenheit. A sleep mode provides heat but turns off all the effects. It has an 8-hour timer and ETL safety certification.

The ultra-thin body is under 4 inches deep, making this the best wall-mounted fireplace for ease of installation. However, the wall must be structurally solid as the R.W.Flame 68-inch fireplace weighs 67 pounds.

Product Specs

  • Size: 68 inches by 18 inches
  • Heat settings: 750W / 1,500W
  • Controls: Touch screen or remote

Pros

  • Programmable thermostat
  • 8-hour timer
  • ETL safety certification

Cons

  • Touch-panel icons cannot be dimmed
  • A few reports of fan noise

Get the R.W.Flame 68 Fireplace on Amazon or at R.W.Flame.

Also Consider

The Best Electric Fireplace Insert Option: Della 26 Inch 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Insert
Photo: amazon.com

The 26-inch Della electric fireplace insert could be an ideal low-cost option for newly renovated areas of the home, extensions, or guest rooms, but it may work best as a fixed alternative to a portable heater. It is intended to fit in old fireplace surrounds, suitably sized TV consoles, or cabinets. It weighs just 30 pounds.

The Della’s features are quite basic. The temperature can be adjusted up and down between 62 degrees Fahrenheit and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, but it has no timer. The brick-effect sides and logs are not particularly realistic. It offers three levels of brightness but no choice of color. It’s limited to a continuous use of 6 hours, after which it shuts off automatically to prevent overheating.

Product Specs

  • Size: 26 inches by 17.6 inches
  • Heat settings: 1,400W
  • Controls: Control panel or remote

Pros

  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Fits many fireplace surrounds, TV stands, and cabinets
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • Limited heat control
  • Log effect is unconvincing

Get the Della 26″ Infrared Fireplace Insert on Amazon.

Our Verdict

The Homedex Electric Fireplace not only offers the widest thermostat range and the most control over the flame settings, but it’s also competitively priced. The Costway Fireplace Electric Embedded Insert, although it doesn’t have an extensive feature set, is a decent lower-budget alternative.

How We Chose the Best Electric Fireplace Inserts

The Bob Vila team researched all the well-known electric fireplace insert brands and a wide selection of retailers, including major names and specialist suppliers. In doing so, we formed an overall view of the market, the products available, and the most recent developments in fireplace inserts, such as the potential for smart voice control.

Most electric fireplace inserts deliver similar heating performance. Many people are more concerned with the unit’s physical size and visual appeal. Our top picks offer a wide range of different dimensions, and, while appearance is a personal subject, we also sought to represent the many different styles available.

Since cost plays a critical part in most buying decisions, we offered models to suit all budgets.

Safety Tips for Using an Electric Fireplace Insert

When properly installed, with no exposed flames and no smoke or noxious fumes, electric fireplace inserts are among the safest home-heating devices. However, some potential for danger always exists. The following tips should help keep you, your family, and your property safe.

  • If not completely confident in your ability to install the fireplace, call a professional.
  • Make sure electrical connections supply the correct voltage and amps, and use a suitable circuit breaker.
  • Never plug an electric fireplace into an extension cord.
  • Never cover the front of the fireplace. Don’t use it to dry clothes.
  • Although many modern electric fireplace inserts have cool-touch exteriors, it’s safest to keep furniture and fabrics at least 3 feet away.
  • If the cord is exposed, check it regularly for damage. Do not run cords under carpets or rugs.
  • Electric fireplace inserts are for indoor use only. Never install them outdoors, even in a sheltered space.

FAQs

This article looks at the technical aspects of choosing the best electric fireplace insert, followed by real-world examples of units available for purchase. This wealth of information can help you make your choice. In the next section, we address a number of questions that crop up frequently.

Q. What is the standard size for an electric fireplace insert?

No “standard” size exists. Widths can measure from 22 inches to 100 inches. Height also varies, and the depth required for installation can vary from 4 inches to 12 inches. Check sizes carefully when making your choice.

Q. Are electric fireplaces safe?

When properly installed, electric fireplaces are often considered the safest fireplace option. With no fumes or smoke, they also are kinder to those with respiratory difficulties and many allergy sufferers.

Q. Are electric fireplaces expensive to use? 

Not normally. Costs depend on the watts consumed by the fireplace and utility charges, but several independent tests show an average of around 15 to 18 cents per hour. If the unit is run for 6 hours a day, that’s roughly $30 per month.

Q. Do electric fireplace inserts use a lot of electricity?

Electricity consumption is measured in watts. Most electric fireplace inserts operate at around 1,500 watts maximum. That’s about the same as an electric space heater, though an electric fireplace insert is usually more efficient.

Q. Can you put an electric fireplace insert in an existing fireplace?

Placing an insert into an existing fireplace is typically possible as long as power can be supplied. The existing fireplace gap may need some modification. When in doubt, consult a professional.