Safer than traditional candles because they don’t have a real flame, flameless candles, also called “meltless” candles, look an awful lot like real candles—many even flicker like real candles! They are terrific as decorative elements, such as centerpieces on dining room tables, and are welcome additions to outdoor dining settings because a swift breeze won’t extinguish their battery-powered flames.
Because flameless candles don’t actually burn, they rarely need to be replaced. They’re even safe for use in children’s rooms. There are so many of these kinds of candles from which to choose that it’s hard to know which ones are right for your home. The best flameless candles for your situation will depend on whether you need lots of pillar candles to create a candle-centric showpiece on your fireplace mantle, or you’re assembling a small but tasteful decorative bathroom element to create a spa-like bathing experience. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for flameless candles, and find out why the following selections are at the top of their class.
- BEST OVERALL: YIWER LED Candles,5.5″/6″/6.5″/7″/8″ Set of 5
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: CANDLE IDEA Flameless Flickering Tea Lights Candles
- UPGRADE PICK: Vinkor Flameless Candles Flickering (Birch Effect)
- BEST TAPER CANDLES: Incredle Flameless Taper Candles Dripless Real Wax
- BEST TEA LIGHTS: Homemory Realistic and Bright Flickering Tea Light
- BEST WITH GLASS HOLDER: Aku Tonpa Flameless Candles Battery Operated Pillar
- BEST WITH SCENT: Luminara Flameless Candle: Vanilla Scented
- BEST LIGHTING EFFECT: DANIP flameless Candle, with Embedded String Lights
- BEST FOR RUSTIC DECOR: TOFU Flickering Flameless Candles 4in 5in 6in Pillar
- BEST FOR OUTDOORS: Comenzar Flameless Candles, Outdoor Indoor Waterproof
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Flameless Candles
You might be surprised at how realistic some of today’s flameless candles are, but there are tricks to getting the most realistic-looking flameless candles. The first—and arguably the most crucial—consideration when choosing a flameless candle is to buy one with an LED light because LEDs flicker in a way that’s similar to real flames. Shoppers may also want to consider candle size, whether the flame effects can be changed, whether the candle comes with a remote control, and whether the candle emits a fragrant wafting aroma as some real candles do.
Flameless candles are available in the same sizes, shapes, and styles as standard candles and can be used for similar purposes.
- Pillar: A flameless pillar candle ranges from 2 inches to 4 inches in diameter and stands from approximately 3 inches to 9 inches high. These cylindrical candles are elegant design elements on their own, and they’re even more aesthetically pleasing if they’re placed on decorative candle stands. Grouping three or more pillar candles of staggered heights together creates a dramatic display.
- Taper: Traditionally used in candelabras and formal dining settings, flameless taper candles range in diameter from .5 inch to 3 inches and are usually between 6 inches and 18 inches tall. Because of their relatively tall and narrow design, flameless taper candles are best used in candleholders of similar dimensions in order to keep them vertical and secure.
- Tea light: These small flameless candles are typically just 1.5 inches in diameter and no more than 1 inch high. They’re useful in a variety of applications, including banquet table centerpieces or in lanterns and luminaries that are designed to hold traditional tea lights. The best thing about flameless tea light candles is that they’ll last a long time compared to real tea lights, which are so small that they tend to burn down within an hour or two.
- Votive: Similar in diameter to tea light candles but slightly taller, flameless votive candles look stunning in multicandle displays, such as arrangements on a coffee table or a dresser top, or paired with a vase, books, or even stuffed animals on a nightstand.
- Filled: This type of candle comes in a container, typically either brushed tin or glass, which gives the candle a home-crafted look. Flameless filled candles come in various sizes, up to about 4 inches in diameter and from 3 inches to 8 inches tall. Use them in a single-candle display or in combination with additional filled candles to create a focal point in the room.
Most flameless candles are made from either real wax, paraffin, soy wax, or beeswax, depending on the type and style. Some are infused with a scent—vanilla is a popular one—that gradually releases into the air. Like regular candles, wax-type flameless candles can soften and melt if they’re exposed to high temperatures (approximately 115 degrees Fahrenheit or above), so avoid placing them in a sunny summer window.
A few flameless candles are made of a plastic material instead of wax, and though these candles won’t soften, lose their shape, or melt, be aware that they’re not as realistic looking as the wax candles are. Flameless candles intended for outdoor use should be equipped with waterproofing features, such as a silicone seal that keeps moisture from entering the LED light and battery compartment. Candles that are not waterproof can be used outdoors, but they should be brought inside after use.
Great flameless candles feature LED lights that flicker in random patterns that mimic the flicker of real flames; some models have settings for both flickering and steady flames. Still other flameless candles feature color-changing LED lights for creating specific moods, and many come with remote controls for adjusting color and flame brightness and for turning the candles on and off.
The flameless candles that have the biggest visual impact in a home are those that are virtually indistinguishable from their traditional open-flame counterparts. Flameless candle manufacturers understand this and many add artistic details, like dripping wax or a wavy edge around the “wick” that looks like the candle has begun to melt. Other decorative options, such as candles with designs on their sides or candles that are dressed in farmhouse-inspired burlap or jute wrappings, are available to complement specific types of home decor.
A good-quality LED candle flame can last 10,000 hours or more, but the batteries that power the candle require replacement every 300 hours or so. Batteries may last longer if the candle features an automatic shutoff setting that turns the candle off after one or two hours. Consider automatic shutoff candles for use in bedrooms. These candles will emit a soothing flicker at bedtime and then shut off after the occupant has fallen asleep
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, a flameless candle should look like a real candle and be easy to operate. One of the features that makes candles easy to operate is a remote control. Candles that offer unique features, such as color-changing flames, are also included below. The following flameless candles are suited to different decor styles and uses, but each one of them is made from quality materials and will provide hours of cozy enjoyment.
This YIWER set of five ivory-colored, flameless candles is an instant ambiance upgrade for the living room, family room, or fireplace mantle. Made from real wax, the set includes pillar candles that are each 2.2 inches in diameter and range from 5.5 inches to 8 inches tall. Each candle comes with a warm-tone LED flame whose gentle flickering creates a soothing and relaxing effect.
Each candle requires two AA batteries (not included) and has an on-off switch on its underside. Once set to “on,” the candles can be operated via the remote control that’s included with the set. Users can use the remote to program the shutoff timer and dim or brighten the LED flames. This set of flameless candles would look just right on a dresser or nightstand or incorporated into a coffee-table or mantle display. YIWER also produces various other sets of flameless candles like these, including some made of a deep-red wax.
Host an outdoor summer party or dress up the tables at a reception or banquet with this budget-friendly set of 24 flameless votive candles from Candle Idea. Measuring 1.5 inches in diameter and 2 inches high, each candle has a flickering LED flame that shines a warm golden glow. The candles are made from flexible plastic and operate on tablet-size lithium-ion batteries (included) that run for an estimated 120 hours. These candles operate with a simple on/off switch on the bottom of each one.
Add rustic appeal to a dinner party or evening at the fire pit with this set of flameless candles from Vinkor, which are designed to look like birch logs. Each pillar candle in this three-pack measures 3.25 inches in diameter and ranges from 4 inches to 6 inches in height. The golden tone of these flameless candles comes from real wax that emits a warm glow when the LED flame is on.
Each candle runs on two AA batteries (not included). After turning the candles on, users can use the remote control to set the candles to remain on for two to eight hours and then turn off automatically. They can also be programmed to turn on automatically. The remote is also handy for turning the candles on and off as a unit and adjusting their brightness levels. Though the LED lights should last for up to 50,000 hours, the batteries will need to be replaced after about 150 hours of run time.
Set the stage for a romantic dinner with these flameless taper candles from Incredle, which are made from real wax for an authentic look. The candles come in sets of two and measure 9 inches tall and 1 inch in diameter. They fit most standard candleholders and can even be used in hanging candelabras and sconces, replacing traditional candles that present a fire hazard.
The tapers look authentic, particularly from a distance, because they have a dripped-wax pattern around the top of the “wick.” The creamy ivory hue of these candles complements formal and casual decor settings alike.
Each candle requires two AA batteries (not included). After turning each candle on, use the accompanying remote control to set a timer that automatically snuffs them out after six or eight hours.
Replace fast-burning tea light candles with Homemory’s realistic-looking flameless tea lights. This set of 12 candles is made from plastic, all with flickering LED “flames.” Each has a straightforward on/off switch on its underside and operates on disc-type lithium-ion batteries (included) that run for 100 hours or more.
Some of the best ways to use these flameless tea lights are in decorative glass holders that will reflect their flickering flames or in luminaries to line a pathway. The safe flames flicker gently from creamy ivory bases that feature wavy “melted” edges, giving them a realistic candle look.
Those looking for a filled-style candle need look no further than Aku Tonpa’s set of three flameless pillar candles set in clear glass-like cylinders. Each candle measures 3 inches in diameter, and the set includes one 4-inch, one 5-inch, and one 6-inch candle. The candle fill features real paraffin wax, and the LED flames are realistic enough to pass as actual flames. Each candle runs on two AA batteries (not included).
When the candles are switched to the “on” position, users can use the set’s remote control to turn the flames on and off, adjust flame brightness, and set a shutoff timer that will automatically turn the candles off after two, four, six, or eight hours. Show these large candles off in a group for a big visual impact, or place them in different areas of the home to create a warm and homey atmosphere.
Add both flickering ambiance and a sweet hint of vanilla to the home with Luminara’s vanilla-scented flameless candle. This real-wax pillar candle measures 3 inches in diameter and stands 7 inches high; its ivory color is the hue of beeswax. Its wavy “melted” top looks like a candle that’s been burning.
The Luminara candle has a timer that can be programmed to a “five hours on, 19 hours off” cycle, which seems the perfect length of time to span dinnertime to bedtime. The user can activate the timer function at, say, 6 p.m., and the candle will shut off automatically at 11 p.m. The candle will come on again the next day at 6 p.m. and repeat the same cycle every 24 hours. The Luminara candle is compatible with the manufacturer’s remote control, although it’s sold separately. The candle runs on two AA batteries (not included).
Embedded fairy lights add a magical touch to this set of five flameless pillar candles from DANIP. In addition to a flickering LED flame, each candle features a string of 12 to16 sparkling fairy lights embedded in the sides of the candles’ genuine wax bases. Each candle in the set measures 2.2 inches in diameter, and the five candles come in graduated heights: 5 inches, 6 inches, 7 inches, 8 inches, and 9 inches.
Each candle requires two AA batteries (not included) and has an on/off switch on its base. Once the candles are switched on, users can turn them on and off from the set’s remote control and set a shutoff timer for two, four, six, or eight hours. The remote also controls the brightness of the LED flames and can change the flame’s look from steady to flickering. The sparkling fairy lights in each candle look magical in darkened rooms, where users can appreciate the full effect of the glittering string lights.
TOFU’s set of three flickering flameless candles will update and complement rooms with country- or rustic-style decor. The bottom half of each real-wax pillar candle is wrapped in hemp cord, giving the set a welcoming, down-home appeal. Each candle is 3 inches in diameter and 4, 5, or 6 inches high.
The candles each require three AA batteries (not included), and the set comes with a remote control. After switching each candle on, users can use the remote control to set up an automatic shutoff after two, four, six, or eight hours and repeat the lighting cycle every 24 hours. The remote can also be used to adjust the flames’ brightness and turn the flickering effect on or off.
The waterproof features of Comenzar’s battery-operated flameless candles make them well suited to outdoor dining or entertaining by the pool. Made from sealed, water-resistant plastic, this set of three candles will survive an occasional splash of water or light rain and come through unscathed. They come in a warm amber hue, and each candle measures 3 inches in diameter. Buyers receive a 4-inch, a 5-inch, and a 6-inch candle in the set. Other sizes and colors (some may not be waterproof) may be available.
Two AA batteries are required for each candle, but they’re not included. Users can turn the candles on and off from the remote control, which is included. An automatic shutoff function will turn the candles off after four, five, six, or eight hours, and the cycle will repeat every 24 hours. The sealed bottom on the Comenzar indoor/outdoor candles prevents moisture from entering the battery compartment, so users can place them on a wet or snowy surface without worry.
FAQs About Flameless Candles
Flameless candles provide a safe alternative to traditional candles, and there’s no dripping wax mess. For those shopping for their first set of battery-operated candles, some questions are expected.
Q. Do flameless candles get hot or catch on fire?
No. The LED lights used to create the candle’s flame remain cool to the touch, even after hours of being on, so there’s no risk of overheating or fire. Flameless candles are safe in places such as bookshelves, where regular candles can present a fire risk.
Q. How do you decorate using a flameless candle?
Group three or more flameless candles together with other items, such as ornaments or a dried arrangement, to create an attractive centerpiece. Alternately, place small votives or tea light-style flameless candles in glass jars or tins with cut-out sides to enhance their reflective properties.
Q. Can you paint flameless wax candles?
Sure you can! Nontoxic acrylic paints are suitable for painting either real wax or plastic flameless candles.
Q. How long do flameless candles last?
The LED light of a flameless candle can last 50,000 to 100,000 hours, depending on quality, but the batteries will require replacement every 100 to 500 hours of use.