Gas and wood-burning fireplaces require either a vent or a full chimney, making retrofitting one into an existing home a costly and complicated renovation that involves dealing with open flames and exhaust fumes. A more affordable option is an electric fireplace heater. These fireplaces produce authentic faux flames using LED lights and reflectors that create the same feel as a real fireplace. They even include integrated electric heaters that produce up to 5,100 BTUs of heat.
Unlike traditional fireplaces, electric versions don’t produce any emissions or have an open flame, so they can be installed virtually anywhere in the home. Electric fireplaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from inserts that go into existing hearths to stand-alone units that resemble wood stoves to modern flat options that mount to a wall.
This guide examines electric fireplace heaters, shares the characteristics that are crucial to consider when shopping for one, and includes some of the best electric fireplace heaters on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Duraflame 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Stove
- RUNNER-UP: Ameriwood Home Farmington Electric Fireplace
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: TURBRO Eternal Flame EF23-LG Electric Fireplace
- BEST FAUX WOOD STOVE: TURBRO Suburbs TS23 Electric Fireplace Heater
- BEST MODERN: R.W.FLAME Electric Fireplace
- BEST PORTABLE: Comfort Zone CZFP1 Portable Fireplace Heater
- BEST CORNER: Walker Edison Alcott Classic Glass Door Fireplace
- BEST FIREPLACE INSERT: PuraFlame Klaus Electric Fireplace Insert
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Electric Fireplace Heater
Choosing the right type of electric fireplace heater is critical when shopping for one to suit a specific space. There also are many other aspects to think about when deciding which electric fireplace heater is best, including heating power, size, installation, and style.
Electric fireplace heaters come in a surprisingly diverse number of shapes and sizes, ranging from stand-alone models that are easy to set up to more complex wall inserts.
- Similar in appearance to a wall-mounted TV, wall-mounted fireplaces are flat and include brackets that allow them to be attached to a wall. These units allow the user to adjust brightness and even flame color.
- A built-in fireplace fits into a recessed hole in the wall. The surface of the fireplace fits flush to the wall, creating a more modern look than a traditional fireplace. Installation of a built-in fireplace requires a niche to be cut out of the wall.
- A three-sided fireplace mounts to a wall inside a wall niche but extends beyond it to give the fireplace a 3D appearance. This type of fireplace has a cube-like shape that allows the user to view the flames from three sides.
- A two-sided fireplace is similar to a three-sided fireplace; however, the flames are viewable from two sides as opposed to three sides.
- A freestanding electric fireplace resembles a real wood-fired stove. They have a cabinet shape and legs that support the entire fireplace. The flames in these fireplaces are typically viewable from more than one side.
Since electric fireplaces do not create any actual flames, much of their style comes from their ability to create an authentic look. Many accomplish this by using LED light bulbs that bounce light off a refractor that spins to create realistic-looking flames. Most electric fireplaces allow the user to alter the look of the fireplace with controls that adjust the flame size, brightness, and color.
Electric fireplaces come in a variety of different styles and finishes, ranging from sleek and modern fireplaces that fit inside walls to those that resemble a traditional wood-burning fireplace. While there are many different style options, the factory finish on an electric fireplace heater cannot be modified.
Size and Placement
Since an electric fireplace isn’t limited by a chimney or a gas line, it can go almost anywhere in a home. With that in mind, electric fireplaces come in a broad range of shapes and sizes to suit different spaces.
- Space-saving electric fireplaces are integrated with TV consoles or corner cabinets, allowing the user to add the warmth of a fireplace in rooms with little space to spare.
- Stand-alone fireplaces take up more floor space and therefore are better suited to a large room.
- Fireplace inserts that fit inside of an existing fireplace require exact measurements so that they fit cleanly without any noticeable gaps between the insert and the existing hearth.
Unlike electric fireplaces that mimic flames but produce no heat, an electric fireplace heater has an electric heater that goes with it. All types of electrical heaters top out at 1,500 watts, which is the maximum amount of power a heater can use on a 15-amp electrical circuit. A 1,500-watt heater produces 5,100 BTUs (1 watt equals about 3.4 BTUs), allowing it to warm a space up to 150 square feet. These heaters come in three different types.
- An infrared fireplace heater works very similarly to an infrared space heater. Coils inside the fireplace heat up, warming objects around the heater. These heaters provide intense warmth to people in proximity to the fireplace but don’t do as good of a job warming the air in a room.
- A fan fireplace heater blows air across heated coils. This type of heater may not provide the intensity of an infrared heater, but it does a better job of distributing heat around a room. The noise of the fan, however, can detract from the authenticity of the fireplace.
- A ceramic heater creates convection heat by allowing air to flow through the fireplace and over heated ceramic plates before recirculating back into the room. Some models include fans that help circulate the air over these plates and throughout a room.
Since electric fireplaces don’t have a real open flame and don’t produce carbon monoxide from burning wood or gas, they are generally safer than either wood-burning or gas fireplaces. That said, they do carry some risks.
Electric fireplaces do create intense heat, so they are required to have automatic shut-off switches that turn the unit off when it reaches a set heat level to prevent them from overheating. In addition to these safety features, it’s also important to keep furnishings at least 3 feet away from the fireplace and ensure that vents leading into and out of the fireplace are not blocked.
There are some electric fireplaces that come with additional features that make them easier to use while adding enhanced functionality.
- Automatic timers allow the user to set a shut-off time of up to 6 hours or so, after which the fireplace will automatically shut off.
- Flame controls allow for different flame sizes and colors.
- Remote controls are included with many electric fireplaces.
- Cabinet electric fireplaces that double as entertainment centers can support a flat-screen TV and often have shelves and other storage spaces.
Setup and Installation
How difficult an electric fireplace is to install is largely dependent on the type of fireplace and where it will be installed in a home. The following are a few typical types of electric fireplace heater installation and setup.
- A recessed fireplace involves cutting into a wall, and safe installation requires experience with house framing.
- Hanging a wall-mounted unit requires basic tools such as a drill, screwdriver, and mounting hardware.
- A cabinet-style electric fireplace may involve assembling a piece of furniture.
- Fireplace inserts typically rest inside an existing fireplace, but they require careful measurements to ensure the right size is purchased.
Our Top Picks
With so many options on the market, the list below was created to help wade through the available selections. Included are some of the best electric fireplace heaters organized by type. These heaters produce high heat outputs, have authentic-looking flames, and come in different styles to suit varying tastes. One of these may be the perfect fireplace heater for your home.
With its authentic look and powerful infrared heater, this electric fireplace stove is one of the top models on the market. This stand-alone cabinet-style stove is 24 inches wide, 13 inches deep, and 23 inches high. It features a classic wood stove look with realistic logs and flickering LED flame lighting, which can be adjusted to five different brightness settings.
Its powerful infrared heater pumps out 5,200 BTUs, which is enough to warm about 1,000 square feet. A remote control allows the user to control all of the fireplace’s settings without having to get up from the sofa. The Duraflame 3D electric fireplace features durable all-metal housing and comes in seven different colors.
By combining an electric fireplace with a TV console, this model from Ameriwood Home is a unique option for homes with limited space. The fireplace insert is framed by two large wooden door cabinets for storage and a broad cabinet top that can support a large flat-screen TV up to 60 inches. The fireplace insert is 23 inches wide, while the entire console cabinet is 60 inches wide, 15 inches deep, and 30 inches tall.
The heater in the insert is powerful enough to heat a room up to 400 square feet. The fireplace’s settings are adjustable via remote control. The Farmington electric fireplace comes in four different finishes, including black oak, white, natural, and rustic.
A fireplace insert doesn’t have to cost hundreds of dollars. This simple insert converts an existing fireplace into an electric one at an affordable price. It is 23 inches wide, 9 inches deep, and 13 inches high, making it a good fit for many medium-size hearths. An integrated convection heater puts out 4,777 BTUs, which is enough to heat up to 150 square feet.
The heater is controllable via a remote control that allows the user to set specific temperatures and adjust the height of the flames to one of three settings. A programmable timer shuts the fireplace off after a specific amount of time that can be up to 6 hours.
Adding a real wood stove to a living area can be complicated. This electric option from Turbro creates the look and feel of a wood stove fireplace without smoke, ash, or the need for a chimney. Black metal with curved molding and a paned glass door, complete with a heat-resistant knob, give this fireplace an authentic look. LED lights with three levels of brightness create realistic flickering flames and burning embers.
This fireplace is 20 inches wide, 23 inches tall, and 10 inches deep and includes a fan-heater that produces 4,777 BTUs of heat, making it ideal for many medium-sized rooms. A programmable thermostat allows the user to enter specific temperatures via remote control.
With its sleek streamlined looks and adjustable flames, this wall-mounted electric fireplace from R.W. Flame is a fitting option for those with modern decor. With its large size—50 inches wide and 18 inches tall—this fireplace makes a statement in a living room. It also comes with plenty of options, including 12 color choices for both the flame color and flame bed. The fireplace also can be adjusted for brightness.
Vents on the sides release heat from a 1,500-watt fan heater. All of the fireplace’s settings are controllable via its remote control. The fireplace, which has a depth of 3.85 inches, can be mounted to the wall or recessed into a hole. It’s also available in 30-, 36-, 42-, and 60-inch widths.
For those who dream about having a cozy fireplace in every room of the house, this portable fireplace heater from Comfort Zone may be the right pick. Weighing just over 5 pounds and measuring just 9.5 inches wide, 14 inches high, and 6.5 inches deep, this fireplace is easy to transport from room to room via the handle at the top of the unit.
The glass front reveals flames and burning embers to create an authentic live-flame feel. A built-in 1,200-watt fan heater blows heat from the base of the fireplace and is capable of warming spaces up to 175 square feet. A tip-over switch and overheat sensor automatically turn the heater off should it begin to overheat or tip over.
Fill a cold, empty corner with some warmth from this cabinet-style electric fireplace from Walker Edison. This corner TV stand features a fireplace insert that produces lifelike burning logs and flames. A fan heater produces 4,600 BTUs of heat, which is enough to warm up to 400 square feet. The cabinet measures 32 inches high, 20 inches deep, and just over 47 inches long.
It offers plenty of storage with two glass-door cabinets, each of which has three shelves and a shelf above the fireplace. The top of the cabinet has a 100-pound weight capacity, which is plenty of strength to support a flat-screen TV. The Walker Edison Alcott fireplace cabinet comes in 10 different wood-grain finishes.
With its authentic flames and sound, this electric fireplace is an excellent insert option for transforming a wood-burning hearth into a low-maintenance electric one. In addition to LED flames and embers, this insert adds an extra level of authenticity with its six different crackling sounds. It also comes with a wire-mesh guard.
A powerful 1,500-watt heater provides ample warmth for up to 400 square feet. All of the fireplace settings can be controlled via remote control. The insert comes in five different sizes, ranging from 23 to 33 inches wide and 20 to 23 inches tall, allowing it to fit a broad range of hearth sizes.
FAQs About Electric Fireplace Heaters
Now that you know more about electric fireplace heaters, there may be some new or lingering questions. If you have questions about how electric fireplace heaters work or whether they’re safe, then read on for answers to these and other common burning questions about these appliances.
Q. Do electric fireplaces have to be vented?
No. Since electric fireplaces create no emissions, there is no need to vent an electric fireplace as you would a gas or wood-burning fireplace.
Q. How much space do electric fireplaces heat?
That depends on the heat output of the fireplace heater. Most electric fireplace heaters put out about 5,100 BTUs of heat, which is enough to heat about 150 square feet or 400 square feet for supplemental heat.
Q. Are electric fireplaces safe?
Yes. Since electric fireplaces produce no emissions and do not have an exposed flame, they are much safer than gas or wood-burning fireplaces. They also have standard safety features, such as a shut-off switch that automatically turns them off if they reach a certain temperature.
Q. Can you install an electric fireplace under a TV?
Yes. In fact, some electric fireplaces are designed to fit under the TV in a TV console cabinet.
Q. Do electric fireplaces use a lot of electricity?
An electric fireplace uses about the same amount of energy as an electric space heater. Based on the national average of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, it costs about 15 cents per hour to operate an electric fireplace.
Q. Can I paint an electric fireplace?
An electric fireplace unit cannot be painted. The housing of the fireplace heats up, so painting it could cause the unit to overheat or the paint to melt or peel.
Choosing the right type of electric fireplace heater is critical when shopping for one to suit a specific space. There also are many other aspects to think about when deciding which electric fireplace heater is best, including heating power, size, installation, and style. These fireplaces produce authentic faux flames using LED lights and reflectors that create the same feel as a real fireplace, and unlike electric fireplaces that mimic flames but produce no heat, an electric fireplace heater has an electric heater that goes with it.