Best Electric Fireplaces
The Best Electric Fireplaces of 2017
Electric fireplaces have certainly come a long way from the earliest models decades ago. The bulky, inefficient, fake-looking electric fireplaces of years past have been replaced with not only more realistic versions, but ones that are much more versatile and visually appealing in general.
While electric fireplaces were once more of a niche product, the vast improvements in technology and styling have resulted in a flooded market, making it hard to decide on the best electric fireplace for your home usage.
There are now more electric fireplaces than ever, spanning a wide range of budgets, designs and types. If you’re shopping for one, you’ll quickly realize that there are way more options than you may have initially thought.
We decided to evaluate the best electric fireplaces available, eventually deciding on the best pick for each type so we can pass the information along to you. So, if you're looking for a guided run-through of the most trusted and high-performing electric fireplaces currently available, you’re in the right place.
Below you’ll find our 5 favourite electric fireplaces for the current year, each offering different uses and styles, across some different budget ranges as well.
Having trouble deciding on what electric fireplace you need in the first place? We’ve got you covered there too. Read on to find out how to select the proper electric fireplace, and what you’ll need to go over beforehand.
Why You Should Choose Your Electric Fireplace Carefully
In case you didn’t know by now, electric fireplaces have more variance than ever. Aside from different sizes and looks, there are numerous types that provide different applications, and even different heating methods as well.
While most buyers are considering electric fireplaces for aesthetic reasons in addition to the actual heating aspect, it’s worth noting that not each unit is made equally, and looks can sometimes be deceiving.
If you end up with the wrong size or heating type, you’re setting yourself up for mediocre results that could likely see you wasting your money. And since electric fireplaces are not cheap for the most part, this is definitely something you want to avoid.
Not all fireplaces work the same or offer the same benefits either. It’s important that you do your due diligence prior to buying, to ensure that you get a unit that can heat your space to a satisfactory level, remain safe when in use, and look great too.
Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Fireplace
There are several different aspects you’ll need to go over before beginning your search for a new electric fireplace. Think of the following as a sort of checklist that you can mark off prior to browsing products, even if it’s just the ones further below.
There are three main types of electric fireplaces in which they can be classified. While size, features, and styles may vary, the type is the most important thing you need to decide on first.
Free-standing electric fireplaces are any unit that can simply be placed on the floor, and don’t require being attached or affixed to a wall.
These are often the most decorative of electric fireplaces, and can include everything from entire mantel units, to vintage-styled stove fireplaces.
Entertainment center units are considered a part of the free-standing family, and are increasing in popularity, fast becoming one of the most common types you’ll come across. These units feature the fireplace in the bottom center of the entertainment center, flanked by various shelves, drawers, and of course a spot for a television.
As the name suggests, wall-mounted electric fireplaces can literally be hung on a wall, pretty much anywhere in your home where there is space, and of course some wall studs to support the weight.
The vast majority of wall-mounted units are long and flat, and are often not much thicker than a framed picture. This makes it easy to put them anywhere from along the baseboard in a bedroom, behind a couch against the wall.
Wall-mounted electric fireplaces tend to be the most modern and stylish, as they are basically taking the place of wall art for the most part.
Electric fireplace inserts are mostly intended for use within an actual fireplace, whether it’s still usable or not. While actual fireplaces remain the most popular place to set up an insert, you can also place them in any semi-enclosed space for an instant fireplace experience that’s always ready to go.
Inserts come in two main categories.
Electric fireboxes are small, self-contained units that can either be placed inside a space, or set out on their own. Many of these models have a chimney background behind the fire, giving them a more authentic look when placed inside a real fireplace.
Others have vibrant colors and are intended to be used more as space heaters, with some added flair of course.
Log inserts are actual faux logs without any kind of enclosure around them, and usually placed on top of an andiron, or log grate. This provides an easy way to get the look of a real, open fire, whether placed inside of a fake fireplace like you may find in an apartment, or inside a real fireplace.
These are the most basic forms of electric fireplaces, and offer a good amount of versatility. If you want the look of a real fire inside your fireplace, but don’t want to mess with gas, kindling, real wood, and all of that, log inserts are a great alternative, and can also be removed for the times you want a real fire, if possible.
While some log insert models may be only for show, there are plenty of units available that still emit heat, usually from the andiron portion.
Electric fireplaces offer numerous size choices, making it easier to find a model that is perfect for a particular room or setting.
The actual dimensions of electric fireplaces are largely dependent on the actual type. For instance, a mantel fireplace can be rather large, as it’s intended to be a major fixture in a room. Other mantel models may be anywhere from half to a third of the size.
Wall-mounted units can vary greatly as well. In some cases, you may be able to find multiple sizes in one style, ranging anywhere from 24 inches to 5 feet across. This lets you chose whether or not you want to have a “centerpiece” look for your unit, or merely one that doesn’t demand as much attention.
In terms of heating ability, sizes may not always be indicative of how well a unit can produce heat. There are some small electric fireboxes that can rival the heat output of a large mantel model, it just depends on the manufacturer.
So, don’t buy the largest model you can find, assuming it will heat your entire home or something. (We’ll touch on the heating aspect here in a moment.)
One of the best things about the abundance of manufacturers making electric fireplaces is the sheer amount of styles you can now choose from.
Buyers can select from any number of designs and aesthetics, such as old, vintage-styled electric stoves that have a cast iron look, or sleek, minimal modern wall-mounted fireplaces that feature smooth glass and a brushed stainless steel frame.
The same can be said for everything from mantel units, to entertainment centers, to small electric fireboxes. You shouldn't have too hard of a time finding a model that matches your decor references, regardless of the actual type of electric fireplace you need.
Wattage and Heating Power, and Heating Type
This is where you’ll usually see the most differences among models. For the most part, electric fireplaces are great for helping to heat a room, but there needs to be an emphasis on the word helping.
Electric fireplaces are basically fancy space heaters, even if you have a large mantel unit, or a big insert for your fireplace. The maximum output you’ll find can help effectively heat a room that’s up to 400 square feet in size, but that can sometimes be pushing it. Others can “warm” a room as large as 1,000 square feet.
The more powerful electric fireplaces will generate around 5,000 BTUs on average, which should be enough to provide a noticeable heat boost in a larger room or area. In regards to wattage, 99% of electric fireplaces can plug into a standard wall outlet -- but never use an extension cord.
Smaller units will have smaller heat outputs for the most part, and will often provide as much heat as a medium-sized coil space heater.
In some climates, this may be all you really need. However, if you plan on using it during very cold times of year, know that you’ll need to use it alongside your home’s main heat source as well.
As for heating types, you have two choices. Forced fan units use a fan to blow the hot air out of the vent. The hot air is usually created using heating coils. Infrared quartz units use infrared heat, which warms whatever it comes into contact with, be it your body, furniture, etc.
Infrared quartz models tend to be more energy efficient, and offer a more humid type of heat, which is a better choice for those who may have issues with the dry air forced fan units create.
It’s safe to say that some electric fireplaces are way more fancy than others. Basic models may only have an on/off switch, and basic fire visuals that aren’t so realistic. Others may come with a remote control, sleep timer, alarm, and other features, along with better visuals.
Some of the most advanced units have realistic ashes that will appear to rise up from the logs, and a burning ember effect as well. It’s now common to find units that offer randomized wood crackling sounds too, giving you the closest thing to a real log-burning experience.
The Best Electric Fireplaces for 2017
The following 5 electric fireplaces are our top picks across several different types. We’ve made sure to cover as much ground as we can, giving you our favorite unit for each major category.
Best Electric Fireplace (Overall) - Southern Enterprises Cartwright
If you’re looking for a mantel electric fireplace that offers all of the features you could ask for in a stylistically versatile package, the Southern Enterprises Cartwright is it. The unit provides exceptional heat, realistic flames, and a contemporary design that can complement most decors.
The unit stands at around 40 inches tall, and weighs just under 80 pounds. It’s available in two color choices, giving you a lighter Mission Oak look, or the darker Espresso style with bolder faux-slate tiles. The MDF wood material is very detailed, and gives off a natural wood grain appearance.
The logs use LED lighting, and ensure one of the most realistic fires you’ll see with an electric unit. You can choose between 5 different flame settings as well, which is a good match for the 5 different heating settings, all controlled by a remote. Wood crackling sounds? The Cartwright has that too. You get the full experience.
The heat is provided by infrared quartz, which is pushed out using a forced fan, creating an effective heating aspect that can easily warm a room up to 1,000 square feet. There’s also an auto-shutoff, a child lock system, and a cool-to-the-touch front glass assembly.
Overall, this is easily our favorite electric fireplace. You get the realistic flames and sounds, a highly effective heating unit, plenty of convenient features, and an appealing style as well, The size makes it easy to add to most any room, and you get all of this for just over $500.
Best Electric Fireplace Entertainment Center - Altra Furniture Ameriwood Chicago
The Altra Furniture Ameriwood Chicago is not only one of the best entertainment center electric fireplaces around, it also provides one of the best values. At just over $200, this best-selling unit is simple and versatile, easily supporting a television, while storing accessories and more.
The unit itself stands at around 31 inches tall, and can support 70 pounds of weight, and a 50-inch television. It is made from compressed wood, and displays intricate detailing for a more realistic appearance, with an alluring dark brown color that can match most bedrooms and living rooms.
On each side of the fireplace portion is a glass door covering two shelves, giving you adequate space to store video games, DVDs, and whatever else you see fit. The two slots on top can be used to house cable boxes, gaming consoles, and more.
The fireplace uses LED lighting for a live fire look, with up to 50,000 hours of operation before replacement bulbs are needed. As for heating, you can use the flames by themselves, or use the 4,600 BTU heater that can heat a space up to 400 square feet.
The Altra Furniture Ameriwood Chicago makes it easy to add a little warmth and ambience to a room, while still supporting a television or stereo. It’s simple styling and efficient heating aspect makes it an easy choice for those who want a functional electric fireplace entertainment center, but don’t want to spend too much.
Best Wall Mounted Electric Fireplace - Touchstone Onyx
The Touchstone Onyx is a perfect example of what a modern wall-mounted electric fireplace should be. You get sleek styling, easy installation, efficient heat, several color choices, and a simple design that can complement the look of any space. All of this is available while staying under $350, depending on the color.
The Onyx’s advantage is with its simplicity. Tempered glass and a metal frame, and that’s it. You can choose from different colors, or even opt for a mirrored design. On the inside, the Onyx comes with two log choices; one being skinny logs, and the other being crystals for those who want a different look.
The unit measures 50 inches in length, 24 inches in height, and a little over 5 inches in depth. Weighing just over 46 pounds, it can be affixed to any wall that has studs, and comes with drywall screws and mounts to make the task easier. Installation takes just a few minutes.
The heating element has high and low settings, and is very quiet. Wen on high, you can easily heat a room up to 400 square feet. There are 5 different flame settings, so you can really fine-tune the visuals to match the mood.
The Onyx can be operated with both on-board buttons, and a remote control. There are various timer settings, and an auto-shutoff feature as well.
Those who prefer a centerpiece wall-mounted fireplace will be satisfied with the Touchstone Onyx. Stunning looks, powerful heat, and numerous convenience settings all combine to make this the best wall-mounted unit available for the money.
Best Electric Fireplace Stove - Duraflame 3D Infrared Stove
For anyone looking for a classic stove fireplace look, the Duraflame 3D Infrared Stove is an excellent choice. This unit manages to retain an authentic stove allure, but with all the modern conveniences that come along with electric fireplaces, giving it much more versatility than you’d find with a real fireplace stove.
The design of this unit has all the intricate details of a real stove fireplace. While some may be tempted to go with the classic iron black choice, there are 5 other color choices available, ranging from cherry wood to a bright pistachio. The unit stands at two feet tall, and two feet wide.
The flames can be used with and without heat, and have 5 different height settings so you can match your mood and time of day. The infrared heater comes with a digital thermostat that be be dialed in using increments of 2 degrees. A remote control offers on and off functions, along with flame settings.
The heater operates with 5,000 BTU, so you have enough efficient heat to warm a room that’s up to 800 square feet, with even better results in smaller settings. The unit also comes with a convenient auto shutoff feature, so you can leave it running while you fall asleep without worrying about turning it off.
The size, style, and efficiency of this Duraflame electric fireplace stove makes it an easy and seamless addition to most any part of your home that could benefit from some extra ambience and heat -- and without spending over $200.
Best Electric Fireplace Insert - Puraflame Western
Electric fireplace inserts can sometimes be a bit tricky when you’re going for the most realistic look, while also getting plenty of heat. The Puraflame Western checks off all the boxes in terms of the most important aspects to look for in an insert unit.
The standard sizing of 24 inches high, 31 inches wide, and 8 inches deep makes it an ideal size for most ordinary fireplace spaces, whether they are real, or faux versions. In most cases, you can easily slide it into the space, plug in, and you’re ready to go.
The Western includes 3 different flame settings, with a very realistic low setting that looks like a fire whose logs and embers are close to burning out. Very cool. To complement the flame settings the Western has electronic temperature control for a seamless thermostat experience.
You can choose from either a low 750 watt setting, or a high 1,500 watt setting when you need twice the heat. Both settings are quiet and efficient, and can heat a space up to 400 square feet. An included remote control adds some hands free convenience when needed.
For buyers who simply want a versatile, realistic fireplace insert for their space, the Puraflame Western is the obvious choice You get a quality product in every way, for under $300 total.
We hope you have a much better idea of what to look for when shopping for your future electric fireplace, so that you end up with the right unit for your own specific needs and preferences. A quality electric fireplace is a benefit to any home, and certainly provides years of enjoyment.
Again, we strongly recommend any of the above products as a great addition to most any space. Just remember to revisit the main aspects of what to consider when shopping, and you’ll come away with the ideal fireplace that’s best for your situation.
Do you have any experience with the fireplaces in this list? Be sure to let us know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to read our in-depth reviews for more insight into many of the fireplaces above.