Your home currently doesn’t have a fireplace or wood-burning stove. You want one. It is not that you are necessarily looking to supplement your heating system, you just like the aesthetic of a fireplace to improve the ambiance of your home. Should you invest the time and money to build a genuine fireplace, or should you go with something artificial? More to the point, are electric fireplaces too tacky to even consider?
An electric fireplace is essentially a space heater designed to mimic the look of a genuine fireplace. They come in all sorts of styles, ranging from the traditional fireplace to the wood-burning stove. They also offer a variety of price points. Some are fairly cheap while others will set you back quite a bit.
Deciding whether or not to invest in an electric fireplace is really about deciding what you’re after. You have to consider:
- Where you will place it
- How much heat you want from it
- The overall aesthetics of your house
- How much you are willing to spend for realism.
This last point is critically important. Simply put, the most realistic electric fireplaces cost the most. If you are willing to spend a ton, why not consider having a genuine custom fireplace built instead? Salt Lake City’s Modern Craftsman says that customer fireplaces don’t have to be as expensive as you might think.
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How Electric Fireplaces Work
The functional aspects of the electric fireplace are pretty basic. Electric fireplaces have internal healing coils that convert electrical energy into heat energy. Heat is radiated into the room through some sort of reflector panel. Some models also include blower fans for better radiation and air circulation. It is important to note that the heating element would work even if the artificial flame did not exist. They are separate components.
Speaking of artificial flame, modern electric fireplaces simulate combustion using LED lights and sophisticated screens. But again, this is where you get what you pay for. The cheapest electric fireplaces offer anesthetics commensurate with their price. You can tell the flame is fake without even trying.
On the other hand, there are some high-end electric fireplaces you really have to look long and hard at to tell they aren’t real. They utilize highly sophisticated electronics that, for all intents and purposes, create a lifelike digital image capable of fooling most people.
There Are Other Options
Your desire for a fireplace doesn’t have to be thwarted simply because you think electric fireplaces are too tacky to consider. There are other options. For example, have you heard of the gel fireplace? This is a real flame fireplace that burns gel rather than wood. It is the same kind of gel that caterers use to keep food warm on buffet lines. Despite being real flame, gel fireplaces still don’t require a flu or chimney.
Another option is a gas fireplace. With a gas model you get a real flame even though you are dealing with fake logs. Gas fireplaces do need flues to vent deadly carbon monoxide. Still, they don’t require nearly as much construction as a traditional wood fireplace. They require only a comparatively small ventilation system.
In the end, you may be forced by circumstances to either go electric or have no fireplace at all. That being the case, just remember that you will spend more for a more realistic model. If you want, you can hire a company to build a custom fireplace box, complete with mantel, and then place an electric insert inside. You get the look and feel of an ornate fireplace with the convenience of electric.