With all things going modern, why should fireplaces be left behind! Indeed, fireplaces have gone from being of brick and mortar to LCD screens and piped sounds of a crackling fire.
But before you write these modern electrical fireplaces off as being flimsy or fanciful, consider the many advantages they have over their older counterparts — they are safer with children or pets about, they do not consume precious natural resources such as wood, they don't require daily cleaning involving quite a bit of mess, they don't smudge or soot your walls, and they can be switched on and off at will.
Advanced models boast of completely realistic flame appearance, smoke, sound of burning logs, and heating systems that mimic the coziness of a real fire.
There are so many different electric fireplaces available today that it's difficult to know where to start. We've subjected them to a stringent selection process, picking the five best while still encompassing a range of styles and budgets.
Here is our shortlist:
Design & Fitting
Appearance is a tremendously subjective area, but actual design quality is something we can all judge. The ease of fitting your electric fireplace is also an important aspect to consider when making your selection.
An electric flame-effect fireplace adds a certain ambience even without any actual heat, but when things turn chilly you need to know your unit will be up to par in terms of performance.
Today's electric fireplaces have all kinds of additional functionality, from things intended to make life easier to features that offer increased safety. We'll help you decide which add-ons are valuable and which you can live without.
As usual with our reviews, we avoid anything that's cheap or of sub-standard quality. Nevertheless, the electric fireplace market offers such great diversity that there are excellent choices to suit all budgets.
The e-Flame Jasper Electric Fireplace is reminiscent of old-fashioned cast iron wood stoves and would fit well in many traditional settings.
Its overall color is a pleasant, soft gray, with the twisted spring-type handles you would expect. Its quality is enhanced by real glass doors, which are easy to keep clean and much more scratch-resistant than acrylics or plastics. The brightness of the flame effect is adjustable and simple to maintain and is lit by two standard E12 40W bulbs.
Despite its solid, heavyweight look, the whole thing is actually under thirty pounds, so it's very portable. To set it up, all you need to do is screw on the legs and plug it into a normal household outlet.
With the AKDY 28" Fireplace Heater Insert, you have something with versatile styling that could suit either classical or modern decor. The large, curved glass frontal area is quite a feature, and the flame effect is nicely set off by the logs and ember bed. Controls can be used to tone down the brightness, and a subtle black surround complements the appearance. If you have an existing standard fireplace, it will fit like a glove - all you need is a standard outlet to plug it into. Owners who bought this fireplace were very complimentary about its construction quality.
A frequent comment from owners of the Calvert Carved Electric Fireplace is that "it looks even better" than they expected! It's certainly the kind of thing that could be a focal point in a room and, given that it only requires a standard household outlet, it's frequently used to add the ambience of a real fire to bedrooms as well as lounges, diners, and dens. Construction is of veneer, but the finish gives a very realistic wooden look and feel.
The mantle is a useful display area, and many owners mount TVs on the wall above it — although it's not recommended to rely on the fireplace itself for support.
At 50 inches wide, the Touchstone Onyx Wall Mounted Fireplace has a sleek, modern appearance that always makes an impact, and even though the frame is quite wide, the "fire" area is still 37.75 x 8.5 inches. The quality look is enhanced by five different flame and log brightness settings, so you can adjust it to suit your mood.
At 39 pounds, it's not difficult to install, and it hangs on its own mounting bracket - although owners did point out that it's important to read the instructions to avoid making the job more difficult than it should be.
The free-standing Dimplex Holbrook DFP4765BW Traditional Fireplace is an imposing piece of furniture. It features a patented 3D flame effect that many of the owners we surveyed find very realistic - something that's often not the case with cheaper electric fireplaces. What's not clear from the pictures is that there is a glass panel that covers the fire area and is designed to protect it and make it easier to keep clean.
Some assembly is required, but it's nothing major; when completed, the dark burnished walnut finish gives the unit a look of great solidity. The mantle provides a useful area for family photos or your favorite decorative items that will enhance your room.
The heating unit of the e-Flame Jasper Electric Fireplace sits underneath the main body of the fire. It is visible but is quite discrete and might be mistaken for an ash box. In terms of power output, it generates a maximum of 1500 Watts, with a choice of high and low power settings for the fan and an independent temperature setting. The manufacturer claims that it can heat a space of 400 square feet, and a number of satisfied owners told us that it may actually range further than that. Some owners did complain about fan noise, but we didn't find this to be an issue at all, so it's likely it was something associated with a particular batch rather than a general problem.
The AKDY 28" Fireplace Heater Insert is another 1500 watt unit, so similar performance should be expected as with the e-Flame. The single-stage fan is adjustable and thermostatically controlled, so it will maintain a consistent temperature automatically. Owners consider it quiet enough not to have any real impact on its surroundings and to produce the warmth they expect.
The Calvert Carved Electric Fireplace is another unit generating 1500 Watts, which is a similar heat output to the e-Flame and AKDY. Indeed almost all electric fireplaces in this price range produce about the same level of heat output. There's a self-regulating heater that cuts off on reaching the desired temperature. The manufacturer says it can heat up to 400 square feet comfortably.
As we've now come to expect, statistics for the Touchstone 50" Onyx Wall Mounted Fireplace are in line with those above. There's a choice of low or high power, with the latter producing a maximum output of 1500 watts, which is around 5200 BTU. One thing to note is that the heat comes from a fan in the top of the unit, which could have an effect on anything placed on the wall above it.
Dimplex makes the same 400 square foot heating claim for the Holbrook DFP4765BW Traditional Fireplace as the other manufacturers do for their models, and although wattage is lower than the rest at 1375 (4695 BTUs), it doesn't seem to bother owners. Heat is once again generated by a thermostatically controlled fan which is very quiet, although some owners wished it was a little more powerful in order to distribute the heat more quickly.
The main feature of the e-Flame Jasper Electric Fireplace is its simplicity. Unpack it, screw on the feet, plug it in, and you're done. It is also the lightest fireplace on our shortlist and is the only one that's practical to move from room to room. Like most flame-effect electric fireplaces, there is a no-heat option - so you can just enjoy the "firelight". Even when the heat is on, the fact that the fan is tucked underneath means the whole thing stays cool and you don't need to keep children or animals away from it.
With the AKDY 28" Fireplace Heater Insert, you have the same flame-only option as the e-Flame, but it can be selected via the handy remote control. You can also set the temperature, the brightness of the flame and logs, and turn the whole thing on and off - from the comfort of your armchair - or even your bed. One owner cautioned us about how annoying it is to lose the remote, but the good thing is that the functions can also be selected from the display on the top right of the fireplace. The only complaint we have is that the beep that accompanies a selection is a bit loud and can take some getting used to.
The only real feature you get with the Calvert Carved Electric Fireplace is that, like the e-Flame and AKDY, you can run the "flames" without having any heat produced. Apart from that, the selling point is really its appearance — owners absolutely love the 3D fire effect, and the carvings on it, though simple, look elegant.
Like the AKDY, the Touchstone 50" Onyx Wall Mounted Fireplace has a remote control. It operates the same list of functions - on/off, temperature, brightness and flame-only setting - but it also adds an auto-off timer that you can set anywhere from 30 minutes (which several owners have used when fitting fireplaces in their bedrooms) to eight hours.
The Dimplex Holbrook DFP4765BW Traditional Fireplace has an almost identical list of functions as the other fireplaces, but - a little surprisingly - the remote can only be used to turn the unit on and off. All other adjustments - like the flame-only option, or heat adjustment - have to be made manually. Most owners don't consider this to be a major drawback, but we think that an electric fireplace of this standard ought to offer a full range of remote controls.
At a current price of $179, down from $240, the e-Flame Jasper Electric Fireplace gives a lot of performance for not a lot of money. If you like the appearance (which will depend on the style of your home, of course), it will give you the same warmth as models costing several times as much. Owners seem to have a genuine fondness for it, and the majority would recommend one to others - which is about as high praise as you can get.
At the moment you can save a small fortune on the AKDY 28" Fireplace Heater Insert. Original pricing is a buck short of $1000, but it's on offer for just $175. Its looks will have an impact on your choice, but this unit probably has wider appeal than the e-Flame simply because it will suit a greater variety of home styles. If the ratings of existing owners are anything to go by, it will prove popular with many potential customers.
The Calvert Carved Electric Fireplace is right about in the middle of the pack, price-wise. The design won't appeal to everyone, but owners with the appropriate decor frequently comment on how real it looks in their home. Some were disappointed Some were disappointed with the quality of the product, but that's as likely to be associated with shipping and handling during delivery as it is with an incorrect installation. Everything considered, at $554, it is a great choice.
You won't get any such visual discrepancies with the Touchstone 50" Onyx Wall Mounted Fireplace! What you will get is a very sleek and stylish unit for $279. It's not easy to be imposing without being dominant, but the Touchstone manages to do just that. While clearly suited to a modern room, we don't think it would look out of place in more traditional surroundings either. Several owners spoke of reading numerous reviews and checking lots of competitors - and all of them report that they are very happy with their final choice.
Brand reputations can be very important, and few companies have a better name for fireplace design and manufacture than Dimplex. It's probably no surprise then that the Dimplex Holbrook DFP4765BW Traditional Fireplace tops our list at a price of $699. What you get for your money is great style and a unit that should last for years. It's not beyond criticism, however, as we were a little disappointed with the lack of precise - or automatic - control that some of the other units offer.
In reducing an initial selection of hundreds to a final list of only 5 products for an in-depth review, we've effectively already chosen the top five models available in the market today when it comes to electric fireplaces.
Picking one as the best electric fireplace on the market is almost impossible given the diversity among the different options. Many of the models are comparable in terms of design, heat output, features, and pricing, and much comes down to personal taste and requirement.
However, choose we must and, in this case, it's a question of opting for the model that we feel offers the most to the variety of choices that the many people have.
We think that's the Touchstone 50-Inch Onyx Wall Mounted Electric Fireplace.
When we compared similar fireplaces from other manufacturers side by side, it becomes easily obvious that the alternatives have the same features but cost considerably more. Its top-of-the-line performance aside, the Touchstone is truly a sight to behold, and it's no wonder that owners have installed it in dens, studies, lounges, and bedrooms - just about anywhere you can think of. Several customers we surveyed were so happy with their first purchase of this unit that they've since bought another - it's tough to beat that kind of customer satisfaction at any price.
In our opinion, all of our final five are very good products for the price. A lot of people will be delighted with the lightweight e-Flame, and just as many will love the elegance of the Dimplex Holbrook.
In terms of finding the best value for money electric fireplace, though, you can't fail to notice the flexibility offered by the AKDY 28" Black Electric Firebox Fireplace.
At its list price of $1000 it would be a different story, of course, but you can't overlook the fact that right now you're getting it at an amazingly unbelievable discounted rate of just $175.
It's a fireplace whose design will fit in a multitude of room styles. Its bright flames, warm glow, and soothing sounds are really great features.
It's got similar heating performance to all other fireplaces we've rated, but it comes at nearly half the cost.
Check other owner reviews and you'll find, like we did, that the most serious complaint isn't about installation, power output, build quality, or anything important; its about a noisy beeper!
At $175, this fireplace is an absolute steal.