Perhaps deciding which of the available electric fireplaces is the nicest is a bit subjective. There are several nice models. But the best electric fireplace is surely one that looks good and also performs well. So which of the freestanding units is best for you and your home? There are some things you need to take into consideration as you make your decision.
Among the things to consider is cost, design, durability and the amount of heat the unit puts out, of course. With those things in mind, I’ve found the model I like best — and you may like it too. I’ve also selected a second choice that’s perfect to use in another room or instead of the model I like most.
Before we discuss these two units, however, let’s consider a bit more about electric fireplaces.
What To Look For In An Electric Fireplace
Let’s be clear that this discussion relates to electric fireplace models that are freestanding and substitute for traditional space heaters, which often have an unappealing appearance. In this article, I’m not addressing fireplace inserts, which go inside a firebox or a brick fireplace that your home may happen to have. This discussion is about units that look like old-fashioned cast iron stoves or modern versions of them.
While there are some very expensive units on the market that sit against the wall and look like fireplaces with mantles and similar features, these often end up looking tacky since they don’t fit snuggly against the wall and don’t convince anyone that they’re really a part of the house. And to add insult, they often don’t put out much heat either.
When choosing a freestanding electric fireplace, look for the following features:
Ease of installation and use. You shouldn’t have to do anything but plug your unit in and adjust the temperature. You shouldn’t need to wire it in or do any installation for a freestanding unit. Units that need wiring aren’t portable and are difficult to take with you if you change homes.
Affordability. Like all types of electric space heaters, you shouldn’t pay too much. When units get into the $250, $300 or even $400 price range, you’re being overcharged. Something in the $100 to $200 range is probably priced right for the needs of the average homeowner. You don’t have to pay more than that to get the quality you need.
Easy placement and moving. The best electric fireplace can go anywhere and be moved with ease. You can even take it with you to another house when you move. If it requires setting up or mounting to the wall, it’s not what you really need. Plus, setup and mounting can damage your home and leave marks if you should ever decide to change or eliminate the heater.
Complete safety. These units are often more stable than other kinds of portable heaters, and they often have great safety features too. Like all units, they should have a contained heat sources and should immediately switch off if tipped. Nothing is more important with any sort of home appliance than safety.
My Favorite Electric Fireplace
For the look of a wood stove, the heat you need and the best possible price, choose the Regal 22 Inch Black Portable Electric Fireplace — available from Amazon. You get the look of a dancing flame inside and an appealing curved design that will fit in just about anywhere. And since this unit isn’t intended to fit snuggly against a wall but instead be out in the room a little, it can become a focal point in the room and a gathering place — just likes stoves are meant to be.
There’s no venting required, and since the unit is all electric and plugs in, you don’t need a natural gas supply in the room. And no real wood means no ashes or messes.
Use this unit if you don’t have central heating in your home or to warm a specific location where you spend most of the time so that you can adjust the thermostat a bit lower and save on your electric bill. The fan force inside the heater really helps bring the warmth out into the room. Turn off the heat on warmer days and simply enjoy the look of simulated flames in the unit.
The design features a black matte finish with a few chrome highlights and remains cool on the outside so it can be used around pets, children and everyone in your family. And since its designed to cover a 400 square foot room, it will work in most areas of your home, including a family room, bedroom or a difficult-to-heat enclosed patio or basement.
And don’t worry: this unit isn’t huge. Its moderate size means you can move it around easily so you can get the most use of it. It’s also as energy efficient as a space heater can be, further helping you keep your electric bill under control. The maker says the cost to run this unit is about 8 cents per hours, and that’s about the same as any powerful space heater.
I think the fireplace effect is fairly realistic too — and it certainly looks so much better than most space heaters since they are often downright ugly. I keep mine in the corner of the living room and it does its job nicely.
Specific features that make me love this unit include:
- Plenty of power for the warmth I need
- A quiet fan that pushes the heat into the room
- A great design that actually improves the look of the room
- A cool exterior that won’t harm children or pets
- Mesh doors for a high-quality look
- Operation without heat for the look of a fire anytime
For A Different Look And Great Performance
If you want a different look but still want one of the best electric fireplace models on the market, I suggest you get a Duraflame Black Stove Heater — also available from Amazon. This is the model I use in my bedroom. Since I have the other model in the living room, I think a little variety is nice.
This model also covers a generous 400 square feet and features a realistic-looking flame effect. The real glass doors that really open add to the high-quality look. And like the other model, you can put it on no-heat mode for visual appeal even during warmer days.
It’s hard to say which of these two electric fireplace models is best, but as I said, I have both. And I’m completely satisfied with both of them too. The warm glow attracts people to these units and the actual warmth means guests often stand right over them. You can’t blame them for enjoying the comfort these great-looking heaters provide.
One advantage of this unit over the previous one is that it’s a bit less expensive — and still performs really well. That’s why I consider it one of my top choice in electric fireplaces.
Tips For Using Your Electric Fireplace
I started this article by pointing out that it’s about freestanding electric fireplaces that work like space heaters, not about wall-mounted electric fireplaces or models that insert into a hearth where a world-burning or gas-powered firebox would normally be. But if you choose the right size and design to match your home, you can use a freestanding unit inside a firebox — as long as it’s complete clean of ash and debris and there’s no gas connection nearby.
Here are some other tips for using your electric fireplace:
Consider how it will be used when you’re not in the room. If you’re using your space heater for direct heat on people in the room to help you save on your power bill, consider turning the unit off when you leave the room. Depending on how cool the weather is, there may be no reason to have any heat at all in a room until someone comes back, especially if no one will be there for several hours.
Make safety your first priority. Although the best electric fireplace models mentioned above remain cool outside and are safe for children and pets, it makes sense to keep paper, curtains and other combustibles well away from these units. They should also be placed where they’re unlikely to turn over even though today’s heating devices usually have auto-shutoff capabilities if the unit isn’t sitting upright. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t overload your home’s circuits. Most wiring arrangements can only handle one electric heater per circuit, so you may need to take how your circuits are divided up in your home into consideration when deciding where to put your electric fireplace. In bedrooms and smaller rooms, there may be only one circuit. Larger rooms may have two circuits and therefore allow you to have two space heaters, if necessary.
When you keep these tips as well as the look of the unit and the amount of heat it generates into consideration as you make your buying decisions, you’re in the best possible position to safely satisfy your home heating needs and desires.
Final Thoughts About The Best Electric Fireplace
Really, it comes down to two favorites in electric fireplaces. One is curved and elegant while the other is square and more traditional in design. And they both look nice enough for me to have in my home.
In many homes, heaters are ugly but necessary appliances, especially if there’s no ductwork for a central heating and cooling system. But there are many choices in space heaters on the market today, and you don’t have to settle for units that look bad. Today, you can choose an electric fireplace that actually improves the look of any room, no matter the design of the room or its furnishings.
Whatever you do, don’t compromise quality for looks. You can have a great looking heater that also performs well. The units reviewed above look great and work great too. What more could you want?