What should I look for when buying an Electric Fireplace? Part 1

There are lots of places to buy an electric fireplace, from online-only stores to big box stores to specialty hearth dealers. Not all electric fireplaces, and electric fireplace sellers, are created equal. There is a lot of misinformation available online and in some stores, and that can mean that some customers are going to end up with the wrong electric fireplace for their needs. That gives electric fireplaces a bad name. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of what you should look for when buying an electric fireplace, to help you make sense of the different products and features. This list will also help you to ask the right questions to get the best information possible.

When buying an electric fireplace, look for a dealer who understands them.

This is critical to getting good information. What percentage of their fireplace business is electric? For many fireplace stores, electric fireplaces are a last resort, sold only when they can’t sell a gas fireplace. It shows in their product selection and their sales approach. Are staff trained on electric fireplaces or are they just order takers? You can ask brilliant questions, but if the salesperson gives you incorrect information, you may never know. Do they have electric fireplaces on display, plugged in and fully operational? Even if you have to order online, it helps if the dealer can go to a real fireplace and answer questions or shoot a quick video for you.

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When buying an electric fireplace, verify the installation options.

Many of our clients want to install their fireplace into a wall or cabinet. Most of our fireplaces can do this. However, we regularly hear from people who have purchased an inexpensive fireplace elsewhere, only to discover that it can’t be installed flush into their wall. Conversely, some people have no choice but to install the fireplace on the wall surface. It may surprise you to know that very few of our electric fireplaces are equipped with wall-mount brackets to allow a surface-mounted installation. However, most of our on-wall linear fireplaces can also be installed in the wall, just to further confuse things. Thinking of adding an electric fireplace outdoors? Only a few are rated for this! Do not assume anything – check the installation manual and be sure. Better yet, ask a knowledgeable fireplace dealer who has experience with electric fireplace installations.

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When buying an electric fireplace, learn about the warranty and service.

Most reputable electric fireplace manufacturers offer a 2-year warranty on parts; some of these warranties include labour in the first year. The minimum warranty period among our fireplace models is 1 year, and the maximum is 5 years, including parts and labour. More importantly is the fact that all reputable, brand name electric fireplace manufacturers make parts available for longer term service. Most of our customers are going to be installing their fireplaces into custom walls or wall units. It would be extremely inconvenient and expensive to have to replace the fireplace if it stopped working. The availability of parts allows us to service our clients’ fireplaces long after they are installed. We are often asked what the difference is between higher-priced electric fireplaces and less expensive fireplaces. The answer is quality and the availability of parts. Unbranded electric fireplaces have little or no warranty, and there are no parts available to service the units if they break down. Your only option is to remove them from the wall and hope you can find a replacement to fit the same opening.

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When buying an electric fireplace, listen for excessive noise, in person or in reviews.

A properly functioning, well-made electric fireplace should be virtually silent (unless it happens to come with crackling sound effects.) Flame rods should move quietly inside the unit, and the heater blower should not be distracting. Yes, you will hear the heater blower, but some are virtually silent, and the good ones will not interfere with normal conversation or watching TV. Blowers may have higher settings that push out more air, and thus produce more noise, but this is usually a temporary setting and can be turned down. If the blower is always noisy, or the fireplace is squeaky, look for a better model.

When buying an electric fireplace, look at the flame quality.

When you buy a TV, you compare picture quality. Likewise, when you buy a fireplace, compare flame quality. Not all flames are created equal; some look more realistic than others. Speaking of realistic, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; if you prefer more intense red flames, be sure the electric fireplace you buy has that option. If you like the flexibility of changing flames from blue to orange to yellow, and multi-colours in between, be sure to ask about that feature. Once you install the fireplace in your home, it’s the flames you will focus on, so make sure you’re going to like what you see.

When buying an electric fireplace, find out about heat output.

Yes, most electric fireplaces have heaters. The flames on an electric fireplace may be operated with or without the heater turned on. If your room is warm and you want to enjoy a fire without generating any heat, you can do that. In some cases, you can run the heater without the flames, which is handy if you need to keep a particular space at a steady temperature even when you’re not there. The maximum heat output on an electric fireplace is limited by the power it draws; most fireplaces that connect to a regular 120 volt outlet can produce up to 5000 BTUs of heat, enough to warm up a 400 square foot area. However, not all electric fireplaces are wired to take advantage of this maximum, and they have lower heat output. Then there are some electric fireplaces that can connect to 240 volts as well as 120 volts. The 240 volt connection provides more power to the heater, so the fireplace can heat up a larger area. If you don’t think you will need the heater, then the actual output may not matter to you. If you plan to use the heater, then be sure to get an electric fireplace that suits the size of the area you are heating. If heat is important to you, be sure that your fireplace is thermostatically controlled, like your furnace; you can set the temperature you prefer, and the fireplace will cycle the heater on and off to keep you at that setting.

 

Stylish Fireplaces knows that adding a fireplace to your home can be challenging. With an electric fireplace and their NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialists, it’s easy to create a space you’ll love to share with family and friends. Check out all the options and connect with their experts for help to find the perfect electric fireplace for you. You’ll live stylishly ever after. 

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