Rather than begin this article with the usual two or three paragraphs of happy talk to set the stage for what’s to come, let’s have a sing-a-long instead: “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping…..” Mel would be proud.
Now that the mood is set for a fireside chat, or a chat about firesides, let us begin.
In 2012, the most recent year available, a survey done by the Hearth, Patio, & Barbecue Assoc. determined that: ”36 percent of homeowners said their fireplace or stove was a major factor in choosing to purchase and/or live in their current home”.
In other words, 36 % of those surveyed couldn’t wait to start hauling firewood, cleaning up the mess, inhaling harmful airborne particulates and, most disurbing of all, watching 80-90% of the heat generated by their wood fire go up the flue.
(Just for reference, if your oil fired furnace was only 20% efficient it would be the equivalent of paying $23 a gallon for heating oil at today’s prices.)
The alternative to this wood burning madness is the clean, emission free, 100% efficient heat from an electric fireplace.
If you haven’t seen the latest models of electric fireplaces you’ll be impressed by the level of workmanship and surprised by the realism of the new LED powered flame displays. Long gone are the cheesy flame displays consisting of some christmas tree lights hidden behind a tumbling aluminum cylinder.
A model and style for every room in every home
Electric fireplaces come in numerous models and styles. Here’s a quick overview of the most common model types to give you an idea of the decorating possibilities.
Traditional mantels Traditional mantels, as they’re called, are modelled after the classic wood burning fireplace and are what most people envision when they think of an electric fireplace. These traditional models are classified as large, medium and small according to the width (facing the fireplace) of the mantel.
Large mantes have a width of 56” or greater. Medium size is 45” to 55’ and small mantels are 36” to 45” in width.
Compact fireplaces Compact fireplaces have a mantel width of 35” or less and include the Amish style fireplaces with casters for for easy mobility.
TV stands - media centers Now you can integrate your TV and electronics with an electric fireplace console that includes built in wiring channels to keep things neat.
Corner fireplaces Corner fireplaces are a possible solution to limited placement options. Depending on the brand name, the corner models are also available as TV stands/media consoles to keep your electronic devices organized. Some, but not all ,corner fireplaces are convertible to a flush-against-the-wall standard configuration.
Stand alone firebox - fireplace insert At the heart of every electric fireplace is the firebox. These can be purchased in different sizes and used as an insert for your existing fireplace, as the starting point for your own custom built surround and mantel, or just set on the floor and plugged in.
Built in fireplaces These are designed for recessed in the wall installation. Since they are hard wired to your home’s circuitry you have the option for either 120 volt service (1,400 watts) or 220 volt service (2,800 watts) effectively doubling the heating capacity of a standard fireplace.
Electric log sets Made to resemble burning logs resting in a fireplace grate ,they are used as fireplace inserts.
Wall mounted fireplaces If you have a flair for contemporary decor and want something unique as a focal point, a wall mounted fireplace will satisfy your goals and then some.
Nuts and bolts
The following features pertain to all electric fireplaces.
Heat output The maximum heat output of all plug in electric fireplaces is 1,500 watts or 5100 BTUs. This is sufficient to heat a self contained room up to 400 sq ft or add significant supplemental heat to larger unenclosed spaces. Make sure to check the specifications of each fireplace you look at to make sure it has the heating capacity you need.
Size doesn’t matter Many of the smallest fireplaces offer the same heating capacity as the largest models.
Flame display The flame display operates with or without heat for year round enjoyment.
Remote control The remotes come in two varieties. The first is a simple On/Off. The second type is fully functional and controls all aspects of the fireplace’s heater and flame display.
Warranty Warranties vary according to the manufacturer. Most offer 2 year warranties and on some select models the warranty is in effect for up to 5 years.