Electric fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular and for a good reason. They provide the heat needed to warm the home while also providing a sense of ambiance – without the hard work associated with wood fireplaces.
Moreover, you get to enjoy life-like flickering flames that mimic a real fire’s charm, with some even allowing the user to change the flame’s color to suit the mood or season.
One incredibly popular electric fireplace solution is electric fireplace log sets. Electric log sets are cost-effective, easy to install, and even easier to maintain. Moreover, they give you almost everything you’d want from a real fireplace.
If you’ve been thinking about getting an electric fireplace, this guide should help you understand why log sets would be the right choice. We’ll also discuss tips to help you choose the correct electric log set.
What’s an Electric Fireplace Log?
To understand electric log inserts, you need first to understand electric inserts. Electric fireplaces can be grouped into four main categories – wall-mounted, built-in, mantel fireplaces, and inserts.
- Wall-mounted fireplaces: These are simple fireplaces that hang on a wall or recess into the wall for a low-profile integration.
- Built-in fireplaces: These models install into a framing (usually a 2 x 4-inch frame is provided) with an extended depth to accommodate the firebox.
- Mantel fireplaces: These are standalone fireplaces that come complete with a mantel/TV stand. They don’t need any installation.
- Insert fireplaces: Inserts slide right into an existing fireplace. Electric fireplace inserts provide an economical alternative to traditional gas and wood fireplaces.
Now that you know about electric fireplace inserts, log inserts are two types of inserts, the other type being electric firebox inserts.
Firebox inserts look just like built-in fireplaces. They are typically square or rectangular and fully enclosed for safety reasons. There are two styles – plug-in and built-in.
Plug-in models plug into the home’s standard electrical outlet, while built-in models require a bit of installation work.
They feature a glass front that encases either a realistic log set or contemporary glass ember bed and vent from the firebox’s top.
Log inserts are not very different, but the distinctions are easily visible. As the name suggests, they comprise a 3-D log set with a base and a rear projecting flame effect.
Depending on the model you choose, the unit can project the flame onto the fireplace’s back or have a built-in backplate. In both cases, the design helps create a realistic flame appearance that sets the log insert apart from firebox inserts and other electric fireplaces.
Most electric log inserts feature a fan-forced heater that can serve as a supplemental source of warmth for areas up to 400 square feet. It’s important to remember, however, that some log inserts don’t have heaters.
They only offer the dancing flame image for decoration purposes. Nearly all modern log inserts are remote-controlled.
How Do Electric Fireplace Logs Work?
Electric fireplaces function more or less like electric heaters. They feature metal coils that heat up to generate heat. The heat is then blown by a motor blower or fan into the room. Some models also use infrared radiation to heat objects in the room, including you, directly.
As for the flame, the units feature a refractor system that reflects light from an LED bulb to create a life-like flicker and flame. Several electric log inserts also feature a device to emit a crackling fire sound similar to the ones you’d hear when burning wood. This, too, helps make the experience more life-like.
The heat is usually more than enough to serve a small room (up to 400 square feet), though the fireplaces work best as complimentary heaters. They can produce up to 4,000 BTUs.
The good news about the heat, however, is that it’s nearly fully contained. Thus, very little is lost. Most electric log inserts retain 99% or more of the heat, which is excellent compared to other fireplace models that lose up to 50% of the heat.
Advantages of Electric Log Inserts
Although you have dozens of option when shopping for electric fireplaces, log inserts stand out for the following reasons;
- Easy to install: This is one of the main reasons homeowners love electric log inserts – they are straightforward to install. Since most of the units arrive pre-assembled, you can quickly complete the installation on your own in under an hour. What’s more, nearly all log inserts plug into a standard 120-volt household outlet.
- Replace existing masonry: As the world moves toward environment-conscious heating options, more and more people choose to do away with traditional wood-burning fireplaces. The electric log insert provides an excellent, clean-energy replacement for existing wood fireplaces.
- Low operating costs: A flame-only electric log insert costs about 0.003 to 3 cents/hour to run, depending on the size. Overall, you can expect to spend $50 to $100 per year to run the unit. The operating costs go up a little if you choose to use it for complementary heating. But still, it’s very cost-effective.
- Adjustable flame and flame color: Do you feel like the occasion would be better with an orange flame, or perhaps you need a less intense flame? Modern electric fireplace log inserts give you significant control over these two areas. Even better – you can change the settings from a remote control device!
Factors to Consider When Buying an Electric Fireplace Log Set
There are four key factors to consider when buying an electric log set. These are style/finishes, size/heating capacity, features, and safety.
Electric fireplaces come in an array of styles. Traditional style models are designed to fit the architectural styles of yesteryears. But, if your home is a modern architecture, you may want to consider sleeker, more contemporary options for that trendy vibe.
Aside from architectural style, another thing you want to consider is the fireplace finishing. Ideally, you want a log set that complements the material and finish of the existing fireplace. For instance, if you have stainless steel surrounds, then a more minimalistic design would be a better choice.
Most log sets are rated between 750 and 1,500 watts (for low and high settings, respectively). This wattage range is best suited to small to medium-sized spaces in the 150 to 400 square-foot range.
This is why log inserts are perfect as complementary rather than primary heaters. However, they can still work as a primary source of heat in small spaces such as dens.
For these reasons, it’s advisable to consider how you intend to use the log insert before making the purchase. If you want to use it as a decorative fireplace, with the heat output, not a significant factor, even a low-wattage unit would be sufficient. However, if you need the heat, make sure to evaluate your wattage needs.
The best electric log inserts are laden with convenience features. For instance, a great model will have a flame-only setting that you can use during the less cold months for the ambiance.
You also want flame control settings to choose a flame speed and flickering depending on your immediate needs. Flame control may also allow you to adjust brightness.
Two other factors to consider are adjustable thermostats and remote control. Adjustable thermostats make it possible to switch between various heat intensities to save energy.
Remote control, meanwhile, allows you to make all the controls we’ve discussed here from the comfort of the sofa. You don’t need to get up to change the brightness or heat intensity.
Finally, although these inserts are some of the safest fireplaces around, you can never be too careful. For one, consider models that don’t get too hot.
This way, you don’t have to worry about getting burned if you touch the fireplace housing or glass. It’s an incredibly important consideration if you have young kids and pets.
Two other essential safety features overheat protection and safety approvals. Overheat protection automatically turns off the fireplace if it gets dangerously hot.
Safety approvals, meanwhile, are the evidence you need to know that the fireplace is safe for use at home. Specifically, you want to look for approvals from ETL, UL, and CSA.
How to Install an Electric Fireplace Log Set
The process of installing an electric fireplace insert is straightforward. After you’ve tested and verified that the flame, heating, and settings are working correctly, proceed as follows;
- Put a cover plate on your chimney to prevent water from coming in
- Close and seal the damper to prevent drafts and loss of heat
- Install a power outlet. You may need a licensed electrician for this
- Insert the firebox into the fireplace opening and tie it down with brackets (optional)
- Attach the trim or frame to cover the gaps between the insert and the fireplace walls
- Do Electric Fireplace Logs Give Off Heat? Yes, though a few models don’t. If you’d wish to use the unit as a supplementary heater, consider models that give off heat.
- How Long Do Fake Fireplace Logs Last? Electric fireplace inserts last, on average, 20 years. However, you’ll need to replace the light bulbs every two years or so.
- Can I Install Electric Logs Myself? Yes, you can DIY install electric fireplace inserts, especially if you have an electric outlet inside your fireplace. Otherwise, consider professional help.
- Can I Use Ceramic Logs in My Fireplace? Yes, electric fireplace inserts use ceramic logs. You’re free to replace the logs to create a better fireplace view.
Best Electric Fireplace Logs
1. Comfort Glow Model ELCG240 Electric Log Set with Heater
Let’s kick off with this popular Model ELCG240 log set from Comfort Glow. The manufacturer describes this log set as the perfect solution to bring the glow back to the old fireplace.
Its realistic dancing flames are projected onto the firebox wall creating the most life-like ambiance. Even better, it functions as a heater, too, for those cold nights. The heating element is rated at 4,600 watts, which is ideal for a medium-sized room.
The fan-forced log set comes with plenty of useful features. For one, a circulating blower ensures that the heat reaches every corner of the room.
Secondly, the dancing yellow flame effect and glowing ember bed combine to give you the feeling of a real fire. The flame is generated by an energy-efficient LED technology and operates with or without heat.
This log set comes fully pre-assembled so that you can get straight to installation. It is remote controlled and comes with an electric plug (located on the right-hand side) for easy ignition. The heater measures 9 x 22.5 x 13 inches (L x W x H) and is recommended for areas up to 400 square feet.
- Powerful 4,600 BTU heater
- Excellent for mid-sized rooms
- Remote controlled
- No assembly required
- 1-year warranty
- It could do with a stronger fan
- No crackling sounds
2. Dimplex Revillusion Model RLG25 25-inch Plug-In Log Set
The Dimplex Model RLG25 is a 25-inch plug-in electric fireplace log set that creates a highly believable artificial flame.
Bright and vibrant flame effects are projected onto the patented Mirage flame panel set for an enhanced visual display. You can see through to the back of the flame for added depth and realism. The unit also features additional lighting options to highlight the walls of the fireplace.
A multi-function remote is included to conveniently adjust the flame brightness, ambient lighting, and heat settings. You can paint the fire brick black, add coals around the insert, and place a fireplace screen in front of the unit for an even more believable effect.
The heating unit is a 5,118 BTU ceramic heating element that can sufficiently provide supplemental heat for areas up to 1,000 square feet. The fireplace (flame) works with or without the heat for an all-year ambiance.
The traditional-style fireplace plugs into a standard 120-volt power outlet and requires just 12.5 amperes. You’ll love that the logs are placed on a partially frosted acrylic panel. It’s backed by a 2-year parts warranty and a 1-year service warranty.
- Features a 5,118 BTU heater
- Gentles ceramic heating
- Convenient remote control
- Plugs into standard 120V outlet
- 2-year parts warranty
- No crackling sounds
- A bit pricey
3. Thermomate Model EFB233 Electric Freestanding Fireplace 23-Inches
This 23 x 9 x 13-inch log set from Thermomate is also a value-for-money option if you want something practical without spending over the odds.
For one, it plugs into the standard household outlet and sits elegantly in the fireplace to provide a real-fire-like ambiance. Secondly, it’s a gorgeous unit that generates realistic, rolling, and pulsating flames. The LED flame function is designed to allow for flame-only or flame + heat operation.
The log set’s key features include the compact design that allows it to fit all indoor spaces, including corners. It’s also impressively quiet at less than 37 decibels. This is particularly impressive, considering that the unit has a built-in fan that helps blow heat throughout the room.
The remote control allows you to change flame and heat settings effortlessly, while a safety thermal cutoff switch prevents the housing from overheating.
The heater is rated at 1,400 watts (about 4780 BTU) and offers an enviable three-sided view. A 6-foot cord is supplied with the log set for easy installation. It’s also worth mentioning that the unit is CSA certified and backed by a 1-year warranty.
- Powerful 1400-watt heating
- Convenient remote control
- No installation
- Low-noise blower (<37 dBA)
- 1-year warranty
- No functioning doors
- No cracking sounds
4. LIFEPLUS Electric Fireplace Log Set Heater 1,500 Watts
This fast-heating 1500-watt heater log set from LIFEPLUS is another popular unit among consumers. It warms up the room in seconds and is both safe and durable.
The 20.5 x 8.7 x 12.2-inch log set also delivers a realistic rolling, flickering flame for the perfect ambiance during the cold winter weather. The unit is designed to project flames onto the back of an existing fireplace and operated with or without heat.
A remote controller is available for effortless adjustment of flame brightness and heat settings. The log set has a timer that allows you to program the heating to begin 1-2-4-8 hours before you get home. Tip-over safety and overheating shutoff mechanism protect you from unforeseen incidents.
The best thing about this heater, however, is that there’s no installation involved. Take it home, plug it in, set the desired heating level and flame brightness, and you’re ready to enjoy the improved ambiance.
The fan keeps rotating for 30 seconds after switching off the heater to dissipate heat for a more extended log set life.
- Realistic rolling flames
- 1,500-watt heater
- Convenient remote control
- Programmable timer function
- 6-foot cord included
- No mention of warranty
- Extra safety caution required
5. Sunday Living Model IFP606B Electronic Log Set Heater, Insert Fireplace
You may have read that most modern heaters use a 3D flame effect to deliver the realest-looking flames for ultimate ambiance.
This Model IFP606B log set from Sunday Living is one of those heaters. The 3D effect creates an intense-red burning log set with dancing flame effects, creating a cozy and warm atmosphere.
The log set delivers heat, too, via a 1500-watt heating element. The 5,000 BTU worth of heat is more than sufficient for medium-sized rooms.
An overheating shutoff turns the heating element off if a specified temperature is passed. Other key features of the log set include an 8-hour timer and infrared remote control for easy operation.
You can adjust both the flame brightness and heating levels via the remote device. Five brightness settings are available. The log set is ETL rated for safety and requires no venting or gas lines. It measures 21 x 8.7 x 12.2 inches.
- Realistic 3D flame effects
- Adjustable flame settings
- Has an 8-hour timer-function
- Remote controlled for convenience
- ETL approved
- There’s a bit of noise
- Customer support is lacking
6. Duraflame DFI021ARU Electric Log Set Heater with Realistic Ember Bed
Finally, this infrared quartz electric log set from DuraFlame can dramatically change your living spaces when adequately set within the room.
Most prefer to have it in an existing fireplace. This way, you can watch the flames project in the back. The realistic log set and ember bed sit in a black finish grate and generate a life-like rolling flame effect. The flame works with or without heat.
But, you also have the option to use the log set for supplementary heating. The quartz heating element delivers up to 5,200 BTU of healthy radiant heat.
Both the brightness level and heating intensity are controllable via a remote device. The heater is recommended for spaces up to 400 square feet.
There are no hookups or vents needed. Just plug the unit, and you’re ready to go. The owner’s manual and easy-to-follow instructions are included in the package.
It’s important to mention that the model DFI021ARU is one of just a few log sets that come with an adjustable thermostat. The thermostat allows even greater control of indoor heating. An overheating shutoff function rounds off the long list of features.
- 4,600 BTU supplementary heater
- Ideal for rooms up to 400 square feet
- Rolling, pulsating realistic flames
- Adjustable thermostat for climate control
- No cracking sounds
- No tip-over protection
Now that you know about some of the best electric fireplace log inserts, the rest of this guide is designed to help you pick the right one for your home.
The best electric fireplace logs with heat can be just what you need to rekindle the love story with your traditional wood or gas fireplace.
They are gorgeous, easy to install, and produce the ambiance of a real-life crackling fire without the maintenance and other costs associated with wood burning. Above all, these units are extremely energy efficient.
If you’ve been thinking about getting a modern fireplace to take over from the old one, we strongly recommend that you consider one of these.