When shopping for an electric heater, you have two broad options – space heaters and electric fireplaces. Space heaters generate tons of heat.
They are also more versatile, i.e., can be used in many locations in the home without much trouble. Portable electric heaters, in particular, can be carried around from one room to the next.
Electric fireplaces don’t offer similar flexibility. Even though some are semi-permanent, you can’t carry the firebox from one room to the next as you wish.
However, what electric fireplaces offer is an unmatched ambiance. It’s almost like having a real-life fireplace in the home. This ambiance can dramatically transform your home.
If you’ve been undecided between the pure electric heaters and innovative fireplace models, read on to learn why fireplaces are a cut above and factors to help you identify the best electric fireplace for your home.
Let’s begin with a roundup of some of the best electric heaters that resemble fireplaces. These heaters stand out for their ambiance, range of convenience features, safety, and price, among other factors.
Fireplace Heater Buying Guide
Electric heaters are becoming increasingly popular, for several reasons. First off, electricity is a much cleaner gas than other fuels such as natural gas and propane. It produces zero emissions, making it an excellent energy choice if you genuinely care about the environment.
Secondly, electric heaters are also extremely efficient. Propane heaters, for instance, are only about 80% efficient on average. Even the most energy-efficient models are around 90% efficient.
Paraffin-powered and other heaters are even less energy-efficient. Electric heaters are almost 100% efficient. Many heaters are at least 98% efficient, with radiant models typically rated 99% efficient or higher.
Other than that, electric heaters are;
- Convenient: Electric heaters come in a wide range of sizes, both physical and capacity-wise. It means that there’s always something for every budget. Indeed, many portable electric heaters cost under $100.
- Safety: Electric heaters are also some of the safest heating solutions around. Although they can get really hot, manufacturers typically take steps to make the units safe for use, even in homes with pets and children.
- Simple operation: If you’ve used an electric heater before, you’d also attest to their ease of use. Often, all you need to do is turn on a switch somewhere, and the heater springs into action. When you’re done, again, all you need to do is turn off the switch.
- Ease of maintenance: Finally, electric heaters are also super easy to maintain. Unlike wood heaters that involve fumes and ash or gas heaters that must be inspected regularly for leaks, the electric heater only requires the occasional wipe-down.
Electric Fireplaces an Even more Attractive Proposition
If you’re excited by electric heaters’ above advantages, you’ll quickly fall in love with electric fireplaces.
The electric fireplace is essentially a heater that looks like a fireplace. The majority are interior design elements first and foremost, though many electric fireplaces also double up as supplemental heat sources.
They feature a high-resistance heating element that heats up when current is passed through it. The heat is then blown out of the heating unit and dispersed throughout the home.
Like standard electric heaters, most electric fireplaces also feature a fan or blower system that helps distribute warm air throughout the room.
Difference Between Space Heaters and Electric Fireplaces
However, it’s important to understand the differences between the standard space heater and the electric fireplace.
An electric space heater is a self-contained electric appliance for heating an enclosed space within a building. Typically, the space heater is used to heat a single room as opposed to the entire home.
That’s the main difference between space heaters and furnaces. The furnace is designed to heat the whole house, while space heaters are specifically designed for single rooms.
An electric fireplace is designed primarily to mimic the natural fireplace. The ambiance is the priority here. As such, the dancing flames and crackling wood are much more important than the fire. Indeed, a few fireplaces don’t include the heat option. They only have the flame and ambiance.
From these definitions, you can deduce that electric fireplaces cannot be called space heaters. For one, some don’t even offer the heating option. Secondly, even in those that function as supplementary heaters, heating isn’t their primary focus. Instead, it’s more about ambiance.
Purchase and Installation Costs
Space heaters and fireplaces also vary when it comes to upfront costs (purchase and installation). Space heaters are typically cheaper. Prices for typical electric heaters start at around $15 to $65 for a convection heater fan with a standard metal coil.
However, the prices rise steadily, with ceramic heaters priced between $70 and $250, and rise to several hundred.
It’s also worth noting that many space heaters don’t require installation. However, even where some installation is needed, it rarely costs more than 50% of the heater’s price. As such, you’re likely to pay in the region of $400 to buy and install a space heater.
The electric fireplace is typically more expensive. Prices start at around $255, which is considered mid-range for electric space heaters and can rise to over $1,000 (without installation).
Once you factor in installation costs, the prices rise to $2,000 or higher. Dual-sided fireplaces, some of the most advanced fireplaces in the market, can cost up to $6,000, including installation costs.
Another distinction between space heaters and the electric fireplace is evident in energy consumption. Electric space heaters consume a lot of electricity.
According to Consumer Reports, it costs about $2.82 to keep a space heater running for 16 hours (the average daily heating duration during winter months). This translates to $84.6/month.
Electric fireplaces are much more cost-effective to run. The standard electric fireplace requires 1500 watts to run. If you use it for ambiance only (no heat), then the operating cost ranges from $0.003 to $0.03 per hour, translating to $0.048 to $0.48 for every 16 hours. Therefore, you’d spend $1.44 to $14.4 over a month and $50 to $80 over a year.
The costs go up a little if you use the unit for supplementary heating too. However, it’s still significantly lower than space heating costs.
Safety is a significant factor when shopping for any electrical appliance. Yes, it should be at the top of your list when choosing between space heaters and space heaters. However, the good news is that electric fireplaces, particularly those that don’t function as heaters, are very safe.
These units don’t produce any heat, meaning no risk of burn or hot-to-touch surfaces. Also, the flames aren’t real. It’s merely a reflection projected using LED lights. So, again, there’s a zero risk of burns. Simultaneously, we must mention that electric fireplaces with heat are just as much of a fire hazard as space heaters.
In both cases, the heater can get extremely hot, creating a burn risk for children and pets. Portable space heaters are especially a significant hazard. The electric cables and the fact they can be moved easily makes them a considerable fire risk.
Why Fireplaces Are a Cut Above
You may have already gleaned some advantages of fireplaces from the above discussion. But, here’s what you can expect in summary;
- Incredible ambiance: This is where fireplaces beat space heaters hands-down. The electric fireplace delivers an atmosphere resembling life-like wood heating. From the dazzling flames to crackling wood and life-like fire beds, they instantly transform the home.
- A decorative centerpiece: The electric fireplace in one of the best decorative additions to the home. The units come in many styles, traditional and contemporary, and various finishes, from wood to brick, to match any architecture and interior décor.
- Replace the traditional fireplace: A time comes when you feel like replacing the traditional wood-burning fireplace with a more modern unit. Space heaters cannot replace the charm and attractiveness of a real fireplace. But an electric fireplace insert can.
- Exceptional efficiency: Above all, electric fireplaces are exceptionally efficient. Many of them are rated 99% efficient, meaning that only 1% of the electric power is lost. They are also very environment friendly.
Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Fireplace Heater
If you’re convinced about heaters that look like fireplaces, the following are five key considerations to help you pick the right one for your home;
Several types of heaters resemble fireplaces. These include wall-mounted models that mount onto or recess into the wall, electric fireplace mantels that look exactly like a real fireplace, TV stand fireplaces, and fireplace inserts (with logs). Which type best meets your needs?
Styles and Finishes
Fireplaces come in a wide range of styles and finishes. From sleek, built-in wall units to traditional rustic models, the choice is yours. Traditional models with wood carvings are best for older architectures, while more elegant models with stainless steel finishes work better in modern architectures.
Size and Heating Power
As we mentioned earlier, most fireplace heaters are rated at 1,500 watts. This is ideal for smaller spaces (150 to 300 square feet) if you intend to use the fireplace as your primary heater. However, it’s more than enough if you’re buying it for supplementary purposes.
Modern electric fireplaces feature a range of controls and functions for convenient handling and easy use. Some of the features you want to focus on are flame-only mode, adjustable thermostat, flame speed control, and brightness control. Don’t forget to consider remote control.
Finally, a great heater is a safe heater. So, consider things like overheating protection and cool-to-touch surfaces. Additionally, safety approvals are always a plus. An excellent fireplace heater will bear approval certificates from ETL, the CSA, or UL.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When Should your Use an Electric Heater? Electric fireplaces are the better choice when you need indoor hating. Some fireplaces work as heaters too, yes, but fireplaces are decorative appliances first and foremost.
- When Should You Use a Fireplace? Fireplaces are a great choice when you need a decorative focal point for your home or room. A fireplace (in this case inserts) will also be a great choice if you need to replace an old fireplace.
- Do Electric Fireplaces Heat a Room? Yes. Many electric fireplaces also function as heaters. However, they work best as supplemental haters – not primary heaters.
- Can You Plug a Fireplace into a Regular Outlet? Yes. Most electric fireplaces plug into the standard household outlet. It’s important to check, though, since a few models require hard wiring. Some may also need a 240-volt outlet.
Heaters that Look Like Fireplaces
1. Crane Fireplace Ceramic Space Heater, 750W/1500W with Embers
- UPSCALE: Crane’s ceramic fireplace heater is built with a metal housing that elevates the look and feel of your home. The cool touch feature makes our heater the safer option for households with children and pets by preventing accidental burns.
- QUICK WARMING: Crane’s fireplace heater is equipped with a fan to warm any room in a breeze. The heater has an ember only setting along with two heat settings: an 750 watt LOW setting & a 1500 watt HIGH setting to effectively circulate air and heat.
- OVERHEAT PROTECTION: Crane’s fireplace space heater automatically shuts off if the unit overheats, giving you peace of mind when having it around children, pets, or leaving it on while away.
- WHISPER QUIET: The fireplace heater operates whisper quiet on both heat settings which makes it the perfect option for when you are sleeping, studying, or working.
- COMPACT: This powerful heater's design is sleek and modern, but fits well with any room's décor. It is 7.5" x 12.5" in depth and width, and 15" in height, making it a perfect compact option for small spaces, such as offices, desks or dorms.
- Power source type: Corded Electric
This Model EE-8075BK fireplace heater from Crane is an attractive ceramic element heating appliance designed with a metal housing that elevates your home’s look and feel.
The build material remains cool to touch throughout, making this fireplace heater the ideal solution for families with pets and children.
The unit is equipped with a fan for fast, thorough heating. Two heat settings, Low = 750 watts and HIGH = 1,500 watts, allow you to raise the indoor temperatures to the most comfortable settings.
Additionally, the stove features a flame-only mode that displays the fireplace without the fire. It’s something you’ll especially appreciate in the warmer seasons.
This crane heater is equipped with multiple safety features for maximum protection. An overheating shutoff switches it off if it overheats, while a tip-over shutoff provides safety if the unit is tipped. It’s a whisper-quiet fireplace heater perfect for studying or working.
- Compact, sleek design
- Available in three colors (black, red, white)
- Stays cool to touch throughout
- Multiple safety features
- No mention of warranty
- The fireplace isn’t very life-like
2. CCC Comfort Zone Mini Ceramic Electric Fireplace Stove Fan-Forced
- 2 HEAT OUTPUT SETTINGS: Boasting 1200 Watt of power and 2 heat settings, this mini fireplace heater can warm up and circulate air in medium-sized rooms.
- REALISTIC FIREPLACE AESTHETIC: With a 3D flame and bed of burning embers, this tabletop electric heater offers a realistic aesthetic designed to make your room feel warm and cozy.
- WIDE RANGE OF COVERAGE: With a fan-forced dispersion design, this tabletop heater generates heat and circulates the air to a wide area, increasing the temperature of an entire room in just minutes.
- SUPERIOR SAFETY: Featuring a tip-over switch and an overheat protection sensor for automatic shut off in the case of overheating, this mini fireplace heater is built for safety.
- VERSATILE DESIGN: With a cool-to-the-touch body and a molded top handle, you can easily move this desktop fireplace heater from room to room for convenient heat dispersion where you need it most.
One thing that instantly tells you about the quality of this Model CZFP1 heater from comfort Zone is that it first hit the market in 2011! So, yes, about a decade in the market.
Not many heaters stay that long in the market – it’s the first mark of quality and approval. However, the CZFP1 isn’t just about longevity. The sleek metallic finish and finish make it a versatile solution that can fit many applications.
You’ll also love the electric 3D flame effect and ember bed. The two combine to provide a peaceful, intimate ambiance to compliment any home décor. Since the unit is also very silent even during peak operation, many people consider it for bedroom use.
Several safety features combine to make the CZFP1 the ideal heater + fireplace combo for families with pets and children. These include overheating protection, a built-in tip-over function, and cool-to-touch housing. The unit weighs a paltry five pounds and features a molded handle for easy mobility.
- Realistic 3D flame
- Multiple safety features
- Superior, metallic body
- Ceramic PTC heating element
- Fan-only setting available
- It looks cheap
- Heat isn’t very powerful
3. DuraFlame DFI-5010-01 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Stove with Remote Control
- 5,200 BTU heater provides supplemental zone heating for up to 1,000 square feet to help you save money
- Patent pending 3D flame effect technology features realistic flames that dance on and behind the logs, including five adjustable color, brightness, and speed settings
- The infrared quartz heat helps to maintain the natural humidity in the air, resulting in comfortable heat without drying out the room's
- Overheat protection, heater will instantly shut off to prevent overheating. Volts : 120. Amps : 12.5
- Adjustable, digital thermostat allows you to decide the temperature of your room
DuraFlame makes some of the most reliable space heaters today, and this Model DFI-5010-01 is a testament to their superior standing.
An infrared quartz heater that also functions as a fireplace, it’s a convenient, portable unit that’s easy to move around and safe to use around children. We also love that it gives off a 3D flame effect that’s guaranteed to bring some ambiance to your room.
Key features of the DFI-5010-01 include a powerful heating element that delivers a massive 5,200 BTU and an adjustable thermostat for easy control of indoor temperatures.
The heater is suited for rooms up to 1,000 square feet. The remote control makes it easy to choose the right indoor temperature levels while the layered flame effect creates a truly realistic fire experience.
This stove has five adjustable brightness settings, and the flame and ember bed can operate without a fire. It’s super easy to assemble.
- Powerful 5,200 BTU heater
- Ideal for up to 1,000 Square Feet
- Life-like 3D flame effect
- Convenient remote control
- 1-year warranty
- It’s one of the pricier options
- No smart controls
4. R.W. Flame Electric Freestanding Fireplace Infrared stove Heater
- DIMENSION & PORTABLE: 23.6"L X 13.3"W X 22.6"H; Classic design with steel construction, compact and durable. The traditional and lightweight freestanding 2 door fireplace stove is the best choice for family and daily use. Two heating modes of 1000W and 1500W can meet every heat demand.
- Realistic Flame Effect: Gorgeous realistic dancing flames and burning log design make the effect of true flame of fireplace, which can embellish your room when enjoying the warming. Clear Glasses on three sides give 180 degrees of observation. Any angle is available for enjoying the realistic flame effect.
- Multi-Function: Flame effect can be controlled independent without heating. Thermostat control makes the room temperature adjustable. Flame dimmer control for the brightness of the flame effect. Overheating safe device and 180 degrees of observation
- Effective & Economical Heating: Far infrared heating method make the heating more effective and Speedier. Heating quickly just in one second, and this stove can heat up to the room of 400 Sq. Ft. The heating and capacity factor can be controlled to fit any heat requirement and weather.
- Safety : Overheating safe device will make the stove heater more safety and reliable. Air outlet is designed at the bottom of the stove which can effectively avoid overheating and high temperature hazard of the fuselage. 100% satisfied solution towards any problems of the product.
If you’ve been looking around the internet for a while, you’ll be aware that 3-sided fireplaces are very highly-rated. That’s because they offer the same great view from every corner in the room.
This tabletop unit from R.W. Flame is one such three-sided fireplace. What’s more, it’s a classic design with steel construction for durability.
The two-door fireplace/heater is rated 1,500 watts but has a LOW setting rated 1,000 watts. Thermostat control allows you to adjust the temperature levels to suit your needs.
Meanwhile, the flame effect gives off a gorgeous and dancing fire simulation – clear glass on the three sides offers a 180-degree view. The Flame can work with or without the fire.
This far-infrared heater is very efficient and economical. You’re guaranteed fast heat-up and gentle, healthy warmth.
- Powerful 5,200 BTU heater
- Classic design and durable construction
- Gorgeous, dancing realistic flames
- Ideal for up to 400 square feet
- Overheating protection
- No remote control
- No sound effects
5. Thermomate Electric Freestanding Fireplace Stove with Remote Control
- 【CLASSIC AND COMPACT DESIGN】 Door equipped with copper effect handles, easy to open and close. All edges and frames are precisely designed in a minimalist style, making this black fireplace a perfect match for various styles of home furnishings. Dimensions: 20"Lx11"Wx23"H, weight: 25.8 lb. Easy to move from room to room. It can be an appliance, a night lump, or just a decoration to fill your living room.
- 【HEATING VENTILATION SYSTEM】 Fence air outlet at the bottom quietly, blowing/diffusing heated air from the element underneath without smoke, burning, or dry-out air. As an added benefit, the unit stays cool-to-the-touch and is safe for the elderly, kids, and pets.
- 【3D REALISTIC FLAME EFFECT】 The fire flickering in the electric fireplace diffuses a realistic and pleasant light in the room. Besides warm, it also brings you a pleasant atmosphere of conviviality and romance.
- 【EASY INSTALL & CONTROL】The heating has activated by the control button. The control elements are placed on the back of the door, out of sight but easy to handle. The remote control allows you to change your settings while staying comfortable on your couch.
- 【SAFETY & ECO-SAVING】The overheating protection avoids potential fire incidents. This 1400-watt unit comes with a generous 6-ft. long cord to ensure preferred placement of your choice in space and plugs into any standard household outlet. This unit provides supplemental heat for up to 400 sq. ft., and the quick and easy assembly will get you warm and comfortable in minutes.
Another classic fireplace + heater on the list, but this time a little more compact to fit smaller spaces, the Model EFF203 heater from Thermomate is a minimalist-design black fireplace perfect for various styles and home finishes.
It measures 20 x 11 x 23 inches and weighs a mere 25.8 pounds, making it easy to move around as you wish. A glass door with copper effect handles give it a striking appearance.
The 3D flame effect is just as impressive as the rest of the fireplace. The flickering flame diffuses a realistic and peasant light that generates a pleasant atmosphere of friendliness and romance.
A control panel is available at the back of the door, but you also have the option of convenient remote control without leaving the couch.
This 1,400-watt heater comes with a 6-foot cord for easy installation and use and is recommended for areas up to 400 square feet.
- A realistic log set and ember bed
- Delivers up to 4,780 BTU
- Ideal for up to 400 square feet
- Very quiet at <37 decibels
- CSA certified
- 1-year warranty
- It’s a tad pricy
- No timer function
6. DIMPLEX CS33116A Compact Electric Stove
- Electric stove with 3D flame technology for a realistic-looking fire
- Fan-forced heater distributes 5,115 BTU's of heat; no venting required
- On-demand heat with thermostat control warms a room or area of up to 400 sq. feet
- Flame operates with or without heat and comes with a remote control
- Measures approximately 11-2/7 by 20 by 23-1/8 inches
- Customers may receive an Electralog branded product, which is a former brand name used by Dimplex. Electralog branded versions of the CS33116A are the same products as the Dimplex CS33116A
- The heater draws 13 Amps when on, any other appliances; lights, TV, etc. , plugged in the same circuit in the home, can cause a fuse to blow or circuit breaker to trip on what are usually 15 Amp circuits.
The DIMPLEX CS33116A stove gives you the cozy ambiance of a wood stove but without the maintenance demands associated with real wood stoves.
For one, it comes fully assembled, thus eliminating the need for lengthy installation processes. Secondly, it’s a plug-and-play unit that uses the standard household outlet. This makes your work even easier.
Two other things we really like about the Model CS33116A are the life-like flame and powerful heating element. The 3D simulated fire is located atop a realistic ember bed that gives it the look of a natural, crackling fire.
Meanwhile, the heating is generated by a 1,500-watt element and gives off up to 5,115 BTU, enough for a 12 x 10-foot room.
This freestanding fireplace stove is decorated with a glass pane, piping details, and an operational door to create a truly traditional feel.
- Powerful 5,115 BTU heater
- 3-D ultra-life-like flame
- Comes fully pre-assembled
- Flame-only mode available
- 1-year warranty
- No remote control
- No timer function
7. DONYER Power 14.5-Inch Mini Electric Fireplace Tabletop Portable Heater
- [ Small fireplace parameters ] - Size: 14.5" x 7.87" x 9.76", Net weight: 12 lbs; 120V，60Hz，12.5 A，1500W, heating scope: 200sq ft
- [ Mode select ] - ①Switch 1: the main switch with imitation of real wood fire scene and flame jump (when the internal LED works in the low voltage of 12V) is ornamental and power saving without heating effect; ②Switch 2: 750W low heating; ③Switch 3: 750W low heating (Note: 1500W high heating occurs only when Switch 2 and Switch 3 are turned on)
- [ Safety ] - ①Improper operation such as covers on the air outlet might increase the temperature of internal components when overheating automatic protection is started up and the product will stop working. In this case, please turn off all switches and pull out the plug for several minutes (ranging from 3 to 5 minutes) before reconnecting the power for use;②It is better to keep the warming distance farther than 4.7in
- [ Quality Assurance ] - Long life-span for use with 1 year warranty; it can be used without installation and be operated easily and conveniently
- [ Note ] - It is normal to have some smell for the first use or after long-time storage and the smell will disappear quickly.
Finally, if you’re looking for a modern-looking fireplace + heater unit without breaking the bank, this unit from DONYER would be a great pick.
It’s a small fireplace that combines the essence of classic and modern arts and strikes to optimize results by integrating good appearance and heating. The compact, minimalistic appearance allows it to fit neatly in most small settings, including study rooms and game rooms.
The control panel allows you to control the heating and ambiance with simple buttons. You get to choose from the LOW (750 watts) and HIGH (1,500 watts) settings and can operate the flame alongside the fire or independently. Overheating protection is built into the heater/fireplace for safety reasons.
The unit features a metal body with a glass front and a 6-foot cord for easy operation. It’s recommended for spaces up to 300 square feet.
- Compact, lightweight fireplace/heater
- Powerful 1500-watt heat output
- Multiple safety features
- 1-year warranty
- Best for small spaces, up to 200 square feet
- No remote control or timer
Heaters that resemble fireplaces the perfect source of heating and ambiance in the home. They offer nearly all the traditional wood fireplace benefits, but without the energy inefficiency and burdening maintenance needs (ash, smoke, finding wood, etc.).
If you’ve been thinking about bringing a supplementary heater into your home, you stand to benefit even more from these heater-fireplace “combos.”