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The Ultimate Buyer's Guide to Electric Fires

Welcome to The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Electric Fires. 

If you’re considering buying an electric fire, you’re in the right place. This guide is our one-stop resource for everything you need to think about before buying an electric fire. We’re pulling together an array of information covering every aspect of electric fires so you can find answers to all your electric fires questions right here. 

So, let’s start at the very beginning…

What Exactly Is An Electric Fire?

An electric fire is an electric heater that recreates the appearance of a coal, wood or gas fireplace. In the past, electric heaters tended to be quite utilitarian appliances — practical but not very attractive.

Modern electric fires have changed that. By incorporating electric heaters within a fireplace display that includes a flame effect and usually a decorative fuel bed, electric fires have become the perfect focal point for contemporary living rooms.

The flame effects can lead to misconceptions that electric fires don’t give off heat. They do actually create a substantial amount of warmth.

But where electric fires have the edge over many other appliances is that the flame effect can often be used independently of the heater. That means you can use the flames to create a cosy atmosphere very cost-effectively without the need to use the heater.


How Do Electric Fires Work?

Electric fires usually generate heat in one of three ways. The most common way electric fires work is by using a fan heater. An electric current is passed through a metal coil inside the fire. This heats the coil, which heats the air around it. A fan then blows the warm air out of the electric fire and into your room.

Other electric fires have a ceramic plate rather than a metal coil. Electricity heats the plate, which then radiates heat to create a nice, cosy atmosphere.

The final way electric fires generate heat is by using infrared. The fire converts electricity into invisible rays of light that are reflected into the room and heat any objects in their path. This works in a similar way to how sunlight heats Earth.

As for the flames, modern electric fires typically use LED lights to create very realistic flame effects. The LEDs usually give out a soft light with a flickering effect that imitates the look of a real fire. Mirrors inside the electric fire reflect the lights to give a more realistic depth and variety of movement.

How Much Are Electric Fires?

The cost of electric fires varies significantly depending on the design, brand, features and size of the appliances. You can buy an electric fire for just a few hundred pounds or several thousand pounds — it just depends on what you’re looking for.

For example, taking a look at our own product range, a functional, quality electric fire like the Dimplex Zamora is available for less than £300. At the other end of the scale, the eye-catching, panoramic Ezee Glow 72” Media Wall Fire is more than £1,000. And that factors in the measures we take to keep our prices as low as possible — comparable built-in electric fires are being sold elsewhere for upwards of £4,000.

How Much Does It Cost to Run a Flame Effect Electric Fire?

The cost of running an electric fire depends on two key factors:

  1. The heat output rating of the electric fire in kilowatts (kW)
  2. The unit price of your electricity

Electric fire running costs are effectively the heat output rating (which is the number of kilowatts the fire would use if it was switched on for an hour) multiplied by the unit price of your electricity, multiplied by the number of hours the fire is in use.

To give an example of how much electric fires cost to run, let’s take a look at our popular Ezee Glow 50" Celestial Built-In Media Wall Electric Fire. Based on an electricity unit price of 29p per kWh, which is typical at the time of writing, using the flame effects cost £0.00609 per hour and using the 1.4kW heat output costs £0.21 per hour.

For comparison, a typical gas fire with a 4kW heat output would currently cost around £0.28 per hour to run (based on a gas unit price of 7p). That makes an electric fire comparable on heating costs but a far better investment when it comes to creating a cosy ambience as a result of the very low costs of LED flame effects. Many homeowners say the flame effect makes their room feel warmer even when the heater isn’t used, so this can deliver huge savings on heating bills.

Benefits of Electric Fireplaces

There are several key advantages to installing an electric fire in your home. Let’s look at some of the main benefits of electric fireplaces:

Easy installation
An electric fire is very easy to install. At the most basic level, all you need is a plug socket. This means they can be easily installed anywhere in your home without any building work being required. Switch it on and it’s ready to go.

Low maintenance
Using your electric fire is as simple as the press of a button on your phone, remote control or appliance. There is no fuel to buy and load, no ashes to empty and no annual services required. Once an electric fire is plugged in and ready to go, there’s virtually nothing you need to do to maintain it. If you’re short on time – or simply have better things to be doing than messing around with a fire – an electric fire is a very appealing option.

Safety
An electric fire is far safer than other types of fire. The appliance doesn’t get as hot as other forms of heating and there are no real flames, so there is a much lower chance of anyone getting burned. And since no fuel is being burned, there is no carbon monoxide being created, which makes it safer than other types of fire in that respect, too.

No chimney needed
You could be in a basement flat or a penthouse apartment, and you can still have an electric fire. Unlike woodburners and gas fires, there is no need for a chimney because no gases or smoke are created. This sidesteps the need for any construction work relating to chimneys or flues (and means you don’t need to get your chimney swept).

No cleaning
With nothing being burned, there are no ashes to clean up. In fact, there’s little cleaning of any kind to be done. If you opt for a built-in electric fire, even the dust will struggle to find somewhere to settle!

Efficiency
An electric fire is 100% efficient at the point of use. Since nothing is being burned, no energy is being wasted when you switch on your fire. All the energy you pay for goes towards heating your home and none is lost. That makes it the most efficient type of fire available to the user. For comparison, an open fire might be less than 30% efficient.

Centrepiece
Where you place your electric fire is restricted only by needing a plug socket nearby. Since there is no smoke created and only artificial flames involved, you get a great deal of flexibility to create a real focal point in your room. The eye-catching designs of modern electric fires make them the perfect centrepieces in any living room.

Types of Electric Fires

There are several types of electric fires from which you can choose. It’s just a case of picking the right appliance to suit your space and the look you want to achieve. The main types of electric fire are:

Built-in

Built-in electric fires are often — though not always — media wall fires. They can be installed within a recess so that the fire is flush with the wall. This could be a deliberately constructed recess (for instance, in a media wall) or an existing fireplace. 

Front-facing heaters ensure that heat generated comes into the room rather than being lost inside the recess.

Wall-mounted

Similar in some respects to a built-in electric fire (indeed some electric fires come with fitting options for both scenarios), wall-mounted electric fires are designed to be hung or mounted to a wall. This option might make more sense if you are installing the fire on a solid wall rather than a stud wall and want to avoid building work.

Freestanding

Freestanding electric fires stand alone without the need for a fireplace or chimney. Depending on the design, they might be fitted against a wall or on a decorative hearth to create the illusion of a fireplace. In all cases, they are self-contained units that just need to be plugged in to instantly create a functioning fireplace.

Fireplace suites

Electric fire suites are a modern take on freestanding fires. They usually contain a built-in electric fire that is encased in its own ready-made surround and base. The result is that you can quickly achieve the look of a media wall without having to construct a stud wall to house your electric fire.

 

 

Electric stoves

Electric stoves combine the aesthetics of wood-burning stoves or multi-fuel stoves with the convenience of electric fires. Electric stoves are designed to give the appearance of a log burner but create heat using the same technology as other types of electric fires. This means installation is simple and no fuel is burned.

Electric Fire Styles and Features

Along with different types of electric fires, there are also various different styles of electric fire. In fact, electric fires are available in just about every style imaginable and with a wide range of different features.

Depending on your home and décor, you could opt for a modern electric fire or a more traditional electric fire that replicates the look of an open fireplace. Whether you choose modern or traditional you will find fires available with various colour and finish options.

For modern built-in electric fires, you can choose from 1-sided, 2-sided or 3-sided electric fires, depending on how the fire will be installed and the look you want to achieve.

There are also choices when it comes to the fuel bed. Some electric fuel beds mimic a particular fuel type, such as coal or wood. Others use pebbles, crystals or a combination of two or more of all the options we’ve mentioned. Some appliances offer interchangeable fuel beds so you can change the appearance of your fire, while others offer multiple fuel bed colour options.

It’s a similar story with flame effects. Electric fires are typically now LED flame effects but some appliances use holographic flame effects. You can choose electric fires with realistic flame effects or others that offer a wide range of colour options.

4 Things to Consider When Buying an Electric Fire

We’ve run through a handful of the choices when it comes to the style and features of an electric fire. We realise that the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming when buying an electric fire, particularly if you’re new to electric fires.

But once you know the type of electric fires you want and your budget, these key considerations will help to narrow your choice.

1. Size

For freestanding fires and those designed to be inset within open fireplaces, the size is usually dictated by standard fireplace sizes.

For modern electric fires, such as media wall electric fires, sizes typically range from 36” to 72”. It’s just a case of choosing the right width for your space.

2. Heat output

Electric fire heat output is not as big a factor as would be the case for other types of appliances, such as wood-burning stoves. Electric fires typically vary in heat output from 900W to 3kW, with the vast majority falling in the 1kW to 2kW bracket.

Obviously, a bigger heat output makes sense for larger rooms but most households opt for an electric fire with a fairly standard 1.4kW or 1.6kW heat output.

3. Heater direction

Depending on the design of an electric fire, the heater may be facing outwards, upwards or to the sides. This is an important consideration in relation to whether your electric fire is being recessed within a wall as well as what furniture and other items will be near your fire.


In most cases, and certainly when an electric fire is being built in or inset, a front-facing heater is the best option to avoid losing heat and effectively heat your home.

4. Features

What features do you want from your electric fire? There are several options for enhancing the convenience, performance or appearance offered by your electric fire. These include:

Remote control

Do you want a remote control? Many electric fires do come with remote controls, but some don’t. It can be a nice luxury to be able to turn the fire on and off or adjust settings, from the comfort of your sofa. You will have to decide how important that option is to you.

Flame and fuel bed settings

Are there particular flame effect colour settings or fuel-bed colour settings you would like? There are a wide range of different flame effects to choose from. The best flame effect for your requirements will depend on whether you want a flame effect that is as realistic as possible or as eye-catching as possible. Do you want to be able to change the colour of the flames? Do you want to be able to automatically cycle through different flame colours? Do you want to be able to change the colour of the fuel bed? All of these options are available.

Heat settings

Other features available on electric fires give you extra control over heating your home. Many appliances offer multiple heat settings, while thermostats and programmable timers are all features available in some electric fires.

 

What Are The Most Realistic Electric Fires?

We’ve been selling electric fires for more than 30 years and over the years we have seen an incredible improvement in the quality and effectiveness of electric fire flame effects. There are now some fantastic options when it comes to choosing the most realistic electric fires.

For electric fires, the Ezee Glow range includes several appliances that typify a realistic electric fire. Ezee Glow’s LED flame effect uses the very latest technology and a wide choice of options to create flames that flicker and dance just like a real fire.

When it comes to electric stoves, ACR appliances are also among the best flame effects. Using a 3D holographic projection, the ACR range creates a highly realistic flame effect enhanced by a realistic log effect fuel bed.

Where to Buy Electric Fires

The best place to buy electric fires is online. You get a level of choice when buying electric fires online that is hard to replicate in a brick-and-mortar electric fire shop. You also get the convenience of being able to shop from anywhere. A wide selection of videos and photos helps to give a comprehensive overview of each electric fire. 

We only sell our electric fires online. Not having a showroom helps us to keep our overheads down. We can then pass those savings on to you by keeping our prices lower.

How to Fit an Electric Fire

Electric fires are probably the easiest type of heating appliance to install. The installation process will vary depending on the type of electric fire you’re installing. Let’s take a look at the electric fire installation process.

1. Choose a location for your electric fire

Finding a spot that is near an existing plug socket will remove the need for any electrical work to be carried out and avoid the use of extension leads or power strips.

2. Decide the type of installation

  • For wall-mounted fires - Find the studs in your wall to ensure secure mounting.
  • For built-in fires - Build or prepare a recess to match the fire’s dimensions. 
3. Install the fire
  • For wall-mounted fires - Attach the mounting brackets to the wall, ensuring they’re level, then mount the fire on the bracket and secure it as shown in your manual.
  • For built-in fires - Slot the fire into the recess and secure it as shown in your manual
  • For freestanding fires - Place the fire on a flat surface in your preferred location.
4. Connect the power supply

Plug the fireplace into the socket making sure to follow any specific guidance from the manufacturer. Test the fireplace to make sure it is working properly.

5. Add the final touches

Complete the electric fire installation by adding any decorative features, such as the fuel bed, frames and glass panels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to some of the questions we are asked most often about electric fires.

 

Explore our electric fires

That concludes our Ultimate Buyer’s Guide to Electric Fires. Now you’re up to speed with all the key considerations of buying an electric fire, see the full range of electric fires available at Gr8Fires.

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