Electric fires are incredibly versatile and can be installed almost anywhere making them a great alternative to traditional gas or wood fires.
WHAT IS AN ELECTRIC FIRE?
Unlike real fires which require natural gas or the need to burn solid fuel such as wood or coal to produce warmth, an electric fire uses electricity to heat metal coils within the fire to mimic the real thing. The heat is then distributed throughout the room via an internal fan within the fireplace.
Typically, electric fires are placed within conventional fireplaces, plugging into the wall and producing heat as soon as they are switched on. Installation is super simple as you do not need a chimney only a nearby electricity source.
Depending on the model, they can be used as heaters or can be set to only provide a flame effect. The flame itself is created by LED lights and a mirror element that rolls and reflects light producing a highly realistic looking flame.
There are a range of electric flame technology available able to create an array of flame effects from realistic smoke and flames to the ultra modern, multi-coloured flames glowing in blues, purples or pink.
TYPES OF ELECTRIC FIREPLACES
Wall mounted electric fire - a contemporary option that will fit in well with modern decor, as the name suggests, these electric fires are hung on the wall. They are a good choice for those without a wall cavity to put an inset fire or those who simply don't have the floor space. If you want a more streamlined look, you do have to option to build them into the wall. Wall hung electric fires are great if you rent your property as they are not a permanent installation and you can take the fire with you when you move.
Freestanding electric fire - Does not require a wall cavity to access a flue, they can sit flat to the wall if installed with a surround will look like a regular fireplace.
Inset electric fire - Sometimes known as insert fires, require a hole in wall in which to sit, either in an existing fireplace space or specially created wall cavity.
Electric stove - For those who love the look of a wood burning stove but don't have a chimney or the budget to get one, an electric stove is an ideal substitute. They are built from sturdy materials and look just like the real thing. They are usually cheaper than regular stoves and being freestanding, they can easily be moved around.
Radiant bar - seen by some as somewhat retro, they might not always be the most modern in look but they are effective at heating your room.
Electric fireplace suite - For those who don't want to mix and match but instead want a complete all-in-one fireplace solution. They come with a fire and full surround. Depending on the design, you can get ones that installed flat against the wall whilst others require part of the fire to be recessed into a wall cavity.
Basket fires - If you want a realistic open fire look and feel, a basket fire is the perfect rustic fire. Some come with ash beds to add to the realism.
One of the most common effects is the ribbon flame which is created by air being blown into strips of red ribbon that dance and wave to simulate a burning fire. The effect is further amplified by a bulb underneath that gives off a warm, red glow. It is simple but very effective.
For those who are looking for a more minimalist feel, there is ambient glow. The effect is created by a light bulb beneath the fuel bed which scatters light between the loose pebbles of the fire bed.
The most advanced flame technology comes in the form of LED flame effect. The LED bulbs and a rotating mirror create the look of a real fire. Some even have sound elements to add to the air of authenticity.
The choice of fuel bed for your electric fire will really help sell the complete look.
The two main types are coal/logs and loose pebbles:
Coal or logs are the classic choice for a traditional, realistic fireplace. Some electric fires come with loose logs so you can arrange them however you like while others have pre-moulded bed that are put into position.
Pebbles are definitely the more contemporary option - they come in a variety of shapes and colours making it easy to switch up the look of your fire whenever you like. You simply place the loose, natural pebbles into the grate or bowl and enjoy.
Some fireplaces may feature an interchangeable fuel bed. They are usually supplied with both styles so that you can change them as you like for a different look.
BENEFITS OF AN ELECTRIC FIREPLACE
If you are still undecided about which type of fire to purchase for your home, we want to help and take some of the guessing out of your decision.
Here are some of the pros to owning an electric fire:
No installation cost - you simply plug in and go
An on/off switch means you get heat instantly
No service cost - they are cheaper and easier to maintain
They are very easy to uninstall and change if you re-decorate and fancy a change. Or perhaps you are moving and want to take the fire with you.
100% efficient - no heat is lost up your chimney
You don't need a wall cavity - with the correct surround, you can install your electric fire flat against the wall
No risk of toxic fumes if installed incorrectly
Finally, cost - electric fires tend to be more affordable than other fireplaces.
And now for the cons:
Due to the fan within the fire, there will be a slight noise.
For safety reasons, heat output is usually capped at around 2kW.
They won't work without power so if there is a power cut in the winter you will be without heat.
They are generally more expensive to run than gas fires.
Whilst an electric fire is the safest fire you can purchase, there are still a few safety tips to keep in mind. You can read more about electric fireplace safety here.