How Do Electric Fireplaces Work?

Electric fireplaces beautifully showcase advancements in modern technology. At the press of a button, the fireplace ignites, creating a dazzling display of flames and warmth.

The crackling warmth of the flame creates a cozy, welcoming ambiance in any room, effortlessly mimicking real fireplaces without the need for additional fuss.

These fireplaces are convenient and straightforward to operate, but how do they produce realistic flickering flames? To learn how electric fireplaces manage to create such a welcoming feel in any space, continue reading this detailed guide!

A person warming up next to an electric fireplace

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How Do Electric Fireplaces Work?

As the name implies, electric fireplaces run on electricity and use a heating element that mimics the appearance of gas or wood-burning fireplaces.

They pull in cool air, heating it internally with a coil, then gently puffing the warm air into the room again using a circulation fan.

Some electric fireplaces use infrared technology, which directly heats people and nearby objects within a room. The concept generally remains the same, but it doesn’t directly heat the air itself — just like infrared heat from the sun (hint: this is why it always feels cooler in the shade).

There are three primary types of electric fireplaces:

  • freestanding
  • wall-mounted or recessed
  • inserts

Each type serves the same purpose but does so slightly differently, which we’ll get to later.

How An Electric Fireplace Generates Fake Flames

a close up of an electric fireplace’s fake flames

Electric fireplaces can generate fake flames in several ways.

There are three main types of “fake” flames:

  • water vapor
  • chemical
  • holographic

Here is how the different imposter flames compare.

Water Vapor Flames

Although it seems counterintuitive that water could produce a flame, it surprisingly does the trick very well for electric fireplaces.

The water reservoir in the fireplace heats via the heating unit, releasing water vapor. The vapor rises from the heat, and as light hits it, the changing colors make it look like flames.

Of course, the mist isn’t actually fire — it only displays a semblance of the real thing. Albeit not as realistic as chemical and holographic flames.

Chemical Flames

Some electric fireplace manufacturers build their flame impersonation with a chemical agent. In this case, the flames are real, but they fail to match the elegant scorching dance of wood-fed flames.

It works with a replaceable chemical agent can, which is lit inside the fireplace. Fireplace owners and manufacturers can adjust the chemical cocktail to depict various colors, offering a unique variability in color and size.

Holographic Flames

Holographic flames use a state-of-the-art concept. Like MagikFlame’s products, most holographic fireplaces have a base with a stack of logs. The system projects a holographic flame with an LED bulb shined through various reflective surfaces.

In addition, there are lasers that generate holographic flickers, thus creating a detailed mirage of a natural, flickering hot fire.

MagikFlame’s founder created the core of the MagikFlame, managing to develop the most realistic looking faux-flame electric fireplace on the market.

In addition to the ultra-realistic flames dancing within the fireplace, MagikFlame offers crackling and popping noises just like a real fireplace. For a final, well-thought-out touch, the embers flicker, and it emits a distant scent of pine and fire.

How An Electric Fireplace Heats A Room

Friends sitting next to an electric fireplace

Electric fireplaces warm a room using metal coils that are heated by electricity. The system uses a fan to draw in cool air from the room, heating it as it passes over the coils.

Then, the blower motor or fan gently escorts the warm air back into the room.

Depending on the manufacturer, an electric fireplace may also use infrared technology. They utilize a quartz bulb to generate heat and infrared light, radiating the heat into the room.

This technology allows the fireplace to heat occupants in a room directly (instead of just the air). MagikFlame fireplaces use infrared technology, thus allowing heat to emanate into the room — heating people the same way as traditional fireplaces.

Note: Electric fireplaces don’t typically generate as much heat as a central heating system could. They are great supplement heaters, especially for heating the room you spend the most time in.

If you regularly move from room to room, you can take your freestanding electric fireplace along with you– but be careful and don’t let it burn you.

Electric Fireplace FAQ

a person using a remote to control the electric fireplace

Electric fireplaces get a lot of flak by not being a “real fireplace.” However, many are just as good, if not better, than traditional fireplaces.

Since they are still gaining popularity against traditional means, many have questions on how they work and if they’re safe. Since you’re curious, here are answers to the most common electric fireplace questions.

Do Electric Fireplaces Have Real Flames?

No, electric fireplaces don’t have real flames. They create faux-flames that mimic the appearance of real flames in several different ways. 

For a detailed answer, jump above to  “How an electric fireplace generates fake flames.”

Do Electric Fireplaces Use A Lot Of Electricity?

Electric fireplaces use about the same amount of electricity as an average space heater. Generally, fireplaces pull power from a standard 120 VAC household outlet.

They typically draw approximately 1,500 watts at 12.5 amps, which varies by brand and model.

Do Electric Fireplaces Need To Be Vented?

No, electric fireplaces don’t require venting. Since they don’t produce any emissions, they don’t require venting as gas or wood fireplaces.

Are Electric Fireplaces Safe?

Yes, electric fireplaces are safe, especially as an alternative to gas or wood fireplaces.

They don’t actually burn anything, so there isn’t any risk of sparks or fire jumping from the fireplace and igniting something nearby, like a carpet or curtain.

Additionally, they don’t produce heat the same way gas or wood-burning fireplaces do, so there is a much lower chance of burning your hand if you touch it.

With that said, if you touch the outlet area of the heater, it will be hot while the heater is on. However, the main body of the fireplace will likely not be hot enough to burn you when you touch it.

How Much Heat Do Electric Fireplaces Produce?

Generally, electric fireplaces produce enough heat to make a 400 square foot room warm and toasty. This is considerably less heat than a central heating system, which heats your whole home.

Although, fireplaces aren’t intended to heat an entire house anyway.

Infrared electric fireplaces can produce enough heat for a 1,000 square foot room, which is more than double their convection counterparts.

MagikFlame’s electric fireplaces produce about 4,600 BTU, easily heating a 400 square foot space. However, if you leave the fireplace on the highest setting for a while, it can heat an 800 to 1,000 square foot room– which is massive!

A 1,000 square foot room would be 25 by 40 feet, to put things into perspective.

The height of your home’s ceilings will also play a role in how quickly the space heats. Rooms with high ceilings take considerably longer to heat than rooms with standard 9-10 foot ceilings.

Are There Different Flame Settings?

Most electric fireplaces have various flame settings. However, some do not– check the product’s information sheet to be sure.

MagikFlame offers several different flame settings to accommodate different moods: a classic fireplace flame, a campfire flame, or the Phoenix flame. The 30 flames pop and crackle, dancing in the same chaotic movement as real flames do.

Are Electric Fireplaces Customizable?

Yes, many electric fireplaces can be custom-made, but some brands only have cookie-cutter models. Wall-mount or recessed electric fireplaces are usually bespoke because they need to fit into a specifically sized space.

Additionally, manufacturers like MagikFlame have different mantel package options. They offer multiple choices, such as their Neo Cherrywood mantle or the Trinity White mantle.

Some mantle packages are large, making them ideal for homes with extra wall space. On the other hand, they offer a few smaller options that work best in homes with limited wall space.

Can I Mount A TV Above An Electric Fireplace Safely?

Yes, since electric fireplaces don’t vent heat from the top, mounting a TV above them is safe. The heat emanates from the bottom of the fireplace, where the logs are, so your TV will be safe and sound from heat.

Many people choose to mount their TVs atop MagikFlame’s mantels. Otherwise, you can mount your TV on the wall above the fireplace or mantel. Either way, your TV is not at risk of overheating from the fireplace.

Are Electric Fireplaces Difficult To Install?

No, electric fireplace installation is straightforward. Since most electric fireplaces simply require an outlet, installation isn’t tricky– it “plug and play.”

Although some are custom-made to fit into specific furniture or wall slots, installation shouldn’t be too tricky.

What Are The Types Of Electric Fireplaces?

There are three main types of electric fireplaces: freestanding, inserts, and wall-mounted or recessed.

Freestanding fireplaces are precisely as the name implies: they are standalone units and can be easily transported from room to room by the homeowner.

Wall-mounted or recessed fireplaces are mounted or built into a wall or furniture piece. Insert fireplaces can fit into an older existing hearth.

What Is The Best Electric Fireplace?

While there are many noteworthy electric fireplace brands and models on the market today, MagikFlame produces the best electric fireplace available, in our opinion.

The combination of infrared technology with realistic holographic flames, comforting crackling sounds, and the faint scent of a natural fire creates a desirable ambiance.

There is no need to go through the hassle of collecting firewood, taking the time to build a flame, or having a company clean your chimney like you would have to with a wood-burning fireplace. MagikFlame’s fireplaces create the most realistic fireplace to mimic the luxuries of a traditional fireplace without all of the hazards.

Thw Wrap Up

Electric fireplaces are an excellent alternative to traditional wood-burning or gas fireplaces, especially for people with kids or pets.

However, many manufacturers don’t mimic the appearance of a realistic fireplace accurately, thus losing the appealing nature of a traditional fireplace. However, they still look nice.

MagikFlame’s electric fireplaces seamlessly combine infrared technology with holographic flames to create the most realistic electric fireplace available. They offer numerous options to suit any buyer’s tastes, creating the perfect, cozy heating solution for various homes.

About The Author

Jonathon is a mechanical engineer with over ten years of experience in the HVAC industry. He has hands-on experience with all types of HVAC systems.

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