The flames aren’t real. A downside of electric fireplaces is that because they run on electricity the fires inside aren’t real.


This means that an electric fireplace has to generate the look of flames using an array of lights and rotating mirrors (more about how an electric fireplace works here).

Although electric fireplace can look very real, the flames aren’t


    Heaters can be noisy. Electric fireplaces that use conventional fan heaters will use a blower to force the warm air out into the room. These blowers can be noisy depending on the model of fireplace (we have an article explaining more about electric fireplace noise here.)


    Must be located near an electrical outlet. As all electric fireplaces run on electricity they must be placed near an electrical outlet so that they can be plugged in to work. Extension cables shouldn’t be used with an electric fireplace, and we have more information about electric fireplace outlet requirements here.


    Can’t heat a whole house. While other forms of fireplace can in some situations be able to heat a whole house, electric fireplaces won’t be able to.


Electric fireplaces with conventional fan heaters will typically be able to heat areas up to 400sqft, while those with infrared heaters can typically heat rooms up to 1000sqft.


    Can’t be used when electricity is out. Unlike other types of fireplace you can’t use an electric fireplace when there’s no electrical supply currently available.


    Cheaper models can look tacky and unrealistic. Electric fireplaces can be very cheap compared to other forms of fireplace, but the lower the cost of the fireplace the more cheap and tacky you can expect it to look.


While we’re happy overall with our $100 electric fireplace, some bits, such as the fake logs, don’t look too realistic in our opinion.

Electric Fireplace LogsSome components may not look quite so realistic in an electric fireplace


    Many non user-serviceable parts. Many electric fireplaces (including ours) don’t have any parts that we can service or change ourselves if something goes wrong.


If a component has a fault under warranty then the whole unit can be replaced, but if it were out of warranty (typically 1 year long) then we’d have to pay for a whole new electric fireplace.


    Shorter life span. Electric fireplaces are full of moving electrical and mechanical components and so the life span of an electric fireplace can be much shorter compared to other types of fireplace such as wood stoves. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that many parts may not be replaceable or serviceable.


    No real fire sounds. As both the flames and heat in an electric fireplace are generated artificially, there’s no real flame sounds.


However, some electric fireplaces can be bought with optional sound systems to help provide more of a realistic experience, but it won’t be quite the same thing as hearing a real fire.


    No real fire smell. Along with no real fire sounds, an electric fireplace also isn’t able to generate any real fire smells, which can be what helps make the ambience of a wood fire so appealing.