Along with corresponding links to other articles this guide has been developed to be the most comprehensive guide to buying electric fires that has ever been created. It is kept up to date, so it remains as relevant today as when it was first written. The goal of the guide is to inform and educate you to make the best possible buying decision you can.
Buying an electric fire can be a daunting decision as there are numerous showrooms, websites and national retailers offering a whole host of different brands, models, styles and flame effects. This guide simplifies this process by showing you the best of what is available
We don’t sell electric fires; therefore, we can offer unbiased advice on the entire market and point you in the direction of the best places to buy the electric fire that most suits your needs.
An electric fire or fireplace isn’t for everyone. Some people’s homes are much more suited to having a gas or wood burning fire. So, which is right for you?
Almost everyone who buys an electric fire falls into one of these two categories:
If you fall into one of these two categories then read on, as it sounds like an electric fire is right for you.
Efficiency is on the tip of so many people’s tongues these days. Because of this, manufacturers in all industries are scrambling to make sure their products are as efficient as they can be. This has had a profound impact on the electric fire market in the last five years.
Houses have become much more efficient with sweeping changes to new home building regulations regarding insulation and general energy efficiency. Older properties are getting new under floor and cavity insulation, new high efficiency boiler systems and new energy efficient double glazing. This all mounts up to homes generally being warmer.
This has changed consumer buying behaviour as people swap old gas or coal fires for electric fires because they no longer need the heat but still enjoy the glow of the fire and the focal point in the room that a fireplace provides.
Because of these changes to people’s needs, electric fire manufacturers have responded with a rapidly growing array of new electric fires that suit the needs and wants of a home owner in 2019.
No longer are electric fires just a second-choice option for those who can’t get or afford a gas fire or a wood burner. Electric fires are now the largest segment of the market and growing the fastest. People are looking for remarkable electric fires to make a statement.
At wowfires.com we specialise in marketing these types of electric fires as we feel the public deserve to know that these fires exist and that local retailers near them can build beautiful fireplaces to complement this new breed of electric fires. You can see our reviews of the latest electric fires here or see a selection of our exclusive fireplace designs here. Alternatively, you can use our retailer finder to find yourself an independent specialist retailer that can help build you that statement fire. Read on to find out more about buying an electric fire in 2019.
Built in electric fires are exactly how they sound; they are always built into a structure. They can be thought of as part one of a two-piece component as they require something to be built round them to be complete. Typically, this ‘Part2’ is a chimney breast (false or real) or bespoke fireplace/surround.
Let’s give you a visual example so it’s easier for you to imagine:
Here we have the Dimplex Opti-myst Cassette 600 (you can see the review of this fire here)
This fire on its own would not look very nice, a black box with all its wiring visible. However, as we explained above, a built-in unit goes into something to make it look pretty. Here’s an example of the Opti-myst Cassette 600 built into our Lewis suite
As you can see, the entire box has been hidden underneath the two-tier hearth with only the logs and flame effect visible.
You’ve probably guessed by now that the main benefit of a built-in electric fire is its versatility. Because it is modular, it can go into any number of fireplace surrounds or chimney breast designs. Really the possibilities are only limited by your imagination, that’s why we’re here to help give you some inspiration. You can find more of our unique designs by visiting our Built in or Electric Suites sections.
Built in electric fires are perfect for those who are looking to create a unique design or to have a real wow factor in their room.
Not for: People who are on a budget of less than a £1000. Typically, the bespoke nature of built-ins means paying more than other types of electric fires.
Wall mounted or wall hanging fires are great for those on a tight budget or when space is of the utmost premium. They are typically the thinnest style of electric fire offering depths of a minimum of four inches. They are most typically found housed within either portrait or landscape rectangular frames like this fire from Gazco.
The Gazco Radiance 80W, like most wall mounted fires, offers a fuss free alternative to the built-in style electric fires. They typically attach to the wall by a mounting bracket like that of a TV. Sometimes they simply even screw into the wall with the help of a couple of rawl plugs. This offers customers the ease and simplicity of choosing an off the shelf product with the convenience of simple installation. However, these won’t offer the same type of wow factor or focal point that you would get with a built-in installation. We would advise you to have a chat with your local retailer to see what is right for you.
Perfect for: Those on a budget within a smaller space, or where the fire is not the only focal point
Not for: Those looking to create a wow factor feature to be the focal point of the room
An inset or insert electric fire as it is sometimes known is a type of electric fire that is partially inset into either a wall, chimney breast or fireplace surround. The inset depth i.e. the part that needs to go into something, is usually three inches deep. The inset part is also generally 16” wide by 22.5” high. This is a standard right across the entire industry. Most fireplace manufacturers build their traditional designs to accommodate these dimensions.
The three-inch space in between the fireplace and the wall is called the rebate. A three-inch fireplace rebate would mean that most electric fires would fit into the fireplace without needing depth into a wall or chimney. Basically, meaning that a fireplace with a 3-inch rebate can fit an electric fire against a flush wall with no building work necessary. There are always exceptions to the rule so always check the inset depth of the electric fire.
Inset electric fires remain the biggest selling style of electric fire by volume. This is mainly because of two reasons:
Inset fires quite often have the reputation of being old fashioned and dull. Thankfully times have changed and there are many more options to choose from than there was even five years ago.
This fire by Evonic is called the Topaz, it has the same inset dimensions I just mentioned. It is simply wider at the front giving the appearance of a much larger fire. Its ‘sister’ fire the Evonic Keppler 22” can be inset into fireplaces just as described giving a much better appearance for those of you looking to upgrade from an older coal/gas/electric model. Find your nearest retailer.
Electric Stoves have become much more popular in recent years due to the popularity of real woodburning stoves. This has led to an increase in those who aspire to have the look of the log burner but without the heat as well as everything else that comes with installing a real one (i.e. the cost of the stove, the cost of installation, the specific building materials needed and the logs to fuel the fire).
Electric stoves are great for adding a simple cosy feeling to a room. This Dimplex stove aptly demonstrates this:
Alternatively, they can be added into a brick or false chimney breast to add a real focal point to any home.
(Pictured – Dimplex Sunningdale Opti-V Stove)
Perfect for: Those looking to replicate a real stove feel but without any of the additional costs and hassle. There are electric stoves at all budgets, so it really is a bit of an all-rounder.
There are many places you can buy an electric fire. We’ll outline the advantages and disadvantages of each below.
Convenience of buying online. Click and collect services. Cheaper. Stores conveniently located.
Narrow product selection. Lower end products. No specialist advice. Lack of bespoke or fitting services.
Free delivery services. Wide selection of products. Cheap to mid-ranged goods
No touch/feel of products. Less high-end items. Lack of bespoke or fitting services. No local after care
Local. Higher quality products. Touch/Feel products. Bespoke design and fitting services. Expert advice. Wide product selection. Local aftercare service.
Can be more expensive. Not available to buy online
Ultimately your unique set of circumstances will govern where you buy from. However, we feel, overall, local independent retailers offer the best all round value. Learn more about us and why we feel you should buy local. Remember you can also use our find a local retailer tool if you think they’ll be worth a visit.
A typical electric fire is made up of two main parts that work independently of each other, the fan heater and the flame effect.
The electric fan heater works in two stages. Firstly, a resistive coil or heating element is rapidly heated by drawing an electrical current from your mains power. Once this heating element has reached its normal operating temperature (usually within a couple of seconds) a fan blows air through the heating coil creating warmed air. This warm air is then pushed into the room creating the feeling of warmth associated with an electric fire.
Electric fires are space heaters. This type of process results in an almost instantaneous heat. Due to the small molecules in air it does not take long to warm, think of a hair or hand dryer as another example of this technology. However, air also cools very quickly resulting in a cooling effect as soon as the electric fire is turned off. This is unlike a real wood burning stove or a gas fire where the surrounding physical objects also warm.
The standard or traditional flame from an electric fire is typically created in the same way, using a combination of a rotisserie, a bulb and mirrored screen. There are various ways these elements are combined to form the flame effect. Typically, the rotisserie is covered in light refracting pieces of mirrored glass that when paired with a bulb underneath reflect light on to the screen. The clever placing, shaping and speed of the light give the impression of a flame to the user who is on the other side of the mirrored screen. For many years Dimplex had a near monopoly on the electric fires market.
In 2019 there is a much wider choice of flame effects for electric fireplaces.
Both Evonic and Gazco have become large market players in the industry producing some of the finest electric fires on the market. Evonic produces it’s eSeries UltraHD fires and Gazco has its new range of Skope fires. Dimplex have also developed the Opti-myst and the Opti-V. Both of which have very different ways of creating an artificial flame.
You can see all these as well as the latest flame effects in our guide – The best flame effect electric fires guide.
You can read more about these benefits by reading our guide 10 Reasons to buy an electric fire or read on to learn more about the pros and cons of owning an electric fire.
Most electric fires in 2019 come with Light Emitting Diodes (known as LEDs) instead of bulbs. These produce a light effect like that of a bulb. They generally have a lifespan of many years meaning they shouldn’t really have to be replaced in the lifespan of the fire, typically around ten years. These LEDs are very energy efficient, with some manufacturers quoting cost to run in pence per year instead of pounds. In any case rest assured you can have the glow on all year round without worrying about the cost.
Electric fires are 100% efficient. This means they output the same amount of electricity in heat as they take to produce it. A typical electric fire in the UK will have a 1kW setting and a 2kW setting meaning if you turn on the 2kW setting it will use 2kW per hour of electricity. In turn, it will also give you 2kW of heat into the room. This is what we mean by 100% efficient as no heat is lost in the process. This is different to gas or Wood burning stoves where even a very efficient appliance will still lose at least 10% of its energy.
Although electric heaters are 100% efficient, they are also the most expensive to run. This maybe sounds a little crazy but it’s simply because electricity is more expensive to buy than gas or wood. A typical UK electricity tariff will be charged at 14-16 pence a Kilowatt whereas gas is typically more like four pence a Kilowatt. This means your electric fire would cost a minimum of 28p an hour to heat your room using the electric fire on high (2kWs of energy). Whereas gas, using the same 2kW, would only cost eight pence an hour. However, this isn’t all bad news for those looking to use an electric fire to heat a room, read on to find out why.
The best time to use an electric fire as a heater is during the warmer months when you don’t need to heat the whole house with your boiler system.
The core use of an electric heater in the UK is to offset cold temperatures in a room for a short period of time. An electric fire can be a very smart way to heat a home for short periods of time when you only need to heat the room you are in i.e. your living room.
An example of this would be a Spring or Autumn night when you feel a little chilly, you don’t need to turn on your boiler system to heat the whole house just so you feel warm in one room. This would be inefficient as you would be turning on an approximately 30kW appliance to heat one room. In this scenario your electric fire can be turned on until such time you feel nice and cosy again.
Another typical example we come across is of someone who comes home from being outside for some time and they find their house is cold. They turn on the boiler system and wait for the house to warm. They go into their living room and feel cold, so they turn on the warm glow of their electric fire and turn on the electric heater housed within. This warms the air rapidly and they quickly feel the benefit of the heat, once the boiler has heated the radiators, they turn off the fan heater and keep the glow of the fire on for comfort and appearance.
On flame effect only mode most modern electric fires are almost silent. If you turn the fan heater on, then due to the spinning motion of the fan you will hear a noise. The amount of noise given off varies quite substantially from model to model and it’s something to check out at a showroom before you buy. Also bear in mind that fans tend to get noisier over time as mechanisms get older or dust gets into the moving parts. However, most people don’t even use their heater so it might not be worth worrying about if this applies to you.
Electric fires are generally regarded as much safer around children than gas or wood burning stoves. Most people use electric fires for effect only and therefore there is no heat risk to the child. Furthermore, there is no real flame to touch and so it is much harder to be burned by an electric fire even when the heater is switched on. The heating element is tucked away behind a grate and therefore cannot be accessed very easily. One thing to think about is that a lot of electric fires come with small coals, pebbles or logs that could be swallowed. If this is a major concern you would be better looking at electric fires behind glass or which have a solid one-piece fuel bed.
And that’s it for now, I hope you have found our ultimate buyers guide informative and useful. Let us know by commenting on social media or leaving feedback via the purple tab on the right.
Best of luck finding the heart for your home,
Co-Founder and Managing Director at wowfires.com.
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