The Best Electric Fireplace Inserts Offer All of the Charm, None of the Ashes
And the faux flames actually give off warmth.
Published Jun 14, 2022 11:51 PM
Reading up on Domino’s shopping guides is like having your own personal product concierge. We do the tedious part—deep-dive research, hands-on testing, and tapping experts for advice—so all you have to do is hit “add to cart.” That’s why we call them Simply the Best.
There are plenty of reasons why an electric fireplace insert may make more sense for you than a traditional one. You might rent, live in a tiny apartment with a nonfunctioning fireplace you can’t update, or reside in an area that restricts open flames. Modern functions like automatic shut-off or simple electric plug-ins have us living in the golden age of electric fireplaces. Or maybe the style just fits best for your stage of life—we’re looking at you, folks with pets, babies, or particular landlords.
Whatever your reason, there’s never been a better time to be in the market for something sleek and flame-free (and often small-space– and DIY-friendly). Read on for our picks for the best electric fireplace inserts.
- Best frameless: EcoSmart EL40 Electric Fireplace
- Best extra-wide: Faroe 72-Inch Electric Fireplace
- Best classic fireplace feel: Modern Flames Redstone Slide-In Electric Fireplace
- Best value: Touchstone The Sideline Recessed Electric Fireplace
- Best realistic: Real Flame Jayden Electric Fireplace
Best Frameless: EcoSmart EL40 Electric Fireplace
Chamber height: 15.5 inches | Chamber width: 57.2 inches | Chamber depth: 11.5 inches | Easy install: Yes | Programmable thermostat: Yes
What we like:
- Customizable flames
- Wall control switch
- Zero-emission heat source
- Comes with decorative glass rocks
Why we chose it: Inspired design sure to transform any space.
If safety’s your top concern—right after a minimalist silhouette—this is the electric fireplace insert for you. LED technology and a frameless design (think: edge-to-edge flame presentation) pair with multiple heat options—no heat, 2,500 BTUs, or 5,000 BTUs—for clean-lined aesthetics mixed with customizability. And zero clearance means that the design can be framed by the material of your choosing—so it’s a win in both the pragmatic and design categories.
Best Extra-Wide: Faroe 72-Inch Electric Fireplace
Chamber width: 72 inches | Chamber depth: 8 inches | Easy install: No | Programmable thermostat: Yes
What we like:
- 5 flame brightness levels
- Multiple heat settings, from 62 degrees Fahrenheit to 82 degrees
- Thermostat turns off when desired temperature is reached
- Can’t be recessed into a wall
- Only comes in black
Why we chose it: If heat is what you’re after, this extra-wide fireplace has you covered.
At 72 inches wide, this fireplace makes a statement in any room—and throws off serious heat, too. The best part? Once the desired temperature is met, the fireplace’s thermostat shuts off. Those serious about the visual effects of their faux fire will be happy to learn that orange, red-orange, white, blue, blue-white, and multicolored flames are available here.
Best Classic Fireplace Feel: Modern Flames Redstone Slide-In Electric Fireplace
Chamber height: 18.5 inches | Chamber depth: 10 inches | Easy install: Yes | Programmable thermostat: No
What we like:
- Easy to install
- Customizable with your own trim
- Limited heating options
- Less-than-realistic flames
Why we chose it: An affordable, universally appealing electric fireplace insert.
Designed for easy installation, this fireplace slides into any existing zero-clearance fireplace or wall with a 10-inch depth. You can choose a premium overlay—hammered bronze or hammered black—that matches your space best, and even add round stones, customized by color. Some users might find the lack of exact temperature control frustrating, though anyone looking to upgrade a preexisting fireplace or opening will be thrilled by just how easy installation can be.
Chamber height: 21.5 inches | Chamber depth: 5.5 inches | Easy install: Yes | Programmable thermostat: Yes
What we like:
- 3 flame colors
- Heat timer option
- Only 2 heat options
- Only for recessed wall mounting
Why we chose it: This sleek fireplace is an easy addition to any recessed wall.
Let’s say you’re looking to spend under $600 to add a fireplace and transform your space. If you don’t need anything hyperrealistic or ultra-sleek but like the idea of turning the fireplace on with or without heat, this is the one for you. Sure, there are only two heat settings, but with the option to set a timer for as little as 45 minutes, you’re looking at instant coziness on a serious budget.
Best Versatile Pick: Real Flame Jayden Electric Fireplace
Chamber height: 22 inches | Chamber depth: 5.5 inches | Easy install: Yes | Programmable thermostat: No
What we like:
- Plugs into a standard outlet
- Multiple heat and flame-color settings
- Can be hung on a wall or recessed
- Less-than-realistic flame
Why we chose it: A classic option for those looking for flames without bells and whistles.
Coming in at 49 inches wide, this electric fireplace insert is a fabulous option for those in the market without an extensive list of must-haves. Installation is as simple as plugging the unit into an electric outlet. It can even be hung on the wall, no recessed opening needed, and the heat can be turned off so fires can be enjoyed all year long. The fireplace comes with two filler options, so you can choose what fits best with the rest of your decor.
How We Chose These Products
When we set out to choose the best electric fireplace inserts on the market, we prioritized three things: ease of installation, safety, and, of course, design. In our opinion, a great fireplace checks all three boxes. Reading reviews of installation stories gone wrong was a good start. Tapping designers to get their opinions on what makes a fireplace covetable from the design POV was next. And making sure that the electric fireplaces we selected came equipped with features like automatic shut-off or timers also played into the equation.
Our Shopping Checklist
According to Cathy Purple Cherry, owner of Purple Cherry Architects in Annapolis, Maryland, finding the best electric fireplace begins with defining your personal design goals. Want something realistic? “Look for units that are a minimum of 12 inches deep, potentially have a back mirror, and offer a wide range of control in order to influence the flame’s brightness, color, and flicker speed,” she advises. Plus keep an eye out for “a more realistic-looking wood log set” to make the fire look more authentic.
And for shoppers keen on something a little more modern? “There are some 6-inch-deep, very long modern units that allow for the removal of the glass front, so you can instead substitute a black mesh. The use of mesh instead of glass eliminates the potential glare that can happen against the glass face, ultimately providing a more brilliant light show,” Cherry notes.
Keep heat-output type in mind when you’re shopping for your faux fireplace. Do you want a design that offers warmth or just looks good? There’s no need to emit heat to keep things cozy; many options on the market allow you to enjoy the ambience of a fireplace with or without heat.
“You should also explore the smartphone app that comes with the fireplace,” says Cherry. “The more visual elements you are able to control and to what extent (the flame’s brightness, color, and flicker speed) will ultimately give you a better and more customized end result.”
Size, Installation, and Ventilation
Keep in mind the width and depth of the fireplace you choose, Cherry advises, as this dictates how your fireplace fits in the space. And chances are, if you’re emitting heat, it’s a good idea to consider ventilation for your fireplace. Questions about whether it’s safe for your rental? Double-check with your landlord or building. And hiring a professional to install the piece safely is always recommended.
Just because you’ve opted for the safer option in an electric fireplace doesn’t mean you can put your feet up just yet. You don’t have to worry about gas leaks or flames, sure, but it’s important to always unplug or properly turn off the unit when it is left unattended.
Q: How can I make my electric fireplace insert look realistic?
Try adding a surround in wood, stone, marble, or tile. “We also look at the shape of the coals or the glass that is placed in the base of the unit,” Cherry says. “Coals or wood logs provide a much more traditional feel, while glass feels much more modern.”
Q: How can I make my fireplace look minimalist and avoid anything too cozy or cabin feeling?
Try “picture-framing” your piece by floating it off the ground. Sleek lines around the fireplace keeps things modern. And avoid plaids and steaming cups of hot chocolate for ultimate effect.
The Last Word
Electric fireplace inserts have come a long way since their invention in the 1950s. Our favorite, the EcoSmart Flex Double-Sided Fireplace Insert, happens to be double-sided, boasting a design-element win on top of the comfort only a flame, albeit an electric one, can provide.
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