The 6 Best Electric Fireplaces of 2022, Tested and Reviewed

Our favorite is the Costway 20-Inch Freestanding Electric Fireplace because it provides substantial heating in a compact and visually appealing package.

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Unlike unsightly space heaters, electric fireplaces can add both warmth and a cozy ambiance to any home. Plus, they make a safe, cost-effective, and low-maintenance alternative to traditional wood-burning fireplaces, which require constant attention and upkeep

To find the best electric fireplaces, we tested 23 popular models in our Lab and evaluated each on its setup, heating performance, design, safety, and value. For expert insight, we consulted Ben Kolo, owner of Mr. Electric of Central Iowa, a Neighborly company, as well as Kasee Smith, lead designer at Havenly

“Electric fireplaces are a smart way to supplement heat in individual rooms,” says Kolo. This is in part because using electric fireplaces as supplemental heating is both cost- and energy-efficient, “since other parts of the home might be left cooler while the room(s) with electric fireplaces are the only places being warmed up a little bit,” explains Kolo. 

Our top pick is the Costway 20-Inch Freestanding Electric Fireplace, because it can provide substantial heating during the winter months and it’s small enough to carry from room to room as needed. It also comes with numerous safety features, a realistic flame display, and a reasonable price tag.  

Here are the best electric fireplaces, according to our in-depth testing.

Best Overall Electric Fireplace

Costway 20-Inch Freestanding Electric Fireplace

5
Costway 20-Inch Freestanding Electric Fireplace

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a powerful yet compact electric fireplace that is easy to move and store.

Who it’s not for: People who want an electric fireplace with a large heat range or people who want an infrared fireplace. 

This fireplace isn’t going to serve as the primary heating source in your home, but it does deliver substantial warmth in a small package that can easily go from room to room. Our testers were impressed by the heat output on this little unit—the heat could be felt from up to 4.5 feet away. Note that this fireplace uses convection heating as opposed to radiant, or infrared, heating, so it’s designed to circulate warm air throughout the room. 

Additionally, the Costway fireplace has very realistic flickering flames that are visible on three sides of the unit. You can even turn the flames on without operating the heating function, should you still want the ambiance during the warmer months. It comes with an easy-to-use control panel directly on the unit, which features three different controls: a power button, a heat power button, and a temperature control dial that can go from 68 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In terms of safety, this fireplace comes with overheat protection and remains cool to the touch on top, so you can place objects on its surface without running the risk of burns or hot surface ignition fires. Plus, it comes with CSA Group certification, which ensures that it’s been tested against rigorous standards. It’s constructed with sturdy steel, and it did not tip over when bumped into during our Lab tests. 

Overall, this is an effective and straightforward electric fireplace available at a very reasonable price point. We recommend it to anyone looking for a source of supplemental heating that can easily go from room to room. However, if you prefer the more direct heat of fireplaces that use radiant heating, you may want to choose another model on our list. 

Price at time of publish: $146

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 20 x 11 x 23 inches
  • Weight: 17.5 pounds
  • Heat Type: Convection 
  • Heat Output: 4,777 BTU
  • Coverage: 160 square feet 
  • Power Rating: 1,400 watts

Best Budget Electric Fireplace

Turbro Suburbs TS17 Electric Fireplace Stove

4.6
Turbo Suburbs TS17 Electric Fireplace Stove

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want a no-frills, freestanding electric fireplace for small spaces.

Who it’s not for: People who want an electric fireplace that could easily be mistaken for the real thing. 

This Turbro electric fireplace heater is comparable to our best overall pick, but at a more affordable price point. Our testers say they could feel the heat of this unit from up to 5.5 feet away, noting that it has an impressive heat output for its size. At just 13 pounds, it's the lightest of all the fireplaces on our list, so it can easily go from room to room to keep you warm during the winter months.

Like the Costway, this fireplace has flames that can be turned on separately from the heat, and the unit comes with three simple controls: a power button, a heater control button, and a temperature dial. However, the temperature dial doesn’t allow you to set the fireplace to the exact temperature—instead, it indicates which direction to turn the dial in order to get more heat (similar to how you would adjust the temperature on a shower faucet). 

It comes with a number of safety features, including overheat protection that shuts off the unit when the temperature gets too high, as well as a cool-to-the-touch surface (the heating element is located on the underside of the unit). It’s CSA certified, too. 

Our testers described the flames as “fairly realistic,” although we’re doubtful they would be mistaken for the real thing. Overall, this affordable unit is a great option for adding a little warmth and ambiance to a small space. One tester says, “I could see it making a small den, apartment, or perhaps a bedroom more toasty and cozy.”

Price at time of publish: $110

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 15 x 9 x 18 inches
  • Weight: 13 pounds
  • Heat Type: Convection 
  • Heat Output: 4,777 BTU
  • Coverage: 400 square feet 
  • Power Rating: 1,400 watts

Best Splurge Electric Fireplace

Real Flame Silverton 48 in. Electric Fireplace

4.9
Real Flame Silverton Electric Fireplace

Target

Who it’s for: People who want an electric fireplace with a mantel that can act as the focal point of a room.

Who it’s not for: People who are not in a position to spend a lot on an electric fireplace. 

The Real Flame Silverton Electric Fireplace adds the feel of a real wood-burning fireplace to any room that might not otherwise have one. In our Lab tests, the heat produced by this fireplace could be felt at an impressive 11.5 feet away, and the manufacturer claims it has enough coverage to accommodate up to 1,000 square feet. It uses radiant heating to instantly warm you and other objects in the room, much like a real wood-burning fireplace would do. And given the lifelike look of the flames, you’ll leave guests wondering whether they’re real. 

This fireplace also stands out for its endless customization, which includes four flame adjustment settings, five flame brightness settings, and six flame colors (orange, red-orange, white, blue, blue-white, and multicolor). And like the previous models on our list, the flames can operate without the heat function, so you can use this fireplace no matter the temperature outside. To adjust the temperature, you can switch the thermostat to one of six temperatures, ranging from 71 to 99 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also choose from various timer intervals ranging from 10 minutes to nine hours. All of the settings can be adjusted using the touch-screen panel on the top corner of the display or the included remote control. 

As this unit uses radiant heating and not convection, it has a very quiet operation. Additionally, it features an automatic safety shut-off and overload protection, and it’s CSA certified. The electric firebox is surrounded by a solid wood construction, including a mantel with a contemporary look that can accommodate up to 30 pounds. Given the size and design of this unit, setup is a bit more involved, so you’ll likely do best if you have a helper. 

Price at time of publish: $720

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 48 x 13 x 41 inches
  • Weight: 101 pounds
  • Heat Type: Radiant
  • Heat Output: 5,100 BTU
  • Coverage: 1,000 square feet 
  • Power Rating: 1,500 watts 

Best TV Stand Electric Fireplace

Walker Edison Glenwood Highboy Fireplace TV Stand

4.6
Walker Edison Glenwood Rustic Farmhouse Glass Door Highboy Fireplace TV Stand

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want an electric fireplace that doubles as a storage furniture piece.

Who it’s not for: People who have difficulty assembling furniture or people who want an electric fireplace with a remote control.

This two-in-one fireplace and entertainment center is guaranteed to make your living space more inviting. In our Lab testing, the convection heating could be felt from up to 7.5 heat away—making the distance between the TV and the couch no issue. And the modern wood finish and glass doors make it a statement piece you’ll be proud to have as the focal point of the room. 

The controls on this fireplace are simple—there’s an on/off switch for the flames and another for the heat. Unfortunately, this unit does not come with a remote control, which is a big miss considering that it’s designed to be used in conjunction with a TV. And there’s only two settings—with heat or without—so it’s not the most customizable option. 

Considering the size of this piece, assembly is a little involved, and testers spent two and half hours setting this piece up from start to finish. But once it was built, testers found that it felt sturdy and well made. We also found the amber glow of the flames to look realistic, too. Plus, it’s CSA-certified.

This is not the most customizable nor the most advanced out of the electric fireplaces we tested, but if you are already in the market for a new TV stand, this one pulls double-duty at an amazing value. 

Price at time of publish: $529

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 58 x 16 x 24 or 32 inches
  • Weight: 120 pounds
  • Heat Type: Convection
  • Heat Output: 4,600 BTU
  • Coverage: 400 square feet 
  • Power Rating: Not listed

Best Electric Fireplace for Heat Output

LifeSmart Infrared Faux Stone Fireplace

4.2
Lifesmart Infrared Faux Stone Fireplace

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who want an electric fireplace with a mantel that will provide infrared warmth to a large room. 

Who it’s not for: People who want a more realistic display. 

This electric fireplace uses radiant, or infrared, heating to directly heat people and objects in just minutes. We found that the heat produced by this fireplace could be felt from up to six feet away, and according to the manufacturer, it provides enough coverage to heat a 1,000-square foot room. 

You can either use the buttons directly on the unit or the included remote control to adjust the thermostat to your desired temperature, cycle through the different flame settings, or set the timer. In our Lab tests, there was a noticeable difference in temperature when we adjusted the heating settings, which cannot be said for many of the fireplaces we tested. Once the fireplace has reached the programmed temperature, it will automatically stop generating heat. Other safety features include a safety lock button that locks the control panel, overheat protection, and a tip-over safety switch. This model is also Intertek Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) certified, meaning it’s been proven to be in compliance with North American safety standards. 

While the faux stone surround and dark oak-stain mantle add a sophisticated look to this piece, we did find the flames to look a bit artificial. But depending on your needs, the heat output may more than make up for this. 

Price at time of publish: $350

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 30 x 11.2 x 25.5 inches
  • Weight: 60 pounds
  • Heat Type: Radiant
  • Heat Output: 5,300 BTU
  • Coverage: 1,000 square feet 
  • Power Rating: 1,500 watts

Most Realistic Electric Fireplace

Real Flame Foster Stove Electric Fireplace

4.5
Real Flame Foster Electric Stove

Amazon

Who it’s for: People who like the rustic design of an old-fashioned stove heater.

Who it’s not for: People who have difficulty assembling furniture or people who prefer infrared heating. 

Designed to resemble an old-fashioned stove heater, the Real Flame Foster Electric Stove is as functional as it is charming. The piece is designed with mission-style glass doors and glass side panels, as well as a faux chimney. It uses convection heating to warm up to 1,000 square feet, and this heat could be felt from up to 4.5 feet away in our tests. But what impressed us most about this fireplace was its ultra realistic flames. One tester says it has “the most realistic flames I have seen for an electric fireplace.” 

The control panel is located directly on the unit and includes a power button, a heat power button (so you can use it with or without heat), and a temperature dial with four different thermostat settings: 68, 77, 86, and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Testers note that there was a definite difference in the feel of the room temperature on each setting. 

It also includes an automatic shut-off when the temperature gets too high and comes with a sturdy build that didn’t budge in our tip-over testing. Plus, it’s CSA-certified. Unfortunately, the installation process was somewhat of a chore and our testers had real issues installing the faux chimney. 

Price at time of publish: $696

Product Details:

  • Dimensions: 25 x 15 x 56.5 inches (with chimney)
  • Weight: 42 pounds
  • Heat Type: Convection
  • Heat Output: 4,700 BTU
  • Coverage: 1,000 square feet 
  • Power Rating: 1,400 watts

Final Verdict

Our top pick is the Costway 20-Inch Freestanding Electric Fireplace because it meets the needs of most people at a great value. This little unit is easy to carry from room to room for supplemental heating during the winter months, and has a very realistic flame display. For a more budget-friendly pick, the Turbro Suburbs TS17 Electric Fireplace Stove Heater is a great no-frills, freestanding electric fireplace that generates an impressive heat range.

Our Testing Process

We acquired 23 electric fireplaces and put them through a series of tests in our Lab, evaluating them on setup, heating performance, design, safety, and value. To begin, we timed how long it took to unbox and assemble each fireplace according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Our testers also took note of whether the fireplace had been safety tested. (All of the electric fireplaces on our list were tested against rigorous safety standards.)

Once assembled, we evaluated the overall build and quality of the fireplace, including whether it looks sturdy, well-made, and realistic. For electric fireplaces with interchangeable media or ember beds, we tested exchanging one media material for another. Finally, our testers gave each fireplace a gentle push (as if someone had bumped into it), and observed whether it remained steady or wobbled/fell over. 

For models that can operate without a heating element, we turned on the flames and cycled through the lighting modes, taking note of the quality of their appearance (the Real Flame Foster Electric Stove’s were the most realistic in our testing). We then turned each fireplace on with the heat and rotated through the various flame and heat settings. We also considered the control mechanism for each fireplace, such as buttons, dials, digital controls, apps, or remote controls. 

To test the heating performance of each unit, we first measured a three-foot distance from the fireplace and placed a chair there. Then, our testers sat in the chair and measured the surface temperature of their body using an infrared thermometer, and then again after running the fireplace for five minutes on each heat setting. (For the rest of the testing process, we left the heaters on the highest setting.)

Our testers then measured the maximum distance they were able to stand from the fireplace and still feel warmth. Out of the fireplaces on our list, the Real Flame Silverton Electric Fireplace could be felt from the furthest distance—as far away as 11.5 feet. After the heat had been running for a minimum of 15 minutes, our testers used a decibel reader to measure the noise output, and took note of whether they could carry a conversation over it. Then, testers took a temperature and humidity ready from a thermometer placed five feet away from the fireplace.

For fireplaces with non-infrared heaters and an auto-temperature mode, we set the fireplace’s target temperature five degrees warmer than the room’s highest temperature reading from the thermometer placed five feet from the fireplace. After 15 minutes, we recorded whether the temperature actually rose by 5 degrees Fahrenheit or not. 

Finally, our testers received the retail price of each fireplace, and scored its overall value considering its price and its performance in our Lab tests. Additionally, each electric fireplace is being sent home with a real-world tester, who will provide feedback after one month, three months, and six months of at-home use.

How to Shop for Electric Fireplaces Like a Pro 

Types

There are a number of different types of electric fireplaces based on the method of installation, including wall-mounted units, inserts designed to slip into an existing wood-burning fireplace, or freestanding units (we chose to focus on the latter in our testing). Freestanding electric fireplaces are the easiest to use, as all you need to do is plug them in. You’ll find freestanding fireplaces in a number of different styles, including small, portable fireplaces designed to look like old-fashioned stoves, fireplaces with mantels that can be propped up against the wall, or electric fireplaces built into TV stands or entertainment centers (like the Walker Edison Glenwood Highboy Fireplace TV Stand). 

In addition to functionality, you’ll also need to consider design when choosing which type of electric fireplace to buy: “There are options for all styles, such as the wall mounted linear design that works great for modern to transitional designs,” says Smith. “Larger walls can handle a long, linear option that can feel grand and to scale. If you have some room to play with and want a larger unit, the floor models with a mantle really works.”

Convection vs. Radiant Heat

Electric fireplaces use two main types of heating methods: convection (aka forced fan) and radiant (aka infrared). Convection fireplaces work by taking in cool air, heating it up with a coil, and circulating the warm air back out into the room. Radiant fireplaces use infrared rays to radiate heat directly onto objects and people nearby (similar to how a real fireplace works). Or as Kolo puts it, “convection heating warms the air and objects while radiant heating warms just the objects.”

Radiant heating sources have a number of advantages over convection and often come with a higher price tag to match: “Generally, radiant heating sources are much more efficient than convection,” says Kolo. “Another benefit of radiant heat is no need for fans to push air around so the environment near the heating source is quieter.” It’s also important to note that radiant fireplaces won’t dry out the air like convection fireplaces tend to do. But if your goal is to circulate warm air throughout the room, a convection fireplace is the best choice.

Heat Output

The amount of heat an electric fireplace produces is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs. Electric fireplaces typically range from 4,000 to 10,000 BTU. Other manufacturers may measure their heat output in watts, too. Generally, the higher the BTU or wattage, the more heat a fireplace produces. However, there are more factors at play than just these units of measure—a radiant heat fireplace will typically cover a much larger area than a convection heat fireplace. Kolo says “Most information included with each electric fireplace will indicate the square footage each different fireplace can accommodate, so there is no need to memorize a formula for calculating BTUs.” But keep in mind that while electric fireplaces can offer warmth, they’re more of a supplementary heat source, as opposed to a primary one.  

Settings

Most electric fireplaces give you some level of control over the flames and heat output. You’ll find models which allow you to adjust the brightness, the color, or even the flicker speed of the flames. Some models even let you operate the flames without the heating element. Speaking of heat, most electric fireplaces offer either two to three different heat settings or an adjustable thermostat. 

Pay attention to control mechanisms too: Some fireplaces may only be adjusted by pressing a button or turning a dial directly on the unit, while others can be controlled from a distance using a remote control or app.

Style

Although they can provide some warmth during the winter months, electric fireplaces are primarily meant for adding the cozy look and feel of a wood-burning fireplace without the upkeep. Consider what would look best in your space—a rustic, old-fashioned stove heater or a stone mantelpiece? Or something different altogether? And the look of the flames is just as important—you want to leave people guessing as to whether they’re real or not. To make an electric fireplace look better, Smith suggests “creating a textured or painted accent wall to make it a focal point.” For those units with a mantel, she says to “have fun with decor such as candles, photos, vases, books etc. Hang a beautiful piece of artwork above it as well.”

More Electric Fireplaces to Consider

Cambridge Freestanding Electric Fireplace With Log Display: This is a very visually appealing electric fireplace with a realistic display that can be easily adjusted. It fell just short of the other compact models on our list because its heat range dropped off at four feet. 

Bold Flame 28-Inch Electric Fireplace Heater: If you’re looking for an affordable alternative to expensive mantel fireplaces, Bold Flame’s electric fireplace is a great option. It doesn’t generate heat at the same rate as many of the options on our list, but it would work well in small to mid-sized rooms. 

Questions You Might Ask

Who should consider purchasing an electric fireplace?

An electric fireplace is similar to a space heater, but with the look of a conventional fireplace. Smith suggests an electric fireplace for “someone who lives in an apartment and wants the ambiance or extra heat,” as well as “homeowners without a chimney who want to save money from buying wood and who want a more energy-efficient solution.” 

If you have kids or pets, you may choose to purchase an electric fireplace as an alternative to a wood-burning fireplace, because they remain mostly cool-to-the-touch even while in use. Or those who suffer from allergies may also opt for an electric fireplace, because unlike wood-burning fireplaces, they don’t release smoke and other potentially harmful fumes into the air. What’s more, electric fireplaces don’t require as much prep work and upkeep as wood-burning fireplaces—there’s no chopping wood, tending to the fire, or cleaning up ash and soot. 

Additionally, electric fireplaces are a lot more versatile than wood-burning fireplaces. If you have a space that wouldn’t normally accommodate a fireplace—such as a small apartment, a basement, or even an RV—a freestanding electric model makes it so easy to “install” a fireplace anywhere.

Even if you have a wood-burning fireplace you like, you may still consider purchasing an electric fireplace for supplemental heating in certain rooms—allowing you to lower the overall temperature in your home and save money in the long run. Plus, they make any space feel instantly cozier.

Are electric fireplaces cost- and energy-efficient?

Electric fireplaces are a cost-effective way to supplement the heating in your home during the winter months. According to Kolo, “electric fireplaces are the least expensive [to operate] compared to gas and traditional wood fireplaces.” This is in part because electric fireplaces “can heat a room quickly and are very efficient due to the fact that no heat is being lost up a chimney,” says Kolo. Electric fireplaces can even be used to heat up a single room while the rest of the home is left cooler, helping to bring down your utility costs overall

What safety features should you look for in an electric fireplace?

Another advantage of electric fireplaces: Most come equipped with a number of safety features. The most important features to look for are a safety shut-off, in the event that the unit is knocked over and an automatic shut-off timer, which will allow you to set your fireplace to turn off after a certain amount of time or once it reaches a certain temperature. Kolo says that “most electric fireplaces have cool surfaces,” so burns and “hot surface ignition fires are less of a risk.”

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Melanie Fincher, associate commerce editor for Real Simple with three years of experience writing product reviews and lifestyle content. To compile this list, we tested 23 electric fireplaces in our Lab and evaluated each on its setup, heating performance, design, safety, and value. Next, we will be sending the fireplaces out with real-world testers, who will provide regular feedback over time. For expert tips on buying and using electric fireplaces, Melanie consulted Ben Kolo, owner of Mr. Electric of Central Iowa, a Neighborly company, as well as Kasee Smith, lead designer at Havenly

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible. 

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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