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Electric fireplaces vs wood fireplaces

Just because you live in an apartment or condominium, don’t have a chimney, or simply don’t like lugging wood indoors, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a built-in fireplace to enhance the look and feel of your home, hospitality or commercial premises.

Enter the electric fireplace!

Electric fireplaces have undergone major – and appealing – changes over the past decade. And with more consumers shying away from traditional wood-burning fireplaces and choosing more effective, energy-efficient heating solutions, the vent-free electric fireplace is an ideal alternative.

EcoSmart Fire EL100 electric fireplace EcoSmart Fire EL100 electric fireplace - Digital render

Why choose an electric fireplace?

Electric fireplaces create a warm and inviting ambiance and an eye-catching focal point like a wood-burning fireplace, but without needing a chimney and without the issues associated with burning wood – e.g., loss of heat out the chimney, indoor and outdoor air pollution and the risk of fire spreading.

“Electric fireplaces offer all the design and lifestyle benefits of built-in wood-burning fireplaces, while providing greater affordability and convenience,” says Stephane Thomas, Director of heating and furniture specialist MAD Design, whose brands include EcoSmart Fire and HEATSCOPE®. “Plus, you can also use them year-round.”

As with traditional wood-burning fireplaces, built-in, vent-free electric fireplaces can be given a surround and mantel of your choice, such as contemporary, mid-century modern, country and rustic, or Hamptons-style, and they can be crafted from a variety of materials including marble, granite, slate, finished or raw timber, tiles and exposed or rendered bricks. Leading interior designers worldwide use fireplaces to make a style statement in any space, and according to Vogue Living’s Lilith Hardie Lupica, the fireplace surround design options are “endless” and offer “another chance to reinforce the personality of a space”.

EcoSmart Electric Series Fireplaces have been designed with versatility a key consideration – particularly when it comes to customization.

“Our electric fireplaces are sleek, flush-mounted designs, and you have the choice of adding a surround to create a contemporary minimalist look, or to simply make the dramatic black fire box and golden flames the focus,” explains Stephane.

9 reasons why electric fireplaces are better than wood-burning fireplaces

9 reasons why electric fireplaces are better than wood-burning fireplaces Electric’s sleek, long lines and captivating smoke-free flame provides a stunning focal point that brings warmth and ambiance to indoor settings. EcoSmart EL40
  1. Flickering flames
    Most people don’t associate a realistic looking flame with electric fireplaces. But thanks to new technology like LED lights, the electric flame is very realistic – and with many, you can even change the colour of the flame! “Our range of electric fireplaces emit the same captivating, dancing golden flame – without the messy soot, smoke or ash,” says Stephane. “And you can change the flame colour from orange to blue at the touch of a button.”
  2. Cost-effective
    Compared to other kinds of fireplaces, electric fireplaces are the most inexpensive type of fireplace to buy and install.
  3. Easy installation
    As electric fireplaces don’t emit smoke or gases, they don’t require a chimney or vent, which means they are less hassle to install – and you don’t require a permit.

    “Chimney installation is a disruptive and costly project, and budgets can get blown out when issues are discovered during installation works. With our electric fireplaces, it’s more a case of ‘plug and play’ - plus limited space is needed for installation, which is ideal, particularly when you have a more compact area,” says Stephane.

    EcoSmart’s Switch Electric Series Fireplaces are zero clearance, enabling them to be easily installed in any indoor space – living, dining, bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms – and framed into wood or metal studs – including partial and non-load-bearing walls. This provides installation freedom and flexibility for builders, architects, interior designers and homeowners. And the fireplaces can be installed in homes, apartments, condominiums, townhouses, hospitality and commercial premises.
  4. Safer fire solution
    Electric fireplaces are a safer solution – particularly for children and pets – than wood-burning fires because their surrounds are cool to the touch, and they don’t emit any stray sparks or embers that can burn the surrounds or start a fire. You can also put electric fireplaces near other appliances such as TVs. In addition, EcoSmart’s electric fireplaces have another layer of safety, as they are fitted with discrete and stylish toughened glass screens.
  5. Energy-efficient, eco-friendly
    With an electric fireplace, there’s no heat lost up the chimney or vent, which reduces your energy bills. In addition, you can use electric heating for zonal heating to warm the room people are in, compared to a central furnace which needlessly heats many rooms. And unlike wood-burning fireplaces, electric fireplaces are zero-emission heat sources: they don’t emit any harmful smoke or greenhouse gases that can compromise our health and increase our carbon footprint. They’re a much better alternative to older wood stoves, which put out a lot of air contamination into a home and the community. Your neighbors will thank you!

    “EcoSmart Electric Series Fireplaces use renewable, zero emission electricity and long-life LED lamps that consume the same energy as a light bulb, which means they’re kinder to the environment than wood-burning fireplaces,” adds Stephane.
  6. Low maintenance
    With an electric fireplace, you don’t have to source and chop wood, arrange and light kindling, or tend the wood until a decent fire builds. And there’s no soot or ash to clean away after every fire.

    “EcoSmart’s range of electric fireplaces are made from durable, high-quality materials that don’t require regular servicing and only need minimal cleaning,” says Stephane.
  7. Easy to use
    Electric fireplaces quickly and easily ‘light’ at the touch of a button, creating a warm, inviting ambiance faster and without time spent lighting kindling and building and stoking a fire.

    All EcoSmart Electric Series Fireplaces have LED screen touch-button controls and a handy remote control, enabling you to turn it on and off, to adjust the heat or to change the setting from a ‘raging’ fire to ambiant backlighting, and to change the colour of the flame.
  8. Safer fire solution
    Electric fireplaces are a safer solution – particularly for children and pets – than wood-burning fires because their surrounds are cool to the touch, and they don’t emit any stray sparks or embers that can burn the surrounds or start a fire. You can also put electric fireplaces near other appliances such as TVs. In addition, EcoSmart’s electric fireplaces have another layer of safety, as they are fitted with discrete and stylish toughened glass screens.
  9. Easily transform an old fireplace
    Ventless electric fireplaces can be easily installed into existing wall-mounted fireplaces, making them an easy and affordable way to remodel and update a tired-looking or unusable wood-burning fireplace. For example, EcoSmart Electric Series Fireplaces come in a wide variety of widths, which makes it easy to match a fire box to your existing hearth space.

Next-generation electric: radiant heaters

Next-generation electric: radiant heaters HEATSCOPE® Vision 3200W (Black)

Electric radiant heaters, also called infrared heaters, are another exciting, electric-powered heating alternative. They’re a smart choice for effectively heating indoor and outdoor spaces, such as patios, courtyards, verandas, and terraces.

Like electric fireplaces, radiant heaters:

  • use clean and renewable electricity
  • don’t emit smoke or nasty gases
  • don’t require a chimney or vent
  • operate quietly
  • turn on and off at the touch of a button

MAD Design’s Stephane Thomas calls radiant heating one of the best solutions for warming interior and outdoor living areas. MAD Design’s portfolio also includes HEATSCOPE®, an award-winning radiant heating solution.

“HEATSCOPE® radiant heaters are more energy-efficient than gas heaters and other electric heaters,” says Stephane. “They’re also quick and easy to install, as they don’t require a vent or chimney and simply attach to your wall or ceiling using just a mount and clamp. And they’re portable, which means if you move house, you simply detach the heater and take it with you when you leave.”

How radiant heaters work

How radiant heaters work

Radiant heaters quietly create a sun-like warmth by using electricity to create infrared light. This invisible light gently warms surfaces and people – not the air – across a wide area.

“Unlike gas and electric heaters which produce an uncomfortable intense heat and a bright light, HEATSCOPE® radiant heaters create a comfortable, gentle yet effective heat with a subtle soft glow,” explains Stephane.

Radiant heaters are also a cost-efficient heating solution for outdoors, as heated air can simply blow away. “With a radiant heater, you don’t waste money heating the air, which stays pleasantly cool while you feel comfortably warm,” adds Stephane.

The key differences

The key radiant heater differences

Not all radiant heaters are ‘created equal’, particularly regarding performance and energy efficiency.

HEATSCOPE® radiant heaters are incredibly fast heating, producing heat in less than 30 seconds – which in turn reduces energy consumption. In fact, they turn up to 94 per cent of the energy used into ambiant heat, which is transferred directly to people and surfaces.

HEATSCOPE® radiant heaters have also been designed to be positioned on the wall and ceiling, indoors and outdoors. This offers many benefits including freeing up floor space, not having the heater pose a tripping risk, and keeping it out of reach of children and pets. And once installed, their low-profile design with smooth clean lines and quiet operation make them a discrete and stylish heating option. Plus if you move home, they can move with you!

Top tips for choosing a radiant heater

Top tips for choosing a radiant heater
  • Weather-resistance: if you want to install a radiant heater in your outdoor space, check that it can withstand the outdoor elements. “HEATSCOPE® has been designed to withstand general all-weather conditions and has a high-water protection rating,” says Stephane.
  • Aesthetics: make sure you choose a radiant heater that doesn’t attract the eye for the wrong reasons. HEATSCOPE® radiant heaters have attractive smooth clean lines and a low-profile design in stylish and versatile soft matt black or white. The HEATSCOPE Pure infrared heater won a prestigious Red Dot Design Award in 2018, with the jury stating that “the HEATSCOPE Pure infrared heater fascinates with its sophisticated interplay of design and functionality”.

    For ceiling mounted installations, HEATSCOPE® heaters in a white finish are very popular, as they blend well with plasterboard. The Vision model is the preferred choice for a linear look because of its elongated shape and low-profile minimalist design, while for smaller, covered outdoor areas, the Spot is a great option because of its size (it might be small but it’s very powerful!) And for those seeking a unique design and all weather application, the award-winning Pure is the best choice because of its modern, curvaceous glass, which helps spread the warmth evenly across an area.
  • Energy efficiency: check the energy efficiency before you buy an electric radiant heater. HEATSCOPE® radiant heaters convert over 90 per cent of input electricity directly into radiant heat, and during operation they reduce energy usage by cutting off one of the elements while retaining optimal efficiency. And the HEATSCOPE Pure is the only radiant heater in the world fitted with a convex-shaped glass front by SCHOTT NEXTREMA®, which emits more heat and a soft and subtle ambient light. The Vision model is fitted with a high performance industrial glass screen, which reduces light to a minimum.