As Canada’s electric fireplace experts, we would like to think that everyone starts out wanting an electric fireplace in their renovation or new home. However, the fact is that many clients and their designers still default to gas fireplaces, and may come to electric after they have no choice. So, what are some of the reasons that drive gas-lovers to electric fireplaces? What follows are the top reasons to add an electric fireplace to your renovation, based on actual client discussions over the past 2 decades.

You aren’t able to accommodate proper venting

Gas fireplaces in Canada must be vented to the outside. Because this vent becomes hot and is also releasing carbon monoxide and other off-gases, there are strict clearance requirements for the vent. Distance to the ground, to windows and doors, and to flammables are just some of the considerations. Therefore, when houses are too close to one another, venting sometimes becomes impossible, or very difficult. Especially in urban areas, or very old neighbourhoods, the homes can be very close to each other, making venting impossible. Venting challenges also come up in basement installations, or when you want a fireplace in the middle of the home and not on an exterior wall. Difficult equals expensive! If this describes your situation, then be prepared to go electric.

You don’t really want heat

So often, when we ask clients how much heat they need from their fireplace, the response is ‘We don’t need heat, we just want ambiance.’ If this is your situation, then you need to understand that when you turn on a gas fireplace, heat is generated whether you want it or not. That’s because fuel must be burned to make the flames, and that combustion creates heat. On the other hand, the flames on an electric fireplace are not the source of heat. The heater is separate from the flames and operates independently, usually with thermostatic controls. This means that you can have flames without heat, and only run the heater when you need it. The result is year-round ambiance and no overheating of your space. Unfortunately, there are many homeowners out there who have invested in a gas fireplace that they rarely turn on, because it’s too hot for their space. If only someone had told them!!

You want to reduce costs

Electric fireplaces cost less to purchase, install and operate than their gas counterparts. Even the best electric fireplaces are less expensive than good gas fireplaces. Both gas and electric fireplaces require electrical connections (gas units need power for starters and fans), but electric fireplaces do not have the added expense of a gas line or venting. In terms of operating costs, electric flames cost about $3.00 per year (yes, that decimal is in the right place) while the cost of running flames and heat is about $85.00 per year, based on running an electric fireplace 4 hours per day, 365 days per year, with the heater on 50% of the time. (Using electricity rates for my part of Ontario.) It doesn’t really matter whether electricity costs more or less than natural gas. Electric fireplaces are more efficient, and because they may be used without heat as desired, they use less resources that a gas fireplace. Napoleon has set up a nifty Electric Cost Calculator where you can plug in your own usage requirements, and your local power rates, to find your own local cost.

You want to reduce your carbon footprint

The experts agree that we all need to reduce carbon emissions if we are to slow climate change. Buildings are a major source of carbon emissions, and natural gas appliances and heating are part of the challenge. By choosing to have an electric fireplace rather than gas, you are choosing to reduce your personal carbon emissions. We have written several blog posts about electric fireplaces and climate change, which you can access below.

Submitted by Jeanne Grier, NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialist, Stylish Fireplaces