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Gas vs Electric Fireplace - What are the Differences?

Of the many ways that you can make a statement at home, a fireplace is by far one of the most memorable. Not only is this an aesthetically pleasing focal point, but a functional investment too.

If you have already started your search for a fireplace, you might be debating whether a gas or electric fireplace is a better option. Both of these options tend to be among the top picks for potential buyers but if you want to choose between them, it's better for you to start by reading about their various pros and cons.  

To help you solve this conundrum of Gas vs Electric Fireplace, we’ve outlined some key considerations which may serve a a valuable guide in helping you to choose between the two.

 

Gas vs Electric Fireplaces: What to Consider Before You Buy

Here are some of the key differences between a gas vs electric fireplace which might come in handy for you to realize which one suits you better!

The Installation

How costly and easy it is to install a gas vs electric fireplace is where the first difference comes in. Overall, a gas fireplace is more expensive to purchase and install, mostly because you need to install a gas line or connect a propane supply. All you need to turn on an electric fireplace is an electrical outlet. The only time you might run into extra costs is if you purchase a larger electric fireplace that requires a line with a higher voltage.

What’s more, gas fireplaces require an outlet against an exterior wall - inserting the fireplace into an existing fireplace is another option. This is not a concern with an electric fireplace because it doesn’t produce carbon monoxide. 

In terms of the overall installation, it’s quicker and easier to get a professional to assist you. However, it is easier to install an electric fireplace on your own than it is a gas alternative. 

The Hazards

Any type of fireplace is a potential fire hazard but there are steps you can take to stay safe. For one, making sure that your fireplace is installed correctly is a good start. It’s also important to keep any flammable objects away from the fireplace plus making sure any combustible material is not carried close to the fire. Fortunately, most electric fireplaces are not hot to the touch, but it’s still best practice to clear the area around your fireplace and regularly clean the space around it.

Since gas fireplaces produce real flames which depend on combustion producing carbon dioxide along with some unburnt hydrocarbons including lethal carbon monoxide, they tend to be higher risk.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas which makes its inhalation fairly easy. Therefore it's highly recommended that you install a C02 detector if you plan to purchase a gas fireplace, but this means additional costs. 

But be sure to invest to some degree in fire detection and control features which may deter any avoidable damages. 

The Running Costs

While the cost of running a gas vs electric fireplace depends on local utility prices, overall, it’s more affordable to run an electric fireplace. In most instances, you can save as much as 10 cents per hour when you install an electric instead of a gas fireplace. 

As you can imagine though, over the course of debate surrounding the Gas vs Electric Fireplace, efficiency plays an important role as the efficiency of the model you decide on will also affect the total running cost. These also tend to vary from those which heat minimum spaces to those which can provide heating to an expanded area. It is therefore suggested to approximate the space's area along with the calorific quality of the flame which provides the heating effect.

The Maintenance

The good news is that both gas and electric fireplaces are low maintenance and hence any costs with regards to replacement of worn-out equipment is much less. If anything, you might need to clean the glass screen of your electric fireplace every few months and carry out any repairs if they arise. With a gas fireplace, you will need to clean the flue every few months too, depending on how often you use it. 

These require minimal manual action but are best performed by a skilled professional who also understands the hazards around such a fireplace and may take necessary prevention protocols seriously. 

Gas vs Electric Fireplace: What’s Right for Your Home?

A gas fireplace burns like a stove albeit with a much more intensely localized heat which can heat an extended area quickly. The rising heat creates a convectional current situation within any space whereby the heat continues to re-circulate raising the temperature gradually to a level of warmth not generally provided by any electric fireplace.

Gas fireplaces also provide direct heating which is why they are more convenient if the desired duration for heating a space is to be kept to a minimum, however this raises a whole plethora of fire safety concerns specially if the flame is naked and within reach of children. 

If you have high electric costs, have an existing gas line, and would prefer to heat a larger area, a gas fireplace might be the right choice for you.

Choose a gas fireplace if you:

  • Find the appearance of synthetic flames aesthetically pleasing over the the look of natural flame;
  • Find it difficult to supplement high electrical costs of your household;
  • Possess a functioning gas line which is cheaper;
  • Want to achieve heating of a relatively larger interior space;
  • There are no concerns with regards to pets or kids running into the fireplace front.

Choose an electric fireplace if you:

  • Lack access to a functioning gas line and any alternative is expensive;
  • Don't want to prioritize the effect of a natural flame in your home;
  • Prefer to stay comfortably warm but don't necessarily want expansive heating;
  • Don’t have high electrical costs and can easily arrange for supplemental bills;
  • Require the initial purchase cost to be kept as minimum as possible;
  • Have concerns with regards to pets or kids running into the fireplace front;
  • Would prefer having an easy fully DIY install option;
  • Prefer having the safest heating option installed inside your home..

It must also be noted that having any heating source in your home must also account for the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of your home by 1°C. If the location of your home experiences regular rain patterns alongside colder seasons, then an electric fireplace is more suited since outside hail or storms tend to exasperate the induced convectional current within your interior by consistently blowing wind across your home. However, this effect tends to affect spacious open homes as opposed to closed apartments.

If you want to enjoy +warmth and realistic flames without the fumes, greater fire safety, and fewer running costs, an electric fireplace is an ideal choice considering its multiplicity of functions .

Have a look at our top electric fireplace picks here.