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Home & garden.

Updated: 31 Dec 2021

How to buy an electric fire or stove

We guide you through what to consider when choosing your electric fire or stove, the features you should look for and how to get it installed.
Paula Flores
Electric bfm europe puraflame curved in living room 482565

If you love the traditional look of a fireplace or stove, an electric version will be more environmentally friendly than gas or wood-burning alternatives. 

Read on to find out about the different types of electric fires and stoves you could buy. 

Just want to know how to save money on your energy bills? Use Which? Switch, our impartial free switching site, to compare gas and electricity prices

How efficient are electric fires and stoves?

Electric fires are 100% efficient, meaning all the heat they produce is pushed out into the room, as no heat is lost in a chimney or flue.

However, their heat outputs are usually limited to just 2kW or less, which is lower than the range available from gas fires, gas stoves and wood-burning stoves.

And, although you benefit from all of the heat they generate, electric appliances generally cost more to run, as electricity is a more expensive way of heating your home. Nevertheless, if you crave the authentic look of a fire without necessarily wanting to warm your home, the good news is that many models allow you to keep the flame without producing heat.

How sustainable are electric fires and stoves?

Electric fires are generally considered more sustainable than gas and wood-burning stoves because electricity can be generated using renewable sources, and because the electric fire doesn't emit fumes when heating a room. If you use a green energy provider, this should make it even more environmentally friendly.

To find out more about how different types of stove compare for sustainability, check our comparison of electric, gas and wood-burning stoves.

What to consider when buying an electric fire or stove

Decide where to place it

Unlike with gas fires and stoves, if you're buying an electric version you won’t need to worry about whether you have a working chimney or flue in your home, nor will you have to create a vent through an outside wall. So you can place it anywhere that it can be plugged in.

  • Freestanding fires can be flat against a wall with a fireplace surround to create the effect of a fireplace without needing a chimney or a recess.
  • Inset fires can go in the recess of traditional fireplaces, or you can create a cavity in a wall to place them in – a good choice if you have limited floor space.
  • Wall-mounted electric fires are another option if you’re short on space.

You can also buy electric models that look like wood-burning stoves. They’re usually freestanding and you can place them anywhere you want, including in the recess of a fireplace.

See our gallery of electric fires and stoves to decide what would suit your room best.

Work out what heat output you need

Your fire or stove will only be able to heat the room it’s installed in. So, to get the best value out of it, make sure you’ve got the right heat output for your room.

If it’s too low, it won’t keep you warm enough. If it’s too high, you’ll end up forking out more than you need to spend on your appliance.

The output will be measured in kilowatts (kW). Approximately speaking, to make your room 21°C when it’s 1°C outside, you’ll need 1kW of heat output for every 14 cubic metres of space.

As a rough guide, multiply the height, width and length of the room in metres, then divide this by 14. You can use our tool below to give you an idea.

However, this is only a rough figure for an average home. Other factors can affect the output you’ll need, such as the level of insulation in your home and the number and size of any windows in the room.

If you’re unsure which wattage to buy, consult a retailer for more tailored advice about what’s right for your home.

Electric fire and stove styles

You can buy electric fires and stoves in both contemporary and traditional styles.

If you’re buying an expensive model, or considering a model that will need a cavity to be created in a wall, you’re less likely to want to replace your fire or stove in the near future – so look for a style that could stand the test of time.

Take a look at our gallery to see examples of some of the different styles on the market.

Electric fire or stove?

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/gas-and-electric-fires-and-stoves/article/buying-gas-and-electric-fires-and-stoves/buying-an-electric-fire-or-stove-a5nby5O90xrV

Models shown are by BFM Europe, Dimplex and Stovax.

Features and standards to look out for

There are several features to look out for when buying your electric fire or stove. These include:

  • remote controls to enable you to switch the device on and off from anywhere in the room, which can be helpful if you have limited mobility
  • different ‘fuel beds’ such as logs, coal or stones, which appear to be burning when the fire is on. With some models, you’ll be able to choose which one you want when ordering
  • the type of ‘flame effect’ – some manufacturers have developed particularly realistic effects to create the impression of a real, flickering fire
  • adjustable displays with different levels of brightness and the ability to use the flame effect without having the heat on
  • a CE or UKCA mark, which should be on all electrical equipment to show it has met European safety and efficiency standards.

How much does an electric fire or stove cost?

Basic electric stoves and fires start from less than £100 from some high street retailers. 

But if you want something more sophisticated and stylish – or something with a more realistic flame effect – you’ll need to spend more. Some of the fancier models we’ve seen cost about £1,500.

Prices also vary between retailers, so it’s worth shopping around to get good value. If you want to keep costs down, try shopping in summer when demand is lower, or in autumn for start-of-season sales.

Electric fires and stoves are generally cheaper than their gas-powered or wood-burning counterparts (when comparing like-for-like models).

But electric appliances are likely to have higher running costs in the long term because electricity is a more expensive fuel. So you’ll need to consider this alongside the upfront costs.

How to install an electric fire or stove

Unlike with gas fires and stoves, you won’t always need to get a professional to install an electric fire or stove, particularly if you’re choosing a very simple model. With some basic electric stoves, for example, you can simply put it down in the room, plug it in and switch it on.

Even if you’ve chosen something more sophisticated, you might be able to take care of it yourself. If you do, make sure you:

  • follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • turn off the electricity before carrying out work
  • don’t install the heater directly above a power socket
  • comply with building regulations if carrying out any structural work.

If you’re not very confident with DIY, you might want professional help, particularly if you need structural work carried out to install an inset or ‘hole in the wall’ fire, or to conceal electrical cables.

To find reliable traders in your area, you can use the Which? Trusted Trader search tool. Trusted Traders have passed our rigorous assessment process and follow our code of conduct.

Maintaining your electric fire or stove

One of the benefits of electric appliances is that they don’t need annual servicing by Gas Safe engineers, and you don’t need to get any chimneys cleaned.

But there are still things you should do to make sure your electric fire or stove stays in good working order, and that you stay safe.

  • Register your appliance so the manufacturer can contact you if a problem is later discovered with the model you’ve bought and it has to be recalled.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use.
  • Check plugs and sockets regularly (where possible) for any burn marks or buzzing sounds.
  • If there seems to be a problem with your fire or stove, don’t ignore it. Unplug it and contact the manufacturer or find a qualified professional to repair it.

You can find more information about electrical safety in the home from Electrical Safety First.

Another option – albeit a less aesthetically pleasing one – is to buy a portable electric heater. Check out our electric heater reviews to see which are the best.