22nd July 2021
If you want the benefits of a real fire but with minimal fuss, an electric fire or stove is a simple way to add warmth to your home at the flick of a switch.
They’re also a good alternative if you don’t have a gas supply to your home or if you want a cleaner and more environmentally friendly option than a wood-burning stove.
Our guide will talk you through the different types of electric fires and stoves and help you decide which one is right for you.
Unlike gas fires and stoves, 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.
This can make an electric appliance much more flexible, as you can place it anywhere that it can be plugged in.
Or if you love the look of wood-burning stoves but don’t have a chimney, you can get electric models that look like the real thing. They’re usually freestanding and can be placed anywhere you want, including in the recess of a fireplace.
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, and 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 or whether an electric fire will be suitable for your room, consult a retailer for more tailored advice about what’s right for your property.
Whether your style is contemporary or traditional, there should be an electric fire or stove to suit you and your property.
If you’re shopping at the high end of the market 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.
Models shown are by BFM Europe, Dimplex and Stovax.
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 and 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.
There are a number of features to look out for when buying your electric fire or stove. These include:
Basic electric stoves and fires start for less than £100 from some high street retailers. We’ve found models on special offer for as little as £50.
But if you want something more sophisticated and stylish - or something with a more realistic flame effect - you’ll need to fork out 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’re on a budget or love a bargain, try shopping in summer when demand is lower, or in autumn for start-of-season sales.
One benefit of electric fires and stoves is that they’re 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 up-front costs.
Unlike 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, if you’re a dab hand at DIY you might be able to take care of it yourself. If you do, make sure you:
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.
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 can do to make sure your electric fire or stove stays in good working order, and that you stay safe: