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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Models shown are by BFM Europe, Dimplex and Stovax.
There are several features to look out for when buying your electric fire or stove. These include:
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.
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:
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.
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.