Electric fireplaces have come a long way from their humble beginnings. Many of today's models are so
realistic that -- unless you look very
closely -- it is often difficult to tell them apart from the "real deal!"
Early electric fireplaces were as unrealistic in appearance as their common name, fake fireplaces, very appropriately described them. Ugly metal boxes with noisy fans, they were an extremely poor imitation of a real fire.
To achieve the much more realistic looking "flames" found in many of to-
day's models, manufacturers are uti-
lizing the latest technologies. Though the precise applications vary from
one manufacturer to another, the
most realistic models combine a ser-
ies of light bulbs with reflective sur-
faces in a variety of ways to achieve the desired effect. On some of the better models, the flames can be ad-
justed from a romantic flicker to a roaring blaze with the turn of a knob. For even more authenticity, some incorporate real wood logs instead of the usual cement or ceramic log sets.
In addition to very realistic "flames," the sounds of a crackling wood fire that many models emit are also
very convincing. And unlike a "convention-
al" fireplace, an electric model can be operated independently of its heating element. In other words, the heating control can be turned off so that you can enjoy the sights and sounds of a fire all year long -- without the heat -- even on the warmest of days!
The heating element, itself, is simply a series of metal coils that produces heat when electricity is applied,
i.e., when the unit is plugged into a stan-
dard 120 volt electrical outlet and the heating control is turned on. A fan or blower then directs the heat -- generally 4,500 to 5,000 BTUs -- into the room. For added convenience, a thermostatic control and multispeed blower are available on some models, as is a hand-held remote control de-
As with other fireplace types, electric units can be incorporated in surrounds made from a variety of materials in a wide range of styles. The traditional designs pictured below are made from faux, or manufactured stone, and have a rustic and casual look . . . . .
. . . . while the following
cast marble designs impart a more formal and ele-
gant traditional look.
Not to be left out, the contemporary design pictured at right is made in England and boasts a unique surround with a Cotswold stone finish.
A wide variety of woods and finishes in a vast array of styles is also avail-
able to "frame" an electric fireplace. The traditional examples pictured below are but a small sampling of wood fireplace mantel designs currently available . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . as are the following transitional, or more contemporary, wall-hung designs.
For a sleek contemporary look, metal is often used as a surround material. The striking examples pictured
below are some of the latest electric fire-
place designs available today.
Electric fireplaces are also available as inserts for existing fireplaces, as well as new installations. Especially useful in an older fireplace in need of repair or otherwise unsafe to operate a wood burning fire in . . . or simply as a convenient alternative to building a real wood fire . . . they can be adapted to a vast array of styles ranging from very traditional to ultra contemporary, as shown in the following examples.
Please check back often or subscribe to our
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