A fireplace is a great way to add warmth and comfort to your home. However, choosing between a gas or electric fireplace is a big decision. It's important to find one that meets your needs. To help make your decision easier, we have created this gas vs electric fireplace comparison guide.
Heat Output and Efficiency
Energy Efficiency and fireplace heat output are important factors when deciding between electricity and gas fireplaces.
When referring to gas fireplaces (ventless and vented), the BTUs (British Thermal Units) are higher than electric fireplaces. The BTU generated is between 20,000 – 40,000 per hour. Due to the higher BTU, there is more power which equals a more steady, consistent heat and realistic flames. A gas fireplace is an excellent choice to heat large areas of the home.
On the other hand, electric fireplace BTUs generate between 3,000 – 10,000 per hour. This implies a lower heat output. Consequently, the heat does not reach as many square feet as a gas fireplace.
Electric fireplaces may have lower heat outputs than other types of fireplaces. However, they can convert nearly all of the input energy to heat, making them highly energy efficient. They are also the best for small spaces and rooms to help cut out the chill, especially in winter.
Best For Heat Output and Efficiency: Gas Fireplace
The best fireplace for heat output and efficiency are gas fireplaces due to its higher BTUs and its capability to heat larger homes.
Installation and Setup
When considering a home upgrade such as a fireplace, installation is a crucial point to consider before deciding what fireplace is best for you and your home.
The process of installing a gas fireplace will be more complex and can cost more than an electric unit. However, once installed, you’ll have a long-term home heating solution. A gas fireplace will also require a gas line within the home and may need a chimney depending on the type of fireplace (direct vent, ventless etc.)
As for an electric fireplace, it is easier to install and is more and can be completed without a professional installer. You will also have a choice of fireplace styles, such as wall-mounted units or stand-alone fireplaces. An electric fireplace won’t require any venting, a chimney or combustible fuel. Also, double-check your electrical load and voltage before installing an electric fireplace.
Best For Installation And Setup: Electric Fireplace
The best fireplace for installation and setup would be electric fireplaces due to most electric fireplaces working out of box.
Maintenance and Safety
Maintenance and safety are essential factors to consider with either fireplace option.
A gas fireplace will require more maintenance and monthly and yearly care. From surface cleaning of the glass and surround to scheduling annual inspections to ensure your gas fireplace works efficiently and safely. Also, installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home and an extra safety precaution is suggested.
An electric fireplace will require little to no maintenance. It will, however, require surface and interior cleaning to remove dust and debris. The fire risk of an electric fireplace is lower than other types. However, regular checks of the power source and electrical cords are necessary to guarantee safety.
Please visit our blog about gas fireplace safety tips for more information regarding safety.
Best for Maintenance and Safety: Electric Fireplace
The best fireplace for maintenance and safety would be electric fireplaces because of no annual inspections and ease of cleaning the unit.
Appearance and Ambience
Choosing a fireplace style for your home can be the most fun part of the process, as the options are endless, and both types of fireplaces offer different designs and styles to fit into your home’s theme.
A natural gas fireplace produces authentic flickering flames that look like real flames. This creates a comfortable, warm feeling in the home. The flame height can be customized in most units which gives you the feel of a traditional wood-burning fireplace. Gas fireplaces can be customized to match your style with various trims, log sets and finishes, and more.
Electric fireplaces offer similar options for designs and styles, offering a variety sure to match the look of your space. The flame from an electric fireplace will give you a sense of warmth in your home and add an extra layer of light. The heat and light of the fireplace can be customized with a remote or thermostat.
You can enjoy the flame of your fireplace without the heat. This can be useful on summer nights when you want a sense of warmth without the actual heat. Also, electric fireplaces have options to turn on or off LED lights, which can be used to set different moods in your home.
Best For Appearance and Ambience: Gas Fireplace
The best fireplace for appearance and ambience would be gas fireplaces. Their realistic flame and flame height can give a feeling of being by a traditional fireplace.
Regarding the cost, you want to ensure you choose the right fireplace for your budget and home.
Installation costs for a gas fireplace can be more expensive than other types. In some cases, a new gas line may need to be installed. The range it costs to purchase and install a gas fireplace is $1,800 – $10,000+ dollars (CAD). When it comes to the cost of operating your fireplace, it will depend on local gas prices and how often the fireplace is used.
Electric fireplaces do not require gas, but the cost of electricity and frequency of use must be taken into account. The range it costs to purchase and install an electric fireplace is $1,200 – $3,500+ dollars (CAD). Installing an electric fireplace may save money. Not all models require a professional. Most can be self-installed and plugged into a standard outlet.
Best for Costs: Electric Fireplaces
The best fireplace for cost would be electric fireplaces. Factoring in maintenance, cost of operation, and cost of installation.
Regarding the lifespan of gas and electric fireplaces, they vary depending on which one you choose.
As for lifespan, you can expect a gas fireplace to last roughly 20-25 years with occasion part replacements and an annual inspection.
The lifespan of an electric fireplace is about 10-20 years, and minimal repairs and servicing should be needed. In both cases, following the manufacturer’s instructions for care and maintenance can help increase the lifespan of your fireplace.
Best For Lifespan: Gas Fireplace
Best for fireplace lifespan would be gas fireplaces. Gas fireplaces last, on average, 20-25 years.
Finding the Best Fireplace
Choose a Gas Fireplace If:
If you’re looking for a long-term, consistent heat source that can provide radiant heat throughout your home, a gas fireplace is a great choice. While installation costs and maintenance may exist, you will have realistic flickering flames that keep your entire family warm no matter the season.
Choose an Electric Fireplace If:
If you’re looking for a simple installation to provide heat and warmth to your household, an electric fireplace is a wonderful choice. While you may find that your electric fireplace has a slightly shorter life space, the installation and upkeep costs are minimal. In most cases, an electric fireplace can be installed without a professional.
For a broader understanding of gas fireplaces explore our Ultimate Guide to Gas Fireplaces.
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