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Fireplaces are a wonderful feature to have in your home. Even if they’re not something you use on a regular basis, it’s so nice to cozy up on the couch on a cold day next to the fireplace. If your home isn’t equipped with a chimney and firebox, you can easily invest in a gas or electric fireplace. Both types of fireplaces provide you with warmth and a cozy atmosphere, but they have significant differences that require some research. Making an informed decision about your investment is critical, so here are the differences between gas and electric fireplaces. 

Gas vs. Electric

Cost

Gas fireplaces are more costly than electric fireplaces. They cost more upfront to install and cost about $350 annually to run. Electric fireplaces cost around $100 per year to run. The cost between the two is surprising to many homeowners because typically, it’s less expensive to heat homes with gas over electricity, but a gas fireplace is significantly less efficient than an electric one. It requires a lot more fuel to create the flame and keep it going versus the pennies per hour that it costs to run the LED lights in an electric fireplace. 

The Flame

Depending on your personal preference, you may want to spend the money and get a gas fireplace because it looks more realistic than an electric one. Gas fireplaces have a forced flame around specific gas-burning logs or crystals, and so do electric fireplaces. While they may aesthetically look different, they work similarly. Many electric fireplaces may look just as realistic or better than gas, depending on the brand or quality. Leading companies are continually trying to develop better technologies to make these fireplaces look and feel more realistic. 

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Heat

Both varieties of fireplaces provide heat, but it varies. Depending on the model, gas fireplaces offer between 25,000 – 30,000 BTU’s or more, and electric fireplaces can provide around 3,000 to 9,000 BTU’s. Depending on your space and how much heat you need will determine which option would be best for you. 5,000 BTU’s is an adequate amount to heat around 400 square feet. If you own a condo or townhome and your space is relatively condensed, you would be fine with an electric fireplace. If you own a larger home, the gas option would be better to heat your space. Overheating your room can trigger your thermostat to turn off. If the heat can’t reach the entire area, you may experience the fireplace overheating in place. 

Safety

Gas fireplaces use fuel to create flames, and they provide more heat to the glass closure around them. The heat can make the glass hot enough to burn the skin if you happen to touch it. Many manufacturers provide a mesh barrier on gas fireplaces, which was mandated within the industry in 2015. Since there are no real flames in electric fireplaces, it doesn’t get hot enough to cause safety issues around the glass. The metal heat vent gets hot, but not hot enough to harm the skin if touched. Any appliance that burns carbon fuels has the risk of carbon monoxide leaks, so gas fireplaces must be maintained often to ensure everything is in working order, and homeowners should have carbon monoxide monitors installed in their homes. 

Efficiency

Gas heating is typically highly efficient. When it comes to furnaces, these are usually the best option. As we move toward more efficient homes and appliances, fireplaces are becoming less of a need and more of a luxury. Electric fireplaces operate without a heater. They offer the cozy ambiance that many homeowners are after without providing a lot of heat. Many building guidelines make it difficult to install ventilation for fireplaces. It’s possible that around 30% of heat can be lost to the vents, which electric fireplaces don’t require in the first place. The difference in the ventilation makes electric fireplaces more efficient than gas fireplaces, and you’re not paying for losing up to 30% of the heat to the vents.

There are benefits to both gas and electric fireplaces, and depending on your wants, the space in your home, and your budget, you can find a fireplace that meets your needs.

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