Wood and Electric Fireplaces: A Comparison

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couple in front of the fire

With winter approaching, a fireplace is a great way to give a cozy atmosphere and heat your home at a fraction of the cost of traditional central heating. However, choosing whether to use an electric or wood burning fireplace is an important decision. Before deciding, take into account environmental, design, and budget factors. Then, pick the one that’s right for you.

Setting the mood

If you plan on purchasing or installing a fireplace strictly for setting the mood, then a wood burning fireplace is perfect, as they appeal to almost all of the senses. The beautiful flames, crackling of the wood, and the smell of firewood make any cold winter night seem that much better. While electric fireplaces have come a long way in emitting decorative flames, they don’t have quite the same ambiance, romance, or charm of a wood fireplace.


Wood burning fireplaces require much more maintenance than their electric counterparts. If you don’t want the hassle of keeping up with the work, an electric fireplace may be for you. Electric fireplaces are low-maintenance appliances; the only matters of concern are avoiding overloading an outlet and keeping them clear of fire hazards. Wood fireplaces, on the other hand, need to be dusted regularly, kept clear of creosote, and inspected by a professional at least once a year.

Providing heat

Many homeowners install a fireplace as a heat source that is cheaper than central heating. However, neither wood nor electric fireplaces are particularly efficient at providing heat to a large area. Wood fireplaces lose much of their heat through the chimney, while electric fireplaces don’t emit much heat in the first place.

Nevertheless, the advantage goes to electric fireplaces because they are portable, allowing you to move them from room to room to provide heat no matter where you are.


From a cost perspective, electric fireplaces are significantly cheaper than wood fireplaces. Professional masons construct many wood fireplaces because of the structural aspects of the fireplace. Coupled with the cost of bricks or stone, wood fireplaces can get expensive quickly. Installation of an electric fireplace is done by the purchaser, and typically costs between $200 and $2,000, making it a better overall deal.

If you love the sights, sounds, and smells [Ed: very Spinal Tap of you, Cate …] of a winter fire, then a wood fireplace is for you. However, all other perks belong to the electric fireplace. So, before you decide which one to purchase, weigh the pros and cons against each other. Only then will you be totally satisfied with your final choice.


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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.