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New Electric Fireboxes

SuefromTO's picture

We went to a fireplace store today - as we're in the midst of adding a 2nd story onto our existing bungalow - and since we gutted the main floor figured we should get a new fp.  We ripped out our old gas fireplace, and were looking for either a new standard gas fireplace (which would require us to extend our chimney), or a direct vent unit (which would require us to apply to the city for a variance on the sideyard setback).

But here's my question - ELECTRIC FIREBOX!?!?!  Looks amazing in the store.  This technology has definitely come a long way in the last few years.  They look just like a gas fireplace (still not as nice as wood burning).  The one we looked at is a 5000 BTU output, and the cost of operation is less than 10 cents per hour.  On a $/BTU basis that is as efficient as gas.  It is better for us since the smaller heat output won't affect the thermostat and throw off the [JOBSITE WORD] like the hot gas fireplace used to.  Also easy install.  Seems great.

Anyone with experience with these?  Good, bad, ugly?

(post #175765, reply #1 of 3)

Why do you want a fireplace? If this electric fireplace doesn't put out enough heat to affect the thermostat, it doesn't seem to me like it will put out enough heat to warm your bodies, either. 5000 BTU is about the same amount of heat you'd get from twenty 75 watt light bulbs in an hour. That would be closer to 20 cents where I live, which is still pretty cheap, but it won't keep the house warm if the furnace croaks. If you're mainly interested in looking at the fireplace, it would probably be cheaper buy a video of a fireplace and watch it on TV.

(post #175765, reply #2 of 3)

We already have the existing fireplace in the house, that's why we need an inexpensive solution.  The opening is there and so is the chimney.  To extend the chimney is super expensive and we can't direct vent it out because we're too close to the neighbour's house.  We needed another alternative but wanted to get feedback on the electric fireplaces.  We won't use it for heat, only looks. Thanks for your feedback.

(post #175765, reply #3 of 3)


  I don't think an electric firebox will add as much value to your home as the cost to purchase it.  Even though the technology has improved, it is still a cheap solution that detracts from a room (when you are a buyer). A gas fireplace, on the other hand, can enhance the value of the home considerably.  So if this is just an atmosphere thing for you and you don't care about resale, by all means go with it. If you are trying to maintain the value of your home, then you need to consider replacing like with like and stick with gas.  

Have you considered alternatives such as closing off the chimney and decorating the fireplace? I've seen non-functional fireplaces used as a place for many candles and it looks pretty cool. Or as a niche for a sculpture. Or as a niche for a TV.

Sorry I can't offer any practical experience with electric fireboxes, but I wouldn't consider them (or a house with one) for the reasons above.

Good luck with your decision.