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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?