Electric Types

Just because you live in a home without a chimney or in an apartment, that doesn't mean you have to forego the pleasures of having a fireplace in your living room. An electric fireplace can provide a surprisingly realistic fire that can also help to heat your home.

Some electric fireplaces are mostly for decoration, but others come with powerful heaters that put out as much as 10,000 BTUs. The ones that are meant for heating will come with blowers to help disperse the heat throughout the living area and to give you the cozy feeling that the fire is warming up the whole room.

Electric fireplaces come in a few basic types-standard, stove, insert, electric log, and video.

Standard

A standard electric fireplace is meant to sit up against the wall where a fireplace might normally have been built with the house or apartment. It comes out far enough from the wall to provide a little bit of a mantle, but generally not too much. These fireplaces aren't meant to have a large footprint on the carpet, but rather to take up an attractive amount of space out of the way along the wall.

Stove

You can also get an electric fireplace that looks like a wood-burning stove. These take up more of a footprint on the floor but can add a rustic charm to a kitchen, bedroom, or den. And that footprint isn't too bad. Many of them are only 12 inches deep by about 20 inches wide and 24 inches high. At that size, it's easy to transfer your electric stove from room to room and get more use out of it that way, while keeping it in the garage during the summer months so it doesn't get in the way at all.

Insert

Even if your home does have a chimney, you may want to consider an electric fireplace. If your home has a regular masonry fireplace, you can purchase a fireplace insert that will go right in the firebox. You'll have all the enjoyment of a real fire without any of the hassle or worry. An electric fireplace can provide real heat and the look and feel of a real fire. At the end of the evening you can turn the fireplace off. (Don't walk all the way over there. Use the remote control.) There's no work involved in starting the fire, no fumes or ash while the fire is "burning," no worry that the fire will re-ignite after you go to bed, and no messy cleanup the next day.

Electric Logs

If your home has a chimney, you may not want to go with an insert because you want to use the fireplace as a wood-burning fireplace from time to time. But most evenings, you don't want to bother. A set of realistic electric logs can solve your problem. Leave them in the fireplace most of the time. Turn them on and off by remote control and you can have a fire every night in winter. When the mood strikes you, simply remove the electric logs and build a fire for real.

Video

Video fireplaces have come a long way since the days of the Christmas yule log on videotape playing on a 20-inch screen. These fireplaces come with a dedicated HDTV screen and included DVD player to give you very realistic sound and picture of a flaming fire.