Don’t have a fireplace in your house or apartment? Don’t want the hassle or mess of firewood? You can still get the warmth and feel of a fireplace with a an artificial or fake fireplace. Less expensive and easier to install than wood-burning fireplaces, a fake fireplace provides most of the benefits of a "real" fireplace and eliminates a good bit of the hassle and mess.
Artificial fireplaces can be all electric, or they can burn gas or fuel-gel. They are available in a wide variety of materials from the simplest unfinished pine to the finest marble. The prices vary accordingly. Many artificial fireplaces can be placed anywhere in a room, and some are even portable. If you are missing the warmth and comfort of a fire, a fake fireplace (with or without flame) may just be the solution for you.
With ceramic or cement logs, real flame, and real heat, gas-powered fireplaces are being more and more popular. You can hook the fireplace up directly to your home’s gas line or to an outside tank. This is much more economical than firewood, and the natural gas is clean-burning and produces less smoke and grime.
There are two kinds of gas fireplaces:
- Direct-vent: Gas fireplaces that are vented through a chimney or outside wall.
- Vent-free or ventless: Gas fireplaces that require no vents at all.
Electric fireplaces are convenient, portable, and economic. Generally cheaper than gas fireplaces, you can put an electric fireplace anywhere there’s an electrical outlet. They require no vents. They often have glowing “logs” instead of flames. A portable electric fireplace is the perfect solution for a renter—you can have the warmth and coziness of a real fireplace and still take it with you when you move.
Gel-fueled fireplaces (also known as portable fireplaces or vent-less fireplaces) burn alcohol gel in small canisters that you place behind the “logs” after being lighting them. Many gel fireplaces cost less than $500. This price, along with their portability make gel fireplaces popular with renters. Since they usually don’t produce much heat, they are generally used for ambience; you can even try different scents.
Making Your Own Fake Fireplace
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, only one-third of Americans actually use fireplaces for heat. If you are part of the two-thirds majority, maybe you should consider building your own non-burning fireplace? Consider using a hand-carved hardwood mantel that you can finish yourself and install in your home. Fireplaces without working fireboxes can still have a real flame if you use fireplace candelabras. And don’t forget about hanging your stockings on the mantle come Christmas!