Enjoying the experience of a fireplace can be difficult in modern day residential housing. While our ancestors considered fireplaces to be a major necessity for heating and cooking, Americans today are more likely to view them as a decorative feature or source of supplemental heat. In fact, the design of many homes built today omits the flue or chimney needed for a traditional wood burning fireplace. 

Realistic-looking electric fireplaces offer modern families a way to enjoy the beauty and warmth of open flames, in a safer, more convenient form.

If you have become interested in purchasing an electric fireplace for your home but are unsure of where to begin, the following tips can help. 

Start by examining your home's electrical system

While electric fireplaces do not create flames, they do create substantial heat. As when using an electrically-powered source of heat, homeowners will want to make sure that their current electrical system is capable of safely handling that load. Electric fireplaces come in different sizes and wattages, so it is important to match the size and wattage you select to the area where it will be used. 

As with any electric heater, electric fireplaces should never be used with extension cords or power strips. Instead, they should be plugged directly into a safe wall socket that connects to the correct size of breaker in the electrical panel. The circuit that the wall socket is part of should also not be used for other heavy load appliances when the electric fireplace is being used. 

Choose the type to fit the usage

Electric fireplaces models include insert-types that can be placed inside real or decorative fireplace openings, and wall-mounted, portable and freestanding models that are housed in attractive cabinetry. In order to get the most enjoyment from the purchase, homeowners will want to consider their expectations for the product. 

If the fireplace is needed for one location, such as providing warmth in a chilly bedroom, home office or family room, a wall mounted, cabinet or insert type model is likely the best choice. Portable or smaller freestanding models can be a good option if the family would like to utilize the fireplace in more than one area of the home. 

If the electric fireplace will be inserted into the firebox of a fireplace, electrical wiring alterations may be necessary to install a dedicated electrical plugin.   

To learn more about electric fireplaces, including safe usage and installation requirements, take time to discuss your situation and budget with a reputable electric fireplace contractor in your area. 

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