Answers to Your Burning Questions

There’s nothing like a fireplace on a cold winter night. But which type of fireplace should you get? Maybe you’ve already decided against the mess of a wood burning fireplace. That leaves electric or gas fireplaces.

Both eliminate the mess you’re trying to avoid but beyond that, which is the right choice for you? Take a closer look at gas vs electric fireplace facts so you’re in the know to make a good decision.

Efficiency & Heat

Let’s get technical for a second and talk about BTUs. A BTU is a measurement of heat. More specifically, the amount of heat/energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree. Most fireplaces use BTUs as a standard measure of the energy required to heat a space.

Gas fireplaces use anywhere from 7000 to 16,000 BTUs. Electric fireplaces also vary but generally use around 5000 BTUs.

Gas fireplaces tend to lose some of the heat they generate out the chimney rendering them anywhere from 70-90% efficient for heating. Electric fireplaces are 100% efficient but cannot heat as large a space as a gas fireplace. They are limited to about 400-1000 square feet.

A study found that an electric fireplace could raise the temperature in a small room (with the door closed) about 13 degrees in 4 hours. Gas fireplaces will vary based on the size of the unit and the size of the room.


Close up of flame.


Gas fireplaces have real flame, whereas electric fireplaces have flame effects. Gas fireplaces heat with actual flame and electric uses an alternative like electric coils or infrared for heating.

Electric fireplaces do a pretty good job replicating the look of real flame. Sometimes you might find guests doing a double take or not even noticing that you don’t have real flames. If you’re more interested in the ambiance a fireplace creates, electric fireplaces will do the job well. More on that here.

If you’re a purist and need the real, heat producing flames, gas is the better way to go.


Gas fireplaces require a little maintenance, but do need it regularly. Electric fireplaces need pretty much no maintenance (unless something breaks).

Regular maintenance on your gas fireplace is absolutely essential to keep it running well and safely. An improperly maintained gas fireplace can result in the buildup of carbon monoxide gas and can pose a danger to people and pets.

Electric fireplaces pose no risk as long as there is no damage to cords or electrical outlets. Always follow manufacturer directions on operation of your fireplace to stay safe.


Both gas and electric fireplaces are affordable to run. It’s estimated that gas will cost around $60 per year to run and electric around $25 a year to run when used for heating purposes. Even though gas appears to cost less, they come out about even when you consider that electric is a supplemental heat and you have to run another source of heat.

Installation costs for gas are significantly more than electric. Gas fireplaces are permanent fixtures that must be built in. You might have to add a gas or propane line into the house or build ventilation/chimney if you don’t already have one.

Electric fireplaces require no building or structural adjustments. You can simply plug them in and turn them on. However, there may be some minimal work and cost if you want to mount your fireplace to the wall or build a recessed area for your fireplace.


Wall fireplace visible from two different rooms.

Home Value Increase

The National Association of Real Estate Appraisers states that fireplaces often bring a 100% return on investment. In fact, a fireplace can increase the resale value of a home from 6-12%. Adding a fireplace is clearly a good investment for your home and its future.

Electric vs gas fireplaces add differing amounts of value to your home. Gas fireplaces are permanent fixtures and thus add more value. Electric fireplaces are not permanent and don’t necessarily add structural value to your home, however, an upscale electric fireplace does add considerable ambiance that helps sell houses.


Electric fireplaces are easy to install. You can do it yourself in most cases. They are not permanent, built-in features, which make them really easy to install.

Installation of an electric fireplace may be as simple as plugging it in turning it on. In other cases, you may need to mount it to the wall.

Gas fireplaces are fairly complex to install and require professional help. If you don’t already have a gas or propane line, that will need to be installed. You will also need proper ventilation in the form of a chimney. Without proper installation, you risk fire and carbon monoxide dangers.

On the upside, a gas fireplace offers a permanent feature to your home that increases its value and bumps up the heating capacity.


Who wins in the battle of the gas vs electric fireplace? That really depends on your preferences, budget, and future plans. Start your fireplace journey with Electric Fireplaces Direct.


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