Realistic Flame Effects

When making the switch to an electric fireplace, one of the biggest concerns for many buyers is an authentic and realistic looking flame effect. The technologies behind these effects have dramatically improved over the past several years to the point that some people have difficulties distinguishing them from a real wood or gas fire.

Now you will find various types of technologies employed from reflective glass surfaces, to various projection mechanisms, multi colored LED lighting and even water vapor to create life-like and mesmerizing flame effects. The following breakdown is designed to help educate you about the various flame technologies, the level of authenticity of the effect and the manufacturers that are the highest performers. As for the most realistic? We'll let you decide.

Dimplex Flame Effects

  • Standard: The standard Dimplex flame effect has a nice flame appearance. The flames appear slightly more yellow & white with a slight orange tint. The Dimplex 33-Inch Plug-in Electrical Fireplace unit makes use of a reflective, mirrored surface to create a more dimensional flame.
  • Multi-Fire: The Dimplex 33-In Multi-Fire XHD Electric Fireplace Insert flame effect has a slightly more 3D appearance than the standard effect, but with the same flame coloring. This technology again makes use of reflective, mirror surfaces.
  • Multi-Fire XD: The Multi-Fire XD flame effect is an upgraded version of the Multi-Fire. It features an even more realistic flame effect with truer flame colors and a more "flickering" flame appearance. Dimplex 25-In Multi-Fire XD Electric Fireplace Insert units with this technology also feature ambient mood lighting to help enhance the flame as well as create more artful displays. This technology makes use of full mirrored rear surface to give the illusion of more depth.
  • Prism: The prism flame technology is exclusively offered in Wall Mounted/Built-In linear units, such as the Dimplex Prism 50-Inch Electric Fireplace. These flames appear very realistic with true flame colorings with a mesmerizing pattern. Like the Multi-Fire XD technology, Prism also offers various ambient light settings to create a truly unique visual display. This technology makes use of a reflective, mirrored rear surface for the flame projections.
  • Opti-Myst: This technology, found in the Dimplex 28-Inch Opti-Myst Electric Fireplace Insert/Log Set, utilizes lighting projections that reflect off of real water vapor – there is not reflective back or surface. Using patented technology, these units convert ordinary water into water vapor almost instantaneously. The natural air currents pull the "smoke" in various directions giving life to the effect. The various flame projections in combination of this flame/smoke effect creates one of the most realistic and believable flames on the market.
  • Opti-V: The Dimplex Opti-V Solo Built-In Electric Fireplace utilizes advanced screen technology and glass surface projections to create a truly unbelievable flame effect. The high resolution screens play a real burning fire on loop with added effects such as popping embers. The unique placement of glass surfaces creates depth to the flames and fireplace. This top-of the line technology is pricey, but the final look is truly remarkable.


  • SpectraFire: The SpectraFire flame technology offers a very realistic flame appearance. Utilizing rear projected lighting onto a matte black surface, the flames appear bright and vibrant. These units, such as the ClassicFlame 26-In 3D SpectraFire Plus Infrared Electric Fireplace Insert offer traditional flame colorings of orange, red and yellow as well as a setting which adds an additional blue hue at the center of the flame.
  • SpectraFire Plus: Found in them Hutchinson Infrared Electric Fireplace Entertainment Center, the SpectraFire Plus flame technology utilizes the same flame projection technology as SpectraFire, however it offers additional flame colors and other controllable flame features. Such colors combinations include: Traditional, SpectraFire (Traditional w/ blue hue), Indigo, Violet and Blue. The flame appearance is bright with a highly representative pattern sequence.


  • Standard: The Napoleon Ascent 33-In Built-In Electric Fireplace offers a quality flame effect which is a nice representation of a wood burning fire. The flames appear in a bright orange/yellow combination with a relatively high flame projection, giving the illusion of a larger roaring fire. There are multiple layers of projections on the matte black background that give more movement to the flames.
  • Allure: Contemporary linear wall units, such as the Napoleon 42-In Allure Phantom Wall Mount Electric Fireplace appear more dimensional than their traditional technology which gives the flames much more movement and the illusion of a "twisting" flame. You are also able to choose between orange, blue or a combination of the two color combinations.

Comfort Smart

  • Standard: The flame effect in Comfort Smart units have various shades of yellow that give the illusion of warmer and cooler areas of the flame for an authentic appeal. Popular models like the Killian Electric Fireplace Media Console project on a matte black backing, the flames really pop and offer great visibility in virtually all lighting scenarios. A stencil based projection creates crisp flame edges as well as a slightly repetitive pattern.


  • Standard: As seen in the Dynasty 55-In Built-In Electric Fireplace, the Dynasty flame projection creates the ambiance of a fire, but with more of an artistic representation. These flames don't appear as true to an actual fire, however the flames are still beautiful and create an interesting allure. Many people find them to be more contemporary in their flame interpretation and liken them more to fireplace artwork.


  • Linear Wall Mounts: The GreatCo Linear Wall Mount units utilize a more interpretive flame effect which creates a very soothing and whimsical display that isn't as realistic to a real flame as others. However, many people prefer this look when adding these units to more contemporary and modern spaces. As seen in the GreatCo 50-In Gallery Linear Wall Mount Electric Fireplace, orange and blue color treatments are available with most units.
  • Fireboxes: Alternatively in the fireboxes, the standard flame effect on GreatCo units is more realistic in nature. They have more defined flames that rise and flicker with similar movements to a real fire. Some units, like the GreatCo 29-In Electric Fireplace Insert, offer traditional orange and yellow coloring while others, like the GreatCo 44-In Linear Built-In Electric Fireplace, have blues and purples integrated with the oranges to create a more lively appearance. GreatCo 29-In Electric Fireplace Insert & 42-In Flush Mount Conversion Kit