Decorative fireplaces are an easy and
inexpensive way to add charm, beauty, and
warmth to just about any room in your home.
They can be ordered in a variety of styles and
finishes complete with stained glass accents
or curio cabinets.
Most gel and electric fireplaces sell for $350 -
$500, but the price for a specific model can
vary by as much as 10% from retailer to
Shipping prices also fluctuate a great deal. For
example, Home Shopping Network charges
$55 to ship the same gel fireplace that Target
ships for free.
Decorative fireplaces are also called ventless portable fireplaces by some online retailers.
Most of the time they are referring to gel fireplaces, but the term is also used to describe
Whether you purchase your fireplace online, or from a local retailer, you can look forward
to spending some quality time with your tools while you put it together. Normal set up
time is less than an hour.
There are two common complaints from gel fireplace owners. One is the slight odor of
alcohol from the burning gel. This can be solved by placing a scent stick in the gel or
buying one of the newer scented gels.
The other problem is replacing the cover on a burning gel container without burning
yourself. A simple magnetic opener/closer for $10 solves this problem.
How much heat does a decorative fireplace produce?
Electric fireplace heaters are rated at 1,500 watts (5120 Btus) and are designed to heat
around 200 square feet, or a 12' x 16' room.
The heat generated by a gel fireplace is determined by the number of gel canisters
burning at one time. According to Sunjel Industries, a single can of their gel generates
3,000 Btus. If this is the case, you would have to burn two cans of gel to approximate
the heat output of an electric fireplace running at the high setting.
How much does it cost to operate a decorative fireplace?
An electric fireplace rated at 1,500 watts uses 1.5 kilowatts of electricity per hour. When
you multiply 1.5 x $0.107 per kilowatt hour (the average price for electricity in the United
States), the resulting cost to operate is 16 cents per hour.
A can of gel costs around $3 (refills are less) and burns for around 3 hours. Two cans of
gel burning simultaneously would cost about $2.00 per hour, or $1.84 more per hour
than the electric fireplace.
Decorative Fireplaces: Gel vs Electric