Your Guide to Buying Stand Alone Electric Fires

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Your Guide to Buying Stand Alone Electric Fires

Nothing invites a guest in from the cold outdoors more than a welcoming fireplace. Whilst it may be impractical, expensive, and not environmentally friendly to maintain a traditional fuel burning fireplace; the effect can be recreated with stand alone electric fires. Often mimicking the aesthetic of a traditional coal or wood fireplace, a stand alone electric fire offers a cheaper and more practical alternative which can still feature as a centrepiece for a room.

About Stand Alone Electric Fires

Fireplaces have been around for as long as people have been living in buildings, and a long while before that too. In the eighteenth century they became particularly popular as ways to indicate ones wealth as well as heat the home. Often grandiose and elegant in display, they featured as focal points in studies, hallways, and lounges. Now rare in the modern day, stand alone electric fires are seen far more often as the best compromise between price, fuel bills and practicality. Stand alone electric fires normally have two main components to them, the heating and the light. The heating is usually a fan operated element, which blows out hot air generated by the heating of a resistor with an electrical current. The light is purely for aesthetics and often mimics either the glow of coal and wood or the flickering flames. Stand alone electric fires come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes, and eBay is the perfect place to filter through all of the differences between the models on offer.

Choosing A Stand Alone Electric Fire

Selecting a stand alone electric fire will vary from person to person, much depending upon the taste of the individual. However, there are a few main decisions which should be made for the practical side of things, some of which include the room the fire will feature in, the material it’s made from, and the function of the appliance.

Style of Stand Alone Electric Fire

Imitation

Imitation stand alone electric fires are designed to look as much like a real fireplace as possible. This means that the imitation appliance will often feature fake logs or fake coal made from foam or plastic, and will also be lit in a way to mimic the light given off by each relative type of fuel. These are very popular in more traditional homes with more period décor.

Traditional

Whilst imitation tries to most closely replicate a fuel burning fireplace, a traditional stand alone electric fire might try to focus more on the surround and features other than the fuel and flame itself. These might come attached to a lightweight mantelpiece to become more of a statement piece of furniture than the imitation fireplace. All stand alone electric fires can of course be mounted within a mantelpiece.

Modern/Minimal

Homes or workplaces with a more contemporary design décor would benefit from the modern or minimal stand alone electric fire. Often made from lightweight metals like chrome and aluminium, these fires are built with more sleek and stylish homes in mind. Modern electric fires are normally slimmer in profile and are found in recesses as opposed to the protruding profiles of non-electric fireplaces.

Room of Stand Alone Electric Fire

Hallway

As the first room a guest may see, a hallway is the perfect place to install a stand alone electric fire. A larger example will work better here, as it can act as a statement piece. Hallways are also traditionally a larger and colder area as they have exterior doorways and thus will benefit from a powerful stand alone electric fire.

Living Room

Choosing a stand alone electric fire for a living room will largely depend upon the décor and style of the room itself. Both modern and traditional examples can work well here, as long as they complement the existing style. An advantage of the living room in most UK houses is that they will have been built with chimneys; offering the perfect recess for a stand alone electric fire. Always measure the space available before selecting the appliance.

Kitchen

Kitchens were traditionally kept warm through the process of cooking with ovens and hobs, but stoves were often used to offer extra heat. Stand alone electric fires can be found which mimic the style of a stove rather than a traditional fuel burning fire place.

Material of Stand Alone Electric Fire

The heat produced by a stand alone electric fire means that the materials used to manufacture it must be highly resistant to a constant stream of heat. It’s extremely rare to see a modern stand alone electric fire built from anything other than metal, but there are a few different types of metal which are most common.

Aluminium/

Chrome

Found often in modern and minimal homes, aluminium and chrome are very sleek and clean metals which contribute to a stylish décor. Brushed aluminium is very popular and chrome can be polished to a very high shine which requires very little maintenance. Some more traditional stand alone electric fires are made from these materials, but are coated in paint or a particular finish to make them look more like cast iron.

Iron

Iron is the traditional material for small stoves and fuel burning fires for heating rooms without a large hearth. Iron is still used to mimic this design and has the advantage of being very strong and very tolerant of finishes and paints. Iron lasts a long time but is very heavy.

Whilst not as common as metal finishes, some stand alone electric fires are cleverly painted to mimic the finish of wood or stone. Creating this finish is difficult so be aware that inexpensive pieces may not look too similar.

Function of Stand Alone Electric Fire

Temperature

Whilst most stand alone electric fires pay close attention to practicality and aesthetics, it’s worth checking the abilities of the individual appliance. If heating a room is the most important function, look for the wattage and the controls. Most controls are hidden by doors or flaps to maintain the illusion of it being a real fire, so they might require some searching. Check whether the controls on offer are switches or dials. Switches offer static increases in temperature and power whereas dials will give a lot more scope to find the perfect temperature.

A good rule of thumb to calculate how big the stand alone electric fire will have to be to heat a room, is to divide the wattage by ten. For example, a 3000 watt electric fire would be powerful enough to heat a space of 300 square feet. Finding out the size of the room and multiplying it by ten should give a rough estimation of the type of stand alone electric fire to look for.

Aesthetic

Similarly to temperature, the aesthetic abilities of stand alone electric fires can be customised on particular models. More often than not, these controls will be with the temperature controls. Look out for the ability to increase/decrease the brightness of the flames or glow, alone with the ability to change the flicker rate.

Technology of Stand Alone Electric Fire

Roller

To create a moving effect to mimic flames, there are three main ways. The first is to use a roller, which is a light source housed in a “roll” with sections cut out. As the roll turns, light is let through onto a screen through predetermined holes which make it look as if there are dancing and flickering flames. This method is very simple and is unlikely to malfunction, as it is normally just paper or card on the roll and a simple electric motor.

Flicker

In a similar vein to the roller, a flicker fireplace will simply block the light of a bulb with random or pattern obstacles. Small electric motors will push pieces of opaque material in the path of the light to achieve the same effect as a roller.

Screen

The more expensive stand alone electric fires utilise an LCD screen to show images of flames or of burning fuel. This can often look the most realistic if the screen is of high resolution or in HD, as it can be a real recording of burning logs or coal. Looking closely will ruin the illusion as it will be in 2D, but from afar this can look the most accurate.

Finding A Stand Alone Electric Fire on eBay

Click the All Categories link on the eBay home page and then open up the Home, Furniture & DIY directory. Within this list, click Fireplace & Accessories and then in the left hand navigation bar, click either Fireplaces or Heating Stoves.. Be sure to ascertain that the fires are electrically powered in the product details. Stand alone electric fires can also sometimes be found in the Heating/Cooling/Air category.

Conclusion

Very few of us have the time or money to maintain a traditional fuel fireplace, as quaint as they may be. Stand alone electric fires offer a fantastic replacement offering us most of the benefits with few drawbacks. Whilst the multitude of shapes, sizes, and brands out there might seem intimidating; finding the right electric fire is a matter of personal taste. Armed with the knowledge above, now it should be both easy and exciting to find the perfect stand alone electric fire on eBay.

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