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Gel Fireplaces vs. Electric Fireplaces

Both gel fireplaces and electric fireplaces are a viable alternative to traditional gas or wood. Neither requires venting, a flue or a chimney, meaning you can put them just about anywhere inside or outside your home to generate ambiance and heat. So what’s the difference and which is better for you?

Gel Fireplaces

How it Works- Gel fireplaces work by having a can of fuel, or several in the fireplace area. The gel fuel is made up mostly of isopropyl alcohol and comes in a 12- to 18-ounce metal can depending on the manufacturer. The cans have replaceable lids that must be removed to ignite and can be used as a snuffer afterwards.
Environmental – The fuel is made of a special mixture of slow-burning alcohol and gel that is clean burning and safe for the environment.
Cost- Each of the cans of gel fuel can burn for several hours and costs about $3. One log set can hold up to three cans of gel fuel, costing about $1.05 an hour to run.
Heat Output- Although gel fireplaces are not designed to be primary heating sources, they do generate a small amount of heat up to 3,000 BTUs, which could noticeably raise the temperature in a small room. 

Realism- Primarily decorative, gel fireplaces often include multi-piece oak logs, a wrought iron grate and lava rocks to add to the ambiance.

Electric Fireplaces

How it Works- Electric fireplaces use electricity to generate heat. All they require to operate are a standard 120 V wall outlet, making them a plug and play application.
Environmental- Electric fireplaces were designed to be a more energy efficient alternative to wood or gas. They can help you lower your monthly energy bill through zone heating, which lets you turn down your central thermostat only warming the rooms you use the most.
Cost- There’s a huge range in electric fireplace options from $100 freestanding stoves to $1000+ wall mounted units and everything in between.
Heat Output- Electric fireplaces produce on average enough heat to warm a 400-1000 sq.ft. room, which produces about 4500-9000 BTUs.
Realism- Most electric fireplaces create simulated flames and embers using specialty lighting techniques on either the log set or projected on the back of the firebox. Electric fireplace technology has come a long way and Dimplex’s new Optimyst line has the first ever 3D flame and smoke effect thanks to a hidden water reservoir.

Whichever way you go, both gel fireplaces and electric fireplaces are a more sustainable alternative to wood or gas, so you can’t go wrong!

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