There are more fake fireplace options out there than most people imagine. You can choose from a range of sizes, shapes, and features to create a cozy patio without significant safety hazards or a messy clean-up.
Since every patio and every family is different, you'll have to carefully consider your wants and needs before deciding on a fireplace. Even though faux fireplaces are generally safe, you'll want to make safety features your number one consideration and decide on which spot on your patio is both functional and safe.
Here are our top six things to consider when choosing a faux fireplace for patios and sunrooms.
Perhaps the most critical question to consider is where your fireplace will go. For small patios, you'll need to measure the space to make sure the fireplace you want will fit without crowding out other furniture. You should also avoid placing the fireplace too close to any steps or ledges, especially if there isn't a railing.
If the largest location on the patio or in a patio wall is far from your tables and chairs, though, it might be worth it to choose a smaller spot. A faux fireplace that is far from your guests or out of their line of sight might not have the desired effect on your patio's atmosphere.
You can also try a corner fireplace if there's not enough room elsewhere on your patio. These are designed to fit seamlessly in the corner of a room and also work well for outdoor spaces as long as they are rated for outdoor use.
Standalone or Built-In
Most outdoor fireplaces are designed to be independent of any walls, other than needing an extension cord for electricity. This makes them easy to move around as necessary, including bringing them indoors if needed during the winter months.
However, you might find that it's worth improving your home's value by installing a fireplace into a wall. Building a fireplace into the same wall as the door is usually inconvenient, but building a separate low wall on one side adds dimension to your patio.
The best option for you will partly depend on how much space you have. Standalone fireplaces often require a certain amount of free space behind them as well as in front of them, so they shouldn't be placed up against railings or walls.
Heated or Unheated
Outdoor faux fireplaces often use electricity or infrared to generate heat. This allows the user to carefully control the temperature, usually with an included remote control. Naturally, this also makes faux fireplaces much safer than their gas or wood counterparts.
Faux fireplaces with heating elements that can be turned on and off are the most common option. However, the heating element may be unnecessary if you live in a climate that is warm year-round and only want the fireplace for light and aesthetics. Purely decorative fake fireplaces are also much less expensive than ones with heating elements.
Enclosed or Unenclosed Spaces
If your patio is at least partly covered, your faux fireplace won't need to put out as much heat to keep people nearby warm. You'll also have to worry a little less about weatherproofing and general wear and tear from the elements.
However, unenclosed patios make it much easier to ventilate the fireplace appropriately. Although ventilation is more of a concern with gas fireplaces than with electric ones, you'll still need to make sure your system's intake and output vents remain unobstructed in accordance with manufacturer directions.
Whatever you decide, make sure to look for a fireplace that is UL certified or has a similarly high certification. Also, make sure it's rated for outdoor use if your patio is completely unenclosed, and consider bringing standalone models inside when not in use.
Outdoor faux fireplaces are not available in quite as many finishes as indoor ones, in large part because of the weatherproofing and safety requirements for outdoor fireplaces. However, families can still choose from an assortment of styles to fit with their overall decor.
Brick and stone are very popular options for fake fireplaces both indoors and outdoors. These natural finishes pair well with wood furniture in traditional styles. Faux wood also pairs well with wood furniture, but you'll want to choose a darker color for the fireplace to provide some contrast.
Metal fireplaces are usually painted black or gray, which makes them a great choice for pairing with contemporary furniture. However, some metal faux fireplaces are designed to look like rustic ironwork, which allows them to pair better with traditional furniture.
Some fireplaces also have much more glass than others. This enhances the fireplace's modern look, and can help make your patio feel much larger. Although glass requires more frequent cleaning than other materials, it looks beautiful when properly maintained.
Most modern faux fireplaces have similar safety features, including cool-touch front glass and tip-over prevention. Many also have an automatic shut-off that turns the fireplace off after a certain number of hours or if the heating element gets too hot.
Read the product description carefully to ensure the fireplace you choose has all the safety features you need. It's worth upgrading to a better model to make sure your fireplace has everything you need to keep guests safe, especially if young children frequently visit your home.
Bringing Your Dream Fireplace Home
Once you've carefully checked the above considerations, you should have several models to choose from. Read the user reviews carefully to ensure installation and maintenance live up to the manufacturer's claims, and select a model you know you can manage.
After that, you'll be ready to order and enjoy your new fireplace. If you choose a standalone fireplace, remember that you can even adjust its placement as needed until you create the perfect layout. With a little basic maintenance and attention to safety measures, you can enjoy a heated or purely decorative faux fireplace during meals or family gatherings outside.