frugal

5 simple home luxuries for less

Indoor fireplace
Indoor fireplace © MCarper/Shutterstock.com

Have you always wanted a fireplace in your house but don't have a chimney? Thanks to electric and gel fireplaces, you can now add one that gives off heat and flickering flames without the need for a flue.

Whether mounting it on the wall or setting it on the floor, a freestanding fireplace can easily make a room feel cozier.

"I'm seeing the trend with electric fireplaces," says John Hoang, president of PortableFireplace.com. "Consumers are buying more, especially with wall-mounted units, after seeing them in restaurants and in places like Las Vegas." Denham agrees, saying the long, rectangular gel units are gaining popularity with her clients.

Electric fireplaces have improved in recent years, and flames no longer look fake, says Hoang. "LED (lighting) technology allows the embers to glow just like pulsating embers. A lot of people confuse them with real fire," he says.

In contrast, gel fireplaces use canisters with gel fuel -- the flames are real. Hoang says that 90 percent of his customers purchase electric units because they're safer around children and there's no fuel to purchase.

Styles for gel and electric fireplaces vary from traditional to modern and generally cost between $300 and $1,000.

Because these aren't built into the wall, these kinds of fireplaces can be moved around the room anytime. The fireplaces can even be used outdoors, but the heat won't be as effective, Hoang says.

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