Convenience and simplicity at the cost of aesthetics
Electric fireplaces are an even more convenient alternative to traditional wood-burning or ventless natural gas/propane fireplaces and stoves. Lacking the need for any kind of permanent ventilation structure such as a chimney or a flue, electric fireplaces can be set against fireplace mantels or moved to different rooms and used when needed.
Older electric fireplaces provided quick heat, but they were not as cost-effective for long-term use due to cheap design and short life. The other major issue with electric fireplaces has traditionally been that they looked "fake" and were generally not a very attractive centerpiece. Modern, advanced electric fireplaces have far more aesthetically appealing views, including fiber optic displays, or randomized lights designed to simulate the look of dancing flames. However, if "real" flames are important to you, the obviously artificial look of electrical fireplaces may be a dealbreaker.
Like other types of portable electric heaters, electric fireplaces are able to radiate heat very quickly and can just as quickly be shut down for the night. In addition, there are many models which are portable and safe for use in cottages and mobile homes.
Models of electrical fireplaces range widely in size, with 20"- 42" models the more popular options. For owners who have cemented chimneys but don't wish to lose the allure of a fireplace, they may opt for an electric fireplace insert – this has the dual benefit of filling the unused space left by your fireplace and preventing the loss of additional heat through the open chimney.
Electric fireplaces are generally preferred where portability, convenience, and low initial cost are important but aesthetics are a secondary concern. It is also worth noting that dollar for dollar an electric fireplace will generally yield much less heating energy than a natural gas or propane unit – so if you're looking at a system for primary heating or to provide economical backup heat, an electric fireplace may not be the best option for you.