The 7 Best Electric Fireplaces that Crackle

The sounds of live fire can be comforting, but building a live fire in your home isn’t always convenient or possible.  Fortunately, electric fireplaces make it possible to have realistic looking and sounding fires in your home without mess or danger.  

If you already own an electric fireplace or fireplace insert that doesn’t have that satisfying crackle,  the Adagio Crackler System is fantastic addition. It’s easy to use and portable. Volume control allows you to have a roaring fire or gentle background noise. Create instant ambiance with your electric fireplace with sounds to match.

The Best Electric Fireplaces with Natural Crackling Sounds

1)56” Brighton Coffee Black Electric Fireplace Media Cabinet

This cabinet fireplace is perfect for smaller homes and apartments, providing stylish storage and a glorious fire. Infrared quartz technology helps retain natural humidity in the air for extra comfort. The fire’s brightness is adjustable to your liking with several color ways to cycle through. Family movie nights are made that much cozier with this crackling fireplace.

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The 5 Best Electric Fireplace Inserts

Electric fireplace inserts are an efficient way to heat the heart of your home. They come in a variety of styles, with a variety of features. To choose the best electric fireplace insert for you, decide what’s important to you. Are you looking for realistic flame? How about that cozy crackle sound that real wood fires provide?

At Portable, we pride ourselves on offering high quality fireplaces and inserts, at the best prices guaranteed. We’ve gathered this list of our best electric fireplace inserts, with different styles and unique features, so you can keep toasty all year-round.

1)25” Dimplex Acrylic Ice Contemporary Electric Fireplace Insert

This stunning insert features shimmering acrylic ice embers that create a multi-color adjustable light display. The heat radius reaches up to 1,000 feet, ideal for heating living areas. The front of the box remains cool to the touch, making this insert a safe choice for families. Sustainable and energy efficient, this insert costs pennies to run and its LED lights require zero upkeep.  Enjoy the calming flame effect with or without heat, for a soothing visual experience any day of the year.

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Which Electric Fireplace Insert is the Best?

Electric fireplace inserts are the quick, modern solution to update your fireplace so that you can enjoy a cozy night by the fire, any night of the week. An electric fireplace insert fits into your existing mantel or fireplace. Inserts are designed to provide a realistic experience with faux logs and glowing lights, and even, the comforting crackle, with none of the mess. Use our guide to help you find the perfect electric insert for your home.

Top Rated Electric Inserts

Each of our fireplace inserts has been carefully chosen for its high quality, but these inserts have been rated our top inserts by you, our customers. At, we’re the fireplace experts, but only you know what you want in style and features for your home.

16” Dimplex Opti-Myst Cassette Fireplace Insert

This deceptively simple insert provides up to 12 hours of warmth and realistic looking flame and “smoke.” Quick set up with a remote allows you to place, fill the water reservoir, and enjoy your fireplace within minutes.

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Fireplace Inserts: What You Need to Know

What is a Fireplace Insert?

What is a Fireplace Insert
Installation of the Dimplex Revillusion is as simple as plugging it in

A fireplace insert is a unit that’s installed into a pre-existing wood or stone fireplace, and serves as the primary heating element. An insert typically includes the interior walls of the fireplace, a grate, and life-like logs that are made of materials such as resin.

The first fireplace inserts were invented in 1896 by Joab R. Donaldson. These early inserts used smokeless coke fuel—a derivative of distilling coal—and used an electric blower to make the insert more efficient.

Early fireplace inserts were adopted and used primarily by low-income coal mining families because the coal could be procured from their own backyards. There are many varieties of inserts and can be categorized by fuel type.

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How to Decide: Patio Heater vs Fire Pit

When looking for a way to keep your guests or customers warm and cozy, while enjoying your outdoor space, there are two main options: patio heaters and fire pits. As temperatures drop, having an outdoor heating source means you can stay outside longer without having a built-in fireplace or digging an expensive firepit. Even on chilly summer evenings, you will love having something to keep away the chill or roast marshmallows for s’mores.

How do you know if a patio heater or if a fire pit is right for you? Use our guide to help you decide which heat source is more your style. Your patio or backyard will seem like a whole new space!

Patio Heaters

93'' Exige Stainless Steel Deluxe Patio Heater

The 93” Exige Stainless Steel Deluxe Patio Heater

Commonly used to heat outdoor seating sections of restaurants, patio heaters are capable of heating a large area with the use of propane fuel or electricity. If you spend lots of time outdoors, patio heaters may be perfect for you. Children and pets are safe with pole style heaters and there are no flying sparks or embers. Patio heaters are low maintenance and heat quickly. Yes, they really work and provide plenty of heat!
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Tabletop Fireplaces: What is the Difference between Bioethanol Liquid Fuel and Gel Fuel?

When shopping for a tabletop fireplace, you need to learn about the different ways such fireplaces are fueled. Most tabletop fireplaces use either bioethanol liquid fuel or alcohol gel fuel. I created an organized presentation of the differences between the two types of fuels.

Two important considerations to note:

  • Fueling methods for devices are not interchangeable. Tabletop fireplaces are designed specifically to utilize only one type of fuel. The owner’s manual will specify which fuel to use.
  • These fuels create REAL flames, just like those created by wood burning. Therefore, fuels and flames should be kept away from pets and children.

Bioethanol vs Gel Fuel Fireplaces

 Bioethanol Liquid FuelGel Fuel
MaterialBioethanol is a green fuel derived directly from plants. It is composed of a minimum of 96% pure ethanol, an absolute alcohol, produced by the fermentation of sugars originating in crops such as corn, sugarcane, sweet, sorghum, or wheat.Also considered a green fuel, gel fuel is made from pure isopropyl alcohol, water, salt, and thickness.
ByproductsWater Vapor and carbon dioxide. Does not produce any soot or ash. Water vapor and carbon dioxide. Does not produce any soot or ash. May leave a bit of residue when burned.
Fire TypeA fire from bioethanol liquid fuel burns more powerfully than one produced from gel fuel. It produces an orange yellow flame, with lots of motion. Has smaller, sturdier flames than those from liquid fuel. Produces a yellow flame, that is thicker, less "dancing" than the flame created by a liquid fuel. Thus, the flame created by gel fuel is typically more wind resistant.
HeatNot a primary heat source. Creates subtle warmth.Not a primary heat source. Creates subtle warmth.
SoundSoundlessThe salt adds the crackling sound that simulates a true wood fire.
Time Period of FireA quart of liquid will produce a fire that lasts about 5 hours, depending on the size of the burning pot. The fire requires from 5-15 minutes to warm up.A 13 oz. can will provide about 2.5 hours of fire. Once lit, the flame is instant, requiring no warm-up time.
Start-UpThe liquid is poured into a fuel reservoir. (See owner's manual on each specific device to see where it is located.) Any spillage should be cleaned, and the entire bottle should be removed from the area, before lighting. Fire is lit with a long match or lighter wand.Alcohol gel comes in a canister. The whole canister usually goes in a specific area of the fireplace that is designated to hold it. The canister must be shaken to mix isopropyl alcohol and thickeners. It is lit with a long wand lighter.
RelightingWait 45 minutes before relighting. It is dangerous to relight liquid fuel when it is still hot.Wait 45 minutes before relighting. It is dangerous to relight gel fuel when it is still hot.
Flame ControlFireplaces that use liquid fuel have a lid to the fuel tray. The larger the opening of the lid, the more oxygen mixes with the flame, to create a larger flame.Flame size cannot be regulated. It is either on or off.
ExtinguishingClose the fuel tray lid to eliminate the supply of oxygen and, thus, extinguish the flame. Careful, the area remains hot.Place the lid on the gel fuel canister or use a gel fuel sniffer to extinguish. Careful, the area remains hot for a while.

View an image version of this table to download or embed here.

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Tabletop Fireplaces – A Modern Way to Enjoy Age-Old Fire

Throughout the ages, fire has fed mankind’s bodies and souls. Warming and soothing, a fire inspires contemplation, beckons gathering and conversation, and even lulls us into contented slumber. Artists and poets have tried to capture the essence of this vital force in their works. Take for example this alluring poem entitled The Fireplace by Edwina Reizer.

Today, people have lots of options as to how they enjoy their fire. They may choose to own a large, built-in fireplace or a smaller, movable fireplace. Their fireplace can be the traditional wood-burning type, or electric or ethanol powered. A modern option is the tabletop fireplace.

Think of it as somewhere between a traditional fireplace and a large candle. It’s less voluminous than a fireplace, easily moved, and produces none of the soot and ash. It’s warmer than a mere candle. Plus, many of these tabletop fireplaces are designed with such artistry, they serve as beautiful décor in their own right, even without the dancing flames ignited.

Lampada Ethanol Tabletop Fireplace

The Lampada Ethanol Tabletop Fireplace

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Pearl Mantels: Dedicated to Home and Hearth

For humankind throughout the ages, a fireplace and mantel have evoked a sense of warmth, stability, safety… home. It is, and should be, the centerpiece of a room. As important as the raw, organic flame, the mantel that surrounds it should be beautiful.

Pearl Mantels has but one passion, creating mantels that are the perfect complement to provocative, glittering flames. In fact, the company has dedicated itself to the art of fireplace mantel design for over 20 years. Their artisans and craftsmen, like the ones of yore, lovingly hand cut and polish each mantel. Overseen by the master artist herself, Mother Nature, the mantels often retain the rudimental features only she can imbue. Her exquisite and sensual touches to wood make each mantel a one-of-kind piece of art.

Many of Pearl’s mantels are made from live edge wood. Live edge wood furniture is created by retaining the original lines of the tree trunk, including edges, knots, gnarls and holes. This technique elicits the innate glory of the tree. The master of this technique was woodworker and architect George Nakashima, who believed that furniture could evince “the soul of a tree.” (See his 1981 memoir: The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworker’s Reflections

The Soul of a Tree by George Nakashima

George Nakashima’s book “The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworker’s Reflections”

Featured below are some of Pearl Mantels original mantel designs:
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Guide to Ethanol Fireplaces

Ethanol fireplaces are fireplaces that burn using bio ethanol fuel, a renewable fuel source that’s only by-products are heat, carbon dioxide, and steam, making it an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fireplaces. Bio ethanol, or gel fireplaces as they’re sometimes referred to as, give off of the warmth of an authentic flame while eliminating the emissions released into the air by traditional gas or wood burning fireplaces.


23.5″ Ignis Tectum Mini Freestanding Ventless Ethanol Fireplace

Bio ethanol only gives off carbon dioxide, similar to burning candles indoors, so they don’t require a flu or chimney in most cases. As with any other source of flame like candles or wood fires, it is not recommended to burn ethanol flames indoors in non-ventilated rooms for extended periods of time because of the carbon dioxide. Aside from this, bio ethanol fireplaces are completely safe to be used indoors or outdoors.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for an ethanol fireplace.
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Calculating BTU’s Per Square Foot

The British Thermal Unit, or BTU, is the Imperial system’s basic unit of heat. One BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. When you’re able to determine how many BTUs per square foot of space a room requires, you’ll can pick a heating device with the right heating capacity for your home.

Close up of calculator

Photography by Jan Kaláb

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