I love this Country. We don’t manufacture as many products as we used to, but we’ll always be the masters of the marketing universe. No other country can take something as mundane as a 1,500 watt space heater and repackage it as the Second Coming. A perfect example of this marketing ingenuity is the Amish Heat Surge Electric Fireplace.
It Rolls! It Glows! The Heat Surge miracle heater is a work of genius from the China coast! Real Amish Craftsmanship goes into each mantle! And, to quote the Heat Surge website, “It’s not just a fireplace; it’s a fine piece of furniture.”
But you have to ask yourself: Do I want to spend $587 for a mini electric fireplace on wheels that produces no more heat than any other 1,500 watt space heater costing $500 dollars less?
Just to be fair, this is a valid question for all electric fireplaces, not just the Heat Surge. Believe it or not, you could easily spend more than $2,000 for a combination electric fireplace/entertainment center heated with the same 1,500 watt unit.
No matter how much you pay for an electric fireplace, the cost attributable to the electric heating insert is about $250 (retail). So every dollar you spend over $250 is for the mantel piece. In the case of the Amish Cherry Fireplace, $250 subtracted from the $587 retail price leaves $337 for the cost of the mantel.
Since the Amish heater is a mini electric fireplace, it’s difficult to find a similar sized electric fireplace for the sake of comparison. The best I could come up with is the ProCom 24″ cherry finish electric fireplace.
Although this fireplace is the smallest ProCom makes, and uses a similar 24″ wide heating insert, it’s overall dimensions are still 2 1/2 times larger than the Heat Surge.
The last time I checked, the ProCom 24″ cherry finish fireplace was available online for $400. After subtracting $250 for the heating insert, the mantel piece for the ProCom costs $150.
So why would you be willing to pay more than twice as much for an Amish mantel less than half the size of a comparable fireplace costing 30% less?
It’s the magic of marketing Baby!
If you buy an Amish electric fireplace, it won’t be for the boring 1,500 watts of heat offered by every other space heater out there. What’s going to get you excited enough to whip out your credit card is an unexplainable attraction to the Amish, the promise of superior Amish craftsmanship and pride of ownership.
I can’t explain an unexplainable attraction, but I’ll accept the claim of superior Amish craftsmanship. However, “craftsmanship” comes at a price. Over a three year period, the premium you pay for an Amish mantel piece will add an additional $5 a month, or $180 to your actual heating costs when compared to the purchase price of a Pro Com 24″ fireplace.
This leads me to the second problem I have with the marketing of this product.
If you go to the Heat Surge website you won’t find one picture of the Amish fireplace with the wheels attached. The reason for this, in my opinion, is the wheels make it look “dinky” compared to the “substantial” look it has when pictured without the wheels.
So how much pride can you take in a product the manufacturer is embarrassed to show in its entirety?
This is a shame. The wheels are actually a selling point because they provide the means for zone heating – simply wheel the fireplace from room to room as needed. Zone heating, or heating only the room you occupy, allows you to dial back your home’s master thermostat for substantial fuel savings.
On the other hand, attempting to “zone heat” your home for multiple occupants spread out in multiple rooms with just one Amish fireplace is impossible.
I have a few other issues with their marketing claims that I could delve into, such as “It uses about as much energy to run as a coffee maker” and regional energy costs, but they have little bearing on cost effectiveness when you pay $587 for a 1,500 watt space heater.