What's The Deal With These Amish Fireplaces?

Like this

A friend has one and he swears by it-- says he’s turned off his furnace and saved zillions on his electric bill by plugging in his little miracle.

This screams “too good to be true” to me.

What’s the dope?

Consumerist article with link to an earlier Consumerist article reporting on a Consumer Reports test.

Verdict: it’s an electric heater.

It’s an electric space heater with an amish carved wooden case.

If you save money over natural gas, its due to heat dispersion patterns in your home. Sometimes space heaters help, sometimes they’s just another appliance sucking juice.

Only the outside of the heater is made by the Amish. The main part of it is manufactured in China:


I only wish that before they’d spent all that money on double-truck newspaper ads they’d learn the difference between mantel and mantle. It hurts my eyes every time I see it.

To elaborate: The cost per BTU (or any other unit of energy) is nearly always higher for electric resistance heaters than for other methods. But these heat sources can be deployed just where they are needed, which might reduce the total energy need sufficiently to offset the higher unit cost.

Much advertising seems to imply that certain (typically expensive) electric heaters are meaningfully more efficient than others. In fact, efficiency in all cases approaches unity (IOW, close to 100% of the electricity that’s consumed is converted to heat).

Its an electric space heater with a fan. Your friend’s gas bill went down but his electric bill went up, if he’s heating the same amount of space.

I think its a psychological trick. People turn down their furnaces and heat their bedrooms at night with this thing. Well, you could do that with any space heater, but the Amish heater just sounds cooler, like it uses some kind of lost knowledge only ‘salt of the earth’ types know. Turns out there’s nothing Amish about it. Its a Chinese space heater with some kind of Amish designed cover.

I do the same thing at home with an oil filled electric heater, which is superior to these little fan-based heaters. No Amish, crying Indians, or magic elves required.

We just bought a little space heater, and it is about the best heater I’ve ever experienced - it’s small, but it will heat a room up many degrees in minutes. It’s an electric heater with both a fan and oscillating movement- I knew the fan helped move the heat around, but the oscillating puts it over the top. It’s similar to this one, except the buttons are on the top where they belong on a heater. It also comes with a remote, which is great at night when we’re taking the edge of the bedroom coldness but don’t want the heater running all night (it has a thermostat, but I prefer the heater off at night).

Is the cabinet even really made by Amish? Those pictures do not look real. I seriously doubt that these are individually hand-carved out of solid wood. Maybe they have some Amish folks who work in the factory where they are machine-stamped and assembled.

I guess I’m doubly confused here. Not only did you cross your links (I guess this is a subcategory of Guadere’s Law), but each one says that fireplace doohickey can be spelled using both choices.

The thing that kills me about these ads is not the efficiency that they tout, but that you buy the cabinet and get a* heater for free*! It’s pretty hard to find the pricing in those ads, too. There is a similar pitch for some kind of uncirculated coins and you get a safe for free!

ETA: It includes “An on-board Powerful hi-tech heat turbine silently forces hot air out into the room”–transalation: Fan. And “No Venting and No Chimney Required.” This is like advertising butter as “Sugar-Free!”

I’m actually in the process of purchasing a similar thing - it looks for all the world like a cast-iron wood stove, but the flame is a projection. There is a heater attached, but I doubt we will use it much - I just miss having a fire in the living room, which, for various reasons, we cannot have.

I don’t know if the people employed by the Amish furniture factory are actually Amish themselves, but the Amish furniture store near where I grew up sells furniture that they order from a catalog. It arrives in kits, and they just assemble it on the premises. You can still get the nice handcrafted stuff, but you have to specially order it (but they don’t exactly advertise that, especially to the people who come from out of town to gawk at the quaint Amish people and buy their awesome furniture). I don’t know how common that is among Amish furniture stores, but I suppose it’s common enough that there’s an actual Amish furniture catalog that they order from.

I’d be extremely surprised if the cabinets are not made of plywood or MDF, which are not traditional Amish furniture materials. That’s all I’m saying.

Buy a $50 piece of wood and we’ll throw in a $40 electric heater for $300. Ignore the fact that the Amish don’t use electricity or allow themselves to be photographed for ads and let the miracle (of marketing) begin. If you buy one I’d like to thank you for employing people in my state.

That was my first impression too - if there were a theme park called AmishWorld (I daren’t even check if there is), and if it had an unconvincing animatronic diorama entitled “Amish craftsmen at work”, I would expect it to look exactly like that photo.

That picture has always made me laugh. In the foreground, you have a guy taking a block plane to a unit that is not just assembled and finished, but actually in operation! Next to him are a bunch of clamps with their virginal price tags still on. In the background is a guy fiddling with a rasp at the middle of a small panel of wood. It’s a wonderful bit of hokum.

Are you telling us that the Chinese in the furniture kit factory aren’t Amish? The horror! First there is no Santa Claus, then there are not enough Chinese Amish to work the furniture kit factory. Next, you’ll tell us that the London Bridge isn’t in London.

Plus, the rat bastards who market these things on TV are crooked as corkscrews; my soon to be ex Marcie ordered one from the TV 1-800 number and was assured she had (some amount of time) to cancel the order. The number she was given was no longer connected and no other number was available. She finally managed to find a number for the company itself and they told her it was impossible to cancel her order as the piece designated for her was already under construction. She told them she would not accept it if it was shipped to our home. The TV marketing liars had promised not to bill her credit card until the thing was shipped; the charges appeared the very next day. She called her credit card company and was told that problems with these people were common; they canceled the charge and the rat bastards billed her again as soon as they were notified of the cancellation. She ended up canceling that credit card and getting a new one. That company threatened to sue her and she promised to sue them; they called our number several times a day but we pulled their trick on them; we got a new, unpublished phone number. I would NOT advise anyone to buy from those people. In fact, I would advise people to change channels as soon as one of those adds pops up.

Only one per household!