Electric candle warmers or burning candles. Which is more cost effective? Which gives you more fragrance? Which is more convenient? We’ll try and answer all of these questions and more in this post.
Just a heads up, this post is mainly comparing jar candle warmers, not wax melt warmers.
- 1. Electric Candle Warmers
- 1.1 How Do Electric Candle Warmers Work?
- 1.2 Are Electric Candle Warmers Safe?
- 1.3 Costs Of Electric Candle Warmers
- 2. Burning Vs Warming Candles
- 2.1 Which Gives More Scent Throw?
- 2.2 Which Lasts Longer?
- 2.3 Which Is More Convenient?
- 2.4 Pros and Cons Of Each
- 3. Top 5 Electric Candle Warmer Picks
I’ve had a few wax melt warmers in the past but I definitely have more experience with burning candles. However, lately I’ve been looking into the different types of wax warmers that are out there for melting my candles as an alternative to burning.
It’s not that I’m planning to stop burning candles. I love burning candles. But sometimes, especially if I have lot’s of other things going on while I have candles burning around the house, I find myself worrying about the danger of that open flame.
It’s part of the reason I’ve been getting in to flameless candles more often lately as well.
Anyways, upon doing more research, I’ve found that there are for sure some pros and cons to each. I thought it’d be a good idea to share some of these in this post and hopefully I can save anyone interested a bit of the hassle in finding everything out on your own.
Electric Candle Warmers
First, we’ll go over some information you may find helpful on electric candle warmers.
How Do Electric Candle Warmers Work?
So with electric candle warmers, you are typically going to have a heat source underneath or over top of your candle.
Lamp Warmer Style
The candle warmers which melt from the top of your candle will use a halogen light bulb to heat a layer of wax from the top of your candle, releasing the fragrance within the wax.
However, because there is no flame which is rapidly burning off the wax like in a regular candle, you will need to dump the melted wax from the candle when there is no more scent being given off from that layer of wax.
Plate Warmer Style
With a plate candle warmer, you’re candle will be heated from the bottom up. Because of the heat that most of these plates can output, likely your entire candle jar will be melted and all of the wax will be liquid.
With this type of warmer you don’t really need to worry about dumping layers of wax as all of the wax will mix and will eventually just burn off all of it’s scent. You’re going to have an entire jar of hot liquid wax when using this type of warmer however, so it is best to use smaller candles with plate warmers
Are Electric Candle Warmers Safe?
Safety was one of my main reasons for looking into candle warmers over traditional candles in the first place and after what I’ve found, I don’t believe they are 100% safe either.
Sure, there is no open flame that you need to worry about. But you are still dealing with a significant heat source.
There are a few reasons that I feel the lamp style warmers are much safer than the plate style:
- Less melted wax at one time that could possible spill or bubble up
- Heat plates have the potential to get too hot, or not hot enough
- Lamps can be left on for longer without worry
Some electric candle warmers come with an auto shut-off switch and I highly recommend making sure the one you purchase has one.
While reading some reviews on Amazon for various plate warmers, I’ve found multiple reports of wax either:
- Getting too hot and causing the wax to bubble up or candle jars to crack
- Not getting hot enough and only melting the bottom layer of wax from a larger candle which releases no scent and renders the product useless.
- Some cases where the heat plate got so hot that it melted through its outer casing and ruined whatever was underneath it!
Even if it’s only a fraction of these products that are defective, I really can’t recommend getting this style for your candles. If you do decide to go for a plate style of warmer, make sure that you read through all the reviews before buying and also make sure to only use candles with an inch or two of wax left.
Costs Of Electric Candle Warmers
With electric candle warmers you are typically going to get a little more life out of your wax but you will be paying for the extra appliance to melt your wax and also the additional electricity that the warmers will be using.
Your electricity bill is not going to skyrocket if you have an electric candle warmer, but it will be a bit of a bump in cost there. If you are interested in knowing exactly how much more your electricity will be, read the breakdown below.
Calculating The Cost Of Electricity For Your Candle Warmer
To find how much electricity a candle warmer or any appliance will use we find the device’s electricity rating which is usually in Watts. Most candle warmers I have found are around 25W.
We then divide that by 1000 to get kW. So we now have 0.025 kW if we use the candle warmer example above.
Then we multiply that number by how many hours we plan to use our candle warmer in a day, month, or year. Let’s say we use the candle warmer 100 hours per month. We now have 2.5kWh.
Finally we multiply that by the cost of electricity, which we found to average around $0.13 per kWh. So if we have our candle warmer turned on for 100 hours a month, we will be spending around $0.33 extra for electricity in that month.
Cost Of The Candle Warmer Itself
As for the cost of candle warmers, I’ve seen them range from around $10 all the way up to some that are over $100.
Bottom Up Plate Warmers
The plate warmers heat from the bottom of the candles up. They seem to be the cheapest of all the types and will cost around $10 – $20
2 in 1 Wax Melt Warmer and Jar Candle Warmer
There are also 2 in 1 warmers which feature a dish which you can heat up wax melts in but also, if you remove the dish, there is a plate candle warmer below that usually holds a relatively small jar candle. I’ve heard much less bad things about these types of warmers when compared to the basic plate warmers. They also look much nicer. If you do decide that you want a plate style candle warmer, I would go for one of these. These typically cost from $15 – $35.
Lamp and Lantern Top Down Candle Warmers
Lastly, there are the lamp and lantern style candle warmers. In my opinion, these look the nicest, are the safest, and also the most efficient. You can find some that are designed to look like your typical desk lamps, and also some that look like various styles of lanterns. These typically range in price from $15 – $75, depending on the quality
Burning Candles vs Warming Candles. Which Gives Better Scent Throw?
This point is going to be much debated, with some people swearing that candles give more scent throw, while others are insistent that melted wax from warmers will give you more scent throw. While I can’t tell you with one hundred percent certainty one way or the other, I can tell you that there are quite a few factors that will change how much scent throw you are getting with both options.
To make it simple I am going to call it a draw. With the same types of candle and the same amount of wax being melted, your are going to get nearly the same amount of scent throw.
With candle warmers and wax warmers, you are basically going to be melting the wax until it’s scent is gone. Depending on how much of your wax is melted at one time from the warmer you will get more or less fragrance throw. If less is melted you will get less throw generally, and if more is melted you will get more. This also means that your candle will lose it’s scent more or less quickly depending on how much is being melted at one time.
With candles that you burn, the throw will come down to the brand of candle you have, the size of the candle, if you multiple candles burning at once, and also, the size of the room you are burning the candle in.
Burning Candles vs Warming Candles. Which Lasts Longer?
This is another highly contested point that depends on a number of factors.
What it’s going to boil down to is how much of your candle wax is being melted at one time and which type of wax can hold fragrance the best.
With candle warmers, more specifically, the top down warmer style, you will melt a layer of wax until it is not fragrant anymore and then you will dump it and repeat. This process will generally happen slower than burning a candle, especially if their is a big flame on the burning candle causing the wax to burn off quicker.
However, with the plate style warmers you will have your entire candle melting and releasing it’s scent continuously as long as it is on. If you only leave the candle melting for short periods of time and let the bursts of fragrance out here and there, you can make your candle last, but otherwise, it will be similar to burning.
Another important factor is the type of wax. Certain types of wax hold fragrance better and certain types will also melt faster than others.
Burning Candles vs Warming Candles. Which Is More Convenient?
For this section I will list each of the different types we have been covering and then go over some things to note for each when it comes to candle maintenance and convenience.
With burning candles, the main thing you need to keep an eye on is the wick itself. Wicks will often ‘mushroom’ or starting curling and burning in a less-than-ideal way. When this happens, you will want to trim the wick using something like nail clippers, scissors, or a wick trimmer and keep the wick around 1/4 inch above the wax.
Aside from this, there isn’t too much you need to worry about. Just buy a candle, burn it until it’s empty and then replace it with a new one.
Top Down Lamp Style Warmers
For these top down electric candle warmers you will have to empty a layer of wax every now and then once it no longer has fragrance. This can be a bit messy and annoying, but as long as you’re careful, it’s not too bad.
Other than removing old wax, you just need to place a candle on the warmer and turn the warmer on. Pretty easy and convenient.
Bottom Up Plate Style Warmers
For plate style candle warmers, there isn’t too much you need to do to maintain things. You just place a candle on the warmer and turn the warmer on. If your candle is not melting all the way through, you will need to change to a smaller candle.
Once you have a candle that works for your plate warmer, you will just warm it until there is no more fragrance being given off. When that happens you can either dumb the melted wax and reuse the container or replace the candle with another one.
2 In 1 Wax Melt Warmer and Jar Candle Warmers
With this style of candle warmer you have the choice between using the wax melt heater or removing that and using the jar candle warmer which is exactly the same as using the bottom up plate style warmer.
These have the same amount of convenience as the plate warmers but they also have a nice additional feature of being able to heat up any wax melts you may have as well.
Pros and Cons of Electric Candle Warmers vs Burning Candles
In this section I’ll go through each main type of candle or candle warmer and give some pros and cons of using each along with an overall opinion.
The Pros and Cons of Burning Candles
- Great overall scent throw
- Wide variety of candle styles and looks
- Little maintenance aside from wick trimming
- Multiple sizes available, for any size of room
- Warmth, glow, and ambiance that you won’t get from warming candles
- Danger of open flame
- May not last as long if wick isn’t trimmed
- Potential for soot or smoke
Summary: Burning candles aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. There is so much variety in style, scents, and sizes that you will never run out of candles to try. And the warmth and coziness that you feel from burning a candle isn’t quite replicated in candle warmers.
While there is an open flame danger always present, as long as you don’t leave candles in drafts, or burning unattended, you should be okay.
The Pros and Cons of Top Down Lamp Style Candle Warmers
- Arguably the safest of all the methods of melting candles mentioned
- Lantern and lamp style warmers look nice and decorative in some cases
- Wax lasts a little longer than usual
- Specific sized jar candle is needed
- You must dump wax layer by layer as the scent disappears
- Most expensive up front cost, and slight bump in electricity bill
- Not as much variety in warmer styles
Summary: This is a style of candle consumption that I would be willing to try more often. I enjoy the look of some of the electric candle warmers that melt from the top down like this and the inconvenience of dumping the layers of wax as you use it is pretty minor.
The Pros and Cons of Bottom Up Plate Candle Warmers
- Once the jar candle is melted fully, can be turned off to extend life of candle
- Good way to get rid of the last inch or so of wax in a jar candle
- Convenience of placing the candle and turning the power on
- Glass candle jars on a heated surface like this can crack and spill hot wax
- If candle wax is not heated enough, the candle won’t release fragrance, but if it is heated too much, it is not safe
- Can only be used properly with smaller jar candles
Summary: As you may have guessed by now, these are my least favorite of all the types mentioned in this article. There are lots of horror stories from people using them and I feel that since safety is my primary reason for trying them it kind of defeats the purpose.
The Pros and Cons of 2 in 1 Wax Melt and Jar Candle Warmers
- The option to use wax melts or small jar candles
- The convenience of placing the candle or wax melt and turning the power on
- Good way to get rid of leftover wax
- Seem to generally be higher quality than basic plate warmers
- Potential to overheat or under-heat wax
- Glass can shatter when placed on hot surface for long enough
Summary: If you still want to go with a candle warmer that heats jars from the bottom up, I’d go with one of these instead. I would mainly use this as a wax melt warmer as I feel that is the safer option and most convenient. Even still, I’d just rather only use wax melts and get a wax melt warmer.
Top 5 Electric Candle Warmer Picks
Here are the top 5 candle warmers that I would opt to get.
We’ve already made plenty of picks in the past for our favorite traditional “burning” candles on the blog, so I will just link to some of our previous posts here if you are interested in reading about some of those.
- Our 10 Favorite Candles Under $30 and Under $3 Per Ounce
- Our Favorite Fall Candles
- Our 25 Favorite Candles For Christmas
- Our Favorite Nest Fragrance Scents Ranked
- Our Top 5 Luxury Candle Picks
- Our 25 Favorite Yankee Candle Scents Ranked
- Our 7 Favorite Voluspa Candle Scents Ranked
5. 2 in 1 Classic Ceramic Wax Warmer
4. Brushed Nickel Candle Warmer Lantern
3. Driftwood Wooden Candle Warmer Lantern
2. Signature Pewter Candle Warmer Lamp
1. Garden Candle Warmer Lantern
This post turned out to be much longer than I had originally anticipated so hopefully you stuck through it and managed to learn something from it. If you have any questions, as always, please leave me a comment below or shoot us an email.
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Have a great day!!