Ready, aim, fire!

I was asked to replace the light bulbs inside this Creative Fires coal-effect fire:

Creative Fires heater

Although it can be installed in-situ, this one was free-standing, so I could simply turn it around to gain access to the rear cover. Or so I thought. There are many screws on the back of this heater, but no obvious access panel. No instruction label, either. I removed all the screws anyway, but the contraption remained intact.

Pulling away the basket at the front and removing the loose artificial coals reveals … nothing.

Fire dismantled

Just the fixed, translucent fake coals behind which are the two bulbs. No obvious access cover here either. Underneath? Again, nothing.

I was beginning to feel very frustrated and perplexed. How could this be so difficult? I even decided, rather rashly, to remove the frosted screen. This was not easy, but I managed it. Inside I discovered the laughably Heath Robinson secret of the flame effect, consisting of a piece of orange flexible plastic cut into the shape of flames, and fixed in place along its bottom edge. Each ‘flame’ was suspended at the top by a short length of colourless filament (like fishing line) so that they were free to move.

I could now see the squirrel cage fan behind the fake coals. This draws air from underneath and up behind the translucent screen, causing the ‘flames’ to gently flutter. The air then passes out through the hood at the top, which contains the heating elements.

I had now deduced how the heater produces a stream of warm air and creates the illusion of living flames emanating from the glowing ‘coal.’ However, although I could see the two candle-shaped light bulbs, they were impossible to reach. How could it be so difficult to replace these bulbs?

I managed to put the screen back without damaging it, and set about pulling out the translucent ‘coal’. By this time I was feeling very exasperated, and somewhat desperate. I was willing to exert far more force than seemed safe to use without the risk of breaking something. I found that I could move the artificial coal only a few millimetres on one side, and not at all on the other. What was holding the thing in place? Nothing obvious.

Just as I was about to admit defeat, I spotted the answer. Hidden on the top of the ‘coal’ was a single black Phillips screw.

secret screw

Removing this allowed me to slide up and remove the ‘coal’ which gave access to the two burned-out light bulbs. It was then a quick job to put everything back in place, but not before sticking a note to to the back of the heater for the benefit of the next person who needs to change a bulb.

Here is the heater in operation:

fire lit

I have the feeling that Creative Fires Ltd is no longer trading. If this is the case, I suspect that these fires were very costly to make. Far too many parts, all screwed together. The flames are remarkably realistic, however.


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