Buoyed by enthusiastic responses at industry trade shows, including a 2017 Vesta Award for best electric fireplace, the FusionFire from Modern Flames is making its mark in a competitive landscape. Using “clean steam” technology, the Phoenix, Ariz-based company is making plans to roll out its FusionFire later on in 2017.
Patio & Hearth Products Report (P&HPR) recently sat down with Kris Richardson, president of Modern Flames, to learn more about the development of FusionFire.
P&HPR: What can you tell me about the development of FusionFire?
Kris Richardson, president, Modern Flames: Basically about two years ago, almost exactly, we started developing this new product with an engineering team. We originally thought it was going to take a single year, but it is now on year two.
The better part of the story is we met with a company in California that used to work for Disney, and they developed special effects or Disneyland. I started working with them to see if their technology could work in our industry, but realized very quickly that it could not, because their power requirements were way too much for a residential house, and the amount of water being used was way too much for a residential standard commercial application. So we had to completely redesign and redevelop the technology to offer the correct applications for our industry, and at the right cost.
P&HPR: Where did you go from there?
Richardson: That type of technology was very interesting to us. We realized we couldn’t use their technology because they had a patent. So we had to first get an exclusive licensing agreement with them, in order for us to spend money on development, and to hire new engineers. We got that done, and then we got some very talented engineers to start the development of this project.
P&HPR: Where does it stand now? Can specialty retailers buy or sell it?
Richardson: They [FusionFire units] are going to be available in the fall, and I know that’s kind of broad. Fall means September or October of this year. We are past the development phase, and we are starting production.
P&HPR: What was the goal when you began this journey?
Richardson: The goal of starting the company was to create the most realistic flame image in the electric fireplace industry. We saw a big opportunity because there is no one else who is doing it. In the last couple years, as we developed our products, we realized that we were very limited with our current technology. With LED lighting and a screen, we always had a two dimensional flame.
For us to achieve our goal of making the most realistic electric fireplace out there, we had to change the technology, and that’s when the search started. Having a three dimensional fire, we are able to create the same type of characteristics as a gas fire. We don’t have a two dimensional flame. That was why we started the search and ended up landing where we landed. The future is very bright for this technology. We have the hard part figured out. We can do almost anything with steam as you can do with gas, because it has the same type of characteristics.