How to Install an Electric Fireplace – A Beginner’s Guide

The installation of a fireplace can be pretty costly and potentially dangerous. But not to worry. By the end of this brief article, you will be armed with the information and resources necessary to install a fireplace safely and economically. We’d provide everything you’d need to know about fireplaces and their respective installations too.

Here, we’d simplify the fireplace installation process and guide you through every aspect. This article will cover the most common installation process of an electric fireplace insert and also other fireplace types you’d care to know about.

There are two types of electric fireplace inserts – fireboxes and logs. Here we will cover the installation of firebox inserts into the existing fireplace

Also Read, Electric Fireplace vs Gas Fireplace: Which is Preferable and Why 2019

Can you install the electric fireplace insert yourself?

Of course, you can. All you need is to have some basic carpentry knowledge and an electrical outlet inside your fireplace. However, in most cases, you will need to hire a licensed electrician to help you install a power outlet inside your old fireplace opening. It’s easier, plus no one gets hurt.

8 incredibly simple steps to Install an Electric Fireplace Insert

How to Install an Electric Fireplace

Image credit: Modern blaze (click to enlarge image)

If you are not using your old fireplace but would still like to use the space, you can install an electric fireplace insert. The good thing about it is that they are generally cheaper to operate than a gas fireplace, produce no emissions, and require no venting. An electric fireplace insert will fit right in with your old fireplace and is very easy to install.

1. Choose the Space

This is the most important step before getting your fireplace. It will also help you decide on sizing for the insert. If you only have one possible space for the insert, where to install the insert is an easy decision.

2. Consider Sizing for Fireplace Insert

Electric fireplace insert dimensions
Electric fireplace insert dimensions

The old gas fireplace you are replacing needs to be measured in order for you to buy an insert with the correct dimensions to fit. It’s important to measure the width and height with a tape measure and write the measurements down on a piece of paper. This way the fireplace insert with fill up the entire opening and leave no gaps.

3. Buy the Right Fireplace Insert

Buy a fireplace insert that has the look and style you want. Do not focus on the temperature, as an electric insert is more of a heater and cannot get as hot as a real fire. Review the energy efficiency of the fireplace inserts you are considering. Electric fireplace inserts can use a lot of energy in short amounts of time, which means a cheap one can have some major long-term costs.

4. Clean Out the Gas or previously installed Fireplace

If you have gas in your old fireplace, it needs to be turned off completely. Lay down a painter’s tarp in front of the fireplace to catch any debris that flies out while you clean it. Begin cleaning the old fireplace by removing log holders and any other objects you find inside. You would want to sweep out all of the debris into a dustpan and throw it away. Also use a portable vacuum cleaner if you want to pick up any extra mess, so as to clean up thoroughly.

5. Ready the Fireplace Insert

Place the insert on to the edge of the gas fireplace and see if the cord can reach the nearest electrical outlet. If the cord is too short you will want to attach an extension cord to the insert. Otherwise, if you want the fireplace insert to be permanent, you can call an electrician to add an electrical outlet into the back of the fireplace so you can hide the cord.

6. Clean the Glass

Clean the glass with glass cleaning solution and a dry rag to remove any marks or fingerprints.

How to Install an Electric Fireplace insert

7. Install the Electric Fireplace Insert

Plug the cord into the outlet that you have outside or inside the fireplace. If your ledge drops off into the fireplace opening, you should use a small piece of wood and place this in the center so the insert will be level with the edge of the fireplace. Carefully shimmy and slide the insert into the back so it is flush with the fireplace opening. Turn on the power to the unit and you have a new clean electric fireplace insert.

8. Very Important! Precautions after installation of the electric fireplace insert.

Unplug the unit when it’s not in use. Once in a while, check the condition of your electrical outlet to prevent any sudden malfunctions. Don’t use the fireplace in your bathroom, as it’s not designed to work there. If possible, don’t use an extension cord to plug it in to avoid overheating the system

Installing a Recessed Wall Fireplace

Installing a recessed wall fireplace will require some cutting, patching, and finish work. If you’re the handy Do-It-Yourself type, you can take it on as a weekend project. If not, you should hire a licensed professional to install it for you.

Installation instructions vary based on manufacturer and model. Always follow the installation guides that were sent with your electric fireplace. All hardware should be included. You can expect to find metal mounting brackets, screws, a mounting plate, and pins. If you’re installing your electric fireplace into a masonry wall, you’ll have to use masonry anchors and screws. This is provided within your installation kit but you can easily purchase them from your local hardware store.

Below are simple steps to help you install your recessed wall fireplace.

1. Designating the Right Location

Locate studs behind sheetrock. Depending on the size of your electric fireplace, your wall may have to support a considerable amount of weight. Never mount a wall fireplace to drywall!

Make sure that you have an electric outlet located close by and beneath the unit. You want the electrical outlet to be below the fireplace because the rising warm air will blow into your outlet. When possible, replace nearby outlets with non-flammable coverings.

2. Hardware vs plugin Installation

There are hardwire and plugin units. A hardwired unit is “hardwired” directly into the wiring of your home. Plugin units have a standard 120V 3 prong that plugs directly into wall outlets. Never use extension cords to connect your electric fireplace.

Hardwired units look better because they can be hidden in the wall and you don’t have to worry about loose connections. The only downside is that you’ll need a licensed electrician to do this for you. Plug-ins are easier but they don’t offer the clean aesthetics of a hidden wire. Still, you can find creative ways to hide unsightly wall outlets.

Hardwire Electric Fireplaces: Builders Box Contemporary 220VDimplex Galveston Wall Mount, and the Wakefield Espresso.

Plug-in Wall Fireplaces: DzonlicBliss Electric Fire Display, and the Serenity.

3. Opening The Wall and Building a Frame

Cut open the wall using a reciprocating saw. Once you’ve opened up the wall, you will need to build a frame using 2×4’s according to the dimensions of your electric fireplace. Learn how to measure the dimensions of your fireplace correctly.

Place the unit inside the frame. Use shims to level the unit and verify that the fireplace is balanced with a leveller. This is one of the most important steps. When you’re certain that the unit is level, you can attach the fireplace to the box frame using the provided mounting brackets and screws.

4. Wiring

For hardwired units, strip your wires ½” from the end. For safety and the best connections, you should use twist on wire connectors like these. Don’t make the beginners error and finish everything up without first testing your electrical connection. Turn on your electric fireplace and make sure that all programs are functioning correctly.

5. Adding The Finishing Touches

When all of the internal installations are complete, you can patch up the wall. Most units will come with a trim piece that will help cover up the area where the fireplace and drywall meet. Make your drywall come as close as possible for a clean finish.

Texturize and paint the wall before attaching trim pieces. Make sure that you use painters tape and painters plastic to protect your electric fireplace. When everything is dry and complete, you can attach the trim and enjoy your new recessed wall mount fireplace!

What You Need to Install a Built-In Electric Fireplace

For basic installations, you’ll need a Phillips screwdriver, hammer, level, measuring tape, electric drill, pliers, and a ladder. Wall mount fireplaces can weigh up to 50 lbs., so it’s important they are installed securely. For custom installations, you may need building supplies such as framing, wall finishing and caulking materials. So all you’d be needing to install an electric fireplace can be grouped into the following for easier enquiries;

1. Building Materials: Framing, Wall Finishing, Caulking (non-combustible)

2. Tools: Phillips Screwdriver, Hammer, Saw, Level, Measuring Tape, Pliers, Gloves, Drill, pliers and a ladder.

Why you should choose an electric fireplace for your home

Electric fireplaces are one of the most efficient ways to heat a room, which in turn, reduces energy costs. Electric fireplaces heat rooms faster and more efficiently than real wood-burning fireplaces do. Shoppers usually ask if an electric fireplace is better than a wood-burning fireplace or a gas burning fireplace. We are going to be listing some benefits of electric fireplaces, so you can make the best choice when selecting an appropriate fireplace for your space.

1. It can be installed anywhere.

You can install an electric fireplace anywhere in your home or business without worrying about gas lines or venting. Just plug the fireplace into a standard outlet and enjoy.

2. It is energy efficient.

Electric fireplaces use less energy to heat a room. Take, for example, the Touchstone’s electric fireplace LED technology. It uses 5118 BTUs to warm a 400 square foot space. The cool-to-the-touch LED bulbs are mercury-free too.

3. It is cost-efficient

Save on natural gas and heating oil costs. A Touchstone electric fireplace comfortably heats a room, so you can lower your thermostat. In contrast, gas and wood-burning fireplaces create drafts that pull heat from the house. A Touchstone electric fireplace costs about 20 cents an hour to run on the highest heat and flame settings. The annual cost is about $50 – $80 per year, which is significantly lower than the cost of firewood or natural gas.

4. Guaranteed safety.

Child-safe and pet-safe, electric fireplaces are cool to the touch. Unlike a wood-burning fireplace, you can instantly turn an electric fireplace off when you leave the house or go to bed.

5. It lowers home insurance costs

A wood-burning fireplace puts your home at greater risk for chimney fires and other dangers. Many insurance companies increase premiums for homeowners with wood-burning fireplaces. Gas burning fireplaces also carry risks, as faulty connectors can cause dangerous gas leaks.

6. It is mess-free and stress-free.

No need to stack firewood or clean up ashes. Electric fireplaces are powered by remote control. You won’t have to worry about keeping the firewood dry, buying enough wood to last the season or braving the elements to get more fuel for your fire.

7.  It ensures smoke-free air.

Breathe easily with a smoke-free electric fireplace. Unlike wood-burning or gas fireplaces, electric fireplaces don’t emit smoke, carcinogens or fumes. Electric fireplaces are often recommended for those with asthma or allergies.

8. Electric fireplaces have remote-controlled heat and flames

With a touch of remote control, you can turn up the heat and flames without getting up to put another log on the fire. Electric fireplaces are fully adjustable with two heat settings and five flame settings.

9. You can use them all year round.

The heat and flame controls operate independently, which means you can enjoy the flames without the heat in warm climates and seasons.

10. It is portability.

Mounted electric fireplaces are easy to hang on the wall and can be moved anytime. These fireplaces are popular with renters who can easily take them along when the lease is up.

11. They have natural-looking flames

Electric fireplaces look so much like wood-burning and gas burning fireplaces that shoppers are often hesitant to put their hands near the cool-to-the-touch LED flames. With an electric fireplace, you can enjoy the calming flames without the hassles of tending a fire.

12.  Electric fireplaces offer more creative freedom.

Electric fireplaces offer customizable appearances based on a client’s needs. Depending on the space, you can choose from a wide variety of electric fireplace types including wall hung, built-in flush, masonry fireplace inserts, entertainment center cabinets, and mantel packages. Once installed, all it takes is a touch of a button and you can adjust the flame height, the brightness, speed, and even the ember bed color. With the varying styles and creative freedom when choosing a surround, electric fireplaces can be adapted to homes of all styles—traditional, contemporary, transitional and rustic.

FAQ’s on the installation of an electric fireplace insert.

How do I wire an electric fireplace insert?

It’s pretty simple. You first off put a Cover Plate on Your Chimney. It is recommended to put a cover plate on your chimney before installing an electric insert to prevent water from coming in. Close and Seal the Damper. You can now install a Power Outlet and insert the Firebox into Your Fireplace. Then attach the Trim or the frame.

How much does it cost to install an electric fireplace?

For fireplaces that simply plug into the wall, no electrician is needed. However, an electrician is recommended when installing a built-in 2 insert. Most electricians charge $65-$85 per hour and can install an electric fireplace in two to four hours, for a total labor cost of $130-$340.

How much does it cost to add a fireplace to an existing home?

Among the most popular options, a factory-built gas/propane fireplace unit runs about $2,000 for a basic materials package; add to that at least another $5,000 for the cost to hire professional tradespeople to cut a hole in an exterior wall, frame and build a chimney, install the fireplace.

What is the best electric fireplace insert?

You should take a look at the Touchstone 80004 – Sideline Electric Fireplace, the Dimplex BLF50 Wall Mount Electric Fireplace, the Cartwright Convertible Electric Fireplace, the Dimplex DFI2310 Electric Fireplace Insert, the Duraflame DFS-550-21-BLK Electric Fireplace Stove or the Napoleon EFL50H Wall Mount Electric Fireplace. Sorry man, it’s pretty hard selecting which is the best amongst these but we’re sure about our reviews when we say these are the best electric fireplaces.

Which electric fireplace is the most realistic?

The top four most realistic electric fireplaces would be the Dimplex Opti-myst Pro 500 – 20″ Long Water Vapor Cassette, the Dimplex Opti-myst Pro 1000 Cassette – a bigger brother of Opti-Myst Pro 500, the Modern Flames FusionFire – 76″ Long Built-in Linear Steam Fireplace or the Dimplex Opti-myst® Pro 1000 – 40” Built-in Water Vapor Firebox.

Which is more efficient gas or electric fireplace?

If you don’t have an existing gas line, an electric fireplace is probably the more cost-effective option. Also, because gas fireplaces are fueled by gas, they create real flames, while electric ones produce heat with no flame. Generally speaking, a gas fireplace is more expensive to run than an electric fireplace.

Does an electric fireplace have real flames?

An electric fireplace can have a mantle just like a traditional fireplace. It can have fake logs and fake flames that do actually look realistic. And, it can produce about 5000 BTUs of heat. … Best of all, electric fireplaces do not require any clean up because there are no logs or ash.

How long do electric fireplaces last?

Electric fireplaces can last for 10-20 years depending on how frequently they are used. Many manufacturers offer warranties ranging from 1 year to 10 years depending on the model.

Is it safe to leave an electric fireplace on all night?

Yes, it is okay to leave an electric fireplace insert on overnight but it’s best if you turn it off when possible. … Although electric fireplaces do not produce any carbon monoxide fumes, its best to turn your electric fireplace off when you leave the room for an extended period of time or plan on catching some Oz’s

Can electric fireplaces heat a room?

The electric fireplace heater dissipates warmth directly into the room and is not lost through the chimney or special venting, since they don’t require any. … While electric fireplaces are not designed to be the central heating source in a home, they can heat a small room much more efficiently than a real fireplace.

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