Informational Guide

How To Easily Install Electric Fireplace Inserts

Installing an electric fireplace insert can be tricky. Follow our step by step guide to get the job done right.

by Josh M

Electric fireplaces are a great way to heat a room and keep it feeling cozy throughout the winter months. An electric fireplace insert uses an existing wood or stone fireplace and is inserting into the existing gap.

This allows you to keep the traditional look but with modern functionality that provides heat to your home. In this guide, we’ll help explain how to install an electric fireplace into an existing fireplace and also help answer the question are electric fireplaces safe.

It may seem obvious, but an existing fireplace is where the wood-burning fireplace would have been traditionally, and there’s normally a small gap underneath your chimney breast.

Nowadays, many people are moving away from traditional fireplaces because of the inefficiency and the high maintenance involved, so there’s a space there crying out to be used more effectively.

You can fit an electric fireplace into this space, so you have a reliable heat source in the room. It’s a great way to keep the traditional look and feel of the room, and electric fireplaces don’t give off any fumes or by-products, so it’s completely safe. There’s no real fire, so there’s no need for fuel, and you won’t have to worry about cleaning it out.

The downside to electric fireplaces is that you’ll need a source of energy. You’ll have to make sure there’s a plug nearby and be prepared to pay extra on your energy bills each month. However, electric fireplaces are one of the most efficient heating methods, so they will cost you noticeably less than gas, wood or pellet fires. You also won’t be able to use the existing fireplace again for a real wood fire unless you remove all of the electrical components installed behind it.

How To Take Measurements? (+ Clearance Requirements)

Electric Fireplace Insert Guide

As with any home project, the planning you put in at the start is what will ensure a successful delivery. You need to make sure you’ve carefully and accurately measured the space so you can install it correctly.

You’ll need to measure the height, depth, and width of the fireplace so you can understand the dimensions of your insert. You can then go ahead and select an insert, but make sure it adheres to the following clearance requirements:

  • ⅜’’ From Top Of The Fire Box
    Your electric fireplace needs to have some clearance space so that the firebox can operate properly and help dissipate heat into the room. Any nearer than this and it could impact the performance of the heater.
  • 2” From Top Of The Insert Frame
    Your insert frame is what the whole electric fireplace will fit into. You need to make sure there’s enough space so that the edging of the fireplace can slot into the space without issue.
  • 1” From Back And Sides
    It’s important that your electric fireplace insert has enough space to be fitted and that the electricals can fit too. Remember that most fireplaces slope backward and get narrower towards the back so bear this in mind when measuring up.
  • No Minimum Clearance To The Floor
    Unlike other heaters, electric heaters can sit directly on the floor, so make sure you’re measuring the height from the ground up.

It’s really important to measure correctly before you select your insert, or it might not fit. You can have an insert that’s slightly small or slightly larger (as long as it’s not the firebox), but any more than that, and it will be impossible to fit.

How To Install An Electric Fire Insert Into Existing Fireplaces: Step by Step Guide

Now you’ve measured the space accurately, you can begin the process of installing the electric fireplace. Despite involving electricals, this isn’t difficult to do, and any homeowner with some DIY experience should be able to do it.

Make sure that you turn the power off and keep it off until everything is set up to avoid any risk of injury. Here’s a brief step by step guide:

  1. Find The Right Space
    Start by finding the right fireplace to install your electric model. We’ll come to this in more detail later on in this article.
  2. Measure Your Space
    As mentioned above, measure and double-check the space, so you know exactly what you’re working with.
  3. Purchase Your Electric Fireplace
    Now you know the dimensions, you can go to the marketplace. Remember, an electric fireplace is more than just a heater, and the best electric fireplaces will improve the whole look and feel of your room. It’s also worth considering the fireplace’s efficiency because cheaper models can be more expensive to run.
  4. Clean Out Your Fireplace
    Remove any logs or debris from the fireplace and lay down a tarp to catch any more debris. Sweep any visible dirt away and use a handheld vacuum cleaner to get rid of the rest. Remember to fully turn off and disconnect the gas supply if you had a gas fireplace in there previously.
  5. Install Your Fireplace
    You have two options here, a permanent installation or a more flexible temporary one. For a temporary fitting, you just need to make sure that the plug from your fireplace will reach the nearest electrical outlet. This will allow you to fit it, plug it in and get it working right away.

The other option is to install an electrical box within the fireplace behind the electric heater. If you opt for the permanent option, you’ll need to get an electrician to do that for you as it’s too dangerous for anyone without significant experience.

Once you have it set up correctly, you can slide it into the fireplace, and it should hold securely if you’ve measured correctly. If your floor isn’t level, you should use a block of wood to even it out and slide the fireplace in on top of it. Hopefully it all fits, so it’s flush with the fireplace opening.

  1. Clean The Fireplace
    Use a rag to clean off any marks or fingerprints from the front of the fireplace.
  2. Turn It On
    Now it’s all installed; you can turn it on and start using it. As a safety precaution, you should always unplug it when it’s not in use and make sure to keep flammable objects away from the heater to avoid any risk of fire.

Remember, this is only a guide, and every electric fireplace insert is slightly different. Therefore, you should always use the user manual to guide you and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation.

Where to Place an Electric Fireplace In The Home?

An electric fireplace s designed to heat a room, but they also add to the overall ambiance of your home. It’s important to consider which fireplace is best for the insert so you can get the most benefits from it. There are a few key aspects to consider:

Space

Firstly, you need to consider the size of the fireplace and the room. If you have a large fireplace, you may want to fill that gap, so the room comes together more. However, if you have a lot of furniture in the room, then it may appear cluttered.

You need to consider the whole look of the room to make sure the electric fireplace will fit with the space and style.

Outlets

Your electric fireplace needs a power source, so make sure the location you pick isn’t too far away from the nearest outlet. Remember, you should never use an extension cord to plug in your fireplace, as this can be a safety hazard.

Aesthetics

You should consider how the electric fireplace will look and where it will be noticeable because they are for show as well as function. If you have a fireplace next to a doorway, then this could be the perfect place to put it, so guests see it as soon as they walk in.

Your electric fireplace should be the centerpiece of the room, so find somewhere to show it off.

Safety

Electric fireplaces are considered very safe, but there are still some things to look out for.

They are electricals so should be kept away from water sources as much as possible. This means an electric fireplace should never be installed in a bathroom. They should also be kept at least 3 feet away from flammable materials, so consider what else is in the room with it before installation.

These factors will help influence where you put your electric fireplace and may also impact which model you decide to go for.

Electric Fireplace Installation Options

There are a few different options when it comes to installing your electric fireplace insert, which allows you to customize it to meet your specific style. Here’s a quick breakdown of some popular choices:

Electrical Wiring

If you prefer not to have a noticeable cable running from the side of your fireplace to the nearest outlet, then you can opt for professional electrical wiring. You’ll need to hire an electrician to either install an outlet in your fireplace or to hardwire it into your electrics.

This makes your electric fireplace a permanent fixture, so make sure you’re happy with the location before this work is carried out.

Electric Fireplace Trim KitsTrim Kits

To give your electric fireplace a more refined look, you can opt for a trim kit.

These are decorative molds that run around the outside of the heater and cover any gaps between the insert and the fireplace.

Glass Ember Beds

Glass ember beds are designed to emulate the look of burning embers at the bottom of the fireplace. These should come with the fireplace, and you can pour them into the tray at the front once the fireplace is installed.

Electric Fireplace Glass Ember

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How long does it take to install an electric fireplace insert?

Usually, it will take less than an hour to install an electric fireplace insert, but it may take longer if your electrician needs to do the wiring.

How much does it cost to install an electric fireplace insert?

It will typically cost between $150 and $300, but it will vary depending on what area you’re in.

Does an electric fireplace insert need to be vented?

No, electric fireplaces don’t give off any fumes at all, so there’s no need for ventilation.

Can you plug an electric fireplace into a regular outlet?

Yes, as long as the voltage of the outlet meets the requirements of the fireplace. Check the packaging or specifications to see what voltage is needed to power your specific fireplace.

How long do electric fireplace inserts last?

Electric fireplaces are durable and can last up to 20 years if properly maintained.

Conclusion

Electric fireplace inserts allow the traditional to meet the modern by combining the aesthetics of a real wood-burning fireplace with the efficiency of an electric heater. Hopefully this guide has helped explain how to install an electric fireplace insert and given you the confidence to try it yourself.

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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