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Installing an Electric Fireplace Insert Into an Existing Fireplace

how to install electric fireplace insert into existing fireplace

According to, 36 percent of residential properties have old fireplaces that burn wood to heat the interior. Over time, residents may want to upgrade to something more modern and energy-efficient for added convenience, function, and cost savings. Fortunately, you have the option of installing an electric fireplace insert into an existing fireplace. 

In this post, you will learn:

  • How to Install an Electric Fireplace Insert Into an Existing Fireplace
  • Selecting a Fireplace to Install
  • Why Electric Fireplaces are a Popular Choice
  • The Best Spot for Your Electric Fireplace
  • Do Electric Fireplaces Get Hot?
  • How to Customize Your Fireplace

How to Install Electric Fireplace Insert Into Existing Fireplace?

Although you may no longer want to use the existing fireplace that came with your home, there are still ways to continue using it without purchasing wood or gas and increasing your carbon footprint. Electric fireplace inserts have come a long way in recent years and are easy to use when you don’t want the hassle of starting a fire or keeping it going. Fortunately, it’s easy to change your traditional wood fireplace into a modern electric fireplace with a mantel.

Start your project by taking out the existing grate, this can be a messy process, so this should be done while wearing gloves. Clean out the ashes from the old firebox with a brush. Unless your fireplace hasn’t been used in a long while, avoid using a vacuum cleaner because some hot embers may still be present.

Measure your fireplace opening, depth, and height to ensure you choose the correct unit. Depending on the size of the insert, it may be a tight fit. If you want the insert to fit better, you can purchase a fireplace trim kit, which works well when you want to add it to a wall or an existing firebox. Inserts weigh an average of 50 pounds and are light and easy to move around, which makes it easier to get it into the firebox securely without any struggle.

Access the panel on the side of the builder’s box to add a plug or pigtail to run it to a power source. The unit will plug into any standard household outlet. The electrical outlet may be on the side of the fireplace on the masonry. Attachment clips should be included on the unit you purchase to secure the fastening to a new framed-out fireplace

You can also silicone the unit to the floor of the masonry fireplace to secure it. It should fit almost flush with the masonry fireplace opening.

If you want to make it a permanent installation, consider hiring a certified electrician to add a permanent outlet inside of the firebox to make it easy to hide and keep it out of sight. The power button on the unit will likely be on the side or top and can be easy to operate with a remote control that comes with it.

Once you turn the insert on, it’s ready to be used, and you can adjust the flame to your preference. The installation process only takes a few minutes to complete to ensure you can immediately have it up and running.

How to Install Electric Fireplace Insert Into Existing Fireplace

Selecting a Fireplace to Install

There are many different fireplaces available in the industry, but not all are created equal. There are different types of materials used, which determine the lifespan of the product. Fireplaces are often manufactured in other parts of the world, making it necessary to research the manufacturers’ backgrounds to ensure you invest in the right product. Find something that is preferably made in the U.S. to ensure it is of higher quality and is more reliable. It will also make it easier to perform repairs if you ever need replacement parts instead of trying to obtain the item from another country.

Start by researching the history of each brand to get an idea of how reputable the company is and if you can trust its products. The top brands in the industry include Napoleon, Dimplex, and MagikFlame. You can begin by reading the MagikFlame story, which consists of an entrepreneur who founded the company after he couldn’t find an electric fireplace with realistic flames. He used his skills in f/x special effects to invent holographic technology.

The technology is now patented and is not available through any other fireplace company in the industry, featuring a screen that sits behind a faux electric log set. You can even read the MagikFlame reviews on their website to hear from customers and what they like about each fireplace model. The posted comments can help you learn about the MagikFlame features and benefits available. If you want to know what’s offered through this brand, view the MagikFlame electric fireplace buying guide on their site to discover the best choices available.

You also want to review how many BTUs are offered to ensure the electric fireplace insert is adequate for the size of your living room. The BTUs will determine how much warm air is distributed.

Amazon is another resource if you’re unsure where to begin looking for your new fireplace unit. The website has dozens of electric fireplace models, whether you want a ClassicFlame freestanding unit or a Dimplex built-in unit. After clicking on each model and reading the description, you’ll easily find common questions other customers have asked about the product. You can even ask a question if you want to learn more about how it’s built or what it offers.

One of the main goals of finding your next fireplace is to search for something that looks realistic. The flames should look like real fire and have details like smoke that drifts upward and burning embers. This will ensure it looks like a wood-burning or gas fireplace without having to use a fuel source or natural gas.

There are many reasons more consumers are selecting electric fireplaces to install in their living room. The investment can be worth the money when you want something that can improve your quality of living.

This fireplace appeals to more people because it’s the most affordable and because of how inexpensive it is to operate. When you have the fireplace heater turned off but the flames are in use, it takes an average of 0.1 to 0.10 cents per hour to operate. If you want to enjoy both the flames and the heat output, it’s an average of eight cents per hour to use. Gas fireplaces take an average of 40 cents per hour to run. With an electric fireplace, you can leave it on as long as you wish each day without worrying about a significant hike in your energy bill each month.

The heat that is emitted from the unit is also warm enough to supplement your primary heat source in the house. You can rely more on the fireplace heater to stay warm without spending as much on your main heater for more savings. Zone heating offers the option to only heat the room where you are relaxing instead of the entire house to avoid using more energy than you need.

Another reason electric fireplaces are surging in sales is because of their cost-effective installation. There’s no need for venting, a gas line, or chimneys with the fireplace installation, which appeals to renters who can’t make modifications to their rental property. You don’t have to apply for permits with the city to install the unit. You can begin using it within the same day it arrives at your door.

The cozy ambiance is another reason the fireplace can be a benefit to your home. You can feel more relaxed and serene as the flames are dancing in the fireplace, whether you’re enjoying it on a winter night or are hosting a gathering with your closest friends. You can even use the flame effect without any heat output, making it an ideal visual display in the year’s warmer months. The log set will look like it’s burning and will produce a beautiful glow that tricks your guests into thinking you own a real fireplace.

For those who want to continue using the fireplace after they have moved to a different home will also appreciate the portability that comes with electric fireplaces. The lightweight design makes them easy to move around and transport to avoid leaving it behind.

The lack of maintenance required is another advantage because you don’t have to spend as much time or energy on the upkeep. You don’t have to sweep out any ashes from the electric firebox or clean the chimney compared to a wood fireplace. You also don’t have to carry dirty wood into the home and build a log set before trying to start a fire. With a push of a button, the flames illuminate and are just as easy to turn off. You also don’t have to remember to open and close the flue or damper because smoke isn’t produced.

Once you install an electric insert in an existing fireplace, you can close the flue to maintain the temperature in the building and prevent pests from finding their way into the room from the outside. This will seal off the house better throughout the year.

Consumers who suffer from any kind of health issues are often worried about using a real fireplace because of how the contaminants and particles affect indoor air quality. Electric fireplaces are an excellent alternative because they don’t release any emissions or smoke into the outside air or in the room where it’s installed. You can protect your health without worrying about how much you choose to use the feature. You can also bump into the glass doors on the front of the firebox without burning yourself because the materials never get hot. The lack of real flames prevents the glass from becoming warmer, which reduces the risk of burns and accidents.

Consumers who aim to reduce their carbon footprint and make their homes greener often choose electric fireplaces because they don’t make as much of an impact on the earth. Wood fireplaces are known to release a lot of emissions and smoke, which immediately contributes to pollution and isn’t always as effective in heating larger rooms. Gas fireplaces require propane gas to create heat and can also release toxins and pollution into the indoor and outdoor air, diminishing air quality and increasing your carbon footprint.

Electric fireplaces are slightly smaller than traditional fireplaces and are more convenient if you don’t have a lot of square footage. Residents in apartments and condos can incorporate a fireplace that doesn’t take up a lot of room or block high-traffic areas. The compact size means you can place it almost anywhere.

How to Install Electric Fireplace

The Best Spot for Your Electric Fireplace

Not only is it necessary to learn how to install an electric fireplace insert into an existing fireplace, but you also need to decide where to install it. Where you place your electric fireplace depends on the type of unit you choose to purchase. There are many types of electric fireplaces available, whether you want a freestanding unit to display or an insert that fits within the cavity of your wall. You must first decide where you want to place it in the room to determine what type of fireplace you need.

A new fireplace with a surround will fill in a large bare wall without taking up a lot of space. Don’t place it too close to other furniture or features. Otherwise, it will end up looking cramped with other items in the home.

You can also install the fireplace on a wall that sits directly across from the door that leads to the room, so it’s the first thing you see once you walk into the space. This will make it the main focal point and centerpiece in the setting for added drama. Consider placing an accent chair on each side of the fireplace for a more uniform look.

Another factor to consider is where the electrical outlets are placed throughout the room. Depending on the size of the room, you may have up to three outlets available. Place the fireplace next to a power outlet so it’s easy to plug in without using an extension cord. The extension cord may be an added convenience to place the fireplace in other areas of the home but can lead to overheating, fires, and electrical issues.

Of course, it’s easier to decide where to place the electric insert if you already have a built-in fireplace. The electric fireplace insert can transform the old fireplace without having to rip out the old materials and build a new fireplace from the ground up.

There should also be plenty of ventilation around the heating area of the electric unit to allow the heated air to move freely and warm the room. Keep items away from vents to prevent it from overheating, mainly if it is operating for several hours at a time.

A fireplace that runs off electricity uses 100 percent of the heat it produces compared to the same amount of heat you get from other types of fireplaces available, but at a lower cost and with more convenience provided. Gas fireplaces lose energy and only emit 60 percent of the heat they produce. A traditional wood fireplace loses 80 percent of its heat.

Do Electric Fireplaces Get Hot?

Before learning how to install an electric fireplace insert into an existing fireplace, you most likely want to know how hot it gets. Many people wonder if electric fireplaces get hot as the log inserts look like they’re burning each time you turn on the fireplace. You may want to know if they offer as much heat as a gas fireplace.

The heating unit will get hot minutes after you turn it on as it starts to suck in cool air and blow out warmer air. You can get warmer quicker and use fewer items to bundle up in because of how fast they increase the temperature in the room. They work better than space heaters without making the air feel too stuffy or dry.

The built-in thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature to have control over how much heat is released. This makes it easier to use in different types of climates and seasons. A timer also comes with the product, automatically shutting it off and avoiding overheating issues if you forget to manually power off the unit.

How to Customize Your Fireplace?

After buying an electric fireplace on a site like Amazon or MagikFlame, and learning how to install it in your existing old fireplace, customizing it is the next step you can take. The features and decorative elements you decide to add will make it look original and allow it to blend in better with the surrounding furniture or decorative scheme.

Adding the fireplace into an entertainment center will also offer more versatility and can make it more noticeable. The entertainment center can feature multiple cabinets, drawers, and shelves for storing and displaying your items next to the feature.

Painting the fireplace is an excellent option for updating the product and drawing more attention. You can change the color of the surround, whether you want a clean white look or a bold color, to add a touch of drama. You can also choose to use laminate floorboards to create a shiplap look that adds a rustic farmhouse style to your home.

Take advantage of the mantel when you want to decorate the fireplace and put your favorite items on display in one of the most essential parts of the home. Things like paintings, framed art, family photos, and heirlooms will prove to be sentimental and unique. Select items that make you happy and uplifted each time you see them. You can even swap out the items for décor or garland when you’re decorating for different holidays throughout the year.

A custom mantel can also make a statement when you want your fireplace to look unique. A shelf that is constructed out of reclaimed wood will add extra character and decadent touch. It won’t look like it’s mass-produced and can create an upscale design with your electric fireplace. Stone mantels are also a popular choice for those looking to create a modern and sleek design in their living space.

Place the mantel at the appropriate height on the wall, which is generally an average of 12 inches above the opening of the fireplace. It should be at eye level to make it easier to see and allow it to look like it’s part of the fireplace without looking like a separate feature. Also, consider the height of the ceiling with the placement of the feature.

Don’t forget about the base of the fireplace when you want to customize it. The base is a great place to put a pouf, a basket of blankets, or a stack of books. Because the glass doors don’t get hot, you don’t have to keep items at a distance. You also don’t have to worry about embers jumping out and into the room and damaging your flooring.

With electric fireplaces, you also have the freedom to customize the style of the flames. There are a variety of color shades to choose from, whether you want something that looks natural or are interested in adding a pop of color to the room. The size of the flame can also be adjusted. These settings offer a variety of looks when you’re using the fireplace for different uses, whether you’re hosting a Christmas party or are creating a romantic mood.

Once you learn how to install an electric fireplace insert into an old fireplace, it can give you the confidence to perform an easy DIY project without hiring a professional. Transforming an existing fireplace will allow you to use it more frequently to ensure you enjoy spending time in the space and stay warm when the temperatures drop outside.

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