How to Install Electric Fireplace Insert

This article will walk you through the steps of how to install an electric fireplace insert into an existing fireplace, whether it's a log insert or a firebox, as well as the tools you'll need. You won't need many tools, and it shouldn't take more than a day. We also indicate where a professional installer may be required, if necessary.

How Do Electric Fireplaces Work?

An electric fireplace generates heat from a main electrical source and features an LED screen or glowing ember light effect to mimic realistic flickering flames like a genuine fireplace.

Most electric fireplaces provide supplemental heat. The heat is commonly conducted by an infrared or electric heater built within the unit, which can be adjusted to different heat levels using the remote control.

For those who just want the ambiance and feel of a real fireplace in their living room without the heat, there are a few units that don't have any heating elements at all.

Is it possible to install an electric fireplace insert on your own?

If you have basic construction skills and your fireplace already has a power outlet, you can install an electric fireplace insert on your own. In most circumstances, a certified electrician is needed to assist you with installing it inside your existing fireplace opening.

Do electric fireplace inserts need to be vented?

A vent, chimney, or flue are not required. Electric fireplaces don't require venting because they don't produce real flame or smoke. Since they are vent-free and don't produce real fire, they don't emit carbon monoxide. Unlike any other type of fireplace, electric inserts need no venting, gas lines, or safety screens.

Clearance Requirements

Make sure there is at least a space beneath the unit and behind it for air circulation. Some of the minimum clearance requirements of your electric fireplace insert are listed below:

  • 1" between the sides and back of the insert and the surrounding walls.
  • 2" from the insert frame's top to the mantel board above it.
  • 3/8" between the top of the firebox and a flammable or non-flammable material.
  • There is no minimum clearance to the floor, however, the fireplace should not be installed directly on the carpet or other similar materials that may restrict airflow.
Note: The illustration/diagram below depict typical installations and are intended solely for design purposes. Actual installation may vary due to individual design preference.

    Clearance Requirements

    Installation Steps

    Depending on the brand of electric insert you're installing, the installation process may differ. For further details, refer to your electric insert's product manual. Before you begin the installation, test the insert by plugging it in and playing with the heat and lights. Make sure that the remote control is operational as well. If everything works, continue with the installation.

    1. Cover your chimney

    Before installing an electric insert, it's a requirement to cover your chimney with a cover plate or a rain cap to keep water out. Even a small amount of water seepage can cause damage to your electric insert and pose a fire risk.

    2. Close the damper and seal it

    A damper is required for traditional fireplaces, masonry fireplaces or gas fireplace inserts, but it serves no purpose when using an electric fireplace insert. Close and seal the damper on your fireplace to prevent air from entering and heat from escaping. Make it airtight by sealing the damper corners and preventing heat loss.

    3. Install an electrical outlet

    Electric fireplace inserts are all powered by standard household outlets. You'll need to decide where you'll get your electric power before you can place your insert. The majority of electric inserts are powered by a conventional home outlet, and you can just plug them in.

    If you want to keep the area surrounding your fireplace clear of dangling cords, you'll need to install an outlet within your existing fireplace. We advise you to hire a licensed electrician to complete this task.

    4. Installing the insert into your fireplace

    Start by slipping the firebox or log set into the fireplace's opening. Then level and center it. If your model of electric fireplace insert comes with leveling screws, you may need to adjust them. Some inserts come with tie-down brackets that must be secured to the fireplace bottom and the back of the insert on both sides to keep it from tipping over.

    5. Attach the trim or frame

    Lastly, install the trim or frame to cover the gaps between the insert and the fireplace opening's walls. Simply follow the instructions in your manual to install your trim, since different brands will have different setup methods.

    Most fireboxes have a separate trim element to conceal gaps on the sides. You can create your own trim out of plywood or sheet metal if the accompanying trim isn't adequate. If you have a huge gap at the top, you can lay a block underneath the fireplace unit.

    Some fireplace inserts come with a variety of trim materials and finishes. The majority of them just have one trim choice. You can also use several materials to create your own personalized trim.

    Electric Fireplace Insert 

    Now that we've gone through the 5 easy steps for installing an electric fireplace insert into an existing fireplace, keep in mind that the process may vary slightly based on the manufacturer and the scope of your project.

    You can look over these brands for electric fireplace inserts we sell and view the installation/manuals owner's for each one.

    Every product we sell comes with an installation manual that includes step-by-step instructions on how to set up the unit. They are available in PDF format on our website. If you have any questions, you can always post a comment below or contact us.

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