Using an electric fireplace heater is the best and most economical way to heat your room during winters. But – do you know how to install an electric fireplace heater safely without causing any damage to the walls as well as losing your mind?
There is nothing to worry about even if you don’t. We are going to cover every step involved in installing an electric fireplace insert in this guide for your convenience.
Types of Electric Fireplace Heaters
Two main types of fireplace heaters are freestanding heaters and fireplace inserts. It is very easy to install the freestanding version. All you have to do is to place it wherever you want in your home.
The electric fireplace inserts themselves come in two different types; logs and fireboxes. The earlier type of inserts enables you to convert any existing wood or gas fireplace into an animated source of heat in no time. These inserts have realistic-looking flame effects and LED lights. They create such an ambiance as if you are sitting in front of a real wood fireplace.
Fireboxes, on the other hand, are an excellent option for homes without built-in hearths. You can use them on their own because they can operate independently as well. They are highly versatile and you can place them anywhere you like ranging from entertainment centers to TV desks, cabinets, existing fireplaces, and even walls. Rest assured, they also provide you with the most realistic wood fireplace experience.
Installing a firebox insert is not difficult but it does take more effort and time than that of log fireplaces. Therefore, we will only explain the installation of firebox inserts in existing fireplaces in this guide.
So let’s begin.
Where to Install the Electric Fireplace Insert?
It is critical to decide where you want to install the fireplace insert beforehand. It should be the most commonly used room of your home such as a living room or a family room. You must also consider what you want out of your fireplace heater. You can also install it in your bedroom, home office, or even at your studio patio if you want have one solely for your use or enjoyment. The location of the fireplace insert depends on your goals and heating requirements.
How to Install Electric Fireplace Insert?
Electric fireplace installation usually comprises of 7 main step.
1. Take Necessary Measurements
One of the most common reasons why people find it difficult to install a fireplace is the wrong measurements. You must take measurements of your existing fireplace before going shopping for a fireplace insert. You should measure the fireplace multiple times before ordering one on eBay or Amazon.
What do you need to measure and how?
You need to carefully and properly measure the length, width, height, and depth of your existing fireplace. Keep in mind that the dimensions of the insert you buy can be different from your fireplace. For example, you can go for a smaller fireplace insert but it should not look awkward on it. You can also buy a slightly bigger insert but you have to do many modifications before installing it.
Taking measurements will enable you to narrow down your choice of electric fireplace inserts. There would be many fireplace inserts that would simply not fit in your fireplace.
2. Cleaning Your Fireplace and Removing Unnecessary Parts
Many fireplaces feature parts like doors, screens, and gadgets. You may or may not need them especially in the case of an electric fireplace heater. Therefore, just remove them if they are no longer necessary
Many traditional fireplaces also have a blower fan. You also need to remove it because electric fireplace inserts don’t need one. Once again, ensure that the fireplace has enough room to easily accommodate the electric fireplace insert.
Clean the fireplace after removing all the unnecessary parts. The walls may have accumulated a lot of debris, gunk, and dust over the years. Thoroughly clean every part of the fireplace using a hard brush and clean water.
3. Put a Cover Plate on Your Chimney
Water can pour in from your chimney if it does not have a rain cap and damage your electric fireplace heater. Therefore, it is imperative to put a cover plate on the chimney to keep water at bay.
It is recommended to hire an expert because putting a rain cap on a chimney is extremely difficult.
4. Seal the Damper
A damper is an indispensable part of every masonry fireplace. Its main job is to link the chimney with the fireplace. However, you don’t need a damper as well as the chimney in case of an electric fireplace insert. Keeping the damper open will only result in loss of heat and more drafts.
Therefore, it is better to seal the damper of your gas or wood fireplace. The best way to insulate the damper is to use a plywood pipe or an inflatable pillow.
5. Set Up the Power Outlet
After sealing the damper, the next step is to set up a power outlet outside your existing fireplace. You can install an outlet inside the fireplace but it will be too inconvenient and impractical. Remember that you don’t need special wiring or sockets because all the electric heaters plug into the standard power outlets. Similarly, always install the power outlet close to the fireplace and just a few feet above the ground.
However, we recommend hiring a certified HVAC expert to handle this task especially if you know nothing about electrical wiring.
6. Install the Electric Fireplace Insert
Finally, it is time to insert the firebox into the fireplace. Pick the firebox and simply slide it through the opening or mouth of the fireplace. Some inserts come with leveling screws which you have to adjust to secure the fireplace. Others may have tie-down brackets which you need to attach to the both sides of the fireplace’s back as well as the floor to firmly secure the firebox.
7. Attach the Frame or the Trim
Fireplaces inserts also have a frame or trim to conceal the gap between the fireplace walls and the fireplace insert. The last step is to attach this frame or trim. Most electrical inserts feature metal or glass trims. However, you can also create and use a custom trim for your fireplace.
Here is a detailed video by BENZ explaining how to install a Dimplex electric fireplace insert.
Congratulations. Your fireplace insert is ready to heat your room.
Cost of Installing an Electric Fireplace Heater
The cost of installing an electric fireplace heater depends on its type. You may have to spend about $80 -$500 for a freestanding heater. The cost is higher for heaters with integrated mantels and frames, ranging from approximately $400 to $2500. However, $300 is the average cost of having an electric plug-in heater installed.
When it comes to labor, be prepared to splash $65-$90 an hour. A good technician will install the fireplace insert in about 2-4 hours. Thus, the total labor cost becomes $130 to $360.
You may also have to pay an additional $100 if you want to set up a power outlet close to your fireplace.
You need to take many safety precautions while using an electric heater.
- Always plug-in the heater directly into the power outlet. Never use an extension cord.
- Never touch the heating element while switched on to avoid burning your skin.
- Keep pillows, clothes, bedding, furniture, and all other combustible items away from the heater.
- Set up a proper ventilation system for your room.
- Never block intake vents for the fresh air.
- Always unplug the heater when not in use.
- Always switch off the fireplace and unplug it from the power outlet if you want to remove the heater from the fireplace.
- Always lift the heater from the firebox. Don’t ever try to lift it by its glass.
Now that you know how to install an electric fireplace heater, you should give it a try during this winter. It is quite easy to install but provide a lot of warmth and comfort. Similarly, you will have an electric fireplace insert heating your room in minutes if you carefully implement our tips and suggestions.