How to Install an Electric Fireplace Insert

An electric fireplace insert.
  • 5-10 hours
  • Advanced
  • 250-1,000
What You'll Need
Electric fireplace insert
Glass cleaning solution
Extension cord
Paint brush
Painter tarp
Dust pan
Small vacuum cleaner
Wood plank
Measuring tape
Paper and pen

If you are not using your old fireplace but would still like to use the space, you can install an electric fireplace insert. 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 place with your old fireplace and is simple to install.

Step 1 - Choose the Space

Choosing the space for the fireplace is the most important step before making your fireplace purchase. This will help you decide on sizing for the insert as well. If you only have one possible space for the insert, where to install the insert is an easy decision.

Step 2 - Consider Sizing for Fireplace Insert

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 into place. Measure the width and height with a tape measure and write down the measurements on a piece of paper. The fireplace insert should fit snugly into place, filling up the entire opening and leaving and no gaps.

Step 3 - Buy the Right Fireplace Insert

An electric 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. Be sure to review the energy efficiency of the fireplace inserts you are considering. Electric fireplace inserts can use a lot of energy very quickly, which means a cheap one can have some major long-term costs.

Step 4 - Clean Out the Gas Fireplace

If you have gas in your old fireplace, it needs to be turned off completely. Lay down a painters tarp in front of the fireplace to catch any debris that fly out while you clean it. Begin cleaning the old fireplace by removing log holders and any other objects that are still inside. With a big painters brush you want to sweep out all of the debris into a dustpan and throw it away. You could also use a portable vacuum cleaner if you want to pick up any extra mess that you could not clean up with the brush.

Step 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.

Step 6 - Clean the Glass

An electric fireplace insert.

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

Step 7 - Install the 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.

Step 8 - Take Precautionary Measures After Installation

It’s recommended that you unplug the unit when you aren’t using it. Once in a while, check the condition of your electrical outlet to prevent any sudden malfunctions. Never attempt to 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.