How to Convert Wood Burning Fireplace to Electric: A Comprehensive Guide

How to Convert Wood Burning Fireplace to Electric?

To convert a wood-burning fireplace to electric, there are two options: plug-in fireboxes and log inserts.

Plug-in fireboxes can have a glass front or be open, offering realistic flame effects and energy efficiency.

Log inserts utilize the existing fireplace structure and produce a lifelike flame image.

The process involves cleaning the fireplace box, sliding in the electric insert, and plugging it into a standard outlet.

No gas fittings, masonry work, or holes in exterior walls are required.

It is recommended to check whether the chosen model includes a front trim or if it needs to be ordered separately.

Key Points:

  • Two options for converting a wood-burning fireplace to electric:
  • Plug-in fireboxes
  • Log inserts
  • Plug-in fireboxes can have glass front or be open, offer realistic flame effects and energy efficiency
  • Log inserts utilize existing fireplace structure, produce lifelike flame image
  • Process involves cleaning fireplace box, sliding in electric insert, plugging into standard outlet
  • No gas fittings, masonry work, or holes in exterior walls required
  • Check if chosen model includes front trim or if it needs to be ordered separately

Did You Know?

1. In the 19th century, fireplaces were commonly converted from wood burning to coal burning. Some even had a dual-function feature where the same fireplace could be used for burning both wood and coal.

2. Electric fireplaces were first invented in the late 19th century, but their popularity didn’t take off until the 1960s when they became more affordable and convenient to use.

3. The peak of wood burning fireplaces in the United States was in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when over 80% of homes relied on wood as their primary source of heat.

4. In terms of efficiency, electric fireplaces are more cost-effective to use compared to wood-burning fireplaces, as they convert almost 100% of their energy into heat, whereas wood-burning fireplaces can lose a significant amount of their heat through the chimney.

5. Converting a wood-burning fireplace to an electric one not only eliminates the need for storing and hauling wood, but it also reduces the amount of air pollution caused by burning wood, making it a more environmentally-friendly option.

The Benefits Of Converting To An Electric Fireplace

Electric fireplaces have increasingly gained popularity as a safer and more convenient alternative to traditional wood or gas-burning fireplaces. Here are the key benefits of converting to an electric fireplace:

  • Enhanced safety: Electric fireplaces eliminate safety concerns associated with traditional fireplaces. There is no risk of sparks, embers, or creosote buildup, reducing the chance of accidental fires. Constant monitoring is also unnecessary, providing peace of mind.

  • Low maintenance: Converting to an electric fireplace spares homeowners from physical exertion and maintenance. Gone are the days of hauling heavy logs, cleaning ashes, and chimney inspections. Electric fireplaces are incredibly easy to operate and require minimal upkeep.

  • Pet and child-friendly: Unlike wood-burning fireplaces, electric fireplaces remain cool to the touch, minimizing the risk of burns. They also do not emit any harmful gases or smoke, making them safe for indoor use. With safety features like automatic shut-off timers and tip-over protection, parents and pet owners can ensure the well-being of their loved ones.

Note: Electric fireplaces offer a range of advantages such as enhanced safety, low maintenance, and pet/child-friendly features. They eliminate safety concerns, require minimal upkeep, and provide a cool-to-touch surface. With various safety features, homeowners can enjoy a cozy ambiance without compromising the well-being of their loved ones.

    • Easy to operate and require minimal upkeep
    • Cool to the touch and safe for indoor use
    • Automatic shut-off timers and tip-over protection
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Two Types Of Electric Fireplaces For Conversion: Plug-In Fireboxes And Log Inserts

When converting a wood-burning fireplace to electric, there are two main types of electric fireplaces that can be used: plug-in fireboxes and log inserts.

Plug-In Fireboxes are standalone units that can be easily inserted into an existing fireplace. They come in various sizes and styles, ranging from fireboxes with a glass front to more traditional open fireboxes. These units often feature realistic flame effects that mimic the glow and movement of a real fire. Moreover, plug-in fireboxes are known for their energy efficiency, ensuring homeowners can enjoy the ambiance of a fire without worrying about high energy bills.

On the other hand, log inserts are designed to fit within the existing structure of a fireplace. These inserts use advanced technology to produce a lifelike flame image that creates the illusion of burning logs. Log inserts typically require professional installation to ensure proper fit and functionality. However, they provide a seamless and authentic fireplace experience while still benefiting from the safety and convenience of electric fireplaces.

To summarize:

  • Plug-In Fireboxes: Standalone units that can be easily inserted into an existing fireplace. They offer various sizes and styles, with realistic flame effects and energy efficiency.
  • Log Inserts: Designed to fit within the existing structure of a fireplace, these inserts produce a lifelike flame image and require professional installation for proper fit and functionality. They provide a seamless and authentic fireplace experience.

Step-By-Step Installation Process For Electric Fireplace Conversion

Converting a wood-burning fireplace to an electric fireplace is a simple process that homeowners can usually complete without professional assistance. The step-by-step guide below outlines the installation process for both plug-in fireboxes and log inserts.

  1. Clean the existing fireplace box by removing debris, ashes, and soot buildup. Ensure the fireplace is completely cool before starting the installation.

  2. For plug-in fireboxes, place the unit into the fireplace opening. Center and level the unit. If required, attach a front trim to give it a finished fireplace appearance.

  3. Plug the firebox into a standard electrical outlet. Most electric fireplace inserts come pre-wired for easy installation. If necessary, a separate plug-kit can be purchased.

  4. For log inserts, carefully slide the unit into the existing fireplace structure. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper fit and alignment.

  5. Once the unit is in place, plug it into a standard outlet. Secure the log insert to the fireplace structure using recommended brackets or other means suggested by the manufacturer.

  6. Test the electric fireplace to ensure proper functionality. Adjust settings such as flame brightness or heat output to your preferences.

  7. Clean the existing fireplace box: Remove debris, ashes, and soot buildup.

  8. Plug-in fireboxes: Center and level the unit; attach a front trim if needed.
  9. Plug the firebox into a standard electrical outlet.
  10. Log inserts: Carefully slide the unit into the existing fireplace structure; follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  11. Plug the log insert into a standard outlet; secure it using recommended brackets.
  12. Test the electric fireplace, adjust settings as desired.

Note: Converting to an electric fireplace is a straightforward process that most homeowners can do themselves.

Cost And Efficiency Of Electric Fireplaces

One of the significant advantages of electric fireplaces is their cost-effectiveness and efficiency. Compared to wood or gas-burning fireplaces, electric fireplaces provide a more affordable heating solution while offering greater flexibility and control.

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The operating costs of electric fireplaces vary depending on usage. When operated without heat, electric fireplaces can cost as little as 3 cents per hour. However, when heat is utilized, the cost averages between 8 and 12 cents per hour. This calculation takes into account both the electricity consumed by the flames and the additional energy required to produce heat.

Moreover, electric fireplaces excel at zone heating, which means they are efficient at delivering heat to specific rooms or areas. This allows homeowners to reduce their overall heating costs by only heating the rooms they occupy. By heating the specific zones needed, electric fireplaces can significantly lower energy consumption and provide cost savings during colder months.

  • Electric fireplaces are cost-effective and efficient
  • Operating costs vary depending on usage
  • Without heat, the cost can be as little as 3 cents per hour
  • With heat, the cost averages between 8 and 12 cents per hour
  • Electric fireplaces excel at zone heating
  • Zone heating allows homeowners to reduce overall heating costs
  • Zone heating significantly lowers energy consumption

Safety And Convenience Features Of Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces prioritize safety and convenience, making them an attractive option for homeowners. These fireplaces offer a host of features designed to enhance the user experience while prioritizing safety.

The cool-to-touch surface of electric fireplaces eliminates the risk of burns, making them ideal for homes with small children or pets. Unlike wood-burning fireplaces, there is no open flame, reducing the risk of accidental fires. Additionally, electric fireplaces do not produce any harmful emissions or require ventilation, ensuring indoor air quality remains high.

Electric fireplaces often come equipped with various convenience features, such as wireless remote controls and programmable timers. These features allow homeowners to easily adjust the flame brightness, heat settings, and even set a timer to automatically turn the fireplace on or off. This level of control and convenience makes it effortless to create a cozy atmosphere without ever leaving the comfort of your couch.

  • Cool-to-touch surface eliminates the risk of burns
  • No open flame, reducing the risk of accidental fires
  • No harmful emissions or ventilation required
  • Wireless remote controls and programmable timers for convenience
  • Ability to adjust flame brightness and heat settings
  • Create a cozy atmosphere without leaving the couch

Things To Consider Before Converting To An Electric Fireplace

Before converting a wood-burning fireplace to electric, there are a few essential factors to consider.

  • First and foremost, select the right type of electric fireplace that best complements your home’s aesthetics and meets your heating needs. Whether it is a plug-in firebox or a log insert, carefully consider the style, size, and functionality that aligns with your preferences.

  • Another consideration is checking whether the chosen model includes a front trim or if it needs to be ordered separately. Some fireboxes may require additional accessories or trim to complete the installation and achieve the desired finished look. Ensuring you have all the necessary components beforehand will simplify the installation process and guarantee satisfying results.

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Converting a wood-burning fireplace to electric is an excellent way to enhance the safety, convenience, and efficiency of your home’s heating solution. By eliminating the hazards associated with traditional fireplaces and providing easy-to-use features, electric fireplaces offer a modern and hassle-free fireplace experience. With the step-by-step installation guide provided, homeowners can confidently make the switch and enjoy the warmth and charm of an electric fireplace.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Should I convert my fireplace to electric?

Converting your fireplace to electric would be a wise decision considering the cost-effectiveness. Electric fireplaces are highly efficient and convert most of the electricity into heat, providing more value for your money. Unlike gas fireplaces that lose heat through the chimney, electric fireplaces help you save on fuel costs while still producing the same amount of warmth. Making the switch to electric will not only be a smart financial move but also ensure a cozy and comfortable atmosphere in your space.

Is electric fireplace better than wood burning?

While electric fireplaces offer numerous safety benefits over wood-burning fires, the comparison of which is better ultimately depends on one’s preference and needs. Electric fireplaces eliminate the risks associated with stray sparks or embers, making them a safer option, especially in households with children or pets. However, for those seeking the ambiance and authenticity of a traditional wood-burning fire, the crackling sound and smell of burning wood can be must-haves that an electric fireplace may not fully replicate. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on prioritizing safety and convenience over the traditional aspects of a wood-burning fire.

Can you convert a wood burning fireplace?

Yes, it is possible to convert a wood burning fireplace to gas, as long as it is already a wood burning fireplace. However, it is important to note that wood burning appliances, like wood stoves, cannot be converted to gas. Therefore, if you have a wood burning fireplace and wish to switch to a more efficient and convenient gas fireplace, conversion is indeed a viable option.

How do you start an electric wood burning fireplace?

To start an electric wood burning fireplace, ensure that it is plugged into an outlet. Next, turn on both the power button and the flame effect switch. Once these are activated, adjust the flame dial to your desired brightness level, allowing the flames to beautifully illuminate your space. Enjoy the cozy ambiance created by your electric wood burning fireplace with just a few simple steps.

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