Can you install an electric fireplace into a real fireplace?

Making the switch from a traditional fuel-burning fireplace to an electric fireplace is not as difficult a process as you may think. Electric fireplaces are one of the easiest appliances to install, as well as being cheaper to run and easier to maintain than traditional fireplaces. You can install an electric fireplace into a real fireplace, regardless of whether it has a functioning chimney. Electric fireplaces do not require this type of ventilation as they don’t burn real fuel, nor do they produce smoke. All you need is enough space in the firebox to place the unit, along with an available electric power source nearby to provide it with electricity to run.

Why convert a traditional fireplace to an electric fireplace?

Several huge benefits come with the conversion of a traditional fireplace to an electric fireplace.

To understand these benefits, we can first look at how an electric fireplace works compared to traditional types of fireplaces. Electric fireplaces are electrical appliances that create the illusion of a burning fireplace without combustible fuel or an actual fire. Using lights and a heating element, electric fireplaces provide the look and feel of a real fireplace.

As they lack a real fire or burning fuel, electric fireplaces are far more safe than traditional types of fireplaces. Therefore, the risk of accidental injury to you, any members of your family, or your pets, is greatly reduced; although electric fireplaces emit the same amount of heat as a traditional fireplace, the unit will never heat up enough to cause a burn. Also, as electric fireplaces don’t produce smoke, they don’t release any harmful emissions or particles.

Electric fireplaces are easier to install, operate, and maintain than traditional fireplaces. You can fit an existing fireplace with an electric unit, regardless of whether the fireplace has a functioning flue; electric fireplaces do not require a flue or venting as they don’t produce any smoke. The installation of an electric fireplace can be as simple as placing the unit and plugging it into a nearby socket.

Once installed, you can switch your electric fireplace on and off instantaneously with the push of a button. This is far more convenient compared to the process of lighting and extinguishing a traditional fireplace. On top of this, it’s also more cost-effective and better for the environment than burning real fuel. The heating element in your electric fireplace can be used to warm up a room in place of your home’s heating system. Also, many electric fireplaces come with a ‘flame-only’ setting, allowing you to enjoy the look of the flames without the unit generating any heat.

Can you install an electric fireplace into a real fireplace?

Yes, it’s possible to install an electric fireplace directly into the space where an existing fuel-burning fireplace stands. All you need is an electric fireplace insert that fits the space, along with the ability to accommodate a power source for the fireplace.

You can easily replace an existing traditional fireplace with an electric fireplace insert. Electric fireplace inserts are heating appliances specially designed to fit into the opening of existing fireplaces. They come in various sizes to fit a wide range of spaces.

With that said, it isn’t likely that you’ll find an exact fit to replace your existing fireplace; in this case, you can purchase an additional surround to fill the gap between the old and new fireplace. Ultimately, you will have an electric fireplace that sits neatly within the opening of the existing fireplace, with a clean, built-in finish.

What type of electric fireplace insert is best for a conversion?

When converting your traditional fireplace into an electric fireplace, you have the option of installing either a plug-in electric fireplace insert or a built-in electric fireplace insert. In short, plug-in electric fireplaces must be plugged into a standard electrical outlet, while built-in models are hard-wired into your home’s electrics.

Plug-in electric fireplaces

Plug-in electric fireplace inserts only require a standard home electrical outlet to work. They are powered by a cable that you can plug and unplug from the wall at your convenience. Therefore, to accommodate this type of fireplace, you’ll need a plug socket nearby to the space where your existing fireplace currently stands.

The only other requirement for a plug-in electric fireplace is typically a certain amount of clearance between the back of the insert and the back of the existing space. This makes plug-in inserts unsuitable for tighter, in-wall installations.

However, they are often the best choice for those looking to convert their existing fireplace due to their ease of installation and use. Plug-in fireplaces are ready to use straight out of the box; all you need to do to get these electric fireplaces running is to plug them in and switch them on. It’s also very easy to unplug and move a plug-in fireplace if you wish to use it elsewhere in your home.

Built-in electric fireplaces

Built-in fireplace inserts instead require hard-wiring into your home's electric system. Compared to plug-in fireplaces, they are a more permanent solution when installing a new electric fireplace.

Although they generally require hard wiring, many models of built-in fireplaces come with ‘plug kits’. These kits provide you with the option of plugging the fireplace into a standard electrical socket to operate like a plug-in model. If a plug-in kit doesn’t come with the fireplace model as standard, they are often available as an optional extra.

Another benefit of built-in fireplaces is that they are typically zero clearance. This means that it isn’t necessary to leave a gap between the back of the fireplace unit and the back of the existing fireplace. For this reason, built-in fireplaces are a better option for those with limited space in their existing fireplaces.

Alternative types of electric fireplaces you can install into an existing fireplace

There are a couple of alternative types of electric fireplaces you can also install into an existing fireplace. These types of fireplaces are the best option if you want an electric solution that doesn’t take up all of the space in the current fireplace. Your options include an electric fireplace log set or an electric fireplace stove.

Electric fireplace log sets

Electric fireplace log sets are units that contain a set of faux logs inside a fireplace grate. Unlike electric fireplace inserts, these fireplaces do not come inside a larger unit.

These log sets can create the look and feel of a realistic wood-burning fire within your existing fireplace. They create the illusion of a real fire by generating a pulsating glow, with some models projecting a flame effect onto the back of the space. Higher-end log sets can even create the illusion of smoke by emitting water vapour.

Electric log sets require plugging into a nearby electrical socket to work. However, some models come with a battery pack, allowing them to run without a mains supply.

Electric fireplace stoves

Electric fireplace stoves look like actual wood-burning stoves, without the necessity of real fuel or fire.

These units create the illusion of a real wood-burning stove by generating an imitation of real flickering flames. Again, all these units require is a standard electric plug socket which can be removed and replaced at your convenience.

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