A Guide To Converting Your Wood Fireplace to Electric

When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Whether you just don’t want to deal with chopping or buying wood or prefer the ambiance of an electric unit, converting wood fireplace to electric isn’t as hard as you might think.

In most cases, you will just need to thoroughly clean the wood fireplace of wood, ash, etc., purchase an electric unit that fits the opening, and do some finishing and electric work around it (if you want a seamless look).

But, doing it yourself can be a challenge and take a lot of time.

In this article, we provide an in-depth overview of how to convert your wood fireplace to an electric fireplace and what considerations you need to take into account. We also cover the average costs so you can start budgeting for your upgrade.

a technician converting a wood fireplace to electric

Can You Convert A Fireplace To Electric?

Yes, you can convert your wood fireplace to electric. There are a few different ways to do this, and the method you choose will depend on a few factors, including the type of fireplace you have and your budget.

If you have a traditional wood-burning fireplace, you can convert it to electric by installing an electric insert. An electric insert is a self-contained unit that goes inside your existing fireplace. It will have its own electric heating element and may also come with a fan to help circulate the heat.

Another option is to install an electric log set. This is a less expensive option, but it’s not as realistic as an insert. An electric log set consists of fake logs you place in your existing fireplace. You will then plug the logs into an outlet.

What To Check Before You Begin

a technician measuring the fireplace

Before you start any work on converting your wood fireplace to electric, it’s important to check with your local building code office. They will be able to tell you if there are any restrictions or requirements in your area for installing an electric fireplace.

You should also have a certified electrician come and take a look at your fireplace. They will be able to tell you if it’s safe to install an electric fireplace in your home. They will also recommend any hard wiring or extra circuit breakers you might need.

Finally, check with your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if there are any restrictions on installing an electric fireplace. Some policies will not cover damages caused by an electric fireplace, so it’s important to be sure before you start any work.

You should also verify the following:

Type of Fireplace

There are two main types of fireplaces: masonry and factory-built. Masonry fireplaces are made of bricks, stones, or concrete; you usually see them in older homes. On the other hand, factory-built fireplaces are made of metal and are generally in newer homes.

If you have a masonry fireplace, you’ll need to have an electrician install an insert or log set. If you have a factory-built fireplace, you may be able to install the electric fireplace yourself. But it’s always a good idea to check with an electrician first.

Size

The size of your fireplace will determine what type of insert or log set you can buy. So, make sure to measure your fireplace’s width, height, and depth before you start shopping.

You should also ensure enough clearance around your fireplace for the insert or log set. Most models will need at least 12 inches of clearance on all sides.

Insert or Freestanding

a technician installing an electric fireplace

An electric fireplace insert slides inside your existing fireplace. It has its own electric heating element to give off heat. Some models also come with a fan to help circulate the heat.

A freestanding electric fireplace is a standalone unit that sits in front or inside of your existing fireplace. On the other hand, a wall-mounted electric fireplace, as its name suggests, mounts over your previous fireplace.

If you’re unsure which type of fireplace you want, think about how you plan to use it. If you want to be able to use your fireplace as a primary source of heat, an insert might be a better option. But if you just want to use it for ambiance while being able to move it to another room, a freestanding electric fireplace might be a better choice.

Flue

If you have a gas fireplace, you cannot convert it to electric. And if you have a wood-burning fireplace, you’ll need to ensure it’s properly ventilated before installing an electric insert or log set.

Some newer homes are built with what’s called a direct-vent fireplace. This type of fireplace doesn’t need a chimney because it vents directly to the outside. If you have a direct-vent fireplace, you can convert it to electric.

Access to Power

You’ll need to have an electrician run an electrical line to your fireplace if you don’t already have one. This is usually not a problem, but it’s something you’ll need to factor into the cost of converting your fireplace.

If you’re installing a freestanding electric fireplace, you’ll need to ensure it’s close enough to an outlet. Most freestanding fireplaces come with a long cord, so you should be able to find a spot that’s close enough. But if you can’t, you may need to have an electrician install an outlet near your fireplace.

Pros and Cons of Converting a Wood Fireplace to Electric

There are a few things to consider before converting your wood fireplace to electric. Here are some of the pros and cons:

Pros

  • You’ll no longer have to deal with the hassle of buying and storing wood.
  • They are completely safe, and you’ll never have to worry about starting a fire or dealing with ashes.
  • Electric fireplaces are very easy to use. You can simply turn them on and off with the push of a button.
  • Electric fireplaces are energy efficient. They convert almost all of the electricity they use into heat.

Cons

  • Electric fireplaces can be expensive to install.
  • Depending on the model, some electric fireplaces are not as realistic as wood-burning counterparts. 

How Much Does it Cost to Convert a Wood Fireplace to Electric?

an electrician installing electric outlets

Converting a wood fireplace to electric fireplace can cost you between $1,500 to $2,700. However, this price range can either be lower or higher. For instance, if you opt for a basic electric fireplace log set, expect a lower installation fee because it rarely requires hardwiring (most models are plug and go).

ItemCost
Electric fireplace$500 to $1,000
Preparation $300 to $400
Hardwiring$200 to $500 
Finishing$500 to $800
Total$1,500 to $2,700

Electric Fireplace Cost

The cost of an electric fireplace insert starts at around $500. The most expensive models can cost over $1,000. On the other hand, an electric log set will cost you less. A basic model will start at around $200, but the most realistic models can cost over $500.

The MagikFlame Trinity Electric Fireplace is one of the most realistic electric fireplace inserts on the market. It has 30 realistic flame settings, like life log crackling noises, and a powerful heater.  It also comes with a traditional look that can add sophistication to any living space.

Preparation Cost

If your fireplace is not already vented, you’ll need to have a chimney cap installed. This will cost around $300. You might also need to remove the existing fire grate and invest in a new one. This will cost around $100.

Hardwiring Cost

You may also need to have an electrician run a line to your fireplace. The cost of this will depend on the distance from the nearest outlet and whether or not you need to have an outlet installed.

In most cases, the cost of running an electrical line will be around $200. If you need to have a new breaker installed, too, the cost will be around $500.

Finishing Cost

If you’re handy, you might be able to install an electric fireplace insert or log set yourself. But if you’re not, you’ll need to hire a professional. The installation cost will depend on the type of fireplace you have and the job’s complexity. In most cases, it will cost around $500 to $800 to have an electric fireplace insert installed.

The Bottom Line

Converting a wood fireplace to electric is possible. However, you should keep a few factors in mind, including the type of fireplace, installation method, and access to power. And, in most cases, it will cost at least $1,500 to install an electric fireplace in your existing wood-burning unit.

Looking for the most realistic electric fireplace for your home? Check out the top 10 most realistic fireplace guide for some of our top choices.

About The Author

Jonathon is a mechanical engineer with over ten years of experience in the HVAC industry. He has hands-on experience with all types of HVAC systems.

Leave a Comment