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Best Electric Fireplace Insert For Existing Fireplace

By Lawrence Macmillan April 08, 2022

Classic stonework fireplaces may look great, but they have added disadvantages. Pollutants, harmful gasses, and regular ash cleaning are all drawbacks of owning a classic fireplace. Luckily, there is a solution!

Electric fireplace inserts are very common within contemporary homes. These units let you enjoy the benefits of a fireplace without the added smoke, flames, or soot.

These innovative inventions don't need fire or vents to produce beautiful flickering flames. However, as there are so many electric fireplace inserts on the market, it can be tough deciding which one to go for.

To make it a little easier for you, we've listed the best electric fireplace inserts below. You'll also find a buying guide with advice on what you should know before choosing an electric fireplace insert.

Whether you prefer a sleek glossy finish or a realistic log fire, there'll be a unit that suits your needs within our list!

The Best Electric Fireplace Inserts

Touchstone 80004 - The Sideline Electric Fireplace

Designed to be used in a recess in a wall, this sideline electric fireplace is ideal for contemporary homes. You can choose between a realistic fireplace look and a modern multicolored flame feature.

This unit has five flame settings which you can control with a remote. If you prefer, you can use it without the heat as decoration only, which is a good idea for summer or warmer locations.

The electric fireplace insert has front-facing heater vents, so it can be placed under a flatscreen TV if the design calls for it. If you don't have a recessed wall, the unit has included brackets that can be mounted on a wall. It's also completely cool to the touch, keeping parents and pet owners satisfied.

Pros

  • Realistic and multicolor flame option - Suits both modern and classic decor
  • Remote control - Lets you manage features without touching the panel
  • Front-facing heater vents - Can be placed under a flat-screen TV without affecting it

Cons

  • The fan can become noisy after a while

Also Available At: Touchstone

R.W.FLAME 36 Inch Recessed And Wall Mounted Electric Fireplace

If you want your fireplace insert to have a range of features, this model from R.W.FlAME is the one for you.

Encased in a sleek glossy finish, the unit has five brightness levels and five flame speeds. It can also change the color of the flames into twelve different shades, including purple, blue, and red.

This unit also has touch screen buttons on the base to control the heat, timer, and dimmer switch. It's available in a range of dimensions to fit in both small and large recesses.

The unit also has an auto-heat kill safety switch. This avoids the room becoming too dry with heat, which is good for plants in the same vicinity. Overall, this is a versatile unit that can work well in a modern home.

Pros

  • Plug-in design - Very simple to install
  • Sleek glossy finish - Design works well in the modern home
  • Range of features - Suits a range of needs and preferences

Cons

  • Fans can emit audible noise.
Also Available At: R.W.FLAME

PuraFlame Western Electric Fireplace Insert With Fire Crackling Sound

This well-made fireplace insert can fit well into several fireplaces. The flames are created through LED lights, which ebb and flicker just like the real thing.

This fireplace design works well in modern and traditional homes, thanks to its bricked wall design and sleek seamless finish. It also comes with a remote controller which manages its settings.

At 33 inches, this insert is best used in a smaller area. It can heat rooms to 400 square feet, dispersing enough heat to keep the room toasty and warm. Its outer glass panel keeps cool even when the unit is turned on, which is a good safety feature.

PuraFlame's insert is simple to install and set up. It has handles on the side which makes installation easy. The handles also allow you to move the unit to another room or house without issue.

Pros

  • Sleek classic design - Works well within a range of home decors
  • LED flames - Realistic flame design without the need for gas, smoke, or soot
  • Handles on the side - The unit can be installed and moved around easily

Cons

  • Only available in one dimension
  • Fan heater may emit noise
Also Available At: Walmart

TURBRO Fireside FS18 Realistic Flames Electric Fireplace

It can be hard to find classically designed fireplace inserts that have a few features, but that's where this model comes in.

TURBRO's realistic fireplace insert looks great in traditional homes, but it also has three brightness levels for different occasions. You can have a roaring fire at a large gathering, or have a soft flicker for a night with your partner.

You can choose between an 18-inch unit or a 22 inch one, so it's ideal for small spaces. This model is energy efficient and disperses heat into rooms relatively quickly. You can control the flames and the heat with a rear control panel, but it also comes with a remote that manages the flame effect.

This is a plug-in unit that can be installed easily without consulting a professional. Its safety infrared sensors will turn the heater off if the air outlet becomes blocked, putting your mind at ease in the meantime.

Pros

  • Safety infrared sensors - Automatically turns the heater off if the air outlet is affected
  • Plug-in unit - Easy to install without professional help
  • Three flame settings - Ideal for a range of events and occasions

      Cons

      • No indication to know if the heat setting is on or off

      Also Available At: TURBRO

      Dimplex Deluxe 23" Electric Fireplace Insert

      This fireplace insert will keep you warm and looks great alongside traditional home decor. It's simple to install as it's a plug-in fireplace insert, so you won't need to hire any additional help.

      The in-built fan produces limited noise, making this a good choice for a quiet household. The simulated flames look just like a real fire, without the added smoke, soot, or harmful gasses.

      This fireplace insert can radiate heat in rooms up to 400 square feet. It's safe to operate as the front glass panel remains cold, even when the fireplace is in use. This is great for parents or pet owners concerned about safety.

      The fireplace insert is only available in one dimension, but it's a great choice for smaller rooms that need an upgrade.

      Pros

      • Quiet fan - Quiet motion won't disturb others in the area
      • Front glass panel keeps cool - Good safety feature for children and pets
      • Realistic appearance - Ideal for traditional homes with classic decor

      Cons

      • Only has one flame setting

      Also Available At: Dimplex Store

      Buyers Guide

      Here is some information to consider before you upgrade an existing electric fireplace.

      Choosing An Electric Fireplace Insert

      Classic brick fireplaces can look amazing, but they aren't the best way to heat a household.

      If you want an affordable way to heat your home, but like the look of a fireplace, an electric fireplace insert could be the solution.

      Electric fireplace inserts are non-venting heating devices that are placed within an existing mantle or space for a fireplace. As these electric-powered elements are installed, they can simultaneously add to the decor and heat a room well.

      If you want to choose an electric fireplace insert, you'll have to consider the steps below.

      • Find out what heating capacity you will need for the room.
      • Choose a style that matches the room decor, either modern or traditional.
      • Choose the type of insert you will need, either a log insert, built-in or plug-in unit.
      • Measure the size and trim required, like the fireplace width, trim, or glass doors
      • Decide on any added features, like a timer, remote control, or digital display

      We'll cover these guidelines in more detail next.

      Heating Capacity

      The first step you need to decide is if you will need a fireplace for decoration or just need a heater. These will both have advantages and disadvantages.

      Heating units tend to be more expensive and will need a fan, which can add unwanted noise.

      Heat systems in electric fireplace inserts come in two kinds, fan-forced or infrared heat.

      Fan forced heat is better for smaller rooms around 400 square feet. Infrared inserts can heat larger ones to 1,000 square feet.

      You can also find decorative fireplace inserts that don't generate heat but look like a real fire. These are often seen in modern units.

      Style Of Insert

      Next, you'll need to decide if you want a traditional fireplace or a modern one. Make sure it goes with your room decor and existing mantle.

      Traditional rooms will look good with inserts that resemble real firewood.

      Modern ones will be more refined. These are often built-in with a sleek border. Instead of logs, the flames may be kept behind a glass front or have remote control options.

      Different Fireplace Inserts

      Electric fireplace inserts come in three main types. These are log inserts, built-ins, or plug-ins.

      Electric Log Inserts

      Electric log fireplaces will have an imitation log pile that sits on a lifelike grate. The heating element is placed under the logs.

      Electric log inserts are ideal for transforming an existing gas (or wood) fireplace into an electric one, without too much effort.

      These are easily installed. The log set is placed within your original fireplace, then connected to a general 110v outlet.

      Electric log inserts can heat smaller rooms around 400 square feet. In most cases, log units will project a flame effect onto a rear shield or the back of the fireplace.

      Electric log fireplace inserts make it quick and easy to switch from an existing fireplace.

      Built-In Inserts

      Built-in electric fireplace inserts are better for those that want to remodel their mantel.

      Built-in fixtures are made to be permanent inserts, no matter if the space is an original fireplace or an alcove in a wall.

      Built-in inserts take more effort to install correctly, but they will all have instructions included. Most homeowners with good tools should be able to do the job.

      These inserts can be plugged into a general outlet with a plug kit, but you can connect them to your electrical system if you prefer.

      A 110 v built-in fireplace insert can heat 400 square feet, but 220v ones can heat rooms to 800 square feet.

      You can find built-in inserts in both modern and traditional styles.

      Plug-In Electric Inserts

      Plug-in electric fireplace inserts are easy and affordable to install. They work well in cabinets and mantels.

      Plug-in inserts are independent units. They are better for modern rooms as they have glass fronts and are closed off on all of their edges.

      Their fan-forced heat will emit above the heating device at the top of the unit. Just like electric log inserts, these plug-in units can connect to general 110-volt outlets and can heat small rooms around 400 square feet.

      Plug-in inserts with infrared heat can heat larger rooms to 1,000 square feet.

      Size & Border

      Electric fireplace inserts are available in various sizes. With a little research, you should find a unit that fits your fireplace opening.

      You should be aware of how wide the opening is. These tend to be around 2-3 feet wide, but you can find some units that are even wider.

      Make sure that you don't forget to measure between the mantel and the firebox. Forgetting this measurement could lead to an insert that doesn't work within the space.

      Decorative Trim

      You can find electric fireplace inserts that come with decorative trim and flashings to upgrade their appearance.

      For instance, for a little extra cost, some inserts may offer a cast iron surround instead of the general black metal trim.

      It doesn't happen often, but some fireplaces can be quite large and won't work with the included surround trim. If this is the case, you may be able to contact a sheet metal expert to build a custom surround then purchase the insert separately.

      You can search for these experts online or ask a quality fireplace retailer for advice.

      Extra Features

      Electric fireplace inserts can come with several features that may or may not suit your needs. We'll cover the most common ones below.

      Flame Effects

      All electric log inserts will produce a glowing and ebbing effect when the flames are on. This creates a realistic flame effect without the need for fire, burning wood, or smoke.

      However, this effect can look different depending on the insert that you choose. Some inserts use misty water to do this. This method was created by Dimplex and is known for creating lifelike flames.

      Other inserts create a flame effect through airflow and fireproof materials. This looks less realistic but may be more affordable.

      Digital Control

      It's always best to choose a fireplace insert that fits your lifestyle well. Some of these inserts let you control the room temperature digitally instead of manually, so you can use the fireplace in hot and cold weather.

      Other inserts let you control the flame intensity, brightness, and speed. These may also have on/off timers depending on the brand you go for.

      You can also find fireplace inserts with a remote control that lets you explore several features. Remotes are ideal if you'd prefer an insert with several features so you won't have to tinker with the settings.

      Guidance On Installing An Electric Fireplace Insert

      Compared to wood-burning fireplaces, electric fireplace inserts are much easier to install as you don't need any venting.

      A lot of electric fireplace inserts just need a plug and an outlet to function properly, but this will vary with each manufacturer. How easy or difficult installation will be will depend on the type of insert and where you plan on placing it.

      In most cases, people will plan on installing their electric fireplace insert in a wall, existing fireplace, or a cabinet.

      Wall Installation

      You don't need to have a fireplace to use a fireplace insert. Plenty of electric fireplaces can be placed into a recess or mounted up on a wall.

      Before you purchase your insert, look at the manufacturers' guidelines. Check if they recommend recessing or mounting upon a surface.

      Creating a recess for the fireplace will take more effort to do. You need to cut a hole correctly so the fireplace fits smoothly against the wall.

      Unless you have experience doing so, it's always better to hire a professional to cut your wall and install the fireplace.

      Conversely, surface-mounted fireplaces are much easier to install, so you can attempt to do this without assistance. These inserts will often include mounting kits that will hold the fireplace once drilled into the wall.

      Wall-mounted electric fireplace inserts are much easier to move around, so you can put them on a different wall, room, or house when needed.

      Existing Fireplace Installation

      A lot of electric inserts are created with existing fireplaces in mind. You can use both plug-in and built-in inserts in an existing fireplace. However, keep in mind that no matter what insert you choose, you need to prepare the fireplace first.

      To do so, remove the current installation and clean the space around it. Keep an eye out for water leaking through the chimney. If water is falling, use a rain cap to protect the unit, as water can damage it.

      Electric fireplaces don't need venting, so you can now seal the chimney's damper. The block will make sure that the heat from the fireplace insert doesn't escape through the chimney. This is much more efficient than heating a room.

      Now, you need to look at the power supply. You can link plug-in inserts to a general home outlet, but you might need to drill a hole to reach the nearest source.

      If this is too invasive, you can contact an electrician to create a grounded outlet within the fireplace.

      You can handle plug-in inserts yourself, but only seek a professional to handle built-in inserts. These tend to use powerful heaters that require hardwiring. Never install these yourself unless you are experienced with doing so.

      Before you purchase your electric fireplace insert, always note down the measurements of your current fireplace. You don't have to buy an insert that completely matches these dimensions, but do ensure that the insert is a little bigger than the fireplace.

      In some cases, you may need to buy a platform to raise the insert at a higher level. If the insert is too small and leaves visible gaps, you can use a trim kit to cover these.

      Trim kits are often included within electric fireplace inserts, but you can also buy these separately or create custom ones yourself.

      Cabinet Installation

      Other electric fireplace inserts have mini-cabinets included with them. You can set these up and place the fireplace into them. These cabinets often come disassembled, so you will need to piece them together at home.

      Cabinet inserts are ideal for those without a fireplace, as well as those that don't want to create a recess or mount one on the wall. Electric fireplaces can also be placed in an entertainment center or a bookshelf.

      The important step here is making sure the measurements are correct. The right dimensions will ensure that the fireplace fits and looks good. If the dimensions are off then the insert may not fit or could leave gaps between the cabinets.

      Your insert should match as close to the allotted space's dimensions as possible. If the insert is a little smaller, you can use the included trim or create a custom border to cover the spaces and make them look seamless.

      Make sure that you test your electric fireplace insert once you finish installing it. Examine the flames and logs to see if there are any issues and listen for any abnormal sounds.

      If you do notice any problems, look at the manufacturer's guide for advice or call their customer support line.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      What's Better, A Fireplace Insert Or A Fireplace?

      Fireplaces and fireplace inserts are similar as they both heat and decorate your home. However, the two devices are better for different uses. Fireplaces are ideal for new homes as they can be customized to your specifications. Fireplace inserts are large units placed into a hole for a current fireplace.

      Fireplace inserts are better for those upgrading their current living area, but fireplaces are a better choice if you're building a completely new home.

      Are Electric Fireplaces Expensive To Use?

      Compared to wood-burning or gas fireplaces, electric fireplaces are much more affordable to run.

      They are much more energy-efficient as they release heat back into a room instead of up a chimney. Most electric fireplaces cost around 18 cents an hour.

      Can Electric Fireplaces Catch Fire?

      Electric fireplaces don't emit actual flames. They use LED lights to produce the flickering effect, so they shouldn't emit toxic gasses or smoke either.

      As long as you insert them properly and follow the manufacturer's guidelines, your electric fireplace shouldn't catch fire. However, ignoring guidelines, like using an extension cord for your fireplace, can cause fires.


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