As electric fireplace experts, we know that electric fires are much easier to install than any other type of fireplace. However, there are still lots of mistakes and misconceptions out there, when it comes to electric fireplace installation. Some homeowners have overly simple expectations, while some contractors over-complicate the installation. We’re here to share our expertise and guide you to a perfect electric fireplace installation. Below are the most common mistakes that we encounter with installation, and how to avoid them.

Amantii Sym-Slim-60 electric fireplace
Amantii SYM-SLIM-60 electric fireplace installed into the wall.

Understand the electrical requirements for an electric fireplace

Almost all electric fireplaces have built-in heaters with blowers. This means that you need to have enough electrical power for the heater. The flames on modern electric fireplaces are created with LED lights, and use very little power. However, the heaters draw a more power.  If you’ve ever plugged in a space heater or a hair dryer, and had the lights go out, you will understand how much power a heater and blower can draw. For this reason, all manufacturers of electric fireplaces will recommend that you connect the fireplace to a dedicated circuit. This means that when you go to the electrical panel, and flip the circuit breaker ‘off’, only the fireplace will be affected; there are no other appliances or lights on that circuit. (By contrast, a shared circuit means that multiple outlets or light fixtures are on a single circuit breaker; when you turn that breaker off, many things go out.) Having an electric fireplace plugged into its own outlet is not necessarily the same as having it on a dedicated circuit. Most rooms in your home will have multiple outlets on a single circuit. If you’re unsure whether or not a particular outlet is on its own circuit, you can consult a licensed electrician. Pro Tip: If you are truly never going to use the heater, then have it permanently disconnected, or use the heat-lockout feature to restrict access.

Learn the difference between 120-volt and 240-volt electric fireplaces

All electric fireplaces may be connected to 120 volts; that’s the regular current running through our homes. These units may be plug-in or hard-wired. Some will come with a plug, some will offer a plug as an option, and some will not have a plug-in option. Any electric fireplace that is built-in to the wall, and can not be removed without breaking the wall, must be hard-wired. This is an electrical safety issue. Building codes require that an open receptacle must be accessible in case of a failure. If you can’t access the plug, then you can’t have a plug. This has nothing to do with the voltage. If the fireplace slides into the opening and can slide out again by releasing a few screws, then it may be on a receptacle if it’s wired for 120 volts and it comes with a plug.

Some electric fireplaces are dual-voltage; they have the option to connect to either 120 or 240 volts. The main reason that someone would connect to 240 volts is to have more power for the heater. Occasionally, the fireplace is replacing baseboard heaters that have been wired to 240 volts, so we want to have the 240-volt option on the fireplace. If you require a fireplace that connects to 240 volts for any reason, you must be sure that the model you select has this capability. Most electric fireplaces are 120-volts only, and are not able to be connected to 240 volts.

Regardless of whether you want to connect to 120-volts or 240-volts, be sure your electrician has been provided with this information, so they can run the correct wiring for your unique electric fireplace installation.

Follow the framing dimensions provided in the owner’s manual

While this may seem obvious, we have come across many fireplace installations where the opening that has been framed out is not what is shown in the manual. Sometimes, the framer has taken their own measurements of the fireplace, and has made too little or too much allowance around it. Other times, the opening has been framed for an entirely different fireplace, on the assumption that other models would have the exact same measurements. Before creating an opening for an electric fireplace installation, you need to select the actual model you will be installing, and then read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Where should I position the electrical outlet behind my fireplace? (And can I put an electric fireplace on an extension cord?)

If you have a plug-in electric fireplace, the position of the outlet will affect whether or not the fireplace will sit flush against the wall when installed. Most often, the outlet should be off to the left or right of center. If the fireplace is in a cabinet, you want the outlet behind a hollow spot, and not directly behind the firebox, where the head of the plug will push against the firebox, keeping it from sitting against the wall. If the fireplace is being put inside a wall or other cavity, the plug can only sit inside that cavity if there is enough depth for both the plug head and the firebox. If not, put that outlet just outside the cavity, but within reach of the 6-foot cord that is on most electric fireplaces.

When it comes to plugging in an electric fireplace to an extension cord, it is not generally recommended. However, if you must do so, be sure to purchase a good quality extension cord that is rated for 1500 watts or more, so it can support the heater. A lighter extension cord could overheat and become a fire hazard.

How high should I mount an electric fireplace?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we get about electric fireplace installation. There’s no simple answer, as the fireplace height depends on your viewing height, as well as the presence of art or a TV above, among other factors. When all is said and done, the flames in an electric fireplace look best when we are looking down at them. The perfect height for your fireplace is the height that allows you to look down at the flames from the most common viewing position in your space. If it’s a space where you’re mostly standing up, your fireplace can be higher than it would be in a space where you are mostly sitting down. If there’s a TV above the fireplace, then find the most comfortable viewing height for the TV, and work your way down to the fireplace.

Can all electric fireplaces be wall-mounted?

There are 3 ways to install an electric fireplace: inside a wall or cabinet, hung on the wall, or partially inside the wall. If a fireplace is designed to be inside a cavity, it may or may not also be able to hang on the wall. Likewise, if a fireplace is designed to hang on the wall, it may or may not be safe to put it inside a wall or cabinet. For those electric fireplaces that can go inside a wall cavity, a few will also have the ability to be partially in and partially out. The owner’s manual will tell you which installation options are available for that particular fireplace model.

Can I install an electric fireplace outdoors?  

There are electric fireplaces that may be installed in outdoor environments. Any situation that is not climate-controlled year-round and protected from dust, dirt, and precipitation, should be treated as an outdoor location. If you put an indoor-only electric fireplace into an outdoor location, it will not last and you will void the warranty. If you need an electric fireplace for a gazebo or screened porch, look at models that are rated for outdoor use.

Stylish Fireplaces knows that adding a fireplace to your home can be challenging. With an electric fireplace and their NFI Certified Hearth Design Specialists, it’s easy to create a space you’ll love to share with family and friends. Check out all the options and connect with their experts for help to find the perfect electric fireplace for you. You’ll live stylishly ever after. 

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