One of the great advantages of installing an electric fireplace, rather than gas, is the lower cost of installation. But just how much does it cost to install an electric fireplace? While we can’t provide specific dollar values for every part of the country, we can tell you what type of work will need to be done to prepare for an electric fireplace installation. This will allow you to be better prepared when you start planning a project with an electric fireplace. You may be capable of doing some of these tasks yourself, while others will require professional help. Here are our top questions to ask when calculating the cost to install an electric fireplace:
Do you need someone to install your electric fireplace?
Many electric models are ‘plug and play’ – just take them out of the box, put them in position, and plug them in. Electric stoves are a good example of ‘plug and play’ products. Then there are mantel packages that include a ready-to-assemble cabinet with the fireplace insert. If you aren’t good at puzzles, or assembling furniture, you may prefer to hire someone to do this. Wall-mounted units will need to be secured to the framing inside the wall, and the decorative media will need to be added. Some units will also need to be direct-wired, and are not plug-in units. Whether or not you hire someone to install the fireplace depends on your comfort level with these tasks. If you have a professional renovator in your home to build the fireplace wall, they are more than capable of installing the fireplace. Many fireplace stores also provide installation services.
Do you need electrical work?
Just because you have an outlet conveniently located where you want to install the fireplace, doesn’t mean that you can just plug in the fireplace there. Because they have heaters, electric fireplaces require a dedicated electrical circuit to ensure that the breaker doesn’t turn off whenever you turn the heater to its highest setting. While many electric models come with a plug, and may be plugged into a regular household receptacle, they will function best on their own dedicated circuit. This is not the same as having a single outlet just for the fireplace; multiple outlets are on the same circuit breaker in most rooms. A dedicated circuit means that the outlet, or electrical wire, connects directly to the circuit breaker and there are no other connections on that breaker. If you don’t have this in place already, you need a licensed electrician to run a new wire from the electrical panel to the location of the fireplace. Be sure to find out if your new electric fireplace is a plug-in unit or if it should be hard-wired. There are also some electric fireplaces that may be connected to 240 volts rather than 120 volts, and your electrician needs to know this before running the new line. The installation manual, or an informed fireplace provider, will provide this information. Electrical work is not a do-it-yourself project – hire a professional!
Will you need to repair your walls or ceilings after the electrical work is done?
Running a new electrical line during construction or renovation work is fairly easy. However, doing so in a finished space will likely require some repair work after the fact. It’s rare for the electrical panel to be located close to where you want to install the new electric fireplace. The electrician will have to run a new wire through existing walls and possibly ceilings, to get it where you want it. This will require the cutting of holes in your plaster, which will then have to be repaired and painted. And you can’t just paint the repaired area; you need to repaint the entire wall or ceiling, so that you don’t see where the old paint ends and the new paint begins. Depending on your patching and painting skills, you may be able to do this yourself. If not, you will need a good painter.
Will you need a plumbing line for your electric fireplace?
Yes, there are some fireplaces that turn tap water into mist, which is then lit up to look like flames. While some of these units may be refilled manually, this is a tedious process, especially if you use your fireplace frequently. Depending on the configuration that you purchase, you may have to remove the front glass, and/or logs to get to the water tanks. Running a plumbing connection to refill the reservoir automatically will save you from this task and allow you to enjoy your fireplace even more. It’s a fairly simple task to connect a plumbing line during a construction project, if you plan ahead for it. Depending on your fireplace location, it may be impossible to have a plumbing line in a finished space.
Is there an existing fireplace to be removed?
If you are replacing a gas fireplace with an electric model, then you will need a licensed gas fitter to cap the gas line and safely remove the gas fireplace. This is NOT a do-it-yourself project. It is a safety issue – you need to pay someone who has been trained and licensed to do this work.
If you are replacing a zero-clearance wood-burning fireplace with an electric insert, you will need someone to remove the steel box inside your fireplace, and possibly block the chimney that you will no longer be using. It’s also a good idea to insulate the exterior walls here, if they are not already, to keep cold air from infiltrating your room. The steel box will likely require some cutting to get it out of the wall. A general contractor should be able to handle this work, and we have seen some homeowners tackle this themselves.
Do you need to construct a new wall for the fireplace?
Most electric fireplaces cannot be retrofitted into an existing wall – you need to build a new wall with a cut-out for the fireplace you have in mind. Unless you are an experienced renovator, you will need to hire a general contractor or carpenter to do this for you. They will need to know exactly which model of fireplace you are installing, so they can frame the opening accordingly. Then you need to decide what your wallcovering materials will be, and hire the right people to install those.
What materials do you want to install on the fireplace wall?
Many of our clients are installing stone or tiles on their fireplace walls. What about shiplap boards? Whatever you have in mind, you will need someone with the expertise and tools to do this for you, unless you are willing to take it on yourself. A solid stone slab requires a fabricator; first you choose your slab, then the fabricator templates the fireplace wall and has the slab cut to fit exactly. They then deliver and install it, which is not a do-it-yourself project due to the weight and fragility of the stone.
Perhaps you want a custom mantel beam, or a wall of cabinets on either side of the fireplace. These items will require a cabinet-maker.
Take all of these items into account when calculating the cost to install an electric fireplace. Keep in mind that many of these expenses, and more, will be incurred for gas fireplaces, but there will be additional expenses for gas because they involve combustion and pose many more safety risks that must be taken into account during construction and installation.
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.