Converting your existing wood or gas fireplace to electric is one of the easiest things you can do to improve both the carbon footprint and convenience of your home. Electric fireplaces are made to insert into the firebox and plug right in.
If you have a wood burning fireplace, first remove the grate and clean out any ash and debris. You can either buy a hardwired electric fireplace that a licensed electrician can run to the electric box, or an electrician can install an outlet inside the firebox. If converting a gas burning fireplace to electric, you’ll first need to hire a plumber to cap the gas line before proceeding.
Let’s see how wood, gas and electric fireplaces compare in several important categories.
Wood burning fireplaces always pose the risk of stray sparks igniting a house fire. Additionally, although most of the smoke is released through the chimney, there is also the chance of unhealthy fine particles and pollutants being released into your home’s air that can cause lung problems and eye irritation, particularly if you don’t have a snug fitting fireplace door.
Gas burning fireplaces come with a couple of risks as well, the main one being carbon monoxide poisoning if there is damage to the gas line or if it is not properly ventilated. There is also the extremely rare chance of explosion.
Electric fireplaces are the safest option as they pose none of the above risks and are just like any other electric appliance in your home. There are no real flames and no dangerous byproducts or toxins released into your home.
Wood burning fireplaces require the most maintenance. Before you even begin using your fireplace it should be inspected to ensure it’s safe and up to code. A chimney needs to be professionally swept annually and, in addition, you’ll need to clean the ash out of the firebox after each fire (waiting twelve hours after the fire has died to ensure it is completely cooled). There are also the added tasks of buying or chopping wood and storing it.
Gas burning fireplaces must also be inspected before first use and then annually to guarantee the gas line is properly connected and in good shape. Additionally, the grime build up will need regular cleaning as well as checking decorative logs for deterioration and needed replacement.
Electric fireplaces are by far the easiest to maintain. Simply turn off and unplug before wiping down the exterior with a wrung out damp cloth. Do the same on the inlet and/or outlet to clean up any dust. Just make sure to follow the directions on your manual.
Wood and gas burning fireplaces are far more expensive to install than electric, and require yearly maintenance costs. On the other hand, electric fireplaces are relatively inexpensive and easily installed by an electrician.
Efficiency and Environmental Impact
There are some other great reasons to feel good about converting to an electric fireplace. Electric fireplaces offer 100 percent efficiency since no heat is lost through a chimney or vent. Furthermore, electric fireplaces do not produce any carbon emissions and no fuel (gas or wood) is required.
Electric fireplaces are the clear winner in every category. The safety, low-maintenance, low cost and efficiency are attractive draws to converting wood and gas fireplaces to electric. Additionally, they can be used without the heat blower to year-round to provide ambiance. There are also many more style choices than in the past, and most are remote controlled or can be attached to your smartphone. You can even find many that make a real “crackling fire” sound to add to the ambiance. Electric fireplaces are a great choice for improving your home and lifestyle!