Fireplace inserts are a popular and low-maintenance way to replace an inefficient furnace. Since there are many options to choose from, it can be confusing to determine what you need for proper installation. One common question is whether or not fireplace inserts require electricity.
As noted by its name, electric fireplace inserts require electricity, though wood and gas fireplace inserts may need electricity too. When a blower fan pushes heat into a room or when an axillary outlet is installed, wood and gas fireplace inserts require electricity too.
It’s essential to install your fireplace and fireplace insert correctly, so we put together this post to answer which fireplace inserts may need electricity and explain what different types of fireplace inserts there are. We’ll also clarify the differences between a fireplace insert and a fireplace – another common confusion in the fireplace space.
Do Fireplace Inserts Require Electricity?
Hence their name, all electrical fireplace inserts require electricity; however, some wood-burning and gas fireplace inserts may require electricity too. Gas and wood fire inserts may need electricity for different reasons – like when a heat-safe cord is required to run from the insert to a nearby outlet to power the electric blower or when local codes and manufacturers allow an axillary outlet to be installed into the firebox.
For instance, gas fireplace inserts may have electric blowers that transfer heat into a room, along with accent lighting for ambiance and remote control capabilities for ease of use – depending on the make and model you choose. Each of these features on a gas insert requires electricity to function.
Similarly, some wood fireplace inserts and stoves with electrical blowers will usually need an electrical source to power the fans and spread the heat around the home. Other inserts will require an outlet in order to plug in and work, so electricity is certainly required there.
Another reason why a wood stove would need electricity is if it’s a pellet stove, which is a stove that uses pellets instead of traditional firewood for fuel. Pellets are a good fuel choice for wood-burning stoves because they burn at a slower and more controlled rate – but that’s for another post! Do note that not all pellet stoves require electricity, however.
What Are The Electrical Requirements For Fireplace Inserts?
Most fireplace inserts can be plugged directly into a standard existing wall outlet. Inserts should never be plugged into a power strip or extension cord, which could both catch fire. Here we explain the electrical requirements needed for fireplace inserts.
Electrical Requirements For Electric Inserts
All electric fireplaces need electricity, and most electric fireplaces and inserts can be plugged into a standard 120-volt outlet in North America needing a dedicated line (120-volt is interchangeable with 110-volts, the most common electrical outlet in the US). Many types of electric fireplace inserts come with a standard plug that can be plugged into an outlet.
Always plug the insert cord directly into a wall outlet and never use a power strip or extension cord, which are fire hazards. Both could overheat if plugged into an insert and cause a fire since they are intended for low-power devices like computers and lamps. Extension cords and power strips are not designed for machines that require a lot of energy, such as fireplace inserts or space heaters.
To go into a little more detail, electric fireplace inserts work by using a combination of rotating mirrors and lights to create the illusion of crackling flames. They’re also usually equipped with an infrared or fan-forced heater, and these two types of heaters function similarly to a space heater, which should always be plugged directly into a power outlet.
Electrical Requirements For Gas Inserts
If a gas insert requires electricity, it should be connected to an available circuit via an outlet, unlike most electric inserts.
While many gas inserts do not require electricity, some have a blower fan or hand-held electrical capabilities such as increased heat output or varied flame intensity. Plug your gas insert into a standard 120-volt outlet.
Electrical Requirements For Wood Inserts
Wood inserts also typically require a standard 110-volt electrical outlet if they require an electrical supply to power the blowers.
How Much Electricity Does A Fireplace Insert Use?
Most electric fireplace inserts use 120 volts from an outlet to power the heater to produce around 750 – 1,500 watts of energy, depending on the size of the room.
750 watts is the average requirement to heat a small room, whereas 1,500 watts is typically needed to heat a bigger one.
How Does A Fireplace Insert Work?
Inserts work as a closed combustion chamber – the insert is a fireproof box encompassed by cast iron or steel with insulated glass that traps heat. Some fireplace inserts may include a blower fan that pushes hot air through the front vents into the room.
A fireplace insert is powered by gas, propane, electricity, pellets, wood, or coal.
What’s The Difference Between A Fireplace Insert And A Fireplace?
Fireplace inserts are designed to be inserted into an existing fireplace, whereas a fireplace is an entire structure you burn inside. Many fireplaces are built with an insert already inside. You’ll usually see this with wood-burning fireplaces.
An insert is smaller than a fireplace since they fit into a fireplace’s open area. Because fireplace inserts typically use the existing fireplace’s opening, inserts require little to no construction.
On the other hand, a fireplace is a complete structure that you burn inside of. To install a fireplace in a home, it’s a lengthy process that needs a lot of consideration and preparation. However, it is typical for a fireplace built into a home to be constructed with an insert inside.
When Do I Need A Fireplace Insert?
A fireplace insert is best to get when you already have a fireplace and don’t want to do construction work. It’s common for people to use inserts in their fireplace and ditch the physical fireplace altogether.
What Types Of Fireplace Inserts Are There?
There are three types of fireplace inserts that may require electricity to work: electric, gas, and wood. Whether or not the type of fireplace insert needs electricity depends on the manufacturer, whether or not the insert requires a fan to exhaust heat, and if an auxiliary outlet is installed into the firebox.
Electric inserts are the newest type on the market and are the simplest, most convenient inserts you can buy. No venting is required with an electric insert since it doesn’t produce any combustion byproducts and gives off little heat. While this type of insert doesn’t produce any real flames, it simulates them once you plug it into a power source using LED-colored lights.
Many models allow you to adjust the flame size to your liking, and you may be able to turn the heating element on and off as well. Thus, electric inserts need electricity.
Gas fireplace inserts use a gas supply line and not the inside air for combustion. These inserts will use an outside exhaust vent. Some have blowers, or fans, that transfer heat into a room (one pulls air in and the other exhausts air to the outside), and these blowers require electricity to work. Direct vent fireplace inserts are most common.
Wood fireplace inserts are the oldest type of insert on the market (they’ve been used worldwide for over 100 years), and they are best for burning the most wood and producing the most heat. Many fireplace owners prefer wood inserts over gas or electric because they don’t have to replace their entire furnace or chimney to produce more heat.