How to Install an Electric Fireplace

Take on this DIY project to add cozy warmth to your home.

basket with firewood next to fireplace
Photo: Adam Albright
Project Overview
  • Skill Level: Advanced

Fireplaces are a source of warmth, light, and comfort, especially when the weather turns to pouring rain, gusting winds, or snowstorms. However, traditional wood fireplaces require a lot of maintenance, and they are costly to install. Gas fireplaces are not as difficult to maintain, but in most cases, you will still need to pay a professional to handle the installation.

If you're looking for the ambience and aesthetic appeal of a fireplace, but don't want to pay high prices for the installation, an electric fireplace is a good choice. Electric fireplaces are low-maintenance and relatively inexpensive, plus they can be installed by an experienced DIYer. Consider whether you want to put in a wall-mounted electric fireplace or a recessed electric fireplace, then use this guide to learn how to install an electric fireplace in your home.

Choosing an Electric Fireplace Installation Method

There are several ways an electric fireplace can be installed in your home, so before purchasing, it's important to figure out how you want to install the unit. The easiest method for a DIYer is to install a wall-mounted electric fireplace. This requires installing mounting brackets directly to the wall, then mounting the electric fireplace on the brackets.

If you're confident in your carpentry skills, you might prefer to install a recessed electric fireplace. This method is more difficult, but it tends to look better because the bulk of the fireplace is hidden inside the wall. Recessed electric fireplace installation involves cutting an opening in an existing wall to install the electric fireplace, or you can build out a wall specifically for the electric fireplace. Building out a wall might be a good choice if you are worried about compromising a load-bearing wall or affecting the insulation on an exterior wall.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Utility knife
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Stud finder
  • Circular saw
  • Drill


  • Cardboard
  • Painters tape
  • Framing lumber
  • Screws
  • Drywall
  • Drywall tape
  • Drywall mud
  • Drywall screws


How to Install an Electric Fireplace

Putting in an electric fireplace can be challenging, especially if you want to build out a wall for the unit, but by following these steps, you can learn how to install an electric fireplace in your home.

  1. Plan Location

    The first step of this DIY project is to plan where you will be installing the fireplace. Decide whether you want to build out a wall, cut into an existing wall, or wall-mount the unit, then make an accurate cardboard cutout of the electric fireplace. Position the cardboard cutout in the approximate area where the fireplace will be installed. Center and level the cardboard cutout, then tape it to the wall to mark the exact installation location of the fireplace.

    If you're building out the wall for the fireplace installation, cut two 2x6s one inch shorter than the finished wall. These pieces will serve as the top and bottom plates of the fireplace wall. Mark the center, the rough opening for the fireplace, and the stud positions every 16 inches across both plates.

  2. Build or Frame the Opening

    The next step will vary depending on your installation method. If you are installing a wall-mounted fireplace, mark the spot where you'll place the mounting brackets, ensuring the brackets are properly aligned with the studs. Level the mounting bracket, then use a drill to secure the bracket to the wall.

    If you are installing a recessed fireplace in an existing wall, you'll need to build a frame to support the fireplace unit. Check the manufacturer's directions to determine the frame's size based on the firebox's dimensions. Cut a hole in the wall with a utility knife and use screws to fasten the frame to the existing studs.

    If you're building out a wall for the recessed fireplace, cut studs to the desired length and build a frame for the fireplace installation. Keep in mind that the opening for the fireplace should be about 1.5 inches taller and wider than the fireplace unit to install drywall.

    Line up the studs and fireplace frame according to the layout marks on the top and bottom plates. Use screws to put the fireplace wall together, then stand it up in the desired position. Attach blocks between the studs so that they're flush with the back of the wall, then fasten the fireplace wall to the studs in the existing wall to secure the fireplace wall.

  3. Put Cord Through Wall

    Before worrying about the wiring, plug the electric fireplace in and make sure it works. If the unit operates properly, you can proceed with the installation. If you are installing a wall-mounted unit, skip to step 5. For recessed installations, you'll need to fish the power cord through the wall.

    Some fireplaces can be plugged into an available outlet, while others need to be hardwired. Consider hiring an electrician if your fireplace needs to be hardwired or if you need to install a new outlet closer to the fireplace. For those that are experienced and comfortable dealing with electrical wiring, drill holes through the studs and fish the electrical cable through the holes so that you can hardwire the unit or connect it to a nearby outlet.

  4. Finish Fireplace

    With the electrical cable through the wall, measure and cut pieces of drywall to finish the fireplace wall or patch the existing wall. Install the drywall, including the inside of the fireplace opening where the wood framing is exposed. Tape and mud the wall, then give it enough time to fully dry before proceeding.

  5. Fit and Secure Fireplace

    A wall-mounted fireplace typically comes with either slots or hooks on the back. If it has slots, connect the slots to the hooks on the mounting brackets, and if the fireplace has hooks on the back, connect the hooks to the slots on the mounting brackets.

    For recessed fireplaces, remove the glass panel and side brackets for access to the fastening holes. Slide the electric fireplace into position and secure it to both sides of the frame. Once it is fastened in place, replace the side brackets.

    Add any items that were included with the fireplace, like crystal embers, driftwood log pieces, decorative rocks, or even black fire glass.

  6. Install Glass Panel

    Clean the fireplace screen and the glass, then reattach the glass panel. Secure any fasteners to ensure that the glass won't slip or shift. Finally, turn on the electric fireplace to test its functionality and appearance.

    If you installed a recessed electric fireplace, make sure to paint the drywall for a fully finished design.

When to Get Help with an Electric Fireplace Installation

Not every DIY task can be handled on your own. For instance, it might require a second person to help lift the fireplace into position, or you might need to contact an electrician to help hardwire the electric fireplace. If you are uncomfortable doing electrical work, hire a trained professional to take care of this step.

Similarly, if you want a recessed fireplace, but aren't confident in your carpentry skills, consider hiring an experienced carpenter or general contractor. They can drywall, tape, mud, and build out the wall or install a frame for the electric fireplace in an existing wall so that you can put the fireplace in position. After the installation, have the contractor return to paint for a finished appearance.

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