Electric fireplaces are energy efficient, low cost, low maintenance, and safe. They are an excellent alternative to many of the other options out there. There are many types and styles of electric fireplaces available. Picking out the right one for your home can be tricky. But we’re here to help!

One of the most popular options is the electric fireplace insert. They come in three types, each of which have realistic flame effects and various styles to suit your design. However, there are a few things to consider beyond what the fireplace looks like.

Types of Electric Fireplace Inserts

Electric Fireplace inserts

Built-In Inserts

A built-in electric fireplace insert is designed for a more permanent installation. It is recessed into the wall or inserted into an existing fireplace box. They are fairly quick to install and cost effective. Most units are designed to be hardwired into your electric system, however some do come with the option of a plug kit. You may want to get your electrician involved to ensure proper installation.

The firebox is completely encased and can have a glass front. They can have either log sets or more modern-looking ember beds. The linear style is very popular in more contemporary designs.

Built-in electric fireplace inserts heat using either fan-forced heat or infrared technology. Depending on the model, they can heat a space up to 1000 square feet. They are one of the safest ways to include a fireplace in your home.

Plug-In Inserts

The plug-in electric fireplace insert includes the media (logs or crystal embers), all the flame technology, and the encased box. They are designed to be placed into an existing fireplace or mantel. They can be plugged into a standard wall outlet. You may want to consider installing an outlet in the firebox for a seamless look.

Choose from traditional looks or more modern linear looks. The realistic flame effects are a result of the best technology in the industry. Many have adjustable flames so you can change the color, intensity, speed, and more. You can choose a log bed or ember bed with coals or glass pebbles to get the exact aesthetic you like.

Units featuring infrared technology can produce enough heat to supplement up to 1000 square feet. They are efficient and clean, with no mess and no risk to your home’s indoor air quality.

Log Set Inserts

The log set insert is the easiest way to give an existing fireplace an update fast. They are composed of just the log set with no housing. All you have to do is place it in the firebox, plug it in and you’re all set. Once again, you may opt to get an outlet installed in or near the fireplace so you don’t have cords showing.

When it comes to a log set, there are a few styles to choose from. Full logs, embers, fresh cut log look, and birch look are the most popular. You will also have a few styles of grates to choose from. Each log set has stunning flame effects with a life-like appearance and rear projecting flames.

Most units have fan forced heaters for supplemental heat up to 400 square feet. Some units do feature infrared heat which can warm larger areas up to 1,000 Sq. Ft. You’ll get the ambiance of the dancing flames and additional warmth for your space. Every unit comes with a remote control for easy operation.

In-Wall Inserts

Similar to built-in inserts, in-wall inserts represent the most contemporary styling and best technology. Many in-wall inserts are of the linear style--a long and short rectangular shape that's popular in mid-century modern and contemporary designs.

They don't generally have a mantel or surround and can be as wide as 100 inches. They are recessed into the wall fully for a seamless look. Some models require some clearance around the unit but many are zero clearance and can fit snugly into the wall. 

Choose from several different types of ember beds from driftwood to glass pebbles.

Multi-Sided & See-Through Inserts

The multi-sided and see through inserts have all the excellent features of your favorite electric fireplaces but allow access from multiple sides of the room (or even other rooms).

Multi-sided inserts have two or three viewable sides for a more expansive fireplace experience. See-through inserts are viewable from the front and the back (and sometimes from one side too). They make for great peninsula fireplace designs or as a room separator in an open format layout.

Most multi-sided and see-through inserts are of the linear size and shape, which is the perfect match for a fireplace design that is all about being the center of attention.

Choosing the Right Fireplace for Your Space

Electric Fireplace Plug-In Inserts


Where your fireplace is located in relation to the rest of the room will determine whether it becomes the center of your design or an accent. If you want the fireplace to be central, arrange furnishings around it. It will invite conversation, games, and many cozy evening gatherings.

Consider the entire wall when you determine the placement of your fireplace. You may want to paint it a different color, make plans for a gallery wall, or upgrade your mantel. Where your fireplace will go also helps you decide the size of the electric insert to purchase.


It is important to take careful measurements, whether you are retrofitting an existing fireplace or installing into a wall. Be sure to double check your measurements and reference the supplied manufacturer installation dimensions.


The design of your space will help you decide which electric fireplace is right for you. Pay attention to the existing trim, decor, finishes, etc. and that will guide you to the perfect look. Whether that is something more traditional or a modern linear style, you’re sure to find something to enhance your design.

Our electric fireplace buying guide is just the first step to increasing the coziness of your space. Learn more and get additional buying guides in our Learning Center.

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