Replace fireplace with electric

DIY_GUY_419October 25, 2012

We have a huge family room, 17x25. It has a high ceiling, about 17 ft i believe,

Any how, there is a wood burner fireplace in it that I just don't use and would rather have gas.

It used to have a 20 inch high hearth in front of it (I ripped it out),

We want to put in an electric fireplace at ground level, built into the wall.

I made a sketch up, sorry using MS Paint. And I think the dimesions maybe off. But anyhow, what do you guys suggest?

How much are we looking at?

I was at a local Fireplace store and he showed me some electric fireplaces as well that you can run with a 240w line. Anyone try those?

Waiting for all your awesome replies!

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cat_mom

We have a huge family room, 17x25. It has a high ceiling, about 17 ft i believe,

Any how, there is a wood burner fireplace in it that I just don't use and would rather have gas.

It used to have a 20 inch high hearth in front of it (I ripped it out),

We want to put in an electric fireplace at ground level, built into the wall.

I made a sketch up, sorry using MS Paint. And I think the dimesions maybe off. But anyhow, what do you guys suggest?

How much are we looking at?

I was at a local Fireplace store and he showed me some electric fireplaces as well that you can run with a 240w line. Anyone try those?

Waiting for all your awesome replies!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:09PM
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DIY_GUY_419

We had a gas fp insert installed in our wood burning fp last fall. I think ours cost approx $5000 ($5700?). We love it. We used it throughout the winter months last year. It has a six fan speeds, and different flame heights, all controllable via remote control. We can even use it during a power outage, yay!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:25PM
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cat_mom

The cost of gas is what is making me go towards electric. I'm working on a tight budget.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 12:23AM
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GreenDesigns

Running the fp fairly often last winter didn't seem to impact our gas/electric bill if I recall....

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 1:29AM
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EngineerChic

I would NEVER EVER eliminate a wood fireplace in favor of a fake electric one. Gas, yes. Electric, NEVER. They aren't at all realistic looking, and worse yet, you can't use them in a power outage. Natural gas is still cheaper per BTU than electric anywhere in the country. Propane is about even with electric costwise but still has the advantages previously mentioned.

If money is too tight to put in a gas one now, then just cover up the firebox with some plywood and paint something decorative on it until you can afford to put in gas. You will need to talk with a professional who can determine if your firebox can actually be lowered and still manage to draw for the venting correctly. With an insert, that might be possible, but it wouldn't be safe to burn wood in it unless a professional calculates that for you.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 5:19AM
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DIY_GUY_419

Hmmm, I would wait and save up for gas as well. Why don't you use the wood fireplace today? If its the cost and hassle of storing a cord of wood, have you considered just buying wood from the grocery store?

I know, the cost per piece is SO much higher but ... How often do you really use the fireplace? Say its once per week (Saturday night). You'd use 1-2 bundles of kiln-dried $6 firewood each time, lets average it out to $10. And probably use it November to April, 6 months x 4 weeks x $10/week = $240 to have a fire every week.

Really, it's cheap money in the end.

Disclaimer: I grew up heating with wood, have 3 chainsaws in the garage and a collection of splitting mauls, axes, and wedges to split wood. I also work FT+ and travel for work a lot. I finally (last year) came to the realization that I can't &won't cut, stack, split, stack, move wood anymore. And with my schedule, buying bundles of wood at the grocery store and popping it in the wood stove insert is just about the level of commitment I can do :)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 7:59AM
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chibimimi

I agree with you guys that gas is ideal, but I don't have the budget for that now and this room needs to Get done now.

Any suggestions on how to design it,gas or Otherwise?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 8:55AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

The firebox in your mock-up is far far far too small. It needs to be both taller and wider. You also need some kind of mantel or mantel shelf to interrupt the elevator-shaft chimney.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 8:58AM
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graywings123

It doesn't look like you've made accommodation for a mantle. I think at least a mantle is in order. Also, I would want to beef up the fireplace surround with tile, stone, something. The way it's sketched it looks way out of proportion with this giant wall and the fireplace being dwarfed by the TV. Typically you want the visual space occupied by the fireplace to be larger than the TV for better balance.

I suggest going to houzz.com and searching on TV over fireplace to get some ideas.

Contemporary Family Room design by Dallas Design-build Ellen Grasso & Sons, LLC

But I agree with the others...if you don't have the budget, don't change it. Leave it. Otherwise you'll be putting in a lot of effort now and end up with a compromise solution that you'll want to change again later, requiring more money and effort.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 9:24AM
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schoolhouse_gw

With such a large room, I would put the TV somewhere other than above the fireplace. People with small rooms may need to do it, but you don't have to.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 11:04AM
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cat_mom

My mom and stepdad gave me a pretty wooden electric fireplace one time, perhaps it wasn't made as well as what you have in mind, but I ran it for extra warmth in the livingroom. My electric bill that month doubled and it is so noisy that I very seldom use it now days. I agree gas would be better for you, looks more natural too.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 11:51AM
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fully2

Couple of thoughts:

Get someone (or a few someones) in to give you an estimate for gas insert, and go over measurements, specs, etc.

*We used our AC company; they do heating, AC, and have a separate fp business. We've known and trusted them for many years, so knew they wouldn't steer us wrong. Luckily, between our initial contact, and actually deciding to go forward, a new insert model had been introduced, in a style or design we much preferred.

Once you know what you will need; which insert you'd want, and know what you will need to do to modify your existing fp opening and/or wall you have some options. You can hold off on actually ordering the unit (after making sure the model in question will be available when you are ready), but will be able to do any demo/construction that you need to now.

Or, you can find out if the company will offer any interest-free financing, or some sort of payment plan on the purchase and installation of the insert, and order it now.

Or, find out if you can make a deposit on an insert, with an install (and payment) date at some point in the future.

You certainly don't want to spend $ you don't have, but by the same token, you also don't want to be "penny-wise, pound-foolish" with a purchase like this. If the fp is only for "show" or looks, and you don't intend to use it often, then electric might be fine. But, if you intend to use it fairly often, I would look into the options I mentioned for a gas insert.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 12:05PM
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wifisker

I too, have been in your position. Had the fireplace but did not want the mess etc of using wood. But the cost of running gas not in our budget One house I got a insert that used gel cans of fuel. Not much heat but nice affect. Another house we bought a electric fireplace insert that fit right in the firebox and produced heat. Think both were under $300.
I woud search on line for fireplace alternatives. There is quite a difference from the old lightbulb behind a fake log that was available 30 years ago.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 1:59PM
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dilly_ny

If budget is the reason for not doing gas then you *don't* want to install an electric fireplace. As someone else already mentioned, electricity is a very expensive heating source and is, on average, about twice the cost of natural gas for an equivalent amount of heat output. I hope you're not listening to an electric fireplace manufacturer or salesperson since the statistics they provide leave out critical details and context and, IMO, is terribly misleading to the average consumer.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 2:17PM
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Oakley

Heat and Glow makes a basic gas fireplace for under $1,000. Installation and plumbing can be pricey, but this will add value to your home.

Since you have gas availability in your area (vs. many others who can only get propane), you should upgrade to gas rather than downgrade to electric.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 3:25PM
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rosebud57_gw

Yikes, why would you rip out the hearth?

Do you need the FP for heat or looks? If it's looks only, then go for electric. If you need real heat, especially from the possibility of losing power in the winter, then you need gas (or wood) which can be ran without any electric blowers.

Electric heat is the most expensive to use. That's why electric bills are generally higher in the winter (for total electric) instead of summer. You will save money in the long run by using wood or gas.

Today we lit our wood FP for the first time this season. If it's going to storm, bring it on! lol.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 3:41PM
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DIY_GUY_419

What are your winters like? You neglected to mention where you live.

Contact your gas provider and see if they offer incentives or credits on gas fireplace logs. I think you'll be terribly disappointed in an electric fireplace - in looks, heat output and usage cost. You might as well get one of those Amish fireplace heaters they constantly advertise.....

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 3:53PM
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jlj48

I agree with you guys that Gas is ideal, the problem with it the following: The goal here is to put the TV above the fireplace. The top of the fireplace is currently almost 5 feet off the ground.
I want to drop the old fireplace to the ground, which means if I am going to run gas (which I still have to run a line for) I have to get a longer chimney/venting.
The gas unit costs more and needs a lot more work just to get running, also, you have to deal with a scorching hot glass front, ( i have 3 young kids)

I need the electric for the looks not the heat, we have a new furnace.

I agree that I am going to have to put a nice surround around it to make it look bigger than the TV. and possibly a mantle.
Here is the unit I am looking at, http://electricfireplacesdirect.com/products-accessories/built-in-electric-fireplaces/Electric-Built-In-Classic-Flame-39-LED-Glass-Fireplace

All the gas fireplaces I have seen that are 39 inches or larger are over $1500. Add on that the installation, venting, and demo, and this is a $5K job at least.

Anyone have some mockup surrounds with mantles?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 5:30PM
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rosebud57_gw

Sorry, I don't mean to beat a dead horse, so to speak, but I would not want a tv over a fireplace. You've still got to deal with remotes, accessories, possibly a dvd player, ect. And thinking down the road, tvs have changed so quickly, whatever you design to fit your tv will be it's FOREVER spot and the forever size. We used to have a gas insert in a former home and used it frequently during power outages. With the accompanying blower, it heated our entire main floor easily. We want a gas fireplace in this home WITH A HEARTH to sit on in front of it. We cannot afford it right now so we are saving up. I would rather wait to get exactly what I want than settle and wish I had something else. We have also began saving photos and manufacture info so we will be ready when the money flows in, whenever that happens.
Your home is awesome and the fireplace and high ceilings are wonderful. I would just take the time to really think this through and gather photos that you love, and several estimates and recommendations before you go any further.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 5:43PM
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jlj48

Some of those expensive rentals at the outer banks has them. You'd be better off putting a red or yellow spotlight in the fireplace with a fan and clear light weight scraps of cellophane that get blown around a bit over some real wooden logs.

Why not lots of candles in the firebox? It would at least have a real flame. You could close the fireplace doors so the kiddies can't get at them.

Cheaper. Practical. AND real.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 6:13PM
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mclarke

After re-reading your post and seeing that you would prefer gas, I would get estimates on a gas insert. That way you keep the original fireplace intact and get your gas like you want. I know that doesn't solve your tv issue and dislike for a hearth. Not knowing where you live, maybe it never gets cold. But there is NOTHING like coming in on a cold day or night, sitting in front of your fireplace and flipping the switch and getting instant gas heat. The house we lived in before was very modest. I cannot image that the previous owners spent a lot of money to add the gas insert. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Here is a link that might be useful: fireplace

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 7:32PM
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graywings123

I found your item cheaper here:

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 7:42PM
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beaglesdoitbetter1

You read it here first: TV over the fireplace is a trend that will pass. Put a mantle over the current wood burning fireplace and move along.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 8:14PM
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debrak_2008

If you are ever planning on selling your home, I would NOT replace a real fireplace w/ electric. As a home buyer, a fireplace is a deal breaker for me and I would not consider an electric fireplace to be a fireplace.

I have TVs over fireplaces in my house and I don't think it is the big downside everyone else says it is- I have never found them to be uncomfortable and I think your room is big enough you probably wouldn't either. We have tilt-down mechanisms on our TVs that allow them to come forward and tilt down when watching (we never use them, but they are there). Perhaps you could use something like that to put the TV over your existing fireplace...

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 8:33PM
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dbfirewife

If you tilt a plasma, over time it will ruin the screen.

If you are a DIYer you should be able to run the gas line and install a gas unit yourself. We are currently looking for a gas unit and find that the prices vary greatly so really look around and check on line.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 1:54AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We took gas logs out and replace them with an electric insert and have not been happier!... Our fireplace is not vented and we did not like the smell they put off, even tho they were safe. We did not use them for heat anyway,just looks. We got our's at Home Depot and the insert was not expensive at all and honestly, it does look real... the best part is.. You can turn it on to make it look like it's burning, just for the looks... or there are two heat settings, if you want a little heat. Not worried about a power outage, we have a generator the supplies the entire house in case of a power outage.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 7:47AM
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debrak_2008

I've seen no evidence that tilting a plasma to the degree that std wall mounts allow causes damage to the tv at all.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 8:38AM
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Oakley

We have a plasma tv that is on a stand not tilted. My DS, college aged, has several friends who have plasma tvs mounted and tilted. Also some with LCD. When watching movies he noticed the plasmas had a noticeable line running across the screen. He asked some of the parents about it. They said they didn't know not to tilt a plasma and that over time the line developed. The friends with tilted plasmas have the line, the tilted LCDs do not.

DS told us about this so that we don't decide to mount ours on the wall and tilt it.

I did not research this, just based my opinion on the (recent) results in our neighborhood.

I would check it out further if you plan to tilt any tv. Technology changes constantly.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 10:08AM
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Elraes Miller

Your room is so pretty, I have to ask why would you cheapen the look by adding an electric FP?

You said it will be for looks only because you have a "new furnace." Using gas or wood will cut down on your furnace bill, and your furnace will last many more years.

What you're saying is a bit contradictory. Gas is too expensive, but you're willing to pay more money a month on your furnace bill.

You never did say what kind of winters you get. With Hurricane Sandy coming, I feel for those who will have no heat because their heat source depends on electricity.

I also agree about no TV over the FP.

I know this isn't what you want to hear, but can you get more specific as to why you don't want a natural heat source, what type of winters you have, and why put a TV on the wall, which will leave permanent marks if you ever change your mind.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 10:10AM
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roobear

I personally like the old fireplace and hearth. Wouldn't change a thing other than add a mantle as suggested. The new design with smaller opening doesn't fit with the overall fireplace/room.

Electric or gas doesn't appeal personally, but that is my thing. Although with either, you do not have the drafting of wood burning. The cost to run either is a problem for me due to cost. Much to the chagrin of friends/family, they don't get it that I am perfectly happy to load wood and clean up. My logs are free which helps. But they sure enjoy my work to do so.

I'd go with a ton of different size candles of same color. They would give you the ambiance wanted. At least until a final decision is made. You may be surprised at the results.

As for the TV over the fireplace, not into this either. Unless a special opening is created and some decorative elements added. I think the issue with plasma is they run hot. At least mine did and couldn't wait to upgrade as it was a heater in the summertime.

You have a beautiful room and understand the direction you are going. Suggestion is to add your furniture, etc. and then go to dealing with the fireplace. This is usually the opposite of design, since the fireplace is a central piece of a room. What style are you looking at for the room itself?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 1:09PM
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erinsean

Some electric fireplaces are more realistic than others, but the new really realistic ones like the Dimplex Optimyst with 3D type flames and smoke can be very expensive.
Dimplex Optimyst Youtube

If it's just for looks, the Gel fire log insert or candles mentioned above might be good cost effective solutions, if gas isn't an option for you.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 2:05PM
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erinsean

We had a fireplace that burned wood....didn't like keeping it clean so turned it into a gas fireplace. It was okay but our gas bill really went up....seemed all the heat went up the chimney. Now we have an electric insert and love it. Like one poster said, we can turn on just the flame for ambiance or turn the heat on to take the chill out of the room.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 2:09PM
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kswl2

We had a fireplace that burned wood....didn't like keeping it clean so turned it into a gas fireplace. It was okay but our gas bill really went up....seemed all the heat went up the chimney. Now we have an electric insert and love it. Like one poster said, we can turn on just the flame for ambiance or turn the heat on to take the chill out of the room.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 3:00PM
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desertsteph

I would get one of those iron candleholders that holds lots of pillar candles at different heights and use that in your current firebox while you save up for gas. At least the flames are real, and since you don't need the heat that sounds a reasonable interim compromise. I would not put an electric unit in your house.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 8:44PM
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DIY_GUY_419

not everyone wants real flames - for a variety of reasons. I've had 3 'real' fireplaces over the yrs and won't ever again. I have a gas one now but would never use it. Will probably get an estimate on having it removed.

I'd much rather have an electric one.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 11:11PM
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kswl2

I appreciate everyones input, but like I said, the goal is not heat.
We do live in northern Ohio, so winters can get bad, but this room is kind of isolated, and we don;t have an open floor plan, so I don't any heat from any fireplace will travel far.

I don't some of you have seen these new electric fireplaces, they look better than some gas ones, especaily the very free ones.

I haven't found an square electric firebox bigger than 39 inches, has anyone else?

I will probably end up putting tiles around the fireplace, then a mantel about 4.5 to 5 feet tall. TV on top, Wires and components will be off to the side, out of sight, It will be a clean look. No wires.

Any advice on affordable mantels?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 10:09AM
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annzgw

I have seen plenty of electric fires at a recent home show. The only one I would consider is from a company called Flamma. They will custom make an electric insert in any size, but they do not sell to the public and their products are far more expensive than any gas installation available to you locally.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 12:33PM
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tuesday_2008

If you decide to go with the electric I would suggest you put in a gas line while you have access to the firebox and interior wall.

It appears this is an upper level, based on the view out the window, so I'm assuming a gas line would be brought in thru the outside wall. You wouldn't have to do any more than put in a gas line that runs from the box to whatever would be the entry point. This will save you, and any future buyers, time and money if you ever decide to convert to gas.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 2:15PM
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nancyinmich

I GET your situation.... install the nicest, most realistic electric fireplace that you can afford, nice tile, a great mantel and enjoy the "look and ambience". And sometimes, the best place for a TV is over the fireplace. Do a search on Houzz for fireplace with TV and do the most budget friendly copy that you can afford.

I do think it would be a good idea to "fix" it for a gas line for the future. You or the next owner might want to change someday.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 3:09PM
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patty_cakes

I have asthma and cannot use any burning fuel. Briefly considered a corn or pellet stove until some honest user admitted that they get a whoosh of smoke occasionally. Then I looked into gas. I can't use unsealed gas logs because the combustion products set off my asthma and even having a pilot light burning in some B-and-B rooms we have stayed at has sent us looking for the owners to turn them off. For me, a SEALED GAS unit was the only solution for using a combustion unit to add heat to a room. Not to mention, (as someone noted above) that using a regular gas log will actually suck your heated (by furnace) air right up the chimney, costing you more $ for heating than the BTUs you add to the house by burning the gas logs in the first place. Look in the research, it is all over the place. The only gas fireplace that adds heat is the sealed unit, which would start at $3000 for my fireplace size. But for $600 I got an electric Classic Flame fireplace with LED flashing lights in the logs and embers that simulate real burning, the flames that DIY GUY 419 is getting, a flickering downlight like his that makes the whole thing look real, and real SOUNDS too. I am glad the real sounds are no longer offered. You memorize the crackle pattern too fast and it gets on your nerves. Every time one of the embers in your logs spark, you hear the "pop" and you hear crackles and the wind at the top of the chimney, too , with the volume on high!

I love my fake fireplace. I am not sure I will have the $ for the sealed gas one in this lifetime, and the heater keeps me warm. My family say it adds ambiance, compared to an empty black hole, which is my only alternative.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 4:45PM
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Oakley

Wouldn't the electric be even more costly? I'm also thinking it would be more drying to skin, flooring, etc., and in the long run, not such a great thing. Consider reselling also~ woodburning/gas starter is usually more favorable. ;o)

Here is a link that might be useful: Electric FP's

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 5:06PM
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DIY_GUY_419

DIY, below is a blog I found about electric fireplaces. It should answer all your questions except price.

You need to shop around to see what they cost and what type you want to use. We can't really help you with cost. It'd be like asking how much do sofas cost? It depends on many factors.

Same with the mantel. Being a DIY person, building a mantel should be a breeze for you. If not, then you can find them in different price ranges.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 9:43PM
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DIY_GUY_419

Here are a couple of mock ups.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 9:45PM
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Elraes Miller

Here with a mantel,

Two different styles, modern vs. old school

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 11:56AM
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Elraes Miller

I like the longer idea you mocked up. balances the FP out with TV.

My only suggestion is to look at the electric use required. Have a small one and it is overkill in electric use for turning it on. It is in my office, small, but nice ambiance. Am sure the best ones have dealt with this issue.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 11:58AM
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SunnyCottage

Meant to add....you are definitely patient with our very direct comments.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 9:55AM
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phoggie

I've skimmed the responses, so this may have been covered, but can you install an electric fireplace insert now, but leave the option to install gas in the future? There are some quite decent looking/nice quality, affordable electric inserts and trim kits on the market today that would fit your desire for ambience.

Ours should arrive today and I can hardly wait to set it up in our fireplace. The fireplace is plumbed for gas, but the hookup is quite old and would need costly attention in order for us to start using it again. Like you, we wanted the ambience mostly and opted for the electric insert that should give us just that. We will use a fire screen in front, so the effect will be softened.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 9:23PM
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