Converting a vintage electric fireplace

Sharon E. Hines
by Sharon E. Hines
I have a mantel/fireplace from the 1970's that has a light element to create a glow for "fire" and it has a blower to use as a heater. I cannot use the heater because it requires a 220 outlet. So, I would really like to update the fireplace. Can I replace all of the old components with a modern insert?
you can see the glow of the embers ;) I'd like a more realistic looking fire
The logs are portable. There are blower vents above the logs. The vents require a 220 outlet
  14 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 18, 2013
    Just the lights or do you need the heat too? Lights are easy, the heater I would avoid...those need to be designed right so you do not start a fire. Even so some care should be used for the lighting...LED's would be a low power option that runs much cooler.
  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Jan 18, 2013
    I don't need the heat, but it would be nice. I mostly want a more realistic looking fire. @KMS Woodworks Where do you recommend I look?
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 18, 2013
    Most of the "fire" affects I have seen lately are in more modern looking stand alone units. Not sure it is would be worth wile to dissect one. My Sweetie is quite adept and making these in miniature.
  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Jan 18, 2013
    oh my goodness, that's incredible. I didn't realize just how miniature they were til I saw the photo of her holding the tiny log fire. How did she get into this?
  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim Tanya Peterson Felsheim on Jan 18, 2013
    A friend of mine did just what you are asking and she got a nice fireplace replacement logs wasn't in a free standing unit but you would need to convert your 200 to 110 probably which actually isn't as hard as you might think...
  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Jan 18, 2013
    I'd love to convert the 220 to 110. Anyone have instructions or know how on how to go about that?
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 19, 2013
    @Sharon @ mrs. hines class Tori started with some small "collectors" dolls and it mushroomed from there. Her studio is in our master Bedroom and takes up about 15 feet of wall for the "crafting" bench, and then she also has some table and shelves for display purposes.
  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim Tanya Peterson Felsheim on Jan 19, 2013
    I would only have an electrician do my town I know a licensed electrician who only does that sort of thing on the side cuz he cannot get enough of the BIG work in this economy so he only charges me $45 an hour and zero to give an estimate. But my electrician said he could easily do this in less than an hour...this is what I found online and electrician said "don't try at home" because there are things with older houses that only electricians would notice right off and let you know that is why they usually can look at it and tell you but here is what I found "If the current 220 Volt outlet takes a 4 prong plug, there is a very good chance an electrician can replace it with a 110 volt outlet. If it takes a three prong plug, the amount of work to convert to 110 depends on the powercable coming into the junction box holding the outlet.A common 220 Volt house wiring circuit consists of two out of phase 110 volt circuits connected together and sharing a common (neutral) line. You get 110 volts connecting the load between one of the hot lines and neutral. You get 220 volts when connecting the load between the two hot lines.A four contact receptacle includes the neutral line. A three contact receptacle does not use the neutral line but it may taped up and coiled in the back of the junction box.If you do not have the neutral line coming in the outlet's junction box, the electrician would need to figure out the location of the other end of the cable feeding the junction box. It would then be a matter of changing the wiring at that location to feed 110 Volts into the cable and putting in the correct outlet for you. There is a good possibility that the outlet has it's own fuse or breaker that is not shared with any other outlets. In that case the electrician should be able to change the wiring at the fuse/breaker box to convert the line to 110 volts and put in a new outlet.
  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Jan 19, 2013
    Thank you, @Tanya Peterson Felsheim . Sounds like you've got a lot of experience dealing with types of home repairs. The plugs in my house are 110 volt circuits. The mantel requires 220 volt. So, I'm wanting to convert the plug on the mantel, if that is at all possible.
  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim Tanya Peterson Felsheim on Jan 19, 2013
    Yeah I get what you're saying the 2nd half of my information basically tell you how it is done but it all depends on which kind of 220 plug you have--ther is more than one-- so only an electrican can safely judge what kind you have and how to convert it but get th name of an electrician who has good rep but isn't as expensive as the big boys..should cst about $50-$100 in my area not sure about yours. Hope you figure it out.
  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Jan 20, 2013
    I just reread your information, and I think I better understand what you're saying. I'm starting to think I should just get a new model and move the mantel I have to another room. I wouldn't want to do all of that rewiring for an old fixture and then have that hurt the resale of my house. (if we should ever sell.) Either that, or just replace the logs and forget about having the blowers work.
  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim Tanya Peterson Felsheim on Jan 20, 2013
    Its possible that it might be an easy do or a hard one...wouldn't hurt to get an electricians idea of the cost usually they will give you estimate for free. Then even if you don't get it done you will have more information about the wiring in your house. It gets you some free information if nothing else.... but might be an easy fix! Electricians are hurting for work and usually are HAPPY to come and look believe me I worked in the insurance business for 30 years insuring Contractors and this time of year is a hard time unless you're in an area that has had recent crazyiness like our huge abnormal snow fall or flooding or etc. then they get busier
  • Sharon E. Hines Sharon E. Hines on Jan 20, 2013
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise, @Tanya Peterson Felsheim . You're right, it doesn't hurt to call an electrician. I'll make a point to do that this week. I'll keep you posted.
  • Tanya Peterson Felsheim Tanya Peterson Felsheim on Jan 25, 2013
    @Sharon @ mrs. hines class I wouldn't call mine expertise so much as trial and error! haha