Bioethanol Fireplace

Are Bioethanol Fireplaces Any Good?

In Bioethanol Fireplaces by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Bioethanol fireplaces are a form of fireplace that burn bioethanol fuel and can come in a range of options including tabletop, insert, wall mounted, freestanding and recessed forms.

They can offer of a number of features that other types of fireplaces and stoves can’t, but also have a few downsides that should be considered.

Bioethanol fireplaces are a great fireplace option for any home. A chimney or flue isn’t required thanks to a clean burn of the fuel and so can be versatile in location, and they provide real flames to view. However, bioethanol fireplaces have relatively lower heat output and should therefore be used as a secondary heat source only.

Bioethanol fireplaces can be considered similar to electric fireplaces due to their relatively smaller size compared to other types of fireplaces, and their portability and cost.

We have a number of electric fireplaces around the house and have been using one in our open fireplace when it’s not in use for burning wood.

However, electric fireplaces don’t provide a real fire and so we opted for a bioethanol fireplace insert.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Our bioethanol fireplace allows us to enjoy real flames in our open fireplace without the need to open up the chimney for venting

We find this bioethanol fireplace to be a great addition to our home as it provides us with a more realistic fireplace experience, but it does come with its downsides.

We discuss in more detail below whether bioethanol fireplaces are any good, their advantages and drawbacks, and what you should consider before getting one for your home.

Are Bioethanol Fireplaces Any Good?

Bioethanol fireplaces are very good at providing a real fireplace experience in a home with minimal mess and upkeep of the fire, while also being versatile in their placement to no typical direct venting requirements.

Unlike electric fireplaces, which don’t offer a real fire inside and only generate the imitation of flames, bioethanol fireplaces do offer real flames.

This means that a more realistic fireplace experience can be enjoyed when using a bioethanol fireplace.

For example, the below shows our bioethanol fireplace insert and electric stove operating in the same open fireplace for comparison.

Bioethanol Fireplace & Electric Fireplace
Our bioethanol fireplace is much more realistic than our electric fireplaces

Furthermore, unlike other types of fireplaces and stoves that do also offer a real fire, such as gas fireplaces, wood burning fireplaces and stoves, and pellet stoves, bioethanol fireplaces don’t typically require any direct form of venting.

This means that a chimney or flue isn’t required to use a bioethanol fireplace, and you won’t always have to place one where an existing chimney or flue is located, or have to think about installing one.

This can allow for more relaxed installation requirements and means you can typically place a bioethanol fireplace in more locations around a home than you would be able to with the other types of fireplaces that also use a real fire.

The only caveat would be if buying a bioethanol fireplace insert (like the one we have), where manufacturers typically state that they must be located within an open fireplace or chimney breast.

We’re required to with our own bioethanol fireplace insert and so we only use it within our existing open fireplace.

Bioethanol Fireplace
As we have an insert model it needs to be placed within our existing fireplace, but many other models of bioethanol fireplace are freestanding and don’t have the same location constraint

The use of the chimney for venting isn’t required, but placement in the fireplace is required for other safety reasons as the fire is open on the sides and top.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Our bioethanol fireplace is open on the top and sides, with safety glass only covering the front and back. Other freestanding models may have the fire fully contained within the fireplace

While bioethanol fireplaces can offer a more realistic fireplace experience over electric fireplaces, they also require a specific type of fuel.

We need to buy high alcohol percentage bioethanol fuel for our bioethanol fireplace. Bioethanol fireplaces can’t burn anything other than bio fuel.

Bioethanol Fireplace
You must be using bioethanol fuel designed for bioethanol fireplaces

See our main article on bioethanol fireplace fuel for more information.

Unfortunately, because of this, running a bioethanol can be quite expensive compared to other types of fireplaces. For example, we can be spending up to $2.50 (£2.20) on fuel per hour if not buying the fuel in bulk.

See our main article on how much it costs to run a bioethanol fireplace for more information.

The bioethanol fuel used within bioethanol fireplaces, however, is very clean burning and so bioethanol fireplaces can be considered to be one of the more environmentally friendly forms of fireplace.

Bioethanol is also produced as waste from agricultural biomass as so can be considered as a renewable source of energy. We cover how eco-friendly bioethanol fireplaces are in another article.

Bioethanol Fireplace Fuel Bottle
Bioethanol fuel can have a much cleaner burn compared to other forms of fireplace fuel

Unfortunately, the heat output typically won’t be able to match the same level as provided by other types of fireplaces that have a real fire. We can notice that our bioethanol fireplace can’t provide the same heating effect as all our other fireplaces, even our electric ones.

As a result, it’s advised to treat a bioethanol fireplace as a supplementary heat source.

Bioethanol fireplaces can still give off a good amount of heat, however, but we would advise just lowering your expectations before buying.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Although the flames are real, the heat output from a bioethanol fireplace can be relatively low compared to all other types of fireplaces

Our article on bioethanol heat output covers this topic in more detail.

On the upside, bioethanol fireplaces can be extremely easy to use. Bioethanol fuel is highly flammable as so all it takes is a fire lighter to get a fire going.

We simply need to take our long matches and light the fuel box. As long as there’s enough fuel within the fireplace, you can have your bioethanol fireplace burning within seconds.

Bioethanol Fireplace
We simply need to open up the fuel box lid and light the fuel inside to start a fire

To put out a fire, we simply let it run out of fuel or use the accompanying tool to close the lid on the fireplace.

Bioethanol Fireplace
To put out our bioethanol fires we simply need to use the accompanying closure tool to shut the lid on the fireplace

While our bioethanol fireplace is the manual type and easy to use, automatic bioethanol fireplaces can be even easier to use.

This is thanks to electronic assistance for all the main functions such as lighting the fire, adjusting flame height, extinguishing, and even refuelling. However, expect automatic bioethanol fireplaces to be much more costly to buy than manual ones likes ours.

Another downside would be that bioethanol fireplaces need to be cool before adding more fuel and so there will always be some downtime between fires.

We cover how to use a bioethanol fireplace in a separate guide.

Overall, bioethanol fireplaces are a great addition to any home, providing a realistic fireplace experience with minimal upkeep. However, their limitations such as relatively more expensive running costs and lower heat output should be considered.

Understanding that a bioethanol fireplace should therefore be for enjoying a real fire in your home with relative ease and not as a primary source of heat is important.

We use our own bioethanol fireplace for the viewing pleasure while sat in our living room, and the additional supplementary heat helps keep the room a bit warmer.

Bioethanol Fireplace
We love our smaller sized bioethanol fireplace but understand its limitations for heat output and so only really use it if we just want to enjoy the real fire experience

For more information on all the pros and cons of bioethanol fireplaces see our other article.

Further Reading

How A Bioethanol Fireplace Works

How To Light A Bioethanol Fireplace

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