Bioethanol Fireplace

Bioethanol Fireplace Heat Output (Explained With Example)

In Bioethanol Fireplaces by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Bioethanol fireplaces use bioethanol fuel to generate a realistic fireplace experience by using a real fire to produce flames.

As a result of the combustion process of the bioethanol fuel, supplementary heat is also generated by the fire.

Bioethanol fireplaces contain a real fire and can produce a certain level of heat output. Bioethanol fireplaces can typically generate up to 2 to 4 kw (6,800 to 13,600 BTU) of heat, but can vary depending on the model, size and type of fireplace.

Our own bioethanol fireplace has an approximate heat output of 2kw/h (6800Btu’s/h), as stated by the manufacturer.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Our bioethanol fireplace provides supplementary heat for the room

While ours is a relatively small bioethanol fireplace, there are other models on the market that can produce greater amounts of heat but may also consume more fuel.

Furthermore, studies have shown that the actual heat output from bioethanol fireplaces may not match what’s stated by fireplace manufacturers.

We discuss in more detail below using our own fireplaces as examples what you can expect the heat output to be from bioethanol fireplaces, while comparing the heat output to other forms of fireplace heating methods for a home.

Do Bioethanol Fireplaces Give Off Heat?

Bioethanol fireplaces produce heat as a by-product of using a real fire to generate flame effects. The level of heat produced can differ depending on the model of fireplace, its size, fuel box storage capacity and the flame setting.

Bioethanol fireplaces do give off heat.

This is because they use a real fire to produce the flames and heat is generated by burning the bioethanol fuel.

Bioethanol fuel is added to the fuel box of a bioethanol fireplace. For our particular model of bioethanol fireplace, we need to add the fuel manually by pouring it into the fuel box.

Bioethanol Fireplace
The fuel box where the fuel is stored inside our bioethanol fireplace and where the real fire is contained

By lighting the bioethanol fireplace using a form of fire lighter, the bio fuel catches alight and flames begin.

Bioethanol Fireplace
The real fire inside our bioethanol fireplace providing heat through combustion of the bio fuel

As this fire is real, heat is generated as a by-product.

The amount of heat generated can vary between bioethanol fireplaces, which we discuss more about below.

We explain more about the fuel used in bioethanol fireplaces in separate article.

Bioethanol Fireplace Heat Output

Bioethanol fireplaces can typically generate between 2 to 4 kw (6,800 to 13,600 BTU) of heat, but can be up to 15kw (51,100 BTU) or more, depending on the type and size of fireplace. Automatic bioethanol fireplaces can typically put our more heat than manual versions.

Bioethanol fireplace heat output can vary between different models, but you can expect that for:

  • Manual bioethanol fireplaces, heat output can typically range from approximately 2kW to 4kW (6,800 to 13,600 BTU).
  • Electric, automatic, bioethanol fireplaces, heat output can typically range from 2kW to 8kW (6,800 to 27,000 BTU), and greater.

Some models of bioethanol fireplace may be more or less than these typically heat output ranges, but this is what you could expect on average.

Manual refers to bioethanol fireplaces that need to be manually refuelled and lit (like ours), while automatic bioethanol fireplaces have electrically assisted refuelling and lighting.

Electric models are typically larger, can hold more fuel and can output a greater amount of heat. See our main article comparing the types of bioethanol fireplaces for more information.

As an example, our bioethanol fireplace has an approximate heat output of 2kW/h, as stated by the manufacturer.

The image below shows the range of bioethanol fireplaces on offer by the manufacturer of our fireplace, with our fireplace model highlighted for reference.

Bioethanol Fireplace Owner's Manual
Our model of bioethanol fireplace (highlighted) showing approximate heat output

This range of bioethanol fireplaces provide 2-3kW of heat per hour, with one twin burner model providing 4kW.

These all are manual bioethanol fireplaces with 1 litre fuel boxes. You can therefore expect a manual model to have an output of 2-4kW/h, but again depends on the fireplace.

Some models of bioethanol fireplace are electronically assisted. They require an electrical connection and have a control panel where features such as automatic lighting, flame intensity and pumped refuelling can be found.

Such bioethanol fireplaces can have much increased heat output over manual types.

For example, a popular manufacturer of bioethanol fireplaces, Planika, have some indoor automatic models that can achieve 9.4-27.5kW (31,946-93,707 BTU/h) (at the time of writing this article).

It can also be possible with many models of fireplace to able to reduce the flame size.

With automatic versions, there may be a function to change the flame size using a button. With manual models, it may be possible to close down the lid to reduce flame height.

For example, the manual for our manually operated bioethanol fireplace states:

To adjust the flame height, use the tool supplied to move the metal sliding plate more (to reduce flame height) or less (to increase flame height) over the opening of the fuel box.

Imagin Fires
Bioethanol Fireplace
We could use the closing tool that came with out fireplace to move the lid further over the fire and reduce the flame intensity, but this could also reduce heat output

Decreasing flame height/intensity is likely to lower heat output.

In summary, expect most standard bioethanol fireplaces (like ours) to be able to produce around 2-4kW (6,800 to 13,600 BTU) per hour, but there are options for greater heat output fireplaces.

However, expect larger bioethanol fireplaces to require larger sized rooms (for safety reasons) and so you may not necessarily be able to stick a larger heat output model in a smaller room.

Are Bioethanol Fireplaces Warm?

Bioethanol fireplaces can produce a fair amount of heat and can be comparable to small electric fireplaces on low settings. However, bioethanol fireplaces can’t deliver the same level of heat output as other forms of fireplace such as wood burning stoves, or a central heating system.

Bioethanol fireplaces use a real fire to generate the flames and so always release heat through combustion of the bio fuel.

The heat generated by such fireplaces can be decent for their size, but can be on the low side compared to other types of fireplaces.

The manufacturer of our bioethanol fireplace stated that we could expect the heat output from our fireplace to be ‘same as an electric heater on medium’.

Bioethanol Fireplace & Electric Fireplace
From our real world experience, our bioethanol fireplace puts out roughly the same amount of heat as our electric stove on low heat setting

We would say that our bioethanol fireplace shown above is similar in warmth compared to one of our electric fireplaces, also shown above, on low setting (it only has low and high heat settings).

However, don’t expect the heat output to be able to match that of many other types of fireplaces and stoves.

We’ve personally used a range of different fireplaces and stoves (as you’ll see from all our other articles) and the heat output from our bioethanol fireplace can’t match the heat we feel from our wood burning stove (which is 5kW), multi fuel stove and pellet stove.

Wood Burning Stove & Multi Fuel Stove
Our bioethanol fireplace doesn’t put out nearly as much noticeable heat as our wood stoves

There’s also no comparison between our bioethanol fireplaces and our home’s central heating system, consisting of a gas boiler and central heating radiators.

This can be expected as our bioethanol fireplace cost much less to purchase than these other fireplaces and stoves. However, it’s important to manage expectations when looking to buy a bioethanol fireplace.

See our article comparing bioethanol fireplaces to other types of fireplaces for more information.

A bioethanol fireplace should therefore be considered as a secondary form of heating.

The manual to our own bioethanol fireplace explains that:

The [bioethanol] fireplace is meant for use as a secondary heat source.’

Imagin Fires

This means it should be used to provide some level of heat but shouldn’t be counted upon as a primary form of heating.

Furthermore, while manufacturers state an approximate heat output from their bioethanol fireplaces, a study found that through testing bioethanol fireplaces only realistically provided approximately 50% of the heat stated.

An extract from this study explains:

The aim of this study was to determine the operating parameters of bioethanol burners used in the so-called bioethanol fireplaces, mainly in terms of their actual heat output. The average heat outputs of the burners during the measurements reached approximately 41-62% of the heat output declared by the manufactures.

Real Operating Parameters of Bioethanol Burners in Terms of Heat Output, ACS Omega 2020, 5, 44, 28587–28596, October 30, 2020

However, there are many other benefits that bioethanol fireplaces can bring, even if their heat output may not be comparable to other forms of fireplaces. These include being able to provide real flames and the ability to use them without the need for a flue or chimney.

See our article on the pros and cons of bioethanol fireplaces for more information.

In summary:

  • Don’t expect too much from a bioethanol fireplace in terms of heat output.
  • Electronically assisted bioethanol fireplaces can have bigger fuel tank sizes and have a higher heat output. However, such fireplaces can be more expensive to purchase compared to manual versions and may burn through fuel at a quicker rate to achieve the higher heat output.
  • Bioethanol fireplaces should be considered as a secondary from of heating behind a central heating system, or even another type of fireplace such as a wood burning stove or pellet stove, which will typically put out much more noticeable amounts of heat.
  • Use a bioethanol fireplace primarily for their other main benefits such as being able to admire real flames and their ease of install and use. Heat output can be an added bonus.
  • A bioethanol fireplace would be able to help warm a room, but won’t be able to heat a whole house.

Further Reading

How To Use A Bioethanol Fireplace

How A Bioethanol Fireplace Works

How Much A Bioethanol Fireplace Costs To Buy & Run

Leave a Comment