Bioethanol Fireplace Types Explained

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Bioethanol fireplaces are a type of fireplace that burn bioethanol fuel to provide a realistic fireplace experience with real flames and supplementary heat.

A clean burn of the bioethanol fuel using a real fire means that bioethanol fireplaces aren’t restricted to using a chimney or flue and so, much like electric fireplaces, can be found in a range of forms to suit different household setups.

The main types of bioethanol fireplace include freestanding, tabletop, insert, wall mounted, recessed and standalone burners. Bioethanol fireplaces can also be for indoor or outdoor use, or both, and can come in either manual or automatic form.

Our own bioethanol fireplace is the manual insert type, where we use it inside our existing open fireplace.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Our type of bioethanol fireplace is the manual insert type that we use indoors

While we chose an insert type of bioethanol fireplace to suit our existing setup, there are a range of other types that may be more suitable for other situations and requirements.

We explain in more detail below all of the types of bioethanol fireplaces, including indoor and outdoor forms, and a comparison between manual and automatic models.

Types Of Bioethanol Fireplaces

The main types of bioethanol fireplaces include:

  • Freestanding
  • Tabletop
  • Wall Mounted & Recessed
  • Standalone Burners
  • Insert

Bioethanol fireplaces can also come in two main forms:

  • Manual, or;
  • Automatic

Bioethanol fireplaces may also come in indoor or outdoor form, but some models may be suitable for use inside and out.

Our own bioethanol fireplace is the manual insert type.

While we only use it indoors, our fireplace manufacturer provides some guidelines if choosing to use it outdoors.

Bioethanol Fireplace
While our type of bioethanol fireplace is constrained to our open fireplace, other types can be used in many locations around a home

We discuss all of the main types and forms of bioethanol fireplaces under their own sections below.

Freestanding Bioethanol Fireplaces

Freestanding bioethanol fireplaces are some of the most portable types of bioethanol fireplace, allowing you place them around your house as you please.

Freestanding versions aren’t constrained to one particular area, like insert types are to an existing fireplace, or attached to another object, such as wall mounted types are to a wall.

An example of a freestanding bioethanol fireplace

They still may need to meet clearance distances to surrounding objects, however, and so freestanding bioethanol fireplaces will need a certain level of space around them, depending on the manufacturer’s guidelines.

You can find freestanding bioethanol fireplaces in a range of forms, including:

  • Looking like a wood burning stove
  • Contemporary art style

The image below is taken from the owner’s manual of our own bioethanol fireplace and shows other freestanding fireplace models available from the same manufacturer.

Examples of freestanding bioethanol fireplaces from the owner’s manual of our own bioethanol fireplace

Many freestanding models of bioethanol fireplace can therefore look like a wood burner for added realism. Although we don’t have a freestanding bioethanol model, we do have an electric stove.

A freestanding bioethanol fireplace in wood stove form would typically look much more realistic than an electric version thanks to using real flames, albeit such models would typically cost more to purchase.

Bioethanol Fireplace & Electric Fireplace
Freestanding models of bioethanol fireplace can be found in forms resembling wood burning stoves

Tabletop Bioethanol Fireplaces

Tabletop bioethanol fireplaces are smaller types designed for use on surfaces such as tabletops.

Such types may therefore have a smaller fuel tank, less burn time and lower heat output compared to other types of bioethanol fireplaces, but they still offer real flames.

Tabletop fireplaces can also come in a range of shapes, sizes, colors, and designs including rounded, square and rectangular.

An example of how a tabletop bioethanol fireplace could look

They’re also typically the type of bioethanol fireplace with the lowest cost to purchase and so can be the most ideal if you’re on a budget.

You’ll often find that tabletop bioethanol fireplaces have glass panels on two or more of the sides, allowing for a great view of the fire. As an example, our bioethanol fireplace has glass panels on the front and back.

Glass panels help with the view of a fire

Wall Mounted & Recessed Bioethanol Fireplaces

Wall mounted bioethanol fireplaces are designed to be placed on a wall.

This keeps the fireplace above ground level and help with providing more floor space.

Some models of wall mounted fireplace may also be able to be recessed, meaning that they can be installed further into a wall for a flusher look.

While we don’t personally own a wall mounted version, we do have a wall mounted electric fireplace, which can look very similar to a bioethanol one.

Wall Mounted Electric Fireplace
An example of how a bioethanol fireplace could look mounted on a wall

Wall mounted bioethanol fireplaces can come in this sleek and curved modern look, just like our electric one above, but can also be found in a range of other designs including rounded, rectangular, and even three sided.

A wall mounted fireplace would need to be attached directly onto the wall, typically using brackets and screws.

Wall Mounted Electric Fireplace Installed
Any wall mounted bioethanol fireplace will need to be installed onto the wall

This means that they will be fixed to that location and would need to be uninstalled and then reinstalled if moving to another wall.

Bioethanol Fireplace Burner

Standalone bioethanol fireplaces typically come as the burner component only, making them ideal for bespoke installations.

A bioethanol fireplace can be just a metal container on its own, for example, something like the fuel box from our own fireplace.

Bioethanol Fireplace
The main burner unit in our own bioethanol fireplace, referred to as the fuel box

Actual standalone burners can be much bigger than this however, depending on the size you need to suit your installation.

Bioethanol fireplace burners can often be installed below TVs in entertainment centres or placed in the middle of a room as a feature.

Bioethanol Fireplace Inserts

Insert bioethanol fireplaces are typically designed for use within existing open fireplaces or chimney breasts.

If you have an open fireplace that you’re unsure what to do with, then placing a bioethanol fireplace insert inside can be a great option.

Our own bioethanol fireplace is the insert type, and we use it inside our living room fireplace to enjoy a real fire experience with less hassle compared to burning wood.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Using our bioethanol fireplace insert in our open fireplace

Our manufacturer requires us to place our fireplace in an existing fireplace or chimney breast, stating that it’s not suitable as a freestanding model for the room. This is likely for safety purposes as our fireplace is open on the top and sides.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Our bioethanol fireplace insert is open on the top and sides

We don’t however need to have the chimney open in order to use our bioethanol fireplace insert.

Thanks to a clean burn of the bioethanol fire, no form of venting is required, and so our fireplace manufacturer recommends ‘boarding up the chimney with fireproof material’ as ‘this will prevent heat loss and any stray particles falling into the fuel box’.

If buying an insert type then you won’t typically need to have the chimney open in order to use it, making them great alternatives to wood burning fires in the same open fireplace.

There may still be a requirement to keep a bioethanol insert away from combustible materials however, as they still use a real fire. These distances to flammable materials can differ between manufacturer and model.

Our bioethanol fireplace insert is made up of three main components:

  • Fuel box with burner tray
  • Main unit
  • Glass panels

The fuel box is where the fuel is added to and where the fire burns.

Bioethanol Fireplace
The main burner unit (fuel box) for our bioethanol fireplace insert

This fuel box sits inside the main fireplace insert unit.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Our main bioethanol fireplace unit with the fuel box inserted

There are two panels of safety glass that cover the front and back of the fireplace.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Our bioethanol fireplace with the safety glass panels installed

Manual vs Automatic Bioethanol Fireplaces

While there can be different forms of bioethanol fireplace (wall mounted etc.), there can also be different operational types.

The two main operating types of bioethanol fireplaces include:

  • Manual
  • Automatic

Manual bioethanol fireplaces need to be manually operated.

This means that they need to be refuelled manually, and the fire also needs to be lit and extinguished manually.

As an example, our own bioethanol fireplace is the manual type.

We need to manually add fuel into the fireplace in between fires. This is simply done by pouring bioethanol fuel from the bottles into the fire box.

Bioethanol Fireplace Refuelling
We need to manually add more fuel from the bottle to our manual bioethanol fireplace

To light our manual fireplace, we need to use a form of fire starter such as a long match to light the fuel directly within the fuel box.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Lighting our manual bioethanol fireplace

To put out fires, we need to use the closure tool that came with the fireplace to shut the lid.

Bioethanol Fireplace
Manually putting out our fires

While manual bioethanol fireplaces can still be relatively easy to use, there’s no form of assistance.

Automatic bioethanol fireplaces, on the other hand, have electronic assistance for all the main features.

This could include:

  • A pump to aid in refuelling the fireplace from the fuel bottle
  • A control panel on the fireplace, to perform functions such as starting and extinguishing a fire, and changing flame height
  • Remote control
  • Control of the fireplace using a mobile app

The video below provides a great comparison between manual and automatic bioethanol fireplace burners.

Most bioethanol fireplaces will be the manual type.

Electric assistance is typically found in higher-end bioethanol fireplaces and expect to pay more for an automatic model due to the additional features.

Indoor vs Outdoor Bioethanol Fireplaces

Expect most bioethanol fireplaces to be primarily designed for indoor use where the weather won’t have such an impact on the fire.

The most common type of outdoor bioethanol fireplace can be a firepit.

However, it may be possible to use many indoor bioethanol fireplaces outside, depending on whether this is allowed by the manufacturer of the fireplace.

Our bioethanol fireplace can be used outdoors when observing extra guidelines

For example, we only use our bioethanol fireplace indoors, but our owner’s manual doesn’t strictly state that our fireplace must be used indoors only. It does explain however:

If you intend to keep the fire outside, please keep it covered with a waterproof cover when not in use and do not use store outdoor all year round.

When uncovering the fireplace, ensure that there is no water in the fuel box or in the fireplace before use as water can collect internally and damage the fire.

When using the fire outdoors, please ensure that flammable objects are at least 1m away from the fire to ensure no flames can be blown onto them.’

Imagin Fires
The flames and heat can be less impressive if used outdoors

It’s therefore always worth checking before buying a bioethanol fireplace to see if it can be used outdoors, if you think you may want to do so.

While you’ll still be able to enjoy the real flames if using an outdoor bioethanol fireplace, the heat that’s put out by the fire will be less noticeable.

Further Reading

How A Bioethanol Fireplace Works

How To Use A Bioethanol Fireplace

Pros & Cons of Bioethanol Fireplaces

How Much A Bioethanol Fireplace Costs To Buy & Run

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