Bioethanol fireplaces can be a relatively easy type of fireplace to use compared to other types of fireplaces and stoves that also offer a real fire.
Bioethanol fireplaces only use a specific type of fuel, bioethanol fuel, which is clean burning and easy to light. There are also no controls that need to be used throughout a fire, and only required if wanting to change the flame size.
This helps make bioethanol fireplaces easier to setup, refuel, light and extinguish.
To use a bioethanol fireplace:
- Ensure that the fireplace is setup correctly in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines, such as located in the right size room, has the right placement and the correct orientation.
- Add fuel to the fuel box of the fireplace, either manually or automatically, depending on the type of bioethanol fireplace. Manual fireplaces can require fuel to be poured directly into the fuel box from bottles, while automatic models may require the use of an accompanying fuel pump.
- Light the bioethanol fireplace, either using long matches or fire lighter for manual models, or using a dedicated button for automatic models.
- Adjust the flames. Flame intensity can typically be adjusted if desired. For manual bioethanol fireplaces, a closing tool may be used to partially shut the lid. Automatic models may have a function to change flame size on the control panel.
- Extinguish the fire when desired, or leave the fireplace to run out of fuel and extinguish itself. A closing tool can be used to put out a manual bioethanol fireplace fire, while a dedicated control may be available on an automatic fireplace to extinguish the fire.
Bioethanol fireplaces should always be used in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines as set out in the instruction manual. Our instruction manual gives us a wide range of tips and guidance including for placement, refuelling, lighting, and extinguishing, and so an owner’s manual should always be read in conjunction with using a bioethanol fireplace.
Our bioethanol fireplace sits in our open fireplace when we’re not using it for burning wood.
It’s a relatively easy type of fireplace to use and doesn’t come with many of the hassles of other types of fireplaces, such as trying to get wood to light, keep burning and not to smoke.
In this article we discuss exactly how to use a bioethanol fireplace, expanding on the above to explain how to:
- Prepare a bioethanol fireplace
- Add fuel
- Light a bioethanol fireplace
- Adjust the flame size
- Put out a fire
There are also two main types of bioethanol fireplace, manual and automatic, which we also discuss throughout this article as they have different procedures for refuelling and lighting.
Preparing A Bioethanol Fireplace
Bioethanol fireplaces need to be set up correctly for use, such as:
- Placing them in the right size of room
- Locating them in right place in a room
- Orientating the fireplace the right way to allow for correct use
Bioethanol fireplace fires consume oxygen and release carbon dioxide. For safety purposes, manufacturers typically recommend a minimum size of room (area or volume) in which their fireplaces should be used.
For example, our manufacturer states to ‘only use in adequately ventilated rooms with a minimum volume of 40 cubic metres.’
Our living room is well ventilated (there’s an external wall air vent) and is over 40 cubic metres in volume.
When choosing a location for your bioethanol fireplace its therefore important to consider the space requirements for a particular model of fireplace and meet the guidelines accordingly.
These could include clearance distances to objects and/or combustible objects from the fireplace. For example, our owner’s manual sets out minimum distances from our fireplace to surrounding flammable objects, as shown below.
Bioethanol fireplace manufacturers may also state where a fireplace must be placed.
Many bioethanol fireplaces can be used as freestanding models and placed around a room.
However, some manufacturers may provide more strict placement guidelines. For example, our manufacturer states that our fireplace ‘should only be used in an existing fireplace or chimney breast and isn’t suitable as a freestanding model in a room.’
This is likely that because our fireplace has a fire that isn’t contained (it’s open on the top and sides), placement in an existing fireplace is required.
We therefore only use our bioethanol fireplace inside our existing open fireplace.
We’re also requested to ensure that the fireplace is facing the right way.
This allows for correct use of the closing tool that’s supplied with the fireplace used to extinguish a fire.
Other positioning requirements can include:
- Not placing the fireplace in a location where there could be a risk of wind blowing the flames into flammable objects.
Our owner’s manual explains:
‘NEVER position the fire in a location where there is a risk of wind blowing the fire into flammable items or materials. Do not use the fireplace near curtains, fabrics, furniture or other flammable materials.’Imagin Fires
- Placing the fireplace on a flat and stable surface.
Always consult the owner’s manual for guidance of placement of your bioethanol fireplace before using.
Adding Fuel To A Bioethanol Fireplace
Bioethanol fireplaces can only use bioethanol fuel as the source of fuel.
Ensure that any bioethanol fuel that you do buy is in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
For example, our owner’s manual states that they strongly recommend only using bioethanol fuel with an alcohol content of between 95 and 97.5%. The fuel we buy has an alcohol percentage of 96.6%.
For manually operated bioethanol fireplaces (like ours), which aren’t electronically operated, the fuel will need to be added manually to the fuel box.
For our fireplace, we simply take one of our fuel bottles and pour the fuel directly into the fuel box using the nozzle at the end of the bottle, taking care not to spill any fuel.
If adding fuel for the first time, you may be required to fill up the fireplace to capacity to help ensure that it lights correctly for the first time.
A bioethanol fireplace should never be filled up with fuel past the maximum allowable fuel capacity. Our fireplace manufacturer makes this very clear in the owner’s manual, stating:
‘NEVER fill biofuel past the ‘MAX’ steel label inside the bioethanol fireplace.’Imagin Fires
The max fuel line is shown at the bottom of our fuel box.
One important part of adding fuel to a bioethanol fireplace is ensuring that the fireplace is sufficiently cool enough if having used the fireplace within the last hour. Both the manufacturers for our fuel and fireplace make this very clear.
For automatic, electrical, bioethanol fireplaces, you may be required to add fuel using an accompanying pump. The video below highlights how this can be achieved.
Always follow the guidelines for your particular model of bioethanol fireplace for adding fuel.
See our main article on bioethanol fireplace fuel for more information.
Lighting A Bioethanol Fireplace
Depending on the type of bioethanol fireplace, you will either need to light it manually, or use one of the controls to light the fireplace automatically.
For manual bioethanol fireplaces that don’t have electrical assistance (like ours), you will need to light the fireplace manually using a form of fire starter such as a match or fire lighter.
Our fireplace manual highly recommends us to always light from a safe distance, from the side and at arm’s length, stating:
‘Ignite the fuel in the fuel box using a fire lighter or extended match held at arm’s length. Do not light the fireplace from above.’Imagin Fires
We therefore use long matches to light our bioethanol fireplace (see our essential gear page for our recommended long matches).
To light our manual bioethanol fireplace, we simply take our long matches, light one and light the fuel in the fuel box from the side.
The video below shows us lighting our fireplace and the flames starting up.
If you’ve just filled up your fireplace with fuel, your owner’s manual may state a time required before lighting. Ours requests use to leave at least once minute between refuelling and lighting to ‘allow the fuel to be absorbed by the ceramic fibres’.
As we discussed previously, it’s also important to only light a bioethanol fireplace when it’s sufficiently cool.
For automatic bioethanol fireplaces, which are electronically assisted types, there will be a designated button on the control panel of the fireplace that can be used to light it when pressed.
If your automatic bioethanol fireplace comes with a remote control, then that can also typically be used to light. The video below shows lighting an automatic bioethanol fireplace in action.
See our main article on how to light a bioethanol fireplace for a more in-depth guide.
Adjusting The Flames On A Bioethanol Fireplace
The flames on a bioethanol fireplace can typically be adjusted so that they can be more or less intensive, with increased or reduced flame height.
For manual bioethanol fireplaces, you will need to manually partially open or close the fuel box lid to adjust the flame height, if allowed to by the manufacturer.
We don’t typically reduce the flame size on our own fireplace. It can however be done by using the closing tool that came with our fireplace.
Our owner’s manual explains:
‘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
We can therefore use our closure tool to adjust the flame height on our bioethanol fireplace.
For automatic bioethanol fireplaces, there will typically be a function on the fireplace or remote control to adjust the flame intensity, as shown in the video below.
Putting Out A Bioethanol Fireplace
For manual bioethanol fireplaces, there are two main ways to put out the fire:
- Close the lid on the fuel box within the fireplace
- Wait for the fuel to run out
It can be dangerous to forcefully blow out a bioethanol fireplace fire and so should never be attempted. For example, our owner’s manual states:
‘NEVER blow out the flame in order to extinguish your Biofire.’Imagin Fires
A manually operated bioethanol fireplace fire will go out when it has run out of fuel. To extinguish a fire beforehand, you can use the closure tool that comes with the fireplace to shut the lid.
Our fireplace manufacturer explains:
‘To put out the flames, use the closing tool to pull the stainless steell shutter over the opening.’Imagin Fires
Our manual also recommends:
- If the flames do not go out immediately to open the shutter and pull it closed again.
- Leave the fuel box lid closed for at least 3 minutes before opening again to allow sufficient time for the flames to extinguish and to no re-ignite when opened.
For automatic bioethanol fireplaces, there should be button on the control panel or remote you can use to extinguish the flames, as demonstrated in the video below.
Pros & Cons Of Bioethanol Fireplaces
How A Bioethanol Fireplace Works
Bioethanol Fireplace Heat Output Explained