Here at Ethanol Fireplace Pros we have created an ultimate guidebook to help you in your quest to find the perfect fireplace. Our guidebook will provide you with comprehensive information about bio ethanol fireplaces to help answer any questions you may have. Let us assist you in finding the right type of fireplace for your lifestyle.
When it comes to various heating options, it is hard to beat the beauty and ambiance of a conventional fireplace. You can cozy up with your special someone while cradling a glass of champagne or white wine and being mesmerized by the gorgeous dancing flames. It seems like an excellent way of spending a chilly winter’s night.
However, keep in mind that owners of fireplaces will definitely tell you all about the less-glamorous aspect of traditional fireplaces, which entails chopping wood, having irritated eyes, cleaning up ash as well as smelling like smoke for several hours on end.
In addition, many people do not have the luxury to install a fireplace in their home, like renters, apartment dwellers, and folks who reside in specific areas where the covenants restrict them from building fireplaces (for example some rainforest areas).
Finally, the issue of cost cannot be ignored. Fireplaces tend to be quite expensive to buy, and then there are additional costs associated with fireplace installation as well as building flues and chimneys to council requirements.
The recent move toward more energy efficiency in homes and other buildings has led to considerable innovation on a number of different fronts. You can imagine that the fireplace, due to its high particulate emissions and historically lousy energy performance, was one of the main targets for reinvention. A conventional fireplace outlet or chimney usually bores a big hole in your home’s roof. This is where heat loss is promoted rapidly. Also wood burning is not a healthy or practical solution for most people who live in regions with outright fireplace bans or burning restrictions.
A common and more efficient alternative to conventional fireplaces that has gained favor with numerous customers who are ready for an easier installation, ease of use and lower maintenance is the ethanol fueled fireplace.
What are Ethanol Fireplaces?
An ethanol fireplace, also known as an alcohol fireplace, eco fireplace or ethanol heater, is a stainless steel structure made up of an efficient burner tray, cowling or a cover, and usually a high-quality protective screen.
Since the only combustion by-product of ethanol, in a perfectly controlled environment at least, generate only heat, steam and carbon dioxide, ethanol fireplaces do not have to be vented to your outdoors; also, they do not need a flue.
The adaptability and versatility of ethanol fireplaces tends to appeal to customers who are looking to include an economical and efficient fireplace in their living environments.
Powered solely by pure bio ethanol (often known as methylated spirits in many parts of the world) ethanol fireplaces are odorless and clean burning. This is why they produce no ash or embers and irritating smoke. In addition, as they do not need any pipes, flues, chimneys and utility connections, they are easy to install.
The amount of heat produced by an ethanol fireplace will depend on a variety of factors, like the ambient temperature of your room, the size of your room, and the size of burner used etc. On average, however, a majority of fireplaces that have a 1.5 liter burner usually have thermal outputs in the range of 2.1 and 2.5 kW.
The concept of ethanol fireplaces is very different from gas or wood burning stoves. An ethanol fireplace uses bioethanol in order to produce flames and heat. Due to the efficient nature of fuel, no flue or chimney is required and the fireplace produces no soot or ash when in use.
Ethanol fireplaces come in two categories, which are wall mounted fireplaces and freestanding fireplaces (customized solutions are designed, but often an experienced professional will handle product installation). A wall mounted ethanol fireplace can be easily and quickly hung on the wall mount that is available with the fireplace. Keep in mind that the wall-mounted fireplace, in many instances, is similar to a flat screen TV. You will need to maintain a safe distance of about one meter, paying special attention to curtains.
On the other hand, freestanding ethanol fireplaces are often the easiest to install. In most cases, assembling the fireplace is only a matter of putting the ethanol burner in the fireplace. You can then place your fireplace wherever you want to use it. That being said, you have to keep it on a non-combustible surface so that it does not cause any safety issue.
A majority of ethanol fireplaces can burn for about four to five hours and shut down when they run out of fuel. If you still need more heat once your fireplace has been extinguished, you may pour ethanol once again into the burner after the fireplace has cooled off (which usually takes about five to ten minutes).
Types of Ethanol Fireplaces
An ethanol fireplace is a product of modern science and ingenuity. An ethanol fireplace can be easily placed or conveniently installed almost anywhere in your living space. This can open up limitless possibilities for both commercial and residential settings. But what are your options when you choose the most suitable fireplace for your home? Here are some suggestions that can help you get started.
Generally, wall ethanol fireplaces are available in various sleek and modern designs. These elegant wall units are perfect for condos, small spaces, waiting rooms, offices, and even restaurants. Fireplaces have calming, inviting as well as relaxing properties; therefore, this will usually be the first thing your family and guests notice when they walk in the room.
These striking pieces, as their name implies, could be conveniently placed anywhere in your room, provided they aren’t in a walking path. Freestanding ethanol fireplaces come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and finishes, so you will easily find one that complements your modern space.
A tabletop ethanol fireplace really uses the vent-less concept to its advantage. You will find endless designs which could be placed just about anywhere; you can keep them on your office desk or dining room table. These models offer the greatest flexibility.
Recessed fireplaces are similar to wall units; however, rather than being mounted on walls, these units are installed in the wall in order to offer an incomparable level of elegance and sophistication.
An ethanol burner is just an insert and has no fancy designs. You can insert it into almost anything. You can use a burner to repurpose your traditional wood fireplace or replace your worn out burner. There are endless possibilities if you get creative.
Benefits of Ethanol Fireplaces
One of the most effective ways to increase the temperature in your home is to use an eco-friendly, portable and modern ethanol fireplace. Ethanol fireplaces are state-of-the-art inventions which not just offer plenty of coziness and warmth of conventional fireplaces, but also have a variety of other important benefits too.
Some of the benefits and features of ethanol fireplaces have made them the go-to heating unit for most houses and offices alike.
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, is a safe and non-toxic substance which is generated from plants like corn, sugarcane and switch grass.
Keep in mind that ethanol releases a small amount of carbon dioxide because of the plants’ high absorption of this gas, but the amount of carbon dioxide is not higher compared to the amount present in human breath. Carbon dioxide emitted by ethanol is much lower than the quantity emitted by most petroleum-based fuels.
In addition, ethanol fireplaces do not generate any hazardous emissions which may threaten human health. This is why you will enjoy high-quality air in your room. Because of this reason, ethanol fireplaces are an ideal choice for most apartment dwellers that don’t have instant access to fresh air ventilation.
It is not practically possible for every house to have a chimney. In many cases, the installation becomes too expensive and complicated. This is why a majority of customers seek other alternatives – mostly an ethanol fireplace.
Most ethanol fireplaces are ventless because of their fuel, bioethanol. When the fuel burns, no soot, smoke or ash is produced. As a result, the flames are extremely clean; this allows the ethanol fireplace to be easily lit without the need of a vent. Unlike wood-burning stoves, the emissions from ethanol fireplaces are usually made up of heat, water and a minor amount of carbon dioxide.
As ethanol is a clean and efficient fuel, it does not emit harmful or toxic emissions. This is why an ethanol fireplace does not need a flue, chimney, or other stationary outlet. So, ethanol fireplaces come in all types of designs, styles and sizes, ranging from walled-in structures with protective glass panels to spherical and portable fireplaces as well as living room glass tables that feature inbuilt fires. The diversity in designs alone will get you excited.
On the whole, the variety in design and size of ethanol fireplaces is sufficient to meet the needs of even the pickiest individuals. An additional benefit of an ethanol fireplace is that many latest models often come with remote controls, allowing the users to automatically shut down or light the flames and regulate their size as well as the heat they generate. These models are becoming more popular with the advancement in technology. Some of the latest models could be connected to your smartphone, adding plenty of convenience.
Also, a lot of people insert a plain burner into their existing fireplaces, which can easily turn a messy fireplace into a clean and efficient one. This is an excellent reason to convert your conventional fireplace into an ethanol fireplace.
Unlike most traditional burners, an ethanol fireplace does not require any wood logs or coals, which makes it exceptionally easy to clean and maintain. Generally, all you need to do is supply enough fuel to the burning chamber and then relax.
Minimal Installation Costs
Another great benefit of investing in ethanol fireplaces is that their installation cost is very low. A majority of units you will come across will be independent and could easily rest on a table or floor without having to be slid into your wall or embedded anywhere (however, those options also exist).
As a result, all you are actually paying for is the ethanol fireplace unit; with some fuel you are good to go! On the other hand, with most wood-burning fireplaces, you will usually have to purchase a pricey fireplace. Then you will have to get it anchored into your house and build the flue or chimney to release the smoke. Similarly, if you go for a radiator or boiler, you will incur various upfront costs as well as plenty of upkeep or maintenance, which could quickly add up.
Modern and Elegant Design
The addition of an ethanol fireplace to your indoor space is an excellent way to add a touch of character and class to your home; and the best part is that you can do it without being ridiculously expensive. This is particularly true if your house is very simple (e.g. if you live in an apartment or are a renter) and you would like to add some flair and panache to make the home feel more personal. In this case, adding an ethanol fireplace can certainly do the trick.
In a majority of cases, the diverse types and styles of ethanol fireplaces you can find on the market are extremely varied, and therefore, you are likely to find the right match that perfectly complements your apartment or home. If you have an ornate mantle, you can add an ethanol burner to your existing fireplace and enjoy the benefits. You can find several types of elegant and stylish ethanol fireplaces here.
On the other hand, if your home is already adorned with plenty of character and decorations, you have the option to choose a simpler yet modern ethanol fireplace. Moreover, as most apartment complexes usually have several restrictions on what owners or renters can and cannot do, the addition of portable ethanol fireplaces is an ideal way to add more character and elegance while also being cost-effective and practical.
Ease of Use and Maintenance
An ethanol fireplace is quite easy and convenient to use and maintain. Ethanol fireplaces are easier to clean up compared to traditional fireplaces that may get discolored or corroded due to frequent use.
If you buy a freestanding ethanol fireplace, you will realize that no installation is needed. On the other hand, most wall-mounted models can be simply installed on brackets which are similar to the ones used to set up flat-screen TVs. Even the most complicated ones are much simpler to install compared to gas or wood fireplaces.
As the flames produced by ethanol fireplaces are free of emissions there is no ash or residue to clean. This makes cleaning and maintenance a breeze and the fireplace will last longer than traditional fireplaces.
Most ethanol fireplaces available on the market are often portable, and you can use them inside and outside your home. The fireplace can be set up in multiple locations in your home, whether it is outside on your porch, patio, yard, or inside on your living room. In addition, bioethanol is very flexible when it comes to ease of use, which is an important advantage over most fixed units such as masonry fireplaces.
Drawbacks of Ethanol Fireplaces
A majority of people are totally sold when they first hear about the idea of an ethanol fireplace. To be honest, given all the benefits associated with these fireplaces, who wouldn’t?
Although an ethanol fireplace has many important benefits, like most products, it also comes with a few drawbacks. We will discuss these drawbacks and limitations in the next section.
Low Heat Output
Keep in mind that ethanol is usually not a primary source of heat. One of the most significant issues with a majority of ethanol fireplaces is that they can only produce between 3,000 BTU and 20,000 BTU of heat. This is why they are not considered a primary heat source, both due to the low radiation of heat and fuel cost.
That being said, they are an ideal option for supplemental heat, when they run in addition to and complement a current heating system such as gas stoves.
High Fuel Costs
The fuel used in these fireplaces itself is often quite expensive, which also depends on the frequency and purpose of use. Ethanol is often sold in liters. Make sure you use only the prescribed fuel in your burner.
The Fuel is Flammable
Another critical issue with ethanol fireplaces is that the fuel, bioethanol, is highly flammable. Traditional wood fireplaces and woodburning stoves don’t use dangerous fuel. Wood in itself is quite safe and does not pose any health risk. On the other hand, bioethanol could be quite dangerous in case you do not handle it carefully. This is why fuel spills can be dangerous, and should be thoroughly cleaned up before igniting an ethanol fireplace. Also, keep in mind that ethanol is a clear liquid and does not smell.
The presence of kids and pets can heighten this risk. Therefore, you will have to take the following precautions:
- Always use a good funnel in order to make sure you safely fill bioethanol
- Get rid of any spilled bioethanol as soon as possible
- Ignite the fuel using a long fireplace lighter
- Never try to fuel a hot or lit fireplace
High Oxygen Consumption
Like any fire, ethanol flames require oxygen to survive. As with candles or other open fires, ethanol fireplaces can consume plenty of oxygen in your room. This is not a big issue in itself if your indoor space is bigger than twenty square meters.
On the other hand, if your space is small, it is vital that you have a stable flow of air from a vent or an open window.
Cool Down Period
There is often a “cool down” period, meaning you will have to wait before you safely refill an ethanol fireplace and reignite it.
In most cases, users have to wait at least 45 minutes to one hour before they can refill a bioethanol fire that was extinguished. On the other hand, wood-burning and gas stoves could burn as long as sufficient fuel is provided.
In addition, an ethanol fireplace can’t burn indefinitely. Typically, an ethanol fireplace would run out of fuel within four to five hours, at which point it will have to be refueled.
No Embers or Sound
A lot of people love wood-burning stoves and wood fireplaces because of the embers and sound of the wood burning. Sadly, you will not find these vibrant effects in an ethanol fireplace.
This is mainly because of the clean nature of the fuel, bioethanol, which generates no smoke or soot. Although there is no real ember or sound, the fire generated by bioethanol is still pretty cozy and attractive.
What is Ethanol Fuel?
Ethanol fuel, also known as ethyl alcohol, is a grain alcohol which is blended with gasoline to power motor vehicles. Ethanol is now also used as a fuel source for ethanol fireplaces. Many gasoline stations usually sell a blended fuel; the fuel is typically ten percent ethanol and ninety percent gasoline.
Ethanol could be easily fermented from a variety of sources of starch, such as corn, grain, wheat, sorghum, potatoes and barley. You can also ferment it from various sugar crops like sweet sorghum and sugar cane. As there is a plentiful supply of corn in the US, most of the ethanol in the country is made from corn.
A large quantity of ethanol is made in the Upper Midwest and Midwest. This is because in these regions ethanol plants have a consistently stable supply of corn due to their proximity; in addition, they have access to abundant water resources as well as livestock production nearby.
In a majority of modern ethanol plants, also called "dry grind" ethanol plants, corn kernels are ground finely into tiny particles. After the grinding process, water and enzymes are added to the finely ground corn. This converts the starch which is readied for fermentation. This mixture is also called mash; it is heated to further break down the starch.
Then the mash is separated from the cookers and given a few minutes to cool down. Then another enzyme known as glucoamalyse is mixed with the mash. This is an important enzyme as it helps convert the liquid starch into sugars. When yeast is mixed with the mash, fermentation produces ethanol as well as carbon dioxide.
After around 48 hours, fermentation process is completed; at this stage the mash is heated once again. Due to the heat, the liquid ethanol evaporates to produce a vapor which is collected; however, the remaining yeast solids and corn also remain. When the ethanol vapor is allowed to cool down, it condenses into liquid ethanol. At this stage, excess water is removed from the ethanol by a process called dehydration. This makes "anhydrous" ethanol which is ideal for blending with gasoline.
Ethanol fuel is one of the most affordable energy sources as virtually all countries have the capability to make it. Corn, grain or sugar cane grows in nearly every country, making the production of ethanol more economical than fossil fuels.
A striking benefit of using ethanol over other sources of fuel is that it doesn’t pollute the environment. If you use ethanol fuel for power your automobile or ethanol fireplace, you will release fewer toxins in your environment.
How to use an Ethanol Fireplace?
Bio ethanol fireplaces are taking over the future of fire design; this is because they are very simple to use. This is true irrespective of how complex or modern they might appear. Actually, when used responsibly and safely an ethanol fireplace is an ideal fire production unit which can suit any residential or commercial property.
Although an ethanol fireplace does not emit any toxic or harmful elements, they produce real heat and flames. This is why you should exercise caution when using your ethanol fireplace. By following our simple steps and precautions, you can use them safely.
Lighting your Fireplace
Make sure that you operate your ethanol fireplace four feet (at least) from flammable objects like curtains or various other decorations. In addition, if you are looking to hang the fireplace onto or recess it into your wall, ensure that your wall is made out of non-combustible materials, like brick, stone or wonderboard.
- Ensure your burner is tidy and clean and take out the snuffer tool from your burner.
- Go through the manufacturer’s instruction manual and fill your burner with suitable bio-ethanol fuel. Ensure that it is about 2/3 full.
- Light the fuel with a long lighter. Stay at a distance of an arm’s length when you are lighting the fuel.
- Also, make sure you keep your fuel container at a safe distance away from your fireplace, approximately forty inches or one meter away.
- Keep in mind that fuel would burn low at the start. Within about ten to fifteen minutes, the flames would reach an optimum height. To ensure a longer burning time avoid drafts.
For a non-spilling and cleaner application, it is advisable to use one liter bottles of ethanol fuel; this will lead to a more controlled fill. Also, we recommend using a funnel in order to avoid overspills. It is vital ensure that the ethanol fuel you intend to use is suitable for its purpose, whether it is for exterior or interior use. Keep in mind that bio fuel is the one and only appropriate fuel for lighting ethanol fires. On the other hand, solid fuels (such as paper, wood, charcoal), most liquid gel fuels (such as diesel, gasoline, petrol) as well as bio ethanol car fuels can be very dangerous and should not be used with bio ethanol products.
A majority of top-quality ethanol fireplaces come with step-by-step and informative user manual guides. So, make sure you follow all the information relevant to the lighting of fire. Also, do not overfill the burner. This is because excess fuel inside your burner could create problems when you are trying to extinguish the flames; it may also cause an overflow in case the fireplace is knocked.
Extinguishing your Fireplace
- It is preferable to let the ethanol fuel burn out fully. It will help prevent any fuel left unattended in your burner and deflagration the next time you use it.
- However, if you have to extinguish the flames before they have finished, use your snuffer tool for completely covering the opening of your burner until it has fully burned out.
- In case the flames do not go out immediately, keep using your snuffer tool until the flames are extinguished.
- Never touch your ethanol fireplace until it has cooled down for a minimum of fifteen minutes after the flames have been extinguished.
- If you have to refill your burner, make sure that it has extinguished and cooled down for at least fifteen minutes before refilling. A tiny, hard-to-see flame might be present at the burner’s bottom and trigger an explosive flame. So be careful.
- Never pour fuel into your burner when it is warm or already lit.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Like most other appliances, your ethanol fireplace needs cleaning and maintenance as well. Cleaning and maintaining the fireplace is fairly simple. Just follow these steps to make sure it remains neat and tidy.
- Never clean your ethanol fireplace when it is running or still hot.
- Clean up any spilled fuel quickly using a dry cloth; follow it up with a water-dampened cloth. Let the area dry prior to using your fireplace.
- Make sure you dispose of all empty or used ethanol containers in compliance with the local regulations or rules for hazardous materials.
- Clean the exterior of the fireplace thoroughly with a damp cloth.
- You can use a glass cleaner to clean the glass panes of the fireplace.
- You can easily remove any marks on your burner using a soft cloth dipped in a mixture of a small amount of cleaner and warm water.
- Never use scrubbing sponges or steel wool to clean your fireplace; this is because they would scratch the surface.
Keep in mind that as the fuel, bio-ethanol tends to burn very clean, little cleaning is needed in most cases. Your white walls are going to remain white; and there would be no ashes or soot outside your fireplace that will need cleaning. As the burner may get a little discolored with time (around one to two years), you can re-polish it with a 3M sponge.
The whole process will not take longer than a couple of minutes and would help keep your fireplace in top shape. Taking proper care of your ethanol fireplace will ensure that it serves you for several years to come!