Bio Ethanol Fireplaces are a new technology whose time has come.
My job in this article is to explain the pros and cons, allowing you, the consumer to make an informed decision based on a through understand of Bio Ethanol Fireplaces.
Obviously, if you talk with sales people, they are only going to outline the positive benefits, rightly so, since there are many, but we’ll cover both the pros and cons and I’ll try my best to present unbiased information.
Let’s start with the CONS..
While there is no way to know exactly your interest or situation, I’ll present both sides of the coin in a somewhat general manner.
In most situations neither a traditional fireplace or Bio ethanol fireplace will generate enough heat to be your primary source of heat. This could certainly vary based on the size of the area you need to heat, but generally speaking a Bio ethanol fireplace will generate about 1-3.5 kW, which is about the same as a radiator.
Cost should not be your only consideration. Without a doubt Bio ethanol fireplaces are manufactured to high standards, but like anything, the more you pay, the better the device (in this case fireplace) you’ll end up with. There are some units that may cost upward of $2,000, while others would sell for $300 or even less. The sales person’s job is to move units, and they may or may not point out the differences between the units from a safety perspective, but let me assure you, there likely is a difference and the more expensive model will have better construction and more (on board) safety features.
It’s doubtful this was done with any malicious intent, merely the way that manufacturing works, in order to sell for less, it’s possible that lesser grades of materials were used and all (or portions) of the manufacturing process was outsourced (possibly to China). This is necessarily saying don’t buy the $300 unit, merely to consider all your options prior to purchase.
PURCHASE ADVICE: Ask if the product has been tested and certified.
CAUTION: While a Bio ethanol fireplace may be manufactured to the highest standards, it is very much still a fireplace and DOES consume oxygen, as does any flame. Do not operate in rooms without adequate ventilation.
Even though your Bio ethanol fireplace will have built in safety features, any device that is actively burning fuel should be treated with respect. Keep any flammable material well away from the flame and never fill the tank when the flame is burning, turn it off and let it cool prior to filling.
Okay, that does it for the CONS, let’s take a look at the PROS of a Bio ethanol fireplace
First and foremost is the simple fact you don’t need a chimney. Based on that very critical piece of information, you’ll have a great deal of freedom concerning where to place it.
FACT: An ethanol fireplace burns denatured ethanol and because of that, no chimney or vent is needed. No ash or reside is created, just a small amount of water vapor produced from steam.
Since there is no chimney attached, your fireplace can easily be moved from room-to-room. There are of course floor models, more suitable for a quick relocation, but even the fireplace models can be moved when and if necessary based on moving or home décor changes.
While a wood burning fireplace has been around for centuries, they emit fumes (dangerous ones) that can have negative medicals effects if a room became over-saturated. That isn’t a worry with an ethanol fireplace, as no dangerous fumes are emitted, which in essence is why a chimney is not needed. This based on the fact that ethanol is clean burning and the only byproduct is water and carbon dioxide.
NOTE: The amount of water produced is minimal and there is no need to worry about condensation on the walls. Additionally, all flames produce carbon dioxide as they consume oxygen. All that is needed is adequate ventilation.
No Ashes Means no Cleaning
While it’s a good idea to clean your ethanol fireplace periodically, wiping away any accumulated dust and such, you’ll never again have to deal with ashes, partially burned wood or soot on the walls. The only soot produced is where the flames actually touch the fireplace, and in that situation the soot produced is minimal.
Simple to Operate
Thinking back to our grandparents time (and in some cases more recently) using a wood burning fireplace required the chopping (or purchase) of wood, the act of building a fire (often time consuming and involved) and finally the removal of ash. None of that is necessary with an ethanol fireplace, you simply fill the tank, then ignite the burner with a long lighter (in some cases a remote can be used). The flames will early instantly come to life, reaching maturity in minutes, often seconds. This completely eliminates the long preparation time, now you can enjoy your fireplace almost instantly.
Consider the Facts
What I’ve tried to do in this article is to cover both sides of the coin and let you understand both sides of the coin. Are there cons, sure there are, but they are few and far outweighed (in this writer’s opinion) by the ease, comfort and safety of an ethanol fireplace.
There are multiple models to choose from…
Fireplace (which is the one discussed in this article)
Floor mounted (which can easily and quickly be moved from room to room as needed)
Wall mounted (very trendy and classy, I’d recommend a professional installation if this is your choice)
Exterior (while you can certainly move a floor mount outside, there are models designed specifically for outdoor use)
The choice you make is entirely up to you, but if you’re still reading, I guess you know which my favorite is; I’m ethanol all the way. Once you try one, one you experience the job and ease of communing with family and friends around an ethanol fireplace, I’m sure you’ll never go back to wood.