What are Ethanol Fireplaces?

Ethanol fireplaces are a ventless decorative fireplace that use bioethanol as the fuel source. Bioethanol is made from fermenting the sugar and starch components of organic matter so it is a eco-friendly. When using this style decorative fireplace, the UL listing of the product indicates that they are safe for use without a flue or chimney.

Ethanol Pros and Cons

Pros – When using most ethanol fireplaces, they do not produce soot or smoke so the system and your home remain clean after use. Ethanol fireplaces can be used in homes that were not originally designed with a fireplace. With the addition of an ethanol fireplace, you can have the ambiance but will not have to design a flue system. Also, the lack of venting system allows for unique designs such as the system below.

Cons – While ethanol is considered a cleaner burn than typical wood, propane, or natural gas systems, care should still be used. Any form of fuel combustion will produce harmful byproducts and reduce indoor air quality. Ethanol fireplaces should be used in moderation, with carbon monoxide detectors, and in larger rooms that have enough replacement air for proper operation. Another drawback is that you must refill the supply of ethanol between each use and burn time typically lasts around 4 hours. Ethanol is flammable so it is very important to prevent any spillage when refilling the system.

Heat Production

Heat production depends on the size of the burner or burners for larger fireplaces but some things should be considered before you go out and buy the largest one you can find! Ethanol fireplaces are meant to be a source of supplemental heat and not a primary heat source. The main appeal is ambiance and not to heat a room. If you are looking to heat a room, many other methods would provide a more cost effective alternative.

Popular Designs

Freestanding Systems

Countertop or Wall Mounted

Outdoor Systems

Bottom Line

As with any fire in a home, care and proper precautions should be used when using an ethanol fireplace. Make sure that your fireplace is UL listed, all installation instructions are followed, proper safety measures are in place, and that the proper fuel is used. Enjoy!