Energy efficiency in building has created innovation on a number of fronts, including the humble fireplace. Unfortunately this heating source is becoming something of the past due to its poor energy performance and high emissions. We are now inventing alternatives to fill the fiery gap.
One of the alternatives to the traditional logburner is an ethanol fireplace. If you’re considering purchasing one, here’s what you need to know.
What Is an Ethanol Fireplace?
An ethanol fireplace is essentially a stainless-steel unit comprised of a burner tray, a cove, and typically a protective screen. They do not need to be vented to the outdoors as they only produce heat, carbon dioxide and steam. Their versatility and adaptability appeal to consumers looking to incorporate an affordable fireplace into their living environments.
How do they work?
The most common method involves ethanol being poured into the combustion chamber and then placed inside of the fireplace. A starter is used to turn on the fireplace. You can then regulate or turn off the burner by way of a sliding mechanism.
1. Burners. The burner is a tray that holds the fuel and regulates the fire; it’s usually made of stainless steel.
2. Inserts. These are metal (again, stainless steel is common) boxes that can be recessed into walls.
3. Freestanding. Wall-hung, tabletop or self-supporting units, often called cocoons.
4. Retrofit units. Designed to fit inside an existing fireplace.
Pros of Ethanol Fireplaces
• Modern design
• Low environmental impact
• Freestanding, portable
• Venting isn’t required
• Easy to install, as no flue required
• Easy to operate
• Suitable for indoor-outdoor use
• Limited heat output. Not ideal as primary heat sources
• Cannot replace the ambience of a traditional wood fire
• Not without indoor pollutants (carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide)
• A ventilation system is a must (water vapour, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide must be exhausted)
• Limited burning times means frequent refuelling
• Fuel can be expensive and proprietary, depending on the manufacturer and model