indoor/outdoor bio-ethanol fires.. any experience?


a short-tempered ill-controlled small-minded troll
I live in a Victorian end terraced house and in the bleak mid-winter it can take hours to heat up my sitting room (especially yesterday with all that wind getting in through every nook and cranny) ... Sometime days i'll get home from work, put the heaters on and it's near bedtime by the time the room is 'comfortable'. It's approximately 4x5 metres with quite high ceilings, so not the smallest nor largest sitting room.

Anyway, today my bosses told me about a bio-ethanol fire one of their friends has and praised its efficiency.

anybody had any experience or scare stories they'd like to share... i've never heard of them before today so I'm a bit in the dark... and as the old saying goes, if in doubt, ask a cyclist. :smile:


We have a fairly small one, it can sit on a table but we have it in a fireplace. Its pretty, but not very warm.
Our last living room was 15' by 15' with a ceiling as high again, we had an electric storage heater and an electric " I think I'm a wood burner but I'm not fooling anyone" fire. Kept us fairly toastie in the evening


a short-tempered ill-controlled small-minded troll
Thanks for that. They seem to have all sorts of sizes and all sorts of prices. I'm currently working with a pair of electric convector heaters, which do the job but they ain't cheap to run. I have a vacant fireplace which gets it's glow from a lava-lamp, and was thinking about putting bio-ethanol thingy in there... but i guess that might also be the least efficient part of the room to put it (the defunct chimney is a bit draughty).

do you know if it's the capacity of the burner that determines their output?


I know nothing about them but have always lived in Victorian houses so recognise the problem. :smile: If heat is escaping quick why should the heat from one of these be any different?
I work on my bikes in the cellar where it's very cold, I use an infrared heater, it was about £25 from Wickes, it sends heat directly to me rather than trying to heat the entire cellar and it's very effective.


Harder than Ronnie Pickering
Meanwood, Leeds
Here's something to think about

A lot of people discuss and ask about the efficiency about ethanol fireplaces. Instead of answering the question, I will leave it up to you to assess whether ethanol fireplaces are efficient or not.

To me, efficiency of ethanol fireplaces consists of the heat they produce, the burning time and the operating cost of the fireplace.

Heat efficiency
The most interesting aspect for many is whether or not ethanol fireplaces give off any heat. The answer is clear: they do give a substantial amount of heat. However, you cannot use the fireplaces as a primary source of heat, but they are a nice supplement. Should you have a room between 20-50 sq. meters that gets cold during winter, you can easily use an ethanol fireplace to heat up the room.

The heat output is around 2.5-3.5 kW, which is enough to heat a fairly large room. The heat output depend on the size of the flame, which can be regulated (in most cases) with a rod & lid. The fuel is available in many different types, but in most cases there wont be a large difference, the flame size is the primary driver.

Once the fireplace is lit, it will usually take 15-25 minutes for it to heat up a room of 30-40 sq. meters. The fireplace produce heat from the second it is lit as flames appear very fast, and the heat is simply distributed as hot air flowing from the flames.

Burning time
Another important aspect of ethanol fireplaces is the burning time. Many potential customers are concerned that they wont get more than 1-2 hours of flames, but don’t worry – most of the products I sell burn a minimum of 4-5 hours.

Not everyone is satisfied with 4-5 hours of flames, but once the fireplace runs out of fuel, you can easily refill the burner with bioethanol once it is cooled off (5-15 minutes).

In most settings, 1-3 hours is more than enough. If you fill a single litre of ethanol into the fireplace, you should get around 2 hours which is perfect, however filling the fireplace to the top gives better flames, and allows the fireplace to light up faster. Once lit, it takes 1-2 minutes for nice yellow flames to rise, as the fuel needs to get hot.

Operating cost
The heat or burning time wouldn’t really matter if the cost were unbearable. Therefore the efficiency also depends on the consumption of fuel, as it is the key driver of the cost. Obviously, the consumption of fuel varies a lot from model to model. As an example, I will use Vauni Globe as a reference point of calculating cost.

Burning time: min. 5 hours
Capacity: 2 litres
Cost of fuel: £2.5 per litre

Operating cost per hour: 5 / 2 x £2.5 = £1 per hour

Some models might not provide 5 hours on two litres of bioethanol, but for most of the products from Vauni this is the case.

An electric fire rated at 3kW costs 51p per hour to run using electricity priced at 17p/kWh.

So in terms of efficiency the bio ethanol does not look like an attractive proposition. I've emboldened a key sentence - they are not to be depended upon as a primary source of heating. Remember this comes from a vendor of the fires and not an opponent to them.

I'd be very wary of the open tabletop type in an unventilated room - the generation of carbon monoxide is a possibility. Poor combustion of some ethanol in a home made pulse jet engine estimated at a tablespoonful or two of ethanol burned over four minutes in a 4m x 3m kitchen generated enough carbon monoxide to trigger the CO alarm in the adjoining 5m x 3m room. I was very surprised at this.


a short-tempered ill-controlled small-minded troll
According to the internet, buying the fuel in bulk can work out around £1.50 a litre. I'm currently running two convector heaters, not sure what wattage, and they're currently on 'half'... they work but the down side is they take a long time to work. From what i was told (and confirmed by Vernon's quoted info), they supposedly warm a room up quite quick, which is what I'm after.

The downside of those infrared heaters is the horrendous light they cast... it's ok for a workspace but not in a lounge.


New Member
I am against bio ethanol fireplaces. They are very dangerous if used incorrectly. Friends of mine almost burned their whole house down because you can't save it with water. Its like burning alcohol and this can lead to a lot of fires. I would never get any kind of these fireplaces with ethanol.
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