Biofuel Fireplaces: An Elegant, Conscientious Choice

A fireplace does more than just make you warm and cozy on a cold winter's night. It also lends character to your home and serves as an excuse to gather around with family, friends or pets.

Electric and wood fireplaces are commonplace. They both have their pros and cons, and may be preferred by homeowners for specific reasons. A relatively new entrant to the market is a biofuel fireplace. This shouldn't come as a surprise in a world that's increasingly becoming environment conscious and investing in renewable sources of energy.

Let's look at how a biofuel fireplace works and why you should put it on your list when you're shopping for a fireplace.

Bioethanol is a heat source

A biofuel fireplace uses bioethanol to produce heat and flames. Bioethanol – also known as just ethanol – is made by fermenting sugar and starch present in plant by-products using yeast. So, basically, only biological products go into the processing and production of ethanol for commercial purposes.

There is no need for a chimney

As soot and ash is not produced, a chimney is not necessary. The biofuel fireplace is installed as a freestanding or a wall-mounted unit.

Venting work is minimal and flue is not needed, which simplifies the installation process. For instance, a freestanding unit could just involve positioning the bioethanol burner inside the fireplace, and then placing the fireplace in the intended space in your room. The unit can stand steadily on any flooring surface, though it is recommended that you maintain a distance of at least 1m for safety reasons.

What's the heat output generated?

On an average, an ethanol fireplace will produce 2.5 kW to 3.5 kW of heat. This is approximately half the amount generated by a wood-burning stove. However, the type and capacity of the fireplace (there are several options to choose from) will ultimately determine how efficiently the fireplace warms up your room. For instance, a 1.5 litre ethanol burner insert can produce about 6,000 BTUs. If you have two inserts within a single wall-mounted biofuel fireplace, double the amount – 12,000 BTUs – will be generated.

A clean burning option

No smoke, no dust, no residue – this is one of the most compelling features of a biofuel fireplace. The amount of CO2 and water produced is negligible (the CO2 can be easily dispelled by opening the window for a few minutes).

In comparison to the 60 per cent to 70 per cent heat loss in traditional fireplaces, bioethanol units burn almost to 98 per cent, and therefore enable optimum fuel utilisation.