Bio-ethanol fireplaces are naked flame heaters that use bio-ethanol as fuel source, similar to how a traditional fireplace uses wood as fuel. They are made up of a stainless steel burner which houses the fuel and often have an aesthetic frame that supports the burner. You can fit a bio-ethanol fireplace anywhere you have sufficient room, so this choice could be ideal for a new home or one where the fireplaces and chimney breasts have been removed. They do not need a chimney or a flue, or a utility connection like gas heaters. Walls do need to be strong, so if any doubt ask a builder or structural engineer for advice. Some models are portable, and can be used both indoors and outdoors, so good for chilly winter evenings and there are also 'burner only' models which can be fitted into non-combustible benches. There's no mess or ash either, or any need for complicated seasonal maintenance. If you decide to move house, you can take your bio-ethanol fireplace with you. The ethanol heater works by pouring ethanol into the stainless steel burner using an appropriate filling device and igniting the fuel with the appropriate lighter provided with the ethanol heater.
The bio ethanol combusts inside its stainless steel burner generating heat and releasing small amounts of steam and carbon dioxide. An ethanol burner can produce up to around 4.5kW of heat, which should warm roughly a 30-40sqm room however it is recommended as a secondary rather than a primary heat source. To turn off the heater, simply use the appropriate utensil provided with the ethanol heater and cover the flame with its lid or hinged flap. There is a small alcohol smell, only when lighting or snuffing out the fireplace. Bio-ethanol fires can take between 15 and 20 minutes to warm up to a full vibrant flame which is generating significant heat. You are also advised to wait 45 minutes after putting out the fire before re-fueling to allow the burner to cool down.
The fireplaces cost anywhere from $500-$8,000 depending on the model (primarily dependent on size as they can be metres wide installed in a wall or a simple freestanding unit). A carton containing 20L of e-NRG bioethanol packaged in 4 x 5L bottles, retails for about $100. This makes the typically running cost between $2-$5 per hour depending on the model.
Some popular brands are Ecosmart and Icon.
Bio-ethanol fuel, sometimes called 'bio fuel', is a sustainable 'green fuel' produced by fermenting sugar and starch components of plant by-products, mainly of crops such as sugar cane or maize. Ethanol is essentially a pure alcohol. It produces a smokeless, odorless flame as it doesn't generate any harmful gasses, sparks or soot. It releases around the same C02 emissions as burning a candle. This combustion is carbon neutral as the plants used to develop the fuel absorb C02 during photosynthesis. One litre of fuel may last for between one to three hours, subject to conditions and product.