Ventilation for Bioethanol Fireplace and Gel Burner Fires

There are a number of articles on the internet which cover the subject of the ventilation requirements for Bioethanol Fires, Fireplaces and Gel Burners. I personally find some of these to be a bit misleading, or do not give the full picture about the by products of burning bioethanol fuel or gel fuel in the home. Above all bioethanol fuel is a clean burning natural product, that means there is no smoke produced.

People often ask do ethanol fireplaces need to be vented? do bioethanol fires need a flue? do you need a chimney for a bio ethanol fire? These are easy to answer, due to the clean burning fuel bioethanol fireplaces can be installed in a property without a chimney. They are actually classed as flueless bioethanol fires or if you like no chimney fires. As they do not need a connection to a flue system they can be positioned within a room wherever you like, as long as there are safe clearances to combustible materials and you follow the manufacturers installation instructions. A flue or chimney is different to an fresh air vent that provides ventilation. A chimney takes emissions away to be vented into the fresh air outside, an air vent provides fresh air ventilation coming into a property to improve air quality.

Ventilation for Bio Ethanol Fireplace and Gel Burner Fires

As a person who has designed, manufactured and sold both gas and bioethanol fires to customers around the World, all I can do is give you my personal findings on what I discovered when I was designing these products. As I have stated above bioethanol fuel does burn cleanly, and it gives off heat, however a minor downside of this is that it produces a very small amount of water vapor when it burns. Ok, this is not a large amount but it is there regardless and the bigger the bioethanol burner tray, the higher the Kw heat output, the larger the amount of water vapor will be produced. This can be reduced by having a proper heating system in the room, like radiators, to raise the temperature up to a level before you use the bioethanol burner.

For the reason I have explained above, In my opinion, bioethanol fires and gel fires need some form of ventilation to allow fresh air into the room, especially if they are being used for long periods. When the bioethanol fuel burns it gives off moisture, water vapour, which needs fresh air to counteract and dilute it. In order to avoid this moisture causing damp in your home the room needs to be warm enough before the bioethanol fire is used. The room should be heated by radiators or another form of primary heat source. This is more critical the lower the ambient temperature is. Bioethanol burners and gel burners are classed as a decorative, secondary, heat source and are not supposed to be the only form of heating in the room.

Bioethanol Fireplaces Require No Ventilation?

To reduce the moisture there should be a regular change of the air as is normally provided by ventilation. Putting an air vent through the wall of your home may be a little dramatic if the bioethanol fire is small and is only used for short periods, but if it is a large bioethanol ribbon burner with a high heat output a wall air vent may be the best solution. Another alternative solution is opening a window in the room where the burner is being used to allow enough fresh air in to counter most of the emissions and moisture problem.

However, if you buy a very large bioethanol fire, some bioethanol ribbon burner designs are over 1m wide, then you should consider that the bigger the burner the more heat and fuel is burner meaning more moisture and emissions. The rule should be the bigger the burner, the bigger the room and the more ventilation.

Unsure of the difference between gel fuel and bioethanol fuel? Read my Guide to the Differences Between BioEthanol and Gel Fuel. Look at the images below, Bioethanol is clear and a liquid, Gel is colored green or yellow and is thick like a syrup.

Bioethanol Fuel is Clean Burning so No Chimney Required

Buy Bioethanol Fuel for Ethanol Fireplaces
Buy Bioethanol Fuel for Ethanol Fireplaces

Basically this is true to a point however they still give of some tiny amounts of emissions. In a large and well ventilated room this should not be a concern. Unlike other types of organic carbon based fuels like gas, coal and wood, bioethanol fuel is created from fermenting natural products, it is basically alcohol with a small additive to stop it being consumed.

Frequently asked questions by people looking to buy a bioethanol fireplace include do ethanol fireplaces need to be vented?, do bioethanol fires need a flue? and do you need a chimney for a bio ethanol fire? Bioethanol fires do not need a chimney, they are classed as flueless bioethanol fires this is due to the fuel being clean burning. If you burn gas, coal or wood you will need a chimney to remove the smoke from the fuel. Another important factor to take from the fact that bioethanol fuel is clean burning and does not need a chimney is that not having a chimney or flue in your house makes your house more energy efficient. Bioethanol fireplaces are 100% energy efficient, no heat is lost to outside.

As long as the bioethanol fuel is used in a proper bio-ethanol burner tray that is clean without any debris in the fuel tank there should be no smoke or any other harmful emissions given off by burning the fuel. The manufacturer or supplier of the bioethanol burner tray should also be able to give you guidance on what ventilation is required, if you are unsure ask before buying the product.

Gel Fuel is Clean Burning?

Gel Fuel in a Bottle
Gel Fuel in a Bottle

Gel fuel is created in the same way as Bioethanol Fuel however in my experience, I would advise only using Gel Fuel outside. When it is used in a proper gel burner or is burner directly from the gel fuel can it will burn cleanly until it is nearly empty then a type of film or scum can build up on the burner surfaces. Once this scum starts to burn in the burner, or the gel fuel can, smoke is given off. Smoke is not good for you so that is why I advise only using gel fuel outside in a well ventilated area. That said, adding an outdoor bio-ethanol fireplace or gel burner to your garden or patio is a great way to create a dynamic outdoor living space. Check out some of the portable bioethanol fireplaces and garden fireplaces that we have displayed on the site.

Some Extra Points to Consider

Personally, before buying a bio-ethanol fireplace I would ask myself a few questions to find out if this type of product is suitable for my home and personal requirements. Alsways read the manufacturers instructions before installing and using any type of fireplace.

  • Does the fire need to be portable? Do you want to use the fire in different locations? Different room, outside etc? If yes the weight and size needs to be considered. The supplier should quote you dimensions and weight. Check out some of the portable bioethanol fires that we have on the site.
  • What heat output do you need? Do you need the heat or is it just for decorative purposes? The supplier of the bioethanol fire will quote a heat output as part of the sales literature. If used in an open outdoor space the heat will be negligible and for that reason it will be mainly decorative. If used indoors, the size of burner you buy will dictate the heat given out. The bigger the burner the more fuel that will be used, if heat is not an issue choosing a smaller burner will reduce the running costs. Also, remember that a bioethanol fireplace is 100% effecicient, when used inside, as there is no chimney to take away the heat. You may not need as much heat as you think. If you are unsure o this then read our Guide to Bio-Ethanol Fireplace Running Costs
  • Safety Considerations? The area where the fire will be used needs careful consideration to ensure safe clearances to combustible materials and, if it is going to be portable, the fire must be positioned so it cannot be knocked over. The unit should also include some method to protect the flame from being touched or being blown by air movement, like glass panels. There may be people moving around or children playing therefore when positioning this should be taken into account.
  • Add Bioethanol Burner Ceramic Sponge. If you buy a bioethanol burner tray that does not include the bioethanol fire ceramic sponge, this is normally the very cheap bioethanol burner trays, then you should consider adding some bioethanol ceramic wool. It increases the safety of the product, helps to reduce fuel usage and stabilises the flame.

Read our technical guides listed below for more help choosing an Bio-ethanol Fireplace for your home. The best advice is to read the manufacturers installation  and operation instructions before you start handling the fuel or using the fire.

Bio-Ethanol Fireplace Technical Pages

Read our technical guides listed below for more help choosing an bioethanol fireplace for your home. The best advice is to read the manufacturers installation and operation instructions that are supplied with the bioethanol fireplace or gel fire before you start to use it and before you start handling the fuel. Bioethanol fires and gel burners are a great way to add heat and a living flame to a property. Buy following some common safety procedures you will get the best performance and use out of your fireplace product.

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