Ventilation for Bioethanol Fireplaces and Gel Burners

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 find some of these to bit a bit misleading, or do not give the full picture about the byproducts of burning bioethanol fuel or gel fuel in the home.

Guide to Ventilation for Bioethanol Fireplaces and Gel Burners

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 when I was creating these products.

Bioethanol Fireplaces Require No Ventilation?

In my opinion, yes they do, especially if they are being used for long periods. When the bioethanol fuel burns it gives off moisture. In order to avoid this moisture causing damp and mould in your home you need a warm room to start with (the room should be heated by radiators or other primary heat source) and/or ventilation.

This ventilation does not need to be a fixed air vent cut into the wall, however that will also work, just opening a window in the room where the burner is being used should allow enough fresh air in to counter most of the emissions and moisture problem.

However, if you buy a very large bioethanol fire, some designs now 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?

Gardeco Bio Ethanol Fuel 1ltr
Gardeco Bio Ethanol Fuel 1ltr

Basically this is true to a level however they still give of some tiny amounts of emissions. In a large and ventilated room this should not be a concern. Unlike other types of fuel – gas, coal etc – bioethanol fuel is created from fermenting natural products, it is basically alcohol with a small additive to stop it being drunk.

As long as it is used in a proper BioEthanol burner tray that is clean without debris etc there should be no smoke or 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.

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 using Gel Fuel outside only. When it is used in a burner or a can it will burn cleanly until it is nearly empty then debris or a type of scum will build up on the burner surfaces. Once this scum starts to burn in the burner, or can, smoke is given off. Smoke is not good for you so that is why I advise it to be used 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.

Some Extra Points to Consider

Before buying a bio-ethanol fireplace ask yourself these questions and make sure you know your requirements, that way you will buy the correct type of fire.

  • 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.
  • What heat output do you need? Do you need the heat or is it just for decorative purposes? The supplier 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. Unsure? 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 portable, the fire 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.

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.

More Bio-Ethanol Fireplace Technical Pages

More Styles of Bio-Ethanol Fireplace