4 Things You Must Consider Before Buying a Bio Ethanol Fireplace

Attractive, innovative and carbon neutral, it’s not hard to see why bio ethanol fireplaces have become so trendy.  After being featured on popular reality TV shows such as The Block and The Renovators, these stunning fireplaces have taken Australia by storm.  But what should you consider before you snatch one up? 

1. Function

Decide whether you want the fireplace primarily for heating or ambience.  This will determine the kind of model and the size of the fireplace you purchase.  Units with smaller burners (those with burner capacities of less than 1L) generally do not give off a lot of heat and are purchased mainly for aesthetics.  Fireplaces with larger burners however will generally radiate much more heat and will also last longer before needing to be refuelled.

Also think about whether you prefer to have something fixed to a wall or freestanding and portable so that you can move it from room to room.  If you are planning to use the fireplace outdoors for an alfresco area, make sure that the unit you purchase has been designed to withstand the elements.  Weatherproofing the fireplace requires the use of a particular grade of stainless steel, so if a company has designed a fireplace for indoor use only, taking it outside will void your warranty and may cause it damage.

2. Price

Consider your budget carefully and decide how much you want to spend as these fireplaces can vary from less than $100 to several thousands of dollars.  When comparing prices of different companies, make sure you take into account the burner capacity and materials used.

Some units may appear to be great value since they are large in size externally but they may also have very small burners inside which do not emit much heat.  In terms of materials used, ensure that any glass components have been tempered and that the steel used is either stainless steel or some form of treated or powder coated steel.

While it is true that more expensive products do not necessarily equal better products, you should only shop around for a cheaper alternative if it does not compromise on safety and quality.  Dependable companies who are confident of the quality of their products will offer you a warranty on their items.

3. Quality

While there are currently no standards in Australia to specifically regulate these fireplaces, you should choose one that has been produced by a manufacturer who complies with relevant international standards, namely ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems.  Also, brownie points should be awarded to companies whose products comply with the standards of other countries in the absence of Australian standards (eg the TUV standard in Germany or the UL standard in the United States).

4. Safety

While bio ethanol fireplaces are perfectly safe when used properly and for their intended purpose, keep in mind that open flames and flammable liquids always carry the potential for bodily injury and property damage so you must treat them with the respect and care that is due.

Once you’ve purchased your fireplace, make sure that you read your user manual from cover to cover, especially the part with the warnings and precautions.  Ensure that you adhere strictly to these instructions and that you exercise caution and common sense at all times.

Here are some areas of safety that you should be aware of.  Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive and only highlights the main concerns to note.

  • Like with any open fire, bio ethanol fireplaces are a safety hazard for young children and pets.  If you do have kids and pets in the home, make sure you opt for a wall mounted fireplace so that they cannot reach it.  Freestanding units placed on floors and low tables are not suitable, even when unlit, as they may still come into contact with the fuel inside of the burner.  For added protection, you may choose to purchase a fireplace that features glass panes, to shield children and pets further from the flame.
  • Bio ethanol fireplaces use the oxygen found in the air and for this reason, you should either use it in a sufficiently open space or if using it in a smaller room, always have a door or window to the room slightly ajar (at least 25mm).  If you experience any headaches, stuffiness or discomfort whatsoever, then there is not enough air circulation in the room.  While bio ethanol is clean burning and the main by-products are heat, water vapour and a small amount of carbon dioxide, incomplete combustion can occur if there is inadequate ventilation, resulting in air pollution.
  • When purchasing a wall mounted fireplace, make sure the supplier has included the accessories required to mount it safely.  These accessories include a steel mounting bar and the relevant screws and washers required for your particular wall.  Different wall types call for different screws and to ensure that the fireplace is affixed safely and securely, you absolutely cannot compromise in this area.  Brick and concrete walls require masonry screws and plasterboard walls require screws with spring toggles.  Do not settle for anything flimsy such as plastic wall plugs as there is a risk that they will melt as the fireplace heats up.

Now that you’ve considered all these factors, here comes the fun part – shopping! Have a look at all the beautiful fireplaces that are available and choose the style, shape and colour that best compliments your décor.  With such a wide range of traditional and contemporary designs, you are sure to find something you’ll love and that will give you enjoyment for years to come.