Which ethanol fireplaces are best?
If you’re looking to add some warmth to a room but don’t want to deal with the hassle of a traditional wood-burning fireplace, an ethanol fireplace is an excellent alternative. Ethanol fireplaces work by burning bioethanol from a hidden reservoir, producing a real flame that gives off no ash or toxic fumes, so there’s no need for a chimney or flue. They also don’t require any sort of external electrical power, making them portable, convenient and environmentally friendly.
No matter the style of your home, there’s sure to be a model to fit your décor. The Brian & Dany Ventless Cube XL Tabletop Fireplace is an attractive, portable model that you can use in just about any location.
What to know before you buy an ethanol fireplace
Bioethanol comes from fermenting the sugar/starch components of plant byproducts. This is what makes ethanol fireplaces so friendly to the environment. One of the downsides to an ethanol fireplace is that bioethanol fuel is expensive — you can spend over $100 on 4 gallons. It can also be difficult to find in stores, though it’s widely available online.
Some owners of ethanol fireplaces try to use replacement fuels like denatured alcohol to cut down on costs. This isn’t recommended, as this fuel may cause health concerns and the fumes can be unpleasant.
Most versions of ethanol fireplaces come with attached glass paneling for both safety and protection against wind. Rectangular fireplaces usually have paneling on both long sides, and round ones often have a full circle of glass. Fireplaces recessed in the wall have a standard panel on the front. Make sure the glass on the ethanol fireplace you’re considering is tempered or toughened; this will reduce the chances of your panel shattering.
The hidden tank of fuel on your ethanol fireplace is usually stuffed with ceramic or fiberglass wool, which absorbs the bioethanol fuel and allows for a longer burn time by slowing evaporation. Neither of the wools burn, so you shouldn’t have to replace it. Fiberglass has a longer burn time, but the difference between the two is so small it’s negligible.
What to look for in a quality ethanol fireplace
Ethanol fireplaces come in a variety of sizes. There are small tabletop models that are easy to transport from surface to surface. These are perfect to use on garden tables or as a centerpiece for your next dinner party. Larger sizes can extend over 6 feet in length. Some longer models work on tabletops as well, or you can build them recessed into a wall. There are also medium-size cocoon models. You can choose between a freestanding model or one that you hang from the ceiling.
You can use many ethanol fireplaces both indoors and outdoors, but be sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications. Models often have some features to protect the flame from wind, like glass paneling. Some, like those resembling traditional firepits, have an open flame. Even without the paneling, the flame is surprisingly resistant to wind.
Ethanol fireplaces often have a low-profile, modern look, but they also come in more traditional or rustic varieties. Fireplaces with mostly metal and glass components work well in a modern or mid-century space. If you have a more traditional home, some ethanol fireplaces are built into a traditional fireplace mantel that can be inserted into your wall. For outdoor use, ethanol fireplaces come in everything from shiny, futuristic bowls to a stone or wood container.
How much you can expect to spend on an ethanol fireplace
The cheapest models of ethanol fireplaces cost around $40-$50. These are small tabletop versions that contribute mostly to ambiance rather than provisioning warmth. In the mid-range, you can expect to spend $100-$400 on large tabletop, freestanding and wall-mounted models. If you want an ethanol fireplace that produces real heat, you can expect to pay over $500 and maybe much more.
Ethanol fireplace FAQ
Are ethanol fireplaces safe?
A. As long as you install your fireplace correctly and are careful handling the fuel, your ethanol fireplace is safe. Always be sure to buy your bioethanol from a trusted source and be careful not to spill it. Also, be sure to keep any flammable objects several feet away from the fireplace and use a long-handled lighter to ignite the flame.
How much heat will I get from my ethanol fireplace?
A. This depends on the model of fireplace you get and its location. Most manufacturers specify what square footage they design their model to heat. Ethanol fireplaces don’t burn as hot as wood or propane, but many users report they’re happy with the heat output.
What’s the best ethanol fireplace to buy?
Top ethanol fireplace
What you need to know: This is a good-looking fireplace for someone looking to enhance the appearance of their space.
What you’ll love: Easy to move from surface to surface, this fireplace is portable and ventless. The glass paneling makes the fireplace windproof. It comes with a snuffer and decorative stones and has an 8-inch flame.
What you should consider: Users have found assembling the unit can be a little difficult.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top ethanol fireplace for the money
What you need to know: This is a low-priced model that will add nice ambiance to any room.
What you’ll love: You’ll love this unit’s size — small enough to move around but big enough to make a statement. It has a 360-degree glass panel to protect the flame from wind.
What you should consider: Some users received fewer decorative rocks than pictured.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This contemporary ethanol fireplace is eye-catching and perfect for any location.
What you’ll love: This fireplace has a 90-minute burn time per fill. You’ll love the combination of high-gloss beige paint, glass and stainless steel.
What you should consider: This model is more expensive, and customers have reported having trouble with customer service.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Morgan Freeman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.