Wood Burners vs Bioethanol Fireplaces: The Advantages & Disadvantages
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Do you love the cosiness of a real flame flickering and crackling during cold winter evenings?
Maybe you're considering having a fireplace installed but are concerned about the environmental impact?
Perhaps it's time to consider the pros and cons of a bioethanol fireplace?
For many of us, fire holds an eternal fascination. But - let’s face it - regardless of the instant "hygge" of a real flame, there are downsides: the installation, the cleaning, regulating the temperature, and the constant maintenance.
If you want the beauty of a wood fire without all the mess or the existential guilt of burning fossil fuels, perhaps consider a bioethanol fireplace.
This article is all about the advantages and disadvantages of natural fires in the home. And we'll explore how bioethanol fireplaces offer flexible, eco-friendly options that you probably didn't realise were available.
Wood Fires - advantages & disadvantages
Wood fires - the advantages
Most people instantly opt for a wood-burning fire, either as an open fireplace or a wood-burning stove.
Wood-burners are a fabulous centrepiece of any room, offering a tremendous amount of heat and that inimitable crackle and pop of combusting fuel.
And while most of the smell of the fire goes up the chimney, there’s nothing like that slightly smokey aroma drifting through the living room, bringing a genuine sense of cosiness when it’s dark and cold outside.
Wood fires come in a wide range of styles, from grand mediaeval inglenooks and Georgian grandeur to sleek and modern wood burners in a range of funky colours to match the room's aesthetic.
And now that fuel prices are sky-rocketing, wood offers a slightly more affordable way to heat your home.
Wood burners - the disadvantages
Burning wood is not 100% efficient because a lot of the heat goes straight up the chimney.
And while wood is theoretically a sustainable energy source, Ecodesign 2022 (the new regulations limiting log-burner emissions) dictates that you can only use Ready to Burn fuels. These are fuels with less than 20% moisture, which give off fewer emissions.
So you can't just chop a tree down and burn it anymore.
You need a chimney or flue!
The need for a chimney restricts WHERE you can situate your fireplace. Many fireplaces take up a lot of floor space, so - for small rooms - they limit the possibilities of your room layout.
One of the significant drawbacks of real fireplaces is the inability to accurately regulate the heat.
Natural fires are generally On or Off. Of course, you can minimise the amount of fuel you use to reduce the heat output, but that means you're often refuelling.
A real fire can be too hot, especially for smaller rooms. To compensate, many people open the windows to let in some cool, fresh air - but that kind of defeats the object, somewhat.
Bioethanol fires: advantages and disadvantages
Bioethanol - the advantages
People tend to choose bioethanol over wood or coal because of the eco-friendly credentials: bioethanol produces none of the toxic fumes associated with fossil fuels.
Bioethanol is a plant-based fuel produced from the by-products of sugar cane, corn, and maise. In theory, bioethanol is carbon-neutral because the crops absorb carbon dioxide from the air as they grow.
So, if you’re concerned about environmental impact, bioethanol is one of the most eco-friendly fuels out there - more than gas, electricity, wood, and coal.
No need for a chimney
You need neither a chimney nor a flue to burn bioethanol - it doesn't produce toxic fumes like a traditional fireplace.
For this reason, bioethanol fireplaces offer ultimate flexibility: you can install your bioethanol fireplace anywhere you like because it doesn’t require a flue.
You can even choose to leave your bioethanol fireplace freestanding and move it around the house whenever you need to.
Bioethanol produces a real flame
Burning bioethanol fuel produces a real flame, so you get that cosy real fire effect without the environmental impact.
However, a flame without the woodpile looks a little bare for some people. This isn't a problem because you can fill your bioethanol fireplace with fireproof pebbles or logs that provide that traditional fireplace look.
Or go for the uber-modern look with a fabulous firebox.
A range of styles
Bioethanol fireplaces come in a wide variety of traditional and modern styles.
Bioethanol fireplaces are safe
You might wonder how safe a fireplace without a flue could be. As long as you choose a model designed for indoor use and that complies with the latest British/European safety standards and is used according to the safety instructions supplied, then, a biofire is perfectly safe to use inside the home.
Bioethanol fireplace disadvantages
Probably the main disadvantage of bioethanol fireplaces is that they don’t produce as much heat as a wood- or coal burner.
Bioethanol fireplaces produce roughly 3kWh of heat when the fuel slider is fully open. As a rough comparison, a standard electric fire generates around 2kWh of heat (and just watch your electric meter whizz when it runs at full power!). This is a level of heat that gives a pleasant surprise to our customers, and is sufficient for any secondary heat source.
One litre of bioethanol fuel should burn for 3-5 hours with the box slider completely open and costs around £3 a litre. If the slider is ¼ open, a litre of bioethanol fuel will last longer.
For example, ImaginFires’ 12-pack deal currently costs £44.99, providing 50 hours of heat. That’s under 90p an hour at full burn.
Don’t fireplaces look a bit odd without a flue?
Fireplaces without a flue can look super sleek and stylish. But if you’re looking for something a little more traditional, you can simply add a false flue, which snaps onto the top of your bioethanol fireplace with magnets.
Need more information?
If you’re interested in a bioethanol fireplace but not quite ready to take the plunge, get in touch.
We'll happily go through the benefits with you.