What Are Bioethanol Indoor Fires? Benefits and Everything You Need to Know

What are bioethanol fires? Image shows a modern fire suspended from the ceiling by a simple black flue

Looking for an alternative to traditional gas, log and electric fires? A bioethanol fire might just be the very thing you need. If you’ve never heard of a bioethanol fire, or if you’d like to learn more about what they are and the benefits they carry, you’re in the right place. We’ve put together the answers to all the most frequently asked questions about these incredible fires so you can decide if they are the right choice for you.  Let’s start at the very beginning:

What are bioethanol fires and how do they work?

As the name suggests, a bioethanol fire is an alternative source of real-flame heat that runs on bioethanol fuel as opposed to gas or logs. Bioethanol fuel is a natural, ethanol-based fuel produced from plants such as sugar cane or maize and is, therefore, a much more eco-friendly alternative to traditional burning fuels.

Bioethanol fires work by simply pouring bioethanol fuel into the burner and lighting it, so it’s much more straightforward than you may have initially thought. The fuel will then burn for 4-5 hours or until extinguished, which is done by closing the lid and starving the flame of oxygen. The fire can then easily be topped up with more fuel once cooled (which takes 10-15 minutes) if you need the fire to burn for longer. 

The amount of oxygen you give to the fire dictates how long it burns. With the lid completely off, the fire will burn more quickly, whilst feeding the fire minimal oxygen will keep it burning for longer.

What are the benefits of bioethanol fires?

Bioethanol fires carry a great many benefits as an alternative to traditional fire sources, but here are the main advantages:


The main and most obvious benefit of using a bioethanol fire is, of course, the fact that it is much more eco-friendly than a traditional fossil fuel fire. As the fuel is plant-based, the flames burn cleanly without releasing harmful substances into the air. This is one of the main reasons why bioethanol fires are safe indoors. Without the need for a chimney or flue, the residual output is odourless and smokeless, meaning the only thing you’ve got to watch out for is the flames themselves!

No gas or electricity needed

As these fires run purely on bioethanol fuel, there is no need for any further power or fuel sources from gas and electricity, which helps to cut costs and keeps everything refreshingly simple.

Easy to install 

If you’ve looked through our range of bioethanol fires, you may have noticed one key element of a traditional fireplace is missing: the flue. As the fuel burns cleanly and releases no smoke or fumes, there is actually no need for bioethanol fires to have a flue. This, in turn, makes them incredibly easy to install and much more flexible in terms of where they can be placed.

Stylish and Contemporary

Due to the lack of restrictions on placement and design, bioethanol fires come in a huge range of sleek, stylish and contemporary designs. Perfect for anyone looking for something a little different for their home or garden, the contemporary styling of bioethanol fires are a breath of fresh air for modern interior design.

Efficient and Adjustable

Bioethanol fires can heat large rooms efficiently and effectively, and you can adjust the output in most indoor fire designs with the help of a slider on the fuel box (note, not all designs carry this feature). This can be placed fully open, half open, or ¼ open, which will affect how much fuel is burned, how long the fuel lasts, as well as the level of flame output. 

An outdoor bioethanol fire next to a bench seat - are bioethanol fires easy to install?

Are bioethanol fires expensive to run?

The short answer is no; bioethanol fires are not expensive to run compared to the cost of running wood or gas fires. However, the cost of running a bioethanol fire can vary depending on the cost of the fuel you use and how far open the box slider is during use (if applicable). Bioethanol fuel costs, on average, around £2.50 per litre, though prices vary across brands and sources, and a litre lasts an average of 3.5 hours with the box slider fully open, while it can last up to 5 hours or more with the slider only ¼ open.

The quality of the fuel can also affect costs and efficiency. Cheaper fuels reduce running costs in the short term, though these fuels are often more flammable and burn out more quickly, which actually increases running costs over time. A good compromise is to seek out good quality fuel and buy in bulk (if you plan on using your bioethanol fire regularly) as you can often find excellent discounts for bulk fuel purchases. 

Are bioethanol fires safe indoors?

Yes, you can buy specially-designed indoor bioethanol fires that are perfectly safe to use indoors. While bioethanol fires do produce carbon dioxide, this substance is only produced in small amounts and is a natural by-product of any real fire. What’s more, bioethanol fires are far safer to use indoors than traditional fires due to the fact that they don’t produce any smoke, ash or carcinogenic substances, so you’re not breathing in any of these substances in your home.

Of course, like any flammable fuel, care needs to be taken while handling bioethanol fuel and using the burner. All fires are only as safe as the procedures they are used with, so make sure you follow all instructions and guidelines to ensure you are filling and using your bioethanol fire correctly. 

How long does bioethanol fuel last?

The length that bioethanol fuel lasts varies on the settings in which you are burning the fuel. Usually, one litre of bioethanol fuel will last for 4 hours if it is burning on the maximum heat setting. However, if you burn the bioethanol fuel on a minimum setting, then the fuel can burn for up to 8 hours. If you shut off the fire, the fuel will preserve until you wish to light the fire again.

Do bioethanol fires give off heat?

Yes, bioethanol fires produce real-burning flames that give off plenty of heat, making them a fantastic, like-for-like alternative to traditional gas or log-burning fires for heating homes and gardens. No artificial flames or heat-free imitations here! 

Now you have everything you need to know about these amazing fires; you’re ready to choose your brand new bioethanol fire and wave goodbye to the restrictions and nasty emissions of gas and log fireplaces. Explore our range of indoor bioethanol fires and outdoor bioethanol fires here at Moonlight Design and discover showstopping, unique designs for your home or garden.

are bioethanol fires safe indoors? Image shows a large indoor bioethanol fire surrounded by sofas

Can I mount a TV directly above a bioethanol fireplace?

Inspired by many interior design magazines, people often install a TV above an ethanol fireplace. But can the two actually be placed together? Here are a few things to consider when you’re thinking about mounting your TV above a bioethanol fire. 

Bioethanol fireplaces are mainly used as decorative products to add design and style to a room, but they do produce about 3-3.5 kWh of heat. The combination doesn’t go well with traditional gas or real wood fireplaces, but the question is, does it work with a bioethanol fireplace?

Most electric devices operate best and are more reliable at lower temperatures. There is a risk that the television set may overheat when exposed to the heat from the fireplace, and the excessive heat can cause temperature sensitive materials to degrade quickly. 

You need to consider the direction the heat travels in and where it comes from. Making sure your fire has a closed top is a good place to start. If heat escapes from the top, it will not have a good effect on your TV. If it is an option, you could try putting your TV in a slight recess or separating the TV and your bioethanol fire using a non-flammable mantle or floating shelf that is fireproof/ non-combustible such as class 0 A1 rated fireproof board, cement board, marble or stone.

As there is no smoke from our bioethanol fires, you don’t need to worry about any smoke damage to your TV. Nonetheless, we suggest that you only place your TV above a bioethanol fireplace that has a closed top. We also recommend leaving around 250mm minimum between the top of your bio fire and the bottom of your TV set. With no inaccessible moving parts, bioethanol fires require no maintenance; this will significantly increase the lifespan of your TV. Beyond warmth and ambience, Flex Series creates a luxurious focal point, adds character and interest to the room, and helps define layouts and use of space.

Bioethanol Fires FAQs

Is there a difference between gel and bioethanol fuel?

Gel fuel is now mostly outdated since bioethanol fuel has made an introduction. Gel used to be a popular way to run bioethanol fires but, given the amount of residue left by the gel, is deemed inefficient. The bioethanol you will likely find now is more liquid based and has a more efficient burn rate.

How legal are bioethanol fires when it comes to building regulations?

There are very few issues to worry about when it comes to the legality of a bioethanol fire. Firstly there are no major structural changes to be concerned about, so seeking planning permission isn’t an issue. The regulations that manufacturers have to follow are consistent with building regulations in so far as these fires can’t contain combustible material. When it comes to ventilation, there is no legal need for a flue, and a window is the only kind of ventilation required here. 

Is there anything I can use to prolong how long bioethanol fuel burns? 

There have been instances where people have used materials other than bioethanol to fuel their fires. Ceramic wool, burner blocks, and sponge are dangerous to put on bioethanol fires. The residue creates embers that are deceiving and could ignite the fuel. We advise using only bioethanol fuel on the fire.

What do bioethanol fires emit?

The main emissions from a bioethanol fire are water vapour and CO2. Whilst CO2 sounds like it could be dangerous, the level of this output is nowhere near comparable to a fossil fuel-burning fire of a similar size. If you have candles in your house, a bioethanol fire is like burning a few candles. The CO2 level is that low. A bioethanol fire doesn’t burn hot enough to produce more harmful substances like monoxide.

What is bioethanol fuel made of?

Bioethanol fuel is clean and renewable energy made from fermenting the sugars and starches of plant by-products. These can include potatoes, wheat and corn, for example. Because of this, bioethanol is a kinder fuel to burn than many other kinds of fuel, which release harmful gasses into the atmosphere. 

How expensive is a bioethanol fire to run?

The answer to this is, essentially, down to how much you wish to use your bioethanol fire. The first thing that should be noted is that bioethanol fires shouldn’t be used as an always-on heating alternative. A bioethanol fire cannot replace the function of central heating, for example. A regular-sized fire will require about 1 to 1.5 litres of fuel to burn continuously for 3 to 5 hours. It averages out roughly £1.70 to £2 per hour to keep a bioethanol fire running. To reiterate, it would become very costly were you to try and use a bioethanol fire to replace a centralised heating system.

How safe are bioethanol fires?

If you treat the potential hazard of fire with respect and common sense, there should be very few safety concerns. That is to say, a bioethanol fire is no more or less dangerous than any other kind of domestic fire system. Making sure fuel only goes into the fireplace is a main piece of advice. The same should be said about adding fuel whilst the fire is burning or filling up the fireplace when you have only recently extinguished the flame – always make sure there is no more heat emanating from the fire before you refill. Suffice to say; you should also refrain from adding things other than fuel to the fire. This is an easy route to disaster.  

Got more questions about bioethanol fireplaces? Give our team a call on 020 8925 8639 and we’ll help you with any enquiry.

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