Do you fancy the idea of a log burner, but not the hassle of having it installed? Or perhaps you love the look of an open fire, but can’t have one as you haven’t got a chimney? If you need a new fireplace solution and you’re keen on heating your home and taking care of the environment too, then the answer could lie in a bioethanol fireplace.
When we moved house, one of the items on our long list of home improvements was the existing fireplace. We’re not massively keen on the tile surround and wanted to replace the electric fire that was currently there – especially as we later discovered it didn’t even work! However, needless to say, other work has taken priority and funds, and the fireplace plans have been put on the back burner.
Our boiler recently broke down on one of the coldest weeks in January and we really noticed the disadvantage of not having the back-up of a functioning fire in the living room. So when Imaginfires got in touch to see if we’d like to test one of their bio ethanol fires, it seemed like perfect timing!
What is bioethanol?
Bioethanol is a form of renewable energy source. It’s regarded as being a more environmentally friendly option than other fuels, such as fossil fuels, so is good choice if you’re eco aware. Bio fuel is made from fermenting the sugar cane and starch from the by-products of plant crops, such as sugarcane and grains. Clever, huh?
The fuel for use in fires is supplied in liquid form in bottles. The fuel burns cleanly – there’s no unpleasant smell – and it’s 98% efficient. One litre of bioethanol lasts for about three and a half hours.
Why choose a bio-ethanol fireplace?
The option of a bio ethanol fireplace hadn’t really been on our radar before, but now we’ve been introduced to a free standing ethanol fireplace, we’re converted.
Unlike having a gas fire or wood burner, there’s no specialist installation involved. You just order the fire or bio ethanol stove you’d like and when it arrives you can set it up yourself. This helps cut down the hassle and cost of having to pay to have it fitted.
Likewise, you don’t need to have a fully functioning chimney to have a bio-ethanol fire as, unlike a wood-burning fireplace, it doesn’t produce any smoke. Neither do you have to clean out the grate, as you would after having a real log fire burning or if you use a wood burner.
If you currently have an electric or gas fire and experience a problem with the supply of electric or gas, you’d be unable to use the fire and have to rely on someone else to come and fix the problem. But with the bio-ethanol, you buy the fuel when you need it and gain more control over providing your own heating supply.
What’s special about Imaginfires?
Imaginfires specialize in bio-ethanol fireplaces and ethanol burners and have a great range of options available. If you live in a modern home and don’t have a dedicated fireplace built in, then there bio ethanol stoves that can be wall-mounted or stand freely in a room to provide a warming focal point. There are designs to suit all tastes and a range of sizes to suit different sized rooms.
As we’ve always liked the idea of having a log burner, it made sense to opt for a stove style bio-ethanol fire. We also like the fact that it’s fully enclosed, with a door, so is safer than some of the more open options if you have children or pets.
What we hadn’t realized prior to taking delivery of it is that our fireplace opening didn’t actually go back as far as we thought. When we finally got around to moving the non-functioning electric fire and cleaning out the space behind it, it turned out to be limited in depth. So although the stove fits perfectly in terms of height, it does stick out slightly and doesn’t fit flush to the tiles. It’s not a bad look though and is kind of growing on us!
The Malvern stove ethanol burner looks exactly like an authentic wood burner would and, because it’s freestanding, it could easily be moved and re-positioned in the future if we do undertake any work on the fireplace.
How easy is it to use a bioethanol fire?
When it comes to setting up the fire and lighting it, it couldn’t be easier. There’s a fuel box inside the stove which you fill with the bioethanol fuel. Once the fuel is in, all you need to do is light it with a long taper. We’ve used ours several times and it’s always lit quickly and efficiently.
When it’s first lit, there’s a slight aroma of fuel, but this quickly disappears. On the Malvern stove, there’s a knob on the front that allows you to control how large the flames are, or how quick it burns. In terms of heat output, the bio stove is the perfect alternative to a wood fireplace and provides a good amount of heat.
If you love the look of a real fire with real flames, you can get that effect with large flickering flames. Or if you simply want to have a steady glow and a gentle supply of warmth in the room, that’s equally achievable. You can even buy specially designed ‘pretend’ logs that look like real logs or pebbles to use in your fire for a super realistic look.
In terms of turning it off again, a special tool is supplied that makes it incredibly easy to stop the fire. Just open up the door and use the tool to shut the fuel box – as the oxygen supply is cut off, the flames will cease.
The Fresh Design verdict on bioethanol fires
Discovering the benefits of a bioethanol fire has been a real eye-opener. Not having to worry about having a gas fire fitted and serviced, or a log burner installed, is a huge bonus and we love the fact that this is a much more environmentally friendly renewable fuel.
With a freestanding fire you’re not constrained with always having to have the fire in one set place – if you move house, re-decorate or re-arrange the room, you can easily move the fire too, which is a huge bonus. The stove provides a good level of heat and could be used as an alternative to central heating to effectively warm up a room. It’s good that you can adjust the size of the flame and the amount of heat output that you’d like, which can help economize on the burning time and it’s nice to be able to accessorize the fire with ceramic logs or pebbles.
The fact that no chimney is required is great if you don’t have one (many modern homes don’t) and there’s no worries about creating unwanted smoke or odours in the room. Plus, not having to clean up all the ashes at the end is great!
The Malvern stove did require a small amount of self-assembly, namely with the glass door, handle and knobs, and the instructions could perhaps have been better (they were generic and covered other styles of fires too), but on the whole our experience of setting it up and using it has been fantastic.
If you’re interested in finding out more about bioethanol fires and seeing the range of options available, visit www.imaginfires.co.uk for more information.
(Disclosure: We were sent the fire to review, but all views and opinions are our own)22