Are Ethanol Fireplaces Safe for Small Homes and Compact Apartments?

  • 01 of 04

    Should You Cozy up to a Flueless Hearth?

    A ceiling mounted ethanol fireplace.
    Cocoon Fires

    What could be better than a cozy fireplace during the dark days of winter? How about a contemporary fireplace with plenty of stylish appeal like a flueless ethanol fireplace. We share the pros and cons associated with features like these so you can decide if they're appropriate for your house or apartment.

    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Ethanol Fireplaces: the Upside

    Bioethanol Fireplaces Self Supporting Central Open Hearth
    Vauni

    If you love traditional fireplaces, an ethanol fireplace will give you the real flame ambiance you crave without the smoke, soot or odor associated with wood burning.

    They are also cleaner and much simpler to operate; just fill the burner with liquid fuel than light. Here are more win-wins:​

    • Since they do not require a vent, they do not need to be installed into your home's structure.
    • They are portable so they can be placed anywhere in your home.
    • Don't have a lot of floor space?  A wall mounted, or tabletop ethanol fireplace won't eat up precious square footage.
    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Ethanol Fireplaces: the Downside

    Two wall mounted ethanol fireplaces
    Bio Blaze

    What's the not-so-bad-news? Ethanol fireplaces do not generate a lot of heat so they can't supplement your home's heating system.

    But's here's some terrible news. Companies that make these decorative appliances claim they're eco-friendly and safe to use. However, a recent study revealed that ethanol fireplaces pollute indoor air and are highly combustible. Yikes! Here's more:

    • Since ethanol fireplaces are ventless, so they will use the room they are in as flue.
    • As the fire sucks in oxygen, it emits carbon dioxide and trace amounts of combustible particles. When these pollutants are inhaled, they can penetrate deep into the lungs. 
    • Repeated exposure to these pollutants can cause severe health issues according to a study by Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research.
    • Lastly, fire, in general, is hazardous. A simple accident can burn your home down.
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  • 04 of 04

    How to Safely Use an Ethanol Fireplace

    A wall mounted ethanol fireplace
    Inifinity

    Here is how you can fire up an ethanol fireplace safely:

    • They should never be used in a tightly sealed home or small indoor space.
    • If you must operate in a tightly sealed home or small indoor space, place a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace and keep a few windows open.
    • While there is no standard in the U.S. that ethanol fireplace manufacturers need to comply with, make sure the one you buy is a quality product that's been UL certified.
    • Only use the ethanol fuel that was created for your appliance. Do not use a substitute.
    • Do not touch while the fireplace is operating and wait for it to cool down before moving.
    • Never place near clutter, sofas, curtains, blankets, beds or anything else that may catch on fire.
    • Never leave a fire unattended.