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8 Best Ethanol Fireplaces

Indoor and outdoor ethanol fireplaces are a beautiful and eco-friendly alternative to burning wood.

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Ethanol Fireplace On Patio Gettyimages 1044391690Marina_Skoropadskaya/Getty Images

What Is an Ethanol Fireplace?

Ethanol fireplaces are designed to burn low-cost alcohols like ethanol and 2-propanol as fuel (a.k.a. bio-ethanol). They work by combusting the fuel that’s poured inside a stainless-steel burner, thereby producing real — not fake — flames.

Factors such as the size of a room and a fireplace’s British Thermal Unit (BTU) output (the higher the better) determine how much heat an ethanol fireplace can give off. However, they don’t typically generate as much warmth as their wood-burning counterparts. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ethanol fireplaces “are not generally used for heating and are mainly decorative,” so they’re rarely a home’s primary heating source.

However, given how quickly modern technology changes, we could soon see ethanol playing a bigger part in the home heating game.

Pros of an ethanol fireplace

  • Requires no installation or venting;
  • Turns on and off with a switch;
  • Produces no smoke or rogue embers to scorch floors or carpet;
  • Bio-ethanol fuels are a renewable energy source.

Cons of an ethanol fireplace

  • Bio-ethanol fuel must be stored in closed containers;
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), other gases and particulate matter are released during combustion, so ethanol fireplaces should be placed in well-ventilated spaces;
  • Risk of fire from spilled flammable liquid fuel; the EPA recommends gel fuel to avoid such accidents.

Here are eight top ethanol fireplaces for you to consider:

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Best Recessed Ethanol Fireplace

The Optimum Recessed Ethanol Fireplace with Front Glass ($898) with three open-flame burners and a sleek, flush-mounted stainless-steel frame brings modern pizzazz to any room. Like all recessed fireplaces, the Optimum is inserted into the wall rather than hung on the outside, so it offers a more finished and customized look.

Fairly simple to install, the fireplace comes with mounting brackets as well as step-by-step installation and safety instructions. Install it yourself or hire a professional contractor. Once it’s in, sit back and enjoy up to nine hours of burning time per refill. Optional safety glass is available.

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Best Freestanding Ethanol Fireplace

The right size to make an impact but small and light enough to place on any flat surface, indoors and out, the Anywhere Fireplace Broadway ($390) makes a statement wherever you put it. No hassle. No cleanup. No smoke.

Curl up in a comfy chair or sip a glass of bubbly out on the deck. The Broadway features an ethereal glass frame and a bowed, high-gloss base that provides warmth and ambiance to get you through those gloomy winter months.

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Best Ethanol Fireplace Insert

If you have an existing wood-burning fireplace and want an affordable way to transition to a cleaner-burning system, consider the Regal Flame Ethanol Fireplace Log Set With Burner Insert ($190).

Offering the look of real wood, the 18-inch set consists of a black grate and eight ceramic logs that fit into any hearth opening. It installs in a snap and puts out 4,000 BTU. Flames reach eight to 12 inches high with a burn time of approximately three hours per fill. A damper tool to safely douse flames is included.

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Best Wall-Mounted Ethanol Fireplace

As the name suggests, the gracefully curved Anywhere Fireplace Chelsea Wall Mount Fireplaces ($370) can be hung on just about any flat wall in your home without wallpaper or wood paneling.

Create an instantly soothing and cozy atmosphere with one liter (about 34 fluid ounces) of fuel that generates dancing flames for up to five hours. Take your pick from three contemporary finishes: satin black, stainless steel and high-gloss red.

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Best Tabletop Ethanol Fireplace

Create a romantic table for two with the JHY Design Tabletop Fire Bowl ($23). The black metal base with tempered, windproof glass cylinder is just the right size for a centerpiece while dining alfresco. Place it on an end table while cuddling on the couch on a cold night. One Amazon reviewer wrote, “I’m extremely happy with this!! Looks great and I’m shocked at the amount of heat it puts out.”

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Best Outdoor Ethanol Fireplace

With many of us spending more time entertaining in the open air, adding the EcoSmart Mix 850 Bioethanol Freestanding Fire Bowl ($1,400) to your backyard living space makes a lot of sense, creating an inviting spot for friends and family to gather.

The low-profile fire bowl is made of weather-resistant concrete, filled with black glass “charcoal” encircling a stainless-steel burner. Surprisingly lightweight, the bowl can be moved with little effort. Its powerful 20,433 BTU output will burn long into the night (up to 11 hours) without refueling. Available in natural, bone and graphite.

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Best Splurge Ethanol Fireplace

Barcelona-based Japanese designer Hiroshi Tsunoda created the EcoSmart Fire Stix Fire Pit ($2,200), a signature piece of art the manufacturer calls “a stainless-steel twist on the traditional campfire.”

An impressive addition to indoor and outdoor living environments, this portable luxe fire feature sets up easily. The fluttering flames rising from the geometric pile of “sticks” — actually tubular stainless steel — will keep you captivated for up to eight hours on a single fill of fuel.

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Best Value Ethanol Fireplace

The Gel + Ethanol Fire-Places ($499) is made in Germany and delivered fully assembled, so all you have to do is stand it up against a wall and prepare to be amazed. It looks and feels like the real thing, mantel and all!

Choose from nine colors and wood stains. The fireplace comes with everything you need to stay toasty all winter long, including three pieces of ceramic wool, a metal stand, three liters of high-performance bio-ethanol, a flame killer and 10 white decorative stones. It’s official: You don’t need a huge budget to realize your dream of owning a fireplace.

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All prices and links were current as of publication.

Toni DeBella
Toni DeBella is a culture and lifestyle writer, reviews expert and DIY enthusiast covering everything from pests to painting to pool cabanas. Based in a medieval hill town in central Italy, when Toni isn’t documenting her travels around Europe, she’s tending her garden or honing her clay-court tennis game.