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Ethanol Fireplace Cost

Ethanol Fireplace Cost

National average
$900
(wall unit with a realistic flame and molding around it)
Low: $600

(standard wall unit with no finishes, installation via wall brackets)

High: $2,000

(recessed fireplace unit installed in a wall cutout with a mantel or fireplace surround)

Cost to install an ethanol fireplace varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from fireplace contractors in your city.

The average cost of installing an ethanol fireplace is about $900.

In this guide

Pros and cons
Lighting and extinguishing
Types of ethanol fireplaces
Brands
Sustainability and environment
Labor
Maintenance
Ethanol vs gas vs electric fireplaces
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install an ethanol fireplace?

If you are looking to add a fireplace to your home, there are plenty of options to choose from. Ethanol, also known as bioethanol, offers a clean option that is safe, simple to use, and easy to maintain. Offering a clean way to enjoy the ambiance of a real fire, ethanol fireplaces are a great option for those with limited space, respiratory issues, allergies, or who simply do not like the mess that a wood fireplace can create.

The cost of an ethanol fireplace is a big draw for many homeowners. Since they do not require a chimney or a flue 1, the cost is much more reasonable than other traditional fireplace options, averaging about $900 for a standard wall unit with installation.

Pros and cons

Ethanol fireplaces use an alcohol-based fuel and do not need a vent, and while they create a real flame, they do not emit any odor, smoke, or chemicals into the surrounding air. All these features make them a great option. However, the fuel is not cheap and could be dangerous. Here’s some more information about the main advantages and disadvantages of these fireplaces:

ProsCons

No chimney needed

No ashes or soot

No smokey smell

Fits in any sized space and it’s portable

Easy to clean and nearly maintenance free

Features a real flame

Easy to install

Eco-friendly

Affordable

Safe and easy to use

No dangerous fumes

Needs to be in a ventilated room

Specialty fuel needed

Features no glowing embers

Fuel is expensive, poisonous, and flammable

Needs to warm up for about 15 minutes before use

Fuel spills are possible

Does not offer the sound or smell of a traditional wood-burning fireplace

Generates low heat

Limited usage time (about 4 hours)

Unit must cool down before refueling

Cheaper models may not be safe

Can burn skin when touched


Lighting and extinguishing

One of the major draws of ethanol fireplaces is how easy they are to use. Still, there is more to lighting these fireplaces than simply flipping a switch. Before you can get the fire roaring, you will need to fill the unit with fuel. Be sure to use ethanol meant for indoor use only and avoid gel fuels. Always read your user’s manual for the correct instructions for putting fuel into your fireplace and then begin by removing the snuffer tool from the burner. Of course make sure that the burner is clean and free of dust and debris. Then fill the burner about ⅔ of the way full (use a funnel to avoid spills), with a bioethanol fuel only. Once filled, hold a long lighter about an arm’s length from the burner (about 40 inches) and light. Remember, the fuel will burn low at first, but the flame will increase in height, reaching its peak capacity in about 15 minutes. You can expect a typical 1-liter cylinder of fuel to last about 4 hours, but stopping drafts in the room can increase your burn time.

When you are done enjoying your fire, you will need to safely extinguish the flame. It is always best to burn off all of the fuel in the burner before extinguishing the flame. Once the fuel is spent, cover the entire burner with a suitable snuffer tool. This will snuff out the flame. Remember, do not touch the fireplace for at least 15 minutes to give it sufficient time to cool down. If you plan to relight the fire, be sure that the unit is completely cooled before refueling. Never pour fuel into a warm (or hot) burner, it can be extremely dangerous!

Types of ethanol fireplaces

With no chimneys or vents to contend with, ethanol fireplaces offer a myriad of opportunities when it comes to style and installation variations. With so many different types of these fireplaces to choose from, you may be wondering exactly what is available. Here is a quick rundown of the different kinds of ethanol fireplaces now on the market for you to choose from:

  • Burners. The no-frills option for ethanol fireplaces, burners are most commonly used as inserts in otherwise unusable fireplaces. The cost for this simple design is around $100.
  • Tabletop models. Offering the most flexibility, these dainty units can be placed virtually anywhere (tables, counters, bureaus, shelves, etc). Ranging in size, style, and price, the average cost for one of these smaller ventless fireplaces is around $150.
  • Wall units. An excellent choice for smaller spaces like apartments and condos, wall units, which hang on the wall with brackets 2, offer a sleek and modern look for an average price of $700 for the unit and installation.
  • Freestanding units. Offering a sleek and sophisticated design, freestanding ethanol fireplaces can be placed anywhere in the room, adding the kind of warmth to a room that grabs attention. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, these modern units cost about $1,000.
  • Recessed fireplace units. Installed into the wall, much like a traditional fireplace, recessed ethanol units can give a room either a modern or a traditional feel, depending on the way it is installed. Adding a fireplace surround and mantle gives the unit a more traditional fireplace aura, while recessing it into the wall offers a sleeker, more sophisticated look. Depending on the accessories (like tile) that may be used to complement the fireplace, installation costs can run a bit higher, bringing the average price for a recessed unit to about $1,500.

Brands

Style is not the only thing to consider when purchasing an ethanol fireplace. The brand you choose can also have an impact on your buying decision. For more information, check out this comparison chart:

BrandProsCons

Nu-Flame

($100-$500)

Decorative designs

Real flame

High-end look and feel

Uses renewable energy

Safety concerns reported

Fuel sometimes spills over

Low heat emitted

Ignus

($100 - $1,500)

Variety of styles

Multiple sizes

Modern design

New smart fireboxes 3

Zero clearance inserts available

3 levels of flame height offered

3-5 year warranty

Free shipping

Doors discolor from heat

Flame not too prominent

Ethanol sucks oxygen from the room

Anywhere Fireplaces

($150-$500)

High style

Sophisticated design

Produces 4500 to 8500 BTU per hour

Heats a room up to 375 square feet

Non polluting

Economical

Gives off water vapor and makes room feel humid

Poor installation instructions

Bio Blaze USA

($500-$2,500)

European design

Indoor and outdoor multiple designs

Natural flames

High cost

Eco-Feu

($800-$2,500)

Modern design

Superior quality

High safety standards

Variety of styles

Pricey

Modern design does not fit well in more traditional homes

Planika

($2,000 and up)

Custom fireplaces available

Non standard lengths available

Patented BEV technology

Safest fire in the industry

Bigger external fuel tank

Up to 25 hours of burning time

200 finishes/colors offered

Pricey

Poor customer service


* We selected different brands to improve and clarify the information contained in this cost guide. We do not receive any monetary compensation from these companies.

Sustainability and environment

Being touted as a completely “clean fuel”, ethanol is a plant-derived fuel that is made by fermentation of saccharine from corn, potato, and cellulose, leaving behind no dangerous chemicals. Ethanol burns without leaving behind any residue like soot, ash, or even smoke. It does, however, emit some level of water vapor and CO, making it very environmentally friendly. Since there is no residue or smell, those with respiratory issues and allergies tend to handle ethanol fireplaces better than traditional ones using wood or gas.

Since it derived from plants, ethanol tends to be a bit more sustainable than other fuel sources (i.e., gas or oil). While little is known about the final footprint of ethanol, we know that it is more eco-friendly than wood or gas.

Labor

As is the case with any installation project, it is always advisable to hire a professional who is trained in handling the project. Most ethanol fireplaces will take from 1-2 hours to install, costing around $100-$150. While the fireplace itself does not require electrical outlets, gas lines, or plumbing to be installed, a carpenter may be needed to create an inlay crevice for the unit to sit inside of. This usually costs about $250. Adding a surround and mantle to the fireplace unit generally takes about two hours and costs $70 per hour in labor fees.

Maintenance

Traditional fireplaces take a lot of time and energy to clean and maintain. Not so with new, more modern ethanol varieties. These fireplaces are super easy to care for, requiring very little effort. In addition to keeping the outside of the unit free of dust and dirt (and those occasional finger smears) using a soft lint rag and some glass cleaner, the most important thing to remember when it comes to maintaining your ethanol fireplace is to keep the burner free of spilled fuel. This is easy enough, though–simply use a damp, lint-free cloth to wipe away any dirt and grime from the back of the fireplace and burner every few weeks. Of course, just be sure the unit is cool first.

Tempered glass tabletop models may require you to use a bit of glass cleaner to keep them looking good, but do not light the burner until the glass is completely dry! And if you notice any spots on the glass due to hard water 4, use distilled 5 water instead.

To keep the stainless steel part of the burner looking bright and shiny, simply wipe with a damp sponge and some dish soap. The rough side of a scrubbing sponge can take care of those tougher stains. If you notice the steel discoloration due to use, a bit of steel polish can be used, but harsh chemical cleaners really are not necessary.

Ethanol vs gas vs electric fireplaces

Ethanol may be the newest fireplace option available, but that does not mean it is the only one. But, how do you know which type is the best option for your home? Check out these comparisons below:

TypeProsCons

Ethanol

($500-$2,000)

Ethanol fireplace vs other types

No vents/chimneys needed

Easy to Install

Low Maintenance

Variety of sizes, styles

Inexpensive

No fumes, smells, smoke, soot

Eco-friendly

Real flame

Fuel is a bit pricey

Fuel is flammable and poisonous

Unit must cool down before refueling

Electric

($300-$1,000)

Electric fireplace in living room

Inexpensive

Safe

Easy to install

Easy to use

Low Maintenance

Low running cost

Variety of style options

Heat control thanks to thermostat 6

The flame looks fake

You don’t get the smell and sound of wood cracking

Not a good primary heat source

Needs access to an electrical outlet

Lacks energy efficiency

Special wiring may be needed for larger units

Gas

($6,500-$7,800)

Gas fireplace in a living room with dark furniture

Ventless options available

Low Maintenance

Easy to Use

Safe

High efficiency rating

No by-products

Flame may look fake

Must install gas line

Installation costs more

May deplete oxygen in the room


Additional considerations and costs

Ethanol fireplaces are a wonderful addition to a home. Here are some additional considerations and costs to think about before digging into this project:

  • Safety. One of the biggest benefits of ethanol fireplaces is the fact that they are very safe and can be placed almost anywhere within the home. Setting them on carpeting is fine, and as long as they are at least three feet from any flammable materials (like curtains), they pose no safety hazards. In addition, ethanol fireplaces can be placed below flat screen TVs hung on the wall.
  • Fireplace placement. One of the benefits of installing an ethanol fireplace is the ability to put it both inside and outside of your home. Outdoor fire pits and fireplaces offer the added benefit of increasing your living space, while indoor units can add a sense of ambiance to any room of your house.
  • Permits and Licenses. Since ethanol fireplaces do not need and special electrical outlets installed, gas lines added, chimneys, or special vents, there is typically no need to obtain any special licenses or permits to install.
  • DIY. Many homeowners today like to tackle projects themselves and while, yes, those who are comfortable handling small renovation projects on their own can usually follow the installation instructions, it is usually advisable to let a professional handle the job for the easiest and most stress-free installation.
  • Alternatives. For those looking for a real fire flame without the hassle and expensive of burning wood, ethanol is a good choice. But what other options are available? Gel fuel is also popular these days and does offer a slight crackling sound for those who want a more realistic fire experience. Plus, gel is a bit easier to use since there is no need to pour liquid fuel into the burner tank. Gel, however, does not offer the same amount of heat as ethanol and usually does not last as long.

FAQ

  • Are ethanol fireplaces warm?

While an ethanol fireplace is not meant to provide the primary heat for your home, it does emit a certain amount of warmth. In most cases, you can expect an ethanol fireplace to give off 6-9 KW of heat.

  • How long do ethanol fireplaces burn?

The average 1 liter cylinder of bioethanol fuel will burn about 4 hours.

  • Are ethanol fireplaces safe?

Offering no chemical output, carbon monoxide, or other off gasses, coupled with the fact that they do not require a gas line or electrical connection, ethanol fireplaces are considered one of the safest fireplace alternatives on the market.

  • Do ethanol fireplaces smell?

No, there is no odor associated with burning ethanol.

  • How much does it cost to run an ethanol fireplace?

In most cases, you can expect to spend about $2.50 per hour for the fuel necessary to run an ethanol based fireplace. There are really no additional maintenance costs associated with these fireplaces.

  • Do ethanol fireplaces need to be vented?

There are no venting requirements needed for an ethanol fireplace. They do tend to suck the oxygen form a room, however, so it is advisable to leave a door or window slightly ajar to replenish the oxygen in the room for greater comfort.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Flue 1 Flue: A duct or pipe through which exhaust gases from a fireplace, stove or boiler are released to the outdoors
glossary term picture Bracket 2 Brackets: A support that projects outward from one surface to hold another surface to it, such as attaching a shelf to a wall or piece of furniture. Brackets can also be used to strengthen joins between two materials
3 Fireboxes: The chamber in a fireplace that contains the fire. It is usually lined with firebrick so it can withstand the extreme heat that it is exposed to. Manufactured fireplaces have fireboxes made of sheet metal
4 Hard water: Water that is high in mineral content. It often leads to a buildup of scale
5 Distilled: A method to remove the impurities in water by boiling the water and then recondensing the steam
glossary term picture Thermostat 6 Thermostat: A device that senses and regulates temperature by turning heating and cooling devices on and off

Cost to install an ethanol fireplace varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Modern fireplace burning on ethanol gas

credits

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Akron, OH
-6%
Arlington, VA
+38%
Asheville, NC
-18%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Austin, TX
+13%
Bakersfield, CA
-6%
Billings, MT
-12%
Brighton, TN
-23%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chesapeake, VA
-6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Clifton, NJ
+27%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Columbia, MO
-19%
Columbia, SC
-10%
Columbus, GA
-20%
Conroe, TX
+21%
Danbury, CT
+43%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Denver, CO
+1%
Durham, NC
-1%
Erie, PA
-17%
Farmington, NM
-19%
Fayetteville, NC
-20%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Gary, IN
+11%
Grand Rapids, MI
+7%
Henderson, NC
-41%
Houston, TX
+24%
Huntsville, AL
-17%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Joplin, MO
-26%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Lakeland, FL
-13%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Lexington, KY
+1%
Littleton, CO
+2%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Modesto, CA
-12%
Muncie, IN
-16%
New York, NY
+77%
Oak Lawn, IL
+40%
Oklahoma City, OK
-12%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources