Bioethanol Safety – The Stove House

Bioethanol Safety

At The Stove House, we are keen to ensure our customers are kept safe and informed about the products they buy from us as are our manufacturers.

IMPORTANT: Biofuel fireplaces produce a REAL FLAME, requiring extra care and attention, understanding of the product and strict following of the instructions is essential.

There are currently no safety standards regarding bioethanol fireplaces in the UK but we and the manufacturers of these fires would like to advise any of our clients who intend to purchase one to read and follow these instructions before use.

  • Do not put any flammable items in close proximity to the fireplace.
  • We do not recommend the use of any accessory which goes inside the container such as NOTE ON CERAMIC 'SPONGE', 'WOOL' or MATTING to extend the burning time. Beside the fact that our manufacturers have not found accessory of this sort which actually does work, first and most important risk is the possibility of small cinders still glowing at the base of the fire when the flame has already gone out on the surface. If this happens and you are refilling your fire, it could potentially be very dangerous as the pouring fuel could quickly re-gnite. In any case, ALWAYS check for cinders when refilling your Bio Ethanol Fireplace or burner.

  • When used as a freestanding unit outside a fireplace opening, position the stove with a minimum clearance area of one metre away from highly flammable materials (e.g. curtains, sofas, etc.). The fireplace can only be placed against heat-resistant surfaces and walls; no wallpaper is suitable (if your wall is not heatproof line it with fireproof cement or fireboard and optional fireproof paint).

  • When used inside an opening, ensure the housing is fully fireproof and leave a minimum 10 cm gap above the stove to allow the air flow for the vents on the top.
  • Position only on non-flammable, even and solid surfaces. Do not position the fireplace where any draughts could make the flame behave erratically.
  • When hanging something on the wall above the stove, make sure you leave a minimum 60 cm gap above it as the wall will get hot.
  • As there is no smoke given off by our bioethanol fires, you don't need to worry about smoke
    damage to your TV. Nevertheless, we recommend that you only place a TV above a bio ethanol
    fireplace that has a closed top, such as the MARLOW. We recommend a minimum of 15cm
    between the top of the fireplace and the bottom of the TV.
  • When adding real logs *underneath, make sure you allow for a minimum 3 cm gap between the logs and the burner box. (*Only certain models have room for log storage underneath)
  • Ensure the fireplace is securely installed before proceeding to use the appliance.
  • Ensure that children, other persons & animals are adequately supervised during the use of this
  • Never put petrol inside or near the biofire. This is extremely dangerous.
  • Only use in adequately ventilated rooms with a minimum volume of 40 cubic metres. (Note: for
    the TWIN MARLOW the min volume is 50 cubic metres)
  • Never leave a lit fire unattended.
  • The fireplace is meant for use as a secondary heat source and is not suitable for cooking food or boiling water.
  • Do not use as a multi-burner or open fire.
  • Do not use any other liquid or solid combustible materials other than bioethanol fuel.
  • Always extinguish the fire fully before going to sleep.
  • Before refilling the steel fuel box with the bioethanol fuel, always ensure the fuel box has returned
    to room temperature (this takes approximately 30 minutes from extinguishing the fire).
  • Bioethanol combustion uses oxygen from the air inside the room and releases carbon dioxide
    (non-toxic) and water vapors. The room should be well ventilated with enough oxygen and fresh
    air being supplied (e.g. partly open window/air vents).
  • Do not block any existing air vents in the room.
  • These fireplaces become hot with use, especially external surfaces.
  • Always stay at least 1 metre from the bioethanol fireplace when lit.
  •  Not suitable for continuous operation.
  • Keep children and pets a safe distance from the fireplace. We recommend that you use a “Firescreen” to keep children and pets away from the fireplace.
  • Do not allow your hair or clothes to get near the lit fireplace.
  • Do not blow into or fan the fire.
  • Do not place paper, cardboard, fabric, clothing or any other flammable materials on or around the
  • Do not smoke while lighting or anywhere near the fireplace.
  • Do not operate if under the influence of alcohol, drugs or prescribed medication.
  • The stainless steel fuel box supplied must be replaced if there are any signs of cracks, corrosion or
  • Always observe local legislation.
  • Do not use near flammable gas.
  • Only use parts supplied or approved by the supplier of your bioethanol fireplace.
  • Do not put any ornaments or flammable items on top of the fireplace at any time.
  • Never cover or obstruct any air slots or ventilation slots.
  • If your fireplace includes glass, always have it in place when the fire is lit.
  • If your fireplace has a door, ensure that it remains closed during the operation of the fireplace.
  • Never stand on a chair or stool etc to pour your bioethanol fuel in the fuel box.
  • Never change the construction of the fireplace.
  • When the fuel is about to run out, you may hear a sound similar to a puff. This is the fuel burning
    out at the end of its time and is quite safe.
  • Take care not to damage, knock or scratch the safety glass. Doing so may impair on its
    performance or risk the glass shattering.
  •  If you need to relocate your fireplace, always ensure it is fully cooled before moving.

Here is a detailed segment from one of our suppliers informing you about the safety of bioethanol fires. 

Are There Any Safety Standards on Bio Ethanol Fires?

There are currently no safety standards regarding bioethanol fireplaces in the UK. However, due to the popularity of the fireplaces running on bioethanol fuel, it is only a matter of time before new regulations and legal requirements will be created to govern the safety of the general public and protect consumers from companies exploiting the gap in the legislation and products that may be dangerous. The most important aspect of the safety of a bioethanol fireplace is that the product is clearly labeled, clearly described and tested, so that the end user knows how to handle the device safely.
At present in Europe, there are two standards established for safe use of bioethanol fires: French Norm - AFNOR Ethanol Fireplace Standard NF D35-386 and German Standard DIN 4734-1. In April 2015, a Final Draft of the European Standard for Fireplaces for Liquid Fuels (FprEN 16647:2015 E) was submitted to CEN (European Committee for Standardization) members for a formal vote. This document is not yet a European Standard, it is only distributed for reviews and comments and it may take quite a while before the final version is passed. Once the European Standard gets approved and comes into effect, it will have to be addressed by national legislation of each member country which would apply it as a national standard without any alteration - there are also strict procedures to follow for the national legislative bodies before the standard becomes official in a particular country.

Currently, there is no CE marking available for bioethanol fireplaces. 

[CE marking is a mandatory legal conformity requirement for all products sold within the European Union that fall within the scope of a CE marking directive. By affixing a CE marking to a product and signing the Declaration of Conformity, a product supplier is declaring to the EU authorities that the requirements of all applicable directives have been met. Depending on the directive, involvement of a European Union ‘Notified Body’ may be mandatory for certain types of products.]

At the heart of all standards and norms established for safe production and usage of biofuel fireplaces (whether fully established or in progress) there are several key points which are worth considering when sourcing your Bio Fire from any manufacturer:

  • Safe construction of the actual burner and the whole fireplace (i.e. solid welding of the burner, safety tray for accidental overfilling, the material inside the burner to absorb fuel - if any - should be fixed and specifically suited and tested for thermal strain, firebox - which encases the burner - must be made of non-combustible and thermally protected materials, which are materials classified A2-s1d0 by EN 13501-1, the burner should have a clear indication of maximum fuel level, etc.)
  •  If the unit features any electronic parts, they must conform with separate standards for electronic devices and be equipped with a relevant CE marking
  • The free standing units must be stable (i.e. not wobbly or prone to be knocked off easily).
  • The wall hanging units must be secured to the wall by screws rather than loose brackets to prevent unintentional moving/knocking
  • The fires should be rigid enough to withhold stability, slight tilting, impact and stress tests
  • The fire should be producing no more than 4.5kW of heat and the single burner should not exceed 3L capacity for simple structure tanks
  • *There are strict guidance rules regarding CO2 emissions and minimum room size requirement (even though no extra ventilation is required, the flame still produces some CO2 and takes oxygen from the air, so by placing a large fireplace in a small room you are depriving yourself of the necessary oxygen supply; this could be potentially dangerous) 
  • There should be clear hazard warning signs on the unit
  • The fire must be safe to use in accordance with supplied detailed user instructions
  • User instructions should detail any possible dangerous situation, advise on how to handle them and list all the precautions which the user is obliged to obey when operating the fireplace. In particular, huge importance is put on labeling and warning customers NOT TO REFILL A BURNING OR HOT FIREPLACE.

 *This is for the wider ribbon fireplace. The woodburning style stoves produce less CO2 (about the same as another person in the room) therefore a window may need to be opened if it's in a very small room/space.

safety warning on bio fuel fireplaces

A large part of the norms created for biofuel fires is aimed to stop the dangerous practice of unsupervised engineering of complex electronic devices running on bioethanol fuel. The simplest structure fireplaces, when manufactured in a safe environment and laboratory tested, are often the most reliable when used according to the instructions.

What Will the New EU Regulations Regarding Bio Fires Change?

The manufacturers of bioethanol fireplaces will be expected to take greater care in inspecting their production as well as labelling the products themselves and making sure that the instructions manual provides all the necessary safety precautions. At present, the lack of regulation is leaving a lot of these things completely at the manufacturer's discretion, so you may often find those very cheap and mass-produced products do not call for the much-needed care and attention when using the fireplaces or burners. When buying fires from an unknown source, it is often impossible to get in touch with the sellers in case you have any concerns. Do make sure that you buy your fireplace from a reputable company which provides some aftercare and is easily contactable during working hours.
The costs of testing and certification for bioethanol fireplaces - as for any other products - is very expensive, so as a result of the new EU regulations regarding liquid fuel fireplaces you may observe that the prices of fires will go up quite significantly. Before the EU regulations will become a part of national legislation in the UK, there may be quite a lot of concerns and doubts and confusion regarding biofuel fireplaces. We may also expect some sensational stories about accidents and supposed dangers of using bio fires. We are sure that tabloids and online media will not miss an opportunity to turn any genuine accident into a drama. Watch out for this and do not let the media deprive you of your own common sense and well-informed opinions.
Of course, bio fires are real fires, if you put your hand in the flame - it will burn you, if you place a tabletop burner next to the net curtain on your windowsill - it will cause a fire and this could be very dangerous, similarly to a situation of causing life-threatening danger if you smoke a cigarette while filling your car with petrol.  There are numerous dangerous items in our everyday life and as long as we use them according to the instructions and with common sense - no problems occur. Accidents resulting from the end user's negligence or lack of consideration are bound to happen with nearly all electrical and most mechanical devices which we use in our daily life.
What the EU regulations are aiming to change is to limit the situation where accidents are happening due to lack of customer information and simple precautions - like graphic emblems on the actual fireplace. We are in the business of bringing a cosy flame into our customers' households and, as such, it is in our highest interest to support and work with any official body enhancing the safety of bioethanol fireplaces and - as a result - creating a pleasant, fear-free experience for our buyers.

Manufacturers Spec 1Spec 2