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Ethanol fireplace - cozy or dangerous?
Ethanol fireplace - cozy or dangerous?

Video: Ethanol fireplace - cozy or dangerous?

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Video: Things To Know About the Safety of a Bioethanol Fireplace | Bio Fireplace Group 2023, February
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Ethanol fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular, and the range is becoming more extensive. But what is the point of the arguments against the cozy fireplaces? Are ethanol fireplaces dangerous and harmful to health?

Ethanol fireplace: advantages and disadvantages

The numerous advantages of ethanol fireplaces cannot be denied: everyone can buy them spontaneously at the hardware store or order them online - and at an affordable price.

Since they do not require a chimney or fume cupboard, they can be easily set up and moved to another room or even taken to a new place of residence. The fireplaces are also popular because they are decorative and easy to maintain due to the lack of falling ash. The services of a chimney sweep are not required at all. And of course they immediately conjure up a cozy living atmosphere.

But: As popular as ethanol fireplaces are - there are also negative aspects that should be clarified before buying. Improper use causes injuries and burns due to deflagration until explosion. On the other hand, quite a few ethanol fireplace owners complain about health problems that they attribute to the changed air quality.

Ethanol Fireplace Experts

"Ethanol fires - the underestimated danger": This is the title of a press release from the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI from Braunschweig. For this purpose, ethanol fireplaces were set up and lit in an empty, unfurnished stainless steel room in a study. Then it was ventilated according to the manufacturer. The head of the study, Dr. Wensing, together: “As a rule, the ethanol does not burn completely. In addition to carbon dioxide (CO 2), toxic combustion gases such as the respiratory poison carbon monoxide, organic compounds such as the carcinogenic substance benzene, but also the irritant gases nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde as well as ultrafine combustion particles are created.”These can penetrate into the lungs. So far, however, there are hardly any concrete figures on how these elements affect air quality, says Dr. Wensing.

Marc Großklos, a graduate engineer from the Institute for Housing and the Environment (IWU), examined the effects of ethanol stoves on the air quality in passive houses. The evaluation of the data showed that CO 2 values ​​were achieved in smaller rooms, which are far above the guideline values ​​and can lead to tiredness and discomfort. In larger and ventilated rooms, however, there were acceptable concentrations. Marc Großklos therefore gives the following assessment to haus.de: “Ethanol fireplaces can be used if they are not operated for too long and the rooms in which they are located are well ventilated. However, they are not suitable as a permanent heat source indoors.”

In the study carried out by the IWU, ethanol stoves were also tested in the presence of people. The study thus meets the demands of microbiologist Roland Schmid that real conditions must be taken into account. The presence of several people in the rooms increases the CO 2 concentration. Schmid told haus.de: "The assertion that the oxygen consumption by ethanol fireplaces drops to a level that is of concern to humans is incorrect." The expert attributes the discomfort and physical complaints of some users to the increased CO 2 increase. To counteract this, he recommends push ventilation and opening doors.

Um Unfällen mit Ethanol-Kaminen vorzubeugen, wurden Sichheitsnormen eingeführt
Um Unfällen mit Ethanol-Kaminen vorzubeugen, wurden Sichheitsnormen eingeführt

Safety standards have been introduced to prevent accidents involving ethanol fireplaces.

Photo: iStock / Marina_Skoropadskaya

Stricter safety guidelines for ethanol fireplaces

Safety standards for ethanol fireplaces have been introduced to prevent accidents that have occurred in particular during refilling and poor stability. According to DIN 4734-1, the following applies: ethanol fireplaces must not exceed a maximum combustion quantity of 0.5 liters of fuel per hour and a specified surface temperature. In addition, they must have a firm footing and a device that catches the ethanol if spilled.

The European Commission has also issued rules for ethanol fireplaces, which contain further changes in fuel consumption, throughput and quality compared to the German standard. The graduate engineer Mario Reimbold, who works for TÜV Rheinland, regrets: “Although we have attempted to harmonize DIN EN 16647, this has unfortunately not happened. This is not foreseeable in the near future either.”Harmonization would have made the standard mandatory for all manufacturers who sell their products on the EU market. Now the application of the standard for manufacturers remains voluntary.

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Bio ethanol as an alternative?

Not necessarily: Although bio-ethanol consists of approximately 95 percent vegetable alcohol, it is still mixed with a so-called denaturant, which is supposed to reduce or change the smell. So bio-ethanol is no less dangerous.

Instructions for using ethanol fireplaces:

  • Do you have small children or do you keep pets? Then an ethanol fireplace is discouraged.
  • The fireplace should not be used in bedrooms, but only in living rooms.
  • Pay attention to the labeling: You should only buy a product that complies with the DIN EN 16647 standard. Ask the manufacturer for a certificate from an independent institute. A label that the manufacturer has made himself is not completely trustworthy.
  • Let yourself be introduced to the use of the fireplace when buying it and be made aware of possible risks. Read the instructions and safety instructions carefully before use.
  • Never leave the fireplace unattended.
  • Refill carefully: if the chimney is still hot or is still burning, do not refill with fuel! The fireplace must have cooled down so that there is no spontaneous ignition or worse, explosions. The filling quantity specified by the manufacturer in the instructions should never be exceeded. You should then close the refill container sufficiently and store it away from the fireplace.
  • As a precaution, get a fire extinguisher that is suitable for burning alcohols.
  • Ethanol fireplaces are not heaters and should only be used for a short time. Understand the fireplaces as a decorative eye-catcher. To avoid an excessively high carbon dioxide concentration, you should ventilate sufficiently.

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