Do Gel Fuel Fireplaces Produce Heat?

Wondering if gel fuel fireplaces produce heat? Gel Fuel Fireplaces do produce heat and can provide warmth for both your indoor and outdoor spaces. Gel Fuel fireplaces can hold between one to three canisters of fuel and therefore can produce heat that you can customize. Since they are portable, they can be placed in your living room, bedroom, workspace, and well as on your patio, and in your yard.

As an alternative to wood-burning fireplaces, gel fuel fireplaces offer flexibility and portable heat indoors and outdoors. Gel-fuel fireplaces are ventless, chimney-free, and don’t require electricity. Instead of using gas or logs, these ventless fireplaces get their fuel from canisters of alcohol-based gels. But are they worth the initial cost and investment of gel canisters, or are they larger versions of candles that produce light but not much heat?

Read on to learn how much heat these fireplaces emit, how to increase the heat output, where best to use them, and safety measures to keep in mind. After this article, you will be able to decide the best spot to place your gel fuel fireplace as a new source of heat.

gel fuel fireplace

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How Much Heat Do Gel Fireplaces Emit

Each can of gel fuel will emit heat measuring around 3,000 Btus (British thermal units). To compare, a traditional log fireplace will emit 20,000 to 40,000 Btus of heat. When using a gas fireplace, you can expect to have about 8,500 to 60,000 Btus of heat.

So, when using up to 3 canisters in your gel fireplace, you can expect heat up to 9,000 Btus. While this is less than that of the other two types of fireplaces, it will keep those sitting close to the fireplace warm. And the smaller the space, the less amount of heat you will need. Outdoors, this heat will vary depending on other factors such as wind.

Indoor vs Outdoor Gel Fuel Fireplaces

Gel fuel fireplaces are free-standing and can be used either indoors or outdoors. They are ideal if you are not interested, or able, to make structural changes to your living space. They can be placed away from a wall, closer to sitting areas, and some models can even be placed tabletop.

Indoor models can look like traditional fireplaces, with a variety of options on doors, frames, and mantels. There are even wall-mounted models, which give even more the look of a traditional fireplace without the draft. Small rooms may find the temperature increased by about 10°F when using a gel fuel fireplace.

When entertaining indoors, a few can be placed around the room for looks as well as for warmth. If you like additional warmth when relaxing at home, gel fuel fireplaces offer a different option than space heaters, with a more pleasant sound. Also, no cords to trip over.

Outdoor versions are available in the range of fire pits, fire tables, and bowls for tabletop settings. These models are typically portable as well, so they can be moved around the yard or even indoors. Like a campfire, it’s best to sit closer to the flame to receive the most heat. And depending on the wind, the amount of heat won’t be so much as to be uncomfortable.

Unlike a campfire, there is reduced wait time once you are finished with the heat and flame. You will need to just replace the lid on the canister to extinguish the flame, and the fireplace can be left unattended.

Are Gel Fuel Fireplaces Safe?

When used correctly, and with proper care, gel fuel fireplaces are safe to use within your home.

In addition to an updated look, gel fuel fireplaces do offer some advantages over traditional fireplaces.

  • Gel fuel burns chemical-free, with no soot or carbon monoxide. No fear of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Provides warmth with a real flame. The level of flame and warmth can be increased.
  • The flame is slow-burning and condensed. Options exist to mimic the sound of a wood-burning crackle.
  • Options are available for indoor and outdoor use. Both options are portable, so you can change where it is positioned in your space.
  • Renters can use these fireplaces as they make no structural changes to your home.
  • Require no electricity. Can be utilized if the power is out.

There are some safety points to keep in mind, namely:

  • Like all fire and flames, do not burn gel fuel unattended.
  • Ensure the fireplace is placed on a level surface to avoid tipping.
  • When used outside, take attention to high winds and adverse weather such as rain or snow.
  • Always use the original gel fuel container. Do not transfer or refill the gel fuel from or to another source.
  • When placing the containers within the unit, ensure you are placing them in correct positions inside the unit.
  • When extinguishing the flame, lower the lid with care over the flame.
  • Make sure you the unit in a well-ventilated area. While it does not emit smoke, or chemicals, the flame is not odor free.
  • Take care not to place items too close to the flame. Though a smaller flame is emitted from the unit, there is still a risk items that aren’t flame-retarded could catch fire or become melted.

Related Reading: What Are Electric Fireplaces Used For? [A Brief History]

What are the Costs of a Gel Fuel Fireplace

Some models start off around $399. This is the basic model, called an insert, with just a few faux logs over a grate and places to hold the canisters. More upgraded models can cost around $2,000. An array of shapes, sizes, heights, and colors are available. So you are able to select a model within a range of looks and prices.

The canister themselves cost about $3 individual, yet most are sold in bulk. Larger stores, or online retailers, may offer discounted prices for the more you buy.

The initial upfront cost will be much cheaper than installing a fireplace in your home. And easier than looking for a home with a fireplace. Depending on how often you use the fireplace, the cost can add up with the purchases of canisters. Yet, you won’t have to rely on finding or chopping firewood, or getting gas canisters for the gas fireplace options. 

All these points should be considered when deciding to utilize a gel fuel fireplace. Each gel fuel fireplace will emit heat and offer warmth to the area you select it for. Whether inside or outside, it provides a pleasing look and sound. With the added benefit of portability, it has advantages over its wood and gas fireplaces.

And without the need for electricity, gel fuel fireplaces can be used at any time. The amount of heat they produce can be increased, to a point, and will give benefits over a traditional wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace.

Related Reading: How Long Does Gel Fuel Last? [ANSWERED]

How to Start a Fire in a Gel Fireplace

Once you have the gel fireplace unit, a fire can be started in just a few steps. The gel fuel is sold in 13-ounce cans, and in most stores, cost about $3 each. They can be purchased in hardware stores and in bulk from many online retailers. The gel is made from isopropyl alcohol, and each canister will burn between two and a half to three hours.

To start, remove the paper lining from the can. And much like you do with paint can remove the lid from the canister. Don’t discard the lid, however, as if you want to put out the fire before all the gel has burned, you will need the lid to place back over the flame. Once the paper and lid have been removed, place the canister inside the gel fireplace unit. Depending on the size, one to three canisters can be used at once. Light the gel with a flame, and that’s it.

Depending on your preference, the gel used can include organic material that will crackle and pop, giving the sounds of a wood-burning fireplace. However, there will be no smoke or soot. If you desire to put out the flame before all the gel has burned, carefully replace the original lid.