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Tabletop fires are becoming the new must-have in the home and garden. The real flames and additional heat given out by the fires that can sit almost anywhere are attracting buyers all over the UK. In this article, we look at The Best Tabletop Fires, how much they cost to run and most importantly how to use them.

What are Tabletop Fires?

Tabletop fires are freestanding units that produce heat from real flames. They can be used in ANY room, on any stable surface, including kitchen countertops, coffee tables or outside on garden patio tables.

Here on The Heat Chief website, we like to think there is a big difference between heaters and fires. Fires have flames… real cosy, heat-producing flames! Although “Electric Fires” produce impressive heat, they don’t have real flames. so, we haven’t included them in this article.

There are only a few, real-life, flame producing fires than can safely sit on a tabletop.  Bioethanol tabletop fires and gas-powered tabletop fires. Both of which vary greatly in design and most importantly, the purchase costs and running costs. 

Let’s look at Bioethanol fires as they are, in our opinion, the safest, easiest and the cheapest tabletop fires to buy and run.

What are Bioethanol Tabletop Fires?

Bioethanol Tabletop Fires burn a bioethanol liquid which is contained in a receptacle. The receptacle sits in a stand, usually made of glass. The glass helps to protect surrounding objects and people from the natural flames. The fires have a heat output range of between 1 kW to 3 kW.

Although the fires vary significantly in their design, the actual fires are very simple and are completely smokeless. It is the fire’s fuel receptacle that will determine how much fuel the fires hold, how long they will burn for and how much heat they will produce.

There are two parts to the fire receptacle. An outer fixed shell and a removable inner container, both are made of strong stainless steel and built to cope with the heat.

How to use a Bioethanol Fire

Simply fill the inner container with the bioethanol fuel and set light to it using a lighter or a match. Don’t worry it won’t go bang or poof in your face! It has a very gentle ignition just like lighting a candle. As the fuel starts to burn the flames start to turn orange and produce heat.

How to put out a Bioethanol Fire

Bioethanol fires are easy to extinguish. Fires can’t burn without oxygen, so when you want to put the fire out, simply place the flame snuffer (supplied) over the receptacle to extinguish the flames, just as you would with a candle. 

Some burners have a sliding snuffer. Using the tool provided, slide the snuffer across the opening, starving the fire of oxygen and extinguishing the flames,

How much does a Bioethanol Tabletop Fire Cost to Buy?

The fires come in many different designs and this will determine the price you pay for the fire but generally, the fires will cost between £25 and £150. The Fires can easily be bought online from stores like who always have a good range of tabletop fires in stock or from online fireplaces shops, who can help you choose which fire might be best for you.

How much does a Bioethanol Tabletop Fire Cost to Run?

Bioethanol fires cost £0.30 per 100 ml of fuel which will burn for 1 hour, producing approximately 1 kW of heat. There are many different factors that affect the cost of running the fires. For example, the price of fuel and fuel savers like using ceramic wool to increase the burning time.

As a rough guide, The small tabletop fires can hold between 100 ml and 300 ml of bioethanol fuel depending on the design you have chosen. so for example:

A fire with three fuel receptacles containing 100 ml of fuel will produce an impressive heat of approximately 3 kW for 1 hour and could cost as little as £0.90. Three kilowatts of heat is enough to increase the temperature of a room 4m x 5m by at least 3°centigrade.

Buying fuel in single, one litre containers, can be an expensive way of running the fires and it is likely you will use more than one litre. Retailers offer the fuel in bundles which reduces the price per litre considerably. In 2021 the average price of Bioethanol fuel is:

  • 1 litre Bottle – £9.00
  • 6 x 1 Litre Bottles – £30.00
  • 12 x 1 Litre Bottles – £36.00

So you can see from the data above, how you can make huge savings of over 65% by buying multi-packs of bioethanol fuel.

Are Bioethanol Tabletop Fires Safe?

Fire is fire and not to be messed with. However, don’t let that put you off. Adhering to a few simple rules will keep you safe and warm and give you hours and hours of atmospheric enjoyment.

Although bioethanol fuel is flammable (it has to be!) It is not as powerful as other flammable fuels. So when lighting the fuel, don’t worry you are not going to get a big explosion and 6 ‘ high flames!

The fires are completely smokeless. They do produce negligible amounts of CO2 and this is comparable to the amount of carbon dioxide that is produced by one person breathing normally.

A Couple of Important Bioethanol Fuel Safety Points:

  • Never refuel when there is a flame present.
  • Only refuel when the receptical is empty.
  • When refuelling wipe up any excess fluid.
  • Make sure the fire is on a stable surface.
  • Do not overfill the recepticle.
      The Heat Chief