What is the Difference between a Manual and an Automatic Bio-Fire

Manual or automatic? What does that mean, and what's the difference when talking about bio fireplaces? The designation refers to the burner of the fireplace and how it works.

Bio fireplaces first appeared in 2005. The introduction of the bio fireplace made it possible to place a fireplace almost everywhere and without any connection, venting, smoke, soot, or expensive maintenance. Since then, technology and security have evolved, and so today we have two types of bio fireplaces: Manual and Automatic.

These two types each have their advantages and disadvantages. Hence, the type of burner you select depends on what requirements you have for your fireplace, where it will be used, and what your budget is.

Although there are only two types of bioethanol burners, the products of different manufactures can vary and offer differences in the way their burners work. For this reason, the information you will find in this guide will only be indicative. If you want a more accurate description of each manufacturer's bio fireplace and burner you should read their manual carefully.

Automatic and manuel fireplaces

Biofireplaces with a Manual Burner

A manual bioethanol burner is a tank made of stainless steel, which you fill with bioethanol. The burner is ignited with a lighter and extinguished by smothering the fire. The manual burner is the most known, and therefore, it is seen in many wall-mounted and free-standing bio fireplaces.

To increase the safety of manual burners, almost all manufacturers had to find a method on how to avoid spilling the bioethanol out of the burner, when filling it. The most commonly known method is the use of ceramics fibre in the burner. This is designed to absorb the bioethanol and make it impossible to spill the bioethanol out of the burner if it would overturn by accident.

Find our selection of manual burners here.

Benefits of a Manual Burner

1. No power or cables are required and it can be mounted everywhere.

Manual bio fireplaces and burners can be installed and placed freely because they do not require any power or other cable-connection. The only factor to consider is which size you want for the burner.

However, you still need to be aware of general fire hazards and safety distances.

2. Manual burners are cheap

Bio fireplaces have existed for some years with the manufacturers continuously optimising the production costs. This resulted in cheap prices for the manual bio fireplaces.

Disadvantages of a Manual Biofireplace

1. Operated manually

The most obvious disadvantage of the manual bio fireplace is the manual control. It causes the person to get close to the flame for adjusting or switching it on and off. Therefore, a manual bio fireplace should not be operated by children.

2. Fewer safeguards

Although the manual burners are safe when you follow the instructions and use common sense, the automatic bio fireplaces have additional safety features. Those are not provided when using a manual bio fireplaces.

Cocoon terra with a manual burner
Foco room divider

Biofireplaces with an Automatic Burner

Automatic burners require, just like the manual burners, bioethanol to function. However, this is the only similarity between them.

Bio fireplaces with automatic burners are more technical. Depending on the selected model and manufacturer, you can control them with a remote control, an app on the phone, home-system, or Wi-Fi.

For the automatic burners, the bioethanol is filled in an external fuel tank. From there it is pumped for incineration when it has to be used. Manual burners, on the other hand, pour it directly into the burner.

The automatic burner is often seen in built-in bio fireplaces and sold to new constructions, bigger renovations, or interior design.

Find our selection of automatic burners here.

Benefits of an Automatic Burner

1. Easy to control the flame

It is easier to extinguish and ignite an automatic burner. All you have to do is click on the remote control or the control panel on the burner. Some automatic bio fireplaces also allow adjusting of the flame size and control over the amount of radiated heat.

2. Safety sensors

An extra bonus with an automatic burner is the number of safety sensors, which are not possible to get in a manual burner. This may include sensors that monitor CO2 levels, shaking, overheating, etc. So the fireplace will be switched off automatically in case of overheating.

3. Fuel economy

Automatic burners often have a better fuel economy, since the bioethanol is only pumped into the burner when it is needed. This means that no bioethanol will be wasted when the fireplace is being switched on and off. Furthermore, it will also not evaporate by itself if unburnt bioethanol is left in the fireplace.

Disadvantages of an Automatic Burner

1. Expensive

One of the biggest disadvantages of an automatic burner and bio fireplaces is the higher price. An automatic bio ethanol burner costs a lot more than a manual burner. The reason for this is that the technology is still relatively new. This means, it requires more development and working hours to produce.

2. Require power

For all the electronic parts in the burner to work, it is necessary to have a power-connection close to the installation of the bio fireplace.

However, some automatic burners are equipped with a battery. Those require recharging instead.

Bio fireplace with an automatic burner
Bio fireplace with an automatic burner
Automatic built in burner