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? This refers to the burner of the fireplace and how it works.

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

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 burn chambers, the products from 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 burners, you should check out the specific product page and read the manual linked on the page.

You can find all of our automatic or manual bio ethanol burners here:

Automatic and manuel fireplaces

Biofireplaces with a Manual Burner

A manual bioethanol burner, is a steel container made of stainless steel, which you fill with bioethanol. The burner has an opening, that can be round or long, depending on the shape of the burner. The flame is ignited with a lighter and extinguished by smothering the fire. The manual burner is the most known, and therefore, it is seen in most bioethanol fires, especially in wall-mounted and free-standing bio fireplaces.

To increase the safety of manual burners, almost all manufacturers had to find a method, for how to avoid spilling the bioethanol out of the burner if it should fall or tip over. The most common method is the use of ceramics fibre cotton in the burner. This is designed to absorb the bioethanol, and makes it impossible to spill the bioethanol out of the burner, if it would tip over by accident. Some burners, for examples from Xaralyn, uses a ceramic stone instead of ceramic fibre cotton, but the principle is exactly the same. You can read much more about ceramic fibre cotton and its use in our guide: www.bioethanol-fireplace.co.uk/ceramic-fibre-cotton-what-is-it

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, nor does it need a chimney, vent or flue. The only factor to consider is which size you want the burner to have.

However, you, of course, still need to be aware of general fire hazards and safety distances. You can read about safety distances in our guide on the subject.

2. Manual burners are cheap

Bio fireplaces have existed for some years, with the manufacturers continuously optimising the production costs. Furthermore, the manual burners does not require any digital technology, and this means that the prices of manual bio fireplaces are quite low at this point.

Disadvantages of a Manual Biofireplace

1. Operated manually

The most obvious disadvantage of the manual bio fireplace is, the manual control. It means that you have to get close to the flame for adjusting or switching the burner on and off. Therefore, a manual bio ethanol fireplace should not be operated by children.

2. Fewer safeguards

Although the manual burners are perfectly safe when you follow the instructions and use common sense, the automatic bioethanol fireplaces have additional safety sensors, that the manual ones do not. These sensors are not available when using a manual bio fire.

Cocoon terra with a manual burner
Foco room divider

Biofireplaces with an Automatic Burner

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

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

For the automatic burners, the bioethanol is filled into an external fuel tank. From there, it is pumped up into the burner for incineration when it is turned on. With manual burners, you just pour the bioethanol fuel directly into the burner opening.

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

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, the control panel on the burner or via an app. Some automatic bio fireplaces also allow adjustment 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 the sensors picks up any dangers.

3. Fuel economy

Automatic burners often have a better bioethanol 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 bioethanol burner is the price. An automatic bioethanol burner costs a lot more than its manual counterpart. The reason for this, is that the technology used in the automatic models is still relatively new and more advanced. This means, it requires more development and working hours to produce, and the materials needed for the manufacturing are more expensive.

2. Requires power

In order for all the electronic components in the burner to work, it is necessary to have a power-connection close to the installation of the bio fireplace. This makes the installation less flexible.

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

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