Gel Fireplace

11 Feb

The last time I posted about this issue. People mentioned the lack of a real flame being a major drawback to the electric fireplace models. I have to say I agree, as a result I kept searching Craigslist for a deal on a gas insert. While I do think that I will eventually find something, I wanted to gather some opinions on another option. While perusing the vast and boundless interwebs I happened to come across these gel fireplace inserts. They provide both a real flame in addition to a reasonable amount of heat.


Real Flame Ashley Gel Fireplace

Impressive right?

You can buy the entire operation for about $500.00 and they have a plethora of options to choose from in terms of mantle styles and finishes. But, If you know me well enough, by now, you’d know that I’d think that was too easy and still too expensive. You’d also know that the options they have are not Craftsman enough for me. So wait until you see this:



These are intended to be used in existing fireplaces and this one retails for around $180.00. With one of these I could modify my existing mantle to include a fire box with a top, sides and bottom made from a noncombustible material such as patio pavers or tile. I’d also add a tile hearth and screen for added protection and to complete a seamless illusion.

The flame burns from a small can of odorless alcohol gel fuel which is supposed to be environmentally friendly and clean burning. The cans are a little pricy, running about three dollars each. They claim to last about 3 hours each and you can use between one and two at a time. Each can of fuel burns at nearly 3,000 BTUs. So, if you burned two for three hours you’d gain 6,000 BTUs (comparable to many small space heaters) an hour for three hours setting you back about six dollars. looking at the reviews on Amazon it was very evident that people love these things. Many have five star reviews drawn from hundreds of commenters. The product is billed as being incredibly safe in terms of both fire safety and emissions.

If six dollars is too much, there are all kinds of videos on YouTube which outline simple ways to make your own gel at home inexpensively from isopropyl alcohol, vinegar and chalk dust or even hand sanitizer.

So now I leave my question to you. Should I persue the gas insert for the ease and convenience of instant on demand heat and flame? Or, do I look further into a gel fuel option for time to time ambiance and marginal heat benefits on chilly evenings or with company?

6 Responses to “Gel Fireplace”

  1. Lisa February 11, 2013 at 6:17 PM #

    I would definitely check out the gas. I think the perfectionist in you would be more pleased with that choice.

  2. Gloria E. Jacobs February 11, 2013 at 6:30 PM #

    I agree with Lisa. Go to a fireplace store or home show and take a look at the gel fires. A lot of restaurants have them too. I haven’t been impressed with how they look. And if you really want it for heat, gas is the way to go. I think it’ll increase the resale value of your home too.

    • ittybittybungalow February 11, 2013 at 6:43 PM #

      I like what you are saying. You always have the voice of reason, good point about the resale value.

  3. Cheryl February 11, 2013 at 6:33 PM #

    It will depend on how often you plan on using it and what is important to you (ambiance & heat or easy to use).

    I’m an accountant so I’d probably add up all the installation costs for each as well as cost of fuel (gas & gel) and determine some sort of cost per use for a number of years (probably 1 & 10 & several in between).

    My husband, an engineer, would be assigning numerical values to all the variables (ease of use, heat, ambiance, etc) and adding that to the cost per use to complete the analysis.

    Obviously we’re a bit crazy.

    No first hand advice since fireplaces aren’t exactly practical here in Florida. Good luck!

    • ittybittybungalow February 11, 2013 at 6:42 PM #

      Haha! Thanks Cheryl!

      I am NOT a numbers guy.. but I think the gas insert is a better investment. One thing is for sure, I wish I was in Florida right about about now!

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