Best Gel Fireplace Reviews in 2017 | Complete Buying Solution
When you are choosing a fireplace for your home, you face various options, such as wood-burning, electric, gas, and gel. Picking the right one is not always easy since you need to study plenty of information in order to make the right decision. Gel fuel is essentially gelled alcohol. A gel fireplace can be a great choice for people who don’t like to deal with installation hassle and don’t need round-the-clock heat.
There are many gel fireplaces available on the market today. I went through a few hundred of them to come up with a top-5 list. After doing a lot of testing, reading, and talking, I am ready to present you the best gel fireplace reviews in 2017.
Gel Fireplace Reviews in Detail
Real Flame Silverton Gel Fireplace
This gel fireplace is a great solution for people who want a solid-looking model for their homes. It comes with a wooden mantle and can produce 9,000 BTUs per hour. The 13-oz real flame can that works with this fireplace lasts about 2- 3 hours.
The large and impressive mantle is exactly what you need for your home décor, be it modern or classic. It comes in three colors: white, mahogany, and black. The mantle looks especially good in white when coupled with a black insert.
13-oz flame can
This fireplace operates using a 13-oz flame can, which can burn for 2 – 3 hours. You can install several cans behind the logs in order not to go through the hassle of can changing every few hours.
If you have a small room, one 13-oz can heats it up pretty fast. If your room is about 500 – 600 square feet, then you can use all three cans and feel warm even during the coldest winter days.
Easy to install
This fireplace takes under an hour to assemble. You don’t need professional assistance to get it up and running.
One can burns good only if you allow it to burn fully. If you snuff it out, the burning is hindered when you restart.
Real Flame Chateau Ventless Gel Fireplace
This gel fireplace has a wonderful design that can suit any type of home decor, from classic to modern. It uses up to three 13-oz gel fuel cans to produce a realistic fire while heating up the room whenever you need it most.
Dark Walnut Mantle
I especially like the dark walnut finish of the mantle since it gives this fireplace a realistic look and feel of a brick-and-mortar wood burning piece. It can be installed anywhere in the room to suit your décor. You can also buy the mantle with espresso or white finish.
A well-designed hand-painted cast concrete log hides the gel fuel cans and gives this fireplace a natural look. Unless you start inspecting it closely, you won’t be able to tell the difference between this log and real wood.
9,000 BTUs per hour
This fireplace can warm up a rather large room, especially if you let all the 3 cans burn simultaneously. The 13-oz cans can burn up to 3 hours while producing maximum heat output.
You don’t need additional help to assemble this fireplace. This model comes with clear instructions that allow you to get the model together in about half an hour to an hour.
Firebox holes need to be drilled
Real Flame Ashley Indoor Gel Fireplace
This no-vent gel fireplace is made out of solid wood and veneered MDF. The mantle has an attractive design. The fireplace can use up to three 13-oz gel fuel cans to produce an odor-free flame and warm up your room fast.
You can enjoy looking at a real fire provided by the gel fuel cans. The cans are hidden by the log so you get a very natural feel while enjoying the warmth of real flames.
Besides being designed as a solid fireplace, this model comes with a wide top, which can be used as a shelf for various things, such as picture frames, flowers, figurines, and even a TV.
This unit comes with very clear instructions that allow you to assemble it within 2 hours. Even though the many different pieces might seem intimidating at first, they are all labeled and come together nicely.
While this fireplace comes with a well-designed hand-painted log, you might get tired of it after a while. Thanks to the design of this fireplace, you can buy other logs to interchange them whenever you feel the need for something new.
Short warranty (90-days limited)
Real Flame Chateau Corner Ventless Gel Fireplace
This no-vent fireplace is exactly what you need if you want to save space in your room.
It’s specifically designed to fit into a corner so you can easily manage the rest of the furniture without hassle.
Besides offering you a save-spacing solution, this fireplace has a simple yet sleek design that can easily fit into any room of your home. It weighs only 50 pounds so you won’t have too much trouble moving it around the house if necessary.
Thanks to the gel fuel operation, this fireplace emits no smell. You can safely use it in your living room or bedroom.
This fireplace can generate up to 9,000 BTUs. Such output can’t heat up a large room but can offer extra heating. If you have a small room (up to about 300 square feet), you can use this unit as a sole heat source.
When you fire up all three gel cans, the flame looks very realistic. While this fireplace doesn’t give off as much heat as a wood-burning one, it looks just as wonderful.
Firebox holes are not pre-drilled.
Real Flame Fresno Entertainment Ventless Gel Fireplace
This fireplace can double up as a TV stand since it has a wide top. It comes with built-in shelves, which makes it a perfect solution for a small living room. This model uses up to three 13-oz gel fuel cans and produces up to 9,000 BTUs of heat.
3-in-1 Ergonomic design
The manufacturer did a great job creating a 3-in-1 model that includes a gel fireplace, a TV stand, and various shelves. This is a perfect solution for small living rooms. It can also appeal to people who need to stick to a strict budget when furnishing their home. You can get this model in white, black, and dark walnut colors.
Hand-Painted cast-concrete log
A perfectly-designed log makes the flames look realistic even though they have nothing to do with the log itself. You can buy new logs when you get tired of this one.
Easy to Assemble
Even though this is a rather large piece with many details, it is easy to assemble. Thanks to the clear instructions, it takes only about 2 hours to put the fireplace together.
Heavy (about 145 pounds). I hope these best gel fireplace reviews give you a good idea of what unit to choose for yourself or at least make your further search easier.
Best Fuel Reviews for Gel Fireplace
Gel fuel is one of the most popular fuels among people who care for environmentally friendly, odorless, and clean options for their fireplaces. Let’s take a look at the below options.
SunJel Fume-free Firespace Gel Fuel Canister
This gel fuel is completely odorless and doesn’t produce any soot or ash. This is 100% gelled alcohol that burns absolutely clean. This product comes in a 6, 12, 24, and 36-packs, which allows you to vary your supply depending on the personal preferences.
These gel fuel cans are a good choice for people who want to save energy during the cold seasons. They fit any gel fireplace regardless of its material or construction characteristics. Each can burns for 2 – 3 hours and provides an absolutely natural and warm flame.
Real Flame Gel Fuel
This gel fuel is made out of gelled isopropyl alcohol. They fit into any gel fireplace regardless of the design. Each one of the cans burns up to 3 hours. These cans provide a very real flame without emitting any type of smell. They also offer a realistic crackle, which makes your fireplace look and feel closer to wood-burning models.
When you purchase these gel fuel cans, you have to remember to remove the labels before installing them inside the fireplace. Otherwise, they might catch fire. Other than that, this gel fuel is a wonderful choice for your fireplace.
How to Choose the Best Gel Fireplace
If you are wondering what to look at when choosing the best gel fireplace, here are a few things you want to consider.
The availability of gel fuel
While the gel fuel is very convenient, produces no odor and creates a realistic flame, it’s not always readily available at your nearby store. If you are ready to keep an eye on your supply and order the fuel beforehand, then the gel fireplace is for you. If you have a little trouble being organized, you need to remember that you can be left without this heat source when the fuel runs out.
Freestanding or Wall-mounted
Since these fireplaces are not dependent on vents, chimneys, and piping, they can be installed anywhere you wish. Think about where you want to enjoy the fireplace. Some models come with an option of being wall-mounted. Such fireplaces save you plenty of space while offering just as much heat. Meanwhile, a wall-mounted unit eliminates the realistic feeling that comes due to the similarity to the wood-burning models.
Number of gel fuel cans
The more fuel cans a fireplace can accommodate, the more heat it can produce. Most of the time, these fireplaces can hold up to three gel fuel cans. However, there are models that hold two or even one. The size of the flame and the natural feel of a fireplace depends on how many cans are burning simultaneously. In addition, the more cans you can fit into the fireplace, the less often you need to think about replacing them.
Indoor or Outdoor
Some gel fireplaces are created so you can use them both inside and outside the house. Consider the fireplace with an outdoor option so you can spend cool evenings on your porch or balcony. The downside of these fireplaces is their design. They usually don’t look too much like wood-burning models.
When choosing the best gel fireplace for your home, you need to carefully consider the size. While the larger a model is the better and more realistic it looks, it can seem out of place in your home. If you have a small room, try to opt for space-saving options, such as small and thin models or corner units. You can also think about purchasing a fireplace that has other uses, such as a TV stand.
The budget is usually one of the most important factors to consider when buying a gel fireplace. Remember, all gel fireplaces are created equal. Essentially, it’s a box with a pretty log that hides gel fuel cans. So what you pay for is the design. The simplest-looking fireplace still serves its purpose of offering a realistic flame coupled with heat. Think about this when going through the various models and planning your budget.
When choosing a gel fireplace, pay close attention to the design of the log. It’s one of the most essential elements when it comes to the realistic appearance. Make sure that the log is large enough to keep the fuel cans out of sight. A traditional fake gas logs can be used also.
How Gel Fireplace Works
Even though wood-burning, gas, and electric fireplaces are rather popular, gel models are conquering the market as well. Their main advantage is the simplicity of their work. Essentially, a gas fireplace is nicely designed fireproof box created to keep the flames from getting out. The fire comes from the gel fuel cans. Gel fuel is gelled alcohol, which can burn much longer than the alcohol in its liquid form. That’s why each can of the gel fuel can produce heat up to 3 hours.
When you purchase a gel fireplace, it takes only a few hours to install it since it doesn’t require any special connections, chimneys, piping, or venting. This is because the fire is created by the gel can and nothing else.
You open the gel can, light the fire and that’s about it. The rest of the construction is required to make the fire look pretty. The log that comes with a gel fireplace hides the cans and imitates the appearance of a wood-burning model. It’s not necessary to keep the fire burning. Its sole purpose is aesthetics.
The main goal of all the gel fireplace parts, besides the fuel cans, is to keep the fire safe and beautiful. So gel fireplace works by burning the gel fuel in the cans and making the fire look as it would in a wood-burning piece. All you have to do is put the pieces together, install the fireplace, open the can and light up the gelled alcohol.
The simplicity of the gel fireplace operation has its downsides. First, gel fuel is not as accessible as wood, electricity, and propane used for other types of fireplaces. Second, one gel can burns for maximum 3 hours, which means you have to replace the cans rather often. Meanwhile, such fireplaces are easy to clean and don’t need complicated installation.
Gel Fuel Fireplace Safety Tips
While a gel fireplace is rather safe, there are still some important rules you need to following when using gel fuel. Let’s take a look.
Wait for the can to cool
Since the cans containing gel fuel get very hot when in use, you need to wait for them to cool down before touching. This can delay the can switching procedure. When you need to change the cans fast in order to continue heating up your room, you can use an oven mitt to remove them. Be careful not to place a hot can on a wooden or plastic surface since it can cause damage.
Follow storage instructions
Since people usually buy large packs of gel fuel cans, they need to concern themselves with the storage. Make sure you don’t expose these cans to heat or direct sunlight, otherwise, they can start a fire. In order to keep the cans safe, put them in a cool and dry place.
Buy High-Quality Fuel
Since gel fuel is rather expensive compared to gas, many people try to save money by buying cheap cans. Unfortunately, cheap gel fuel can be harmful. Such fuel can start a fire or increase carbon monoxide levels in your home. Look for gel fuel, which is OSHA or FDA rated, and try to buy cans sold by respectable manufacturers. Buying low-quality gel fuel can be dangerous for your health.
Remove the Label
Most gel fuel cans have the label glued to the top of it, which means you remove it together with the lid. However, some cans have a label attached to the side. Before firing up such a can, make sure to remove the label, otherwise, it will catch fire and compromise the fireplace’s safety.
Close the windows
When you are firing up the cans with gel fuel in your home, make sure there is no draft. Close the windows in order to avoid the fire being blown to your furniture, blankets, pillows, etc. Once you install the cans safely into the fireplace, you can open the windows and doors as you please.
Buy a Fire Extinguisher
If you still don’t have a fire extinguisher in your home, buying a gel fireplace is a good reason to get one. Even though the gel fireplace is completely safe if used according to the instructions, you still need to be ready for unexpected circumstances. Keep the fire extinguisher in the room where the fireplace is installed.
Gel Fuel or Gas: Which Fireplace is Better?
When you are choosing a fireplace for your home, you are looking for pros and cons of each option. Let’s compare the gel fuel and gas fireplaces.
Gel fuel fireplaces produce enough heat to warm up a small room when used at their maximum capacity. However, they don’t produce enough heat to become the only heating source for a large area.
Vented or ventless gas fireplaces provide a significant amount of heat (even though vented provide about 20 % less). These fireplaces can be used as an independent heat source when the central heating is off.
Gel fuel fireplaces are easy to install. Most of the models take under 2 hours to put together. They don’t require any professional touch. Since they are not connected to any gas lines or vent ducts, the gel fireplaces can be moved around the house.
Vented gas fireplaces might require complicated installation. Most of the time, it’s impossible to do it without professional assistance. Vent-free gas fireplaces can be installed on your own, however, they are not allowed in all the states and countries due to the possibility of air contamination that compromises the safety of your home.
Gel fuel fireplaces are 100 % safe since they burn up all the fuel without anything adverse getting into the air. If you follow all the fire safety rules and precautions, the gel fireplace can be considered the next safest faux fireplace after the electric one.
While vent-free gas fireplaces have an oxygen depletion sensor to signal the air contamination levels, the downside is that this contamination can occur. A vented fireplace has fewer chances to contaminate the air unless the vent system is damaged.
Gel fuel fireplaces are hard to call budget-friendly. Each can of gel fuel burns for only about 2 – 3 hours. This means in order to keep the fire burning all day long, you need to use up at least 4 cans. Since the best effect is reached when two or three cans are burning simultaneously, the expenses are even more substantial.
Gas fireplaces use natural gas or liquid propane to operate. They are among the most cost-efficient fireplaces available on the market today. Check this article: best gas fireplace
Both gel fuel and gas fireplaces can look very realistic. All depends on the design of the logs and the built of the firebox.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gel Fuel Fireplace
Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about the gel fuel fireplaces.
Q: How long does it take to put a gel fireplace together?
A: It takes about 1 – 2 hours to get the gel fireplace up and running. The instructions that come with the fireplace are straightforward so you don’t need professional assistance.
Q: Can I use this fireplace for cooking or burning things like paper?
No. Gel fuel fireplaces can’t be used for cooking or burning items. Such use can lead to fires, unpleasant odors, and increased carbon monoxide levels.
Q: What is the heat output of a fuel gel fireplace?
Most of the time one can produces about 3,000 BTUs. If you purchase a fireplace that can fit three cans, then you can get up to 9,000 BTUs.
Q: How often do I need to change the cans?
All depends on the conditions you use your fireplace in. If you are burning the cans indoors, one 13-oz can lasts about 2 – 3 hours. If you opt for 7-oz cans, then you can enjoy the heat about 1 -2 hours. When you use gel fuel fireplaces outdoors, the cans burn out faster.
Q: What does a gel fuel fireplace emit?
When gel fuel burns, water vapor and carbon dioxide are released into the air. The CO2 amounts are almost negligent. They are close to what a couple of candles emit when burning. The high-quality gel fuel doesn’t produce any harmful emissions.
Q: Are gel fuel fireplaces safe for pets and children?
Yes, they are completely safe. A pet or a child can’t get burned since the parts of the fireplaces don’t heat up. It’s not recommended to light up the fire in the cans when the children are around. Other than that, there are no safety issues.
Q: Can I put a TV on top a fireplace?
Yes, you can. The top of the fireplace doesn’t heat up so you can easily use it as a shelf or a TV stand without being afraid to damage your belongings.
Q: Do I need to ventilate the room when using a gel fuel fireplace?
No ventilation is needed since gel fuel fireplaces don’t produce any harmful emissions. You can ventilate the room as usual.
Q: Does a gel fuel fireplace require regular maintenance?
Besides regular cleaning, which is usually necessary when some fuel is accidently spilled, a gel fireplace doesn’t require any maintenance.
Q: How long can I store the gel fuel for?
It’s not recommended to store gel fuel longer than one year after the purchase. Over time, alcohol turns from gel to liquid form and loses its qualities. If you see that the gel turned into liquid, throw the can out.
After reading the best gel fireplace reviews and learning all the important information about these fireplaces, you are ready to make a choice. Remember, the variety of gel fireplaces on the market is overwhelming. You need to identify the personal preferences before diving into the sea of various models.
I recommend you stick the budget and then consider the appearance. As I said earlier, all gel fireplaces are similar. You can easily choose a moderately priced model that has the same functions as an expensive unit. Once you identify your budget, start choosing the design. Since gel fireplace are mostly used for décor rather than heat, the design is equally important.