A modern flame: biofuel fires offering untapped design freedom

Imagine an open fire that’s controlled remotely via your smart phone or home automation system. A fire that has a constant vivid orange flame; an open fire without flue or chimney releasing a constant level of heat into the room.

These are fires without the hassle of wood, and without the need for gas. Designed in Denmark, and newly available in New Zealand, Decoflame fires are a step above what was previously available.

The New Zealand fire market is fraught with opinions bent towards either gas or wood; often those inclined sway strongly one way or the other. It’s a subject that incites passion, and one that invites creativity around the utilisation of fires as a spatial feature.

Naked Flame owner Richard Lee says while New Zealanders have, of late, been favouring gas, the Decoflame biofuel fires are much more advanced, offering a new level of design freedom and flexibility.

“Because there is no venting, flue or chimney required, these fires can be placed anywhere,” Lee says. “What that means is there is an untapped freedom going forward for designers to utilise open fires in a new way.”

“Traditionally, biofuel fires have been excluded from new builds because they were too expensive, or seen as decorative and not putting out enough heat. But that has changed now and the biofuel fires that are available today are extremely effective and priced from the lower range right through to the highest end of the market.”

They’re also becoming popular in apartments, Lee says, due to the lack of a need for chimney and flue; and in commercial settings, they’re being used in lobbies, foyers and large, open-plan spaces more and more.

The fires run on bioethanol, which is a waste product from an existing manufacturing process. Lee says while it’s a Class 3 flammable liquid, bioethanol is also food grade and so is safe for spills, leaving no residue when wiped up with a paper towel. And the amount of carbon dioxide that is let off from the Decoflame fires is equivalent to that of human breath.

“The great thing about biofuel fires is that they are 100 per cent heat efficient: all heat output stays in the room rather than disappearing up a chimney. They also put out a natural-feeling heat, and do not dry the air out as gas fires and heat pumps do.”

Utilising the latest technology, Decoflame fires are simple to operate, or can be completely automated. A glowing igniter in the fire will start the fire, and if a fuel tank is plumbed in, a pump will pour fuel into the tray and the fire will ignite at the touch of a button. The automation technology can provide in-depth data about the fire, including how many hours of fuel are left if the fire continues to burn at a set flame height, and how much fuel is being burnt every hour at a chosen flame height, as well as the ability to set a timer to turn the fire off at the desired time. “These are clean, green open fires without the hassle of your traditional fireplace,” Lee says.

With a range of exquisitely-designed fires, each manually crafted to exacting Scandinavian standards, the Decoflame range offers an opportunity to create the ambience of an open fire in any space, without the limitations of needing to be in or next to a wall. “This is the future of open fires, and it’s exciting to see the industry starting to look forward and see the potential of biofuel fires in New Zealand design.”

Decoflame fires are available in New Zealand exclusively through Naked Flame.