Design and functionality for home heating systems have gone a long way. From the early days of lodge-burning, we are now relying more on electrical devices. When you hear about the kerosene heater, you may place it somewhere in a grey area. And perhaps you feel a bit skeptical about it. Today’s article is here to clear all your doubts away. We’ll tell you more about the main benefits of using a kerosene heater. Discover the features you should look for in such a device and how to care for it. Learn more about what makes such a heater efficient and how to identify the one that meets your needs best. To make it all better, we also prepared a meticulous selection of the best kerosene heaters. We have some home-warming ideas coming up, so get cozy and keep reading.
How It Works?
If you are curious about the science behind a kerosene heater, you should know it works like a kerosene lamp. The main components are a fiberglass or cotton wick, a burner unit and a kerosene tank (usually made of font). Through capillary action, the lit wick draws kerosene from the tank. Being heated, the fuel turns into a gas. This gas burns and gives heat, either through convection or radiation. The design of the burner unit enhances proper oxygenation and flame distribution. Your kerosene heater also features an adjusting mechanism. This way, you can control how high the flames are, by altering the length of the exposed wick. To put out the fire, the mechanism will retract the wick completely into a chamber under the burner.
Some more modern versions of the kerosene heater can also feature a fan. Powered by electricity, this pushes the heated air out. Most heaters, however, are not electricity-based. They have an ignitor which operates on batteries or is piezoelectric, so you don’t need matches.
Now, what kind of features should you look for when trying to choose the best kerosene heater for your needs?
Main Features To Look For In A Kerosene Heater
Choosing a heating appliance should be a well informed decision. This way, you know you’re making a wise investment and get the performance you need. Below, you’ll find the main features you should consider when you plan to buy a kerosene heater. Hope this short guide sheds some light on your uncertainties.
Coverage Area & BTUs
Same as for other heating devices, the BTU of a kerosene heater is an indicator of the performance. The number of BTUs reflects the amount of energy produced in an hour. As you can imagine, a higher BTU indicates more heat released in your space. However, you should not assume that a heater that has a very high rating will be the best for your space. On the contrary, getting a heater that is too powerful for a small area can lead to issues. Overheating, odor and carbon monoxide release, increased costs are only a few of them.
As a thumb rule, start by measuring the room where you plan to use the kerosene heater. Depending on the surface you want to heat up, you can search for a model with an adequate BTU. The good news is most products mention the average area they give their best performance in. You will see on the item description a note for both the BTU and coverage surface. If you want to double check, you can use an online calculator or do the maths yourself. Once you measure the width and length of your room, you multiply them to get the square feet surface. Then, multiply this number by 28, for a rough estimation of the needed BTU for your room.
For example, in a room that is about 200 square feet, you need a kerosene heater with approximately 5600 BTUs. Avoid getting a model with a BTU too high, compared to the needs of your space. This way, you know you won’t have the heater working incorrectly, burning too much fuel. Also, overheating or excessive use can cause the release of more carbon monoxide. In small, poorly ventilated spaces, this can easily become a health and safety hazard.
Saving some free space in your work area or home is always good. That’s why finding a kerosene heater that occupies the least space possible matters. You’ll find several shapes and sizes among the models available. Round, squared or cylinder-like, heaters will vary in size according to their performance. Models designed for warehouses or garages are considerably larger than the home-use versions. Keep also in mind how often you plan to move the heater. Smaller heaters are more portable and easy to store during the hot season. A big kerosene heater forces you to install it in a fixed spot and not move it or transport it to another location.
There are a few factors influencing the amount of time a kerosene heater can function. To get the best results, you should consider them when choosing your model. First of all, the size of the tank impacts the quantity of stored fuel. The more fuel, the longer your heater will provide warmth. Also, having a thermostat included allows a finer control over the room’s temperature. The heater can stop or reduce the flame, once the room temperature reaches your desired level. Combustion time varies based on the average temperature of the environment as well. The heater can burn more, depending on the climate and thermostat settings.
As we’ve said before, a larger tank equals a higher running time for your heater. That is a plus, if you plan to use it on a daily basis. Otherwise, a small tank might do the job well enough for you. Do keep in mind that you also need enough storage space for a big tank. And, of course, a large tank gets way heavier when full, so consider that if you plan to transport your heater. The main benefit of a kerosene heater with high tank capacity is that you don’t have to refill it too often. However, make sure you fully empty it before you store it away, to reduce any risks.
Safety & Comfort Features
Extra safety features can put your mind at ease when using a kerosene heater. That applies whether you have a child running around the house or you want a warm but secure working space.
Wheels and handles are essential for transporting your heater in a secure way. They are a great plus when moving your device to another location, by not straining your back.
An electrical ignition system adds to your comfort. Having to only push a button instead of searching for a lighter or a match is by far, an advantage. And your hands will be safe from any burns, as you don’t have to get near the burning wick.
The overheat protection is such a feature, also contributing to the heater’s longevity. It turns off the unit in case the temperature goes beyond a specific value. A thermostat and an automatic turn-off option ensure your heater’s properly functioning. A temperature knob gives you more manual control over the level of heat produced.
Take a step further in using a kerosene warming device safely. Models that feature an anti-tip switch block any fuel leaks, in case you knock them over by accident. Turning off the unit, on the spot, prevents any fire hazards.
A kerosene heater with a fuel gauge makes refilling easy and safer. You will for sure appreciate reducing the risk of spilling any inflammable substances. Also, having a precise idea of the remaining running time allows you to use it wisely. An LCD display can provide precious information as well. It can show the temperature of the room, the heater, even flags any malfunctions.
Proper ventilation equals no risks of carbon monoxide intoxication. Check for models that include an internal fan, if possible. And always place your heater close to a window or a place that favors ventilation. Consider also installing a carbon monoxide detector in your space. This way, you make sure the air quality meets the health standards.
This is the manufacturer’s promise that the product you buy will function well and last for at least a year or more. The majority of kerosene heaters come with a one-year warranty. If you plan to rarely use your unit, consider a model that offers two years. This way, you get more time to test it out and if any malfunctions arise, you know you have coverage.
Our Top Picks – 7 Best Kerosene Heaters
Enough with the theory, time to get practical. You know by now what aspects to look for in a kerosene heater. Up next, we will share with you our favorite models available on the market. We’ve put under thorough analysis their best features and limitations. Let’s get this fire started, shall we?
For your home, garage or cabin, the Dyna-Glo RMC-95C6B Kerosene Heater is a great option. Going up to 23,000 BTU/hour, it will help you keep any indoor space warm and safe. You can rely on it for everyday use or for emergency situations. It does not require electricity, only two batteries, to function. If you want to reduce your heating costs, this indoor heater comes to rescue. It can operate up to half a day on a full tank, warming up to 1,000 square feet.
- not dependant on electricity
- ideal for small areas
- automatic ignition
- built-in safety switch
- operates up to 11 hours
- 99.9% efficiency.
- suitable only for surfaces up to 1,000 square feet
- requires costly, high-quality fuel (K1 kerosene).
A larger space requires a more powerful heating unit. The Heatstar By Enerco F170250 Forced Air Kerosene Heater HS50K, 50K can be your answer. Recommended for use in well ventilated spaces, this kerosene heater can produce up to 50,000 BTU/hour. You will find it to be of great help on construction sites or for spaces where repairing is taking place. The powerful hot air flow proves useful in drying surfaces in a shorter time.
- high performance (99.9%)
- ideal for large spaces
- one-year warranty
- can release higher amounts of CO
- not suitable for home-use
- air filters need frequent cleaning.
The L.B. White CP125CK Tradesman K125 Heater will sweep you off your feet with its performance. Producing up to 125,000 BTU per hour, it ensures you will be warm and able to work comfortably on cold days. Ideal for large spaces, this forced air heater has a sturdy construction, designed to last. The built-in handles and wheels make transportation a (warm) breeze. Such a feature really comes in handy, given the device’s considerable weight. Leave aside any worries about unexpected fuel shortage. The fuel gauge lets you know the running time left at any moment. Thanks to the LCD display, temperature is no longer a wild guess. Also, you get to know about any issues via the error codes displayed.
- high coverage and performance
- long-lasting, reliable materials (durable brass fuel fittings)
- heavy duty motor
- dual-prong electronic ignition
- fuel gauge
- LCD display for temperature
- built-in wheels and handles.
- high costs for fuel
- limited warranty
- not suitable for home use (due to high CO emissions).
Spread the heat all around with the Dura Heat DH2304S Indoor Kerosene Heater. Enjoy up to 12 hours of high performance thanks to this powerful unit. Made of durable materials, with a sturdy construction, this heater can reach up to 23,800 BTUs. Warmth and safety needs are both met by this model’s design. Protective grills surround the surfaces that get very hot. The device projects hot air on a 360 degree radius, for faster, more effective heating. Power outages or emergency situations are no longer a concern. Relish with heat and light, but no odor. Thanks to the no-lift heat chamber, you can say goodbye to intense startup odors.
- innovative design (no-lift heat chamber)
- reduced startup odor
- high combustion time (up to 12 hours)
- 360 degree heat projection
- protective grills.
- limited use only for non-airtight constructions (barns, garages)
- one year warranty.
Enhance the efficiency of your home heating system. Or have a last-minute fix for emergency situations. The Sengoku HeatMate Portable Indoor/Outdoor Omni-Radiant Heater, OR-77 is ideal for both. With a large capacity fuel tank of up to 4.5 liters, it will keep you warm and safe for more than half a day. Easy to use, it provides control over the flame and keeps you protected from hot surface burns. Thanks to its safety grills and automatic switch off, you know this device is a wise addition to your home. Use it indoors or outside on the patio, with no worries. It has a unique design that ensures the best performance, even in windy conditions.
- two years of warranty
- durable performance for up to 14 hours
- easy to use and refill (siphon pump included)
- safety features (automatic shut off, tip over switch, protective grills)
- EZ flame adjuster, fuel gauge
- great for indoor/outdoor use
- portable, wind-resistant design.
- low BTU, compared to other model
- potential replacement of the wick needed.
Ergonomic and powerful, the DeWalt DXH75KT Kerosene Heater will catch your attention instantly. This device features a handle on top and recessed controls, for easy transport. A pop of color on the base and up to 75,000 BTUs make it a great addition to your workshop or construction area. Use it for up to 11 hours and then store it with ease wherever you need. Don’t underestimate its power, place it at a safe distance from flammable materials.
- convenient handle and recessed knobs
- continuous electronic ignition
- up to 11 hours of operation.
- electricity dependant
- one year warranty
- no fuel gauge.
See the silver lining even in the cold winter days. The STANLEY ST-80T-KFA Kerosene/Diesel Forced Air Heater is the key for intense warmth. With a powerful output of 80,000 BTUs, this unit can heat up to 2000 square feet. Rely on it for help in construction sites or workshops with appropriate ventilation. Use the built-in handle for transporting this durable, top kerosene heater.
- multifuel operation
- built-in pressure gauge and thermostat
- high performance
- automatic shut off.
- one year warranty
- electricity dependant
- no wheels for ease of transport.
Taking Proper Care of Your Kerosene Heater
As easy to use as some models are, you do need to take proper care of your kerosene heater. Keep reading to know the basic safety measures you can take. We’ll also share some tips on how to clean and store away your heater, for the best results.
- Use your kerosene heater in spaces that have adequate ventilation. Consider also getting a CO sensor, to monitor the level of emissions.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for your particular model.
- Use the recommended type of fuel for your unit and do the refill outside.
- Make sure to turn off the heater before you refill the tank or when you want to leave the space.
- Do not place the device near flammable objects or materials.
CLEANING & STORAGE
Before you store away your kerosene heater, make sure you take out the fuel. Fuel remains favors water retention, which leads to mold deposits. This can cause damages to the heater and impact its well functioning. Use a siphon pump for this operation. Make sure to clean thoroughly any kerosene spills, as it is toxic and a fire hazard.
Perform a dry burn to clean the wick. Clean the dust and soot from the heater and keep it in a dry place. If possible, use the original packaging for adequate protection.
Do a periodical check of all the components of your kerosene heater. If you notice any of them is not working well, proceed with replacing them. In case the igniter operates with batteries, remove them before storing the heater.
Use a water-based solution of ammonia for cleaning the heater’s external components. You can also wipe the surfaces with non-flammable cleaning substances. If there are any removable parts, take them off and use water and soap to return their original shine.
The inside of the tank is a more sensitive area. Use only pure kerosene (1-K type) to scrub the interior of your heater. Once you rinsed all the waste away, you should dispose of the used fuel at a service station. Once used for cleaning, this kerosene becomes contaminated, so you cannot reuse it. Keep an eye out for carbon deposits forming up the chimney burner. A brush can help you remove them easily.
Final Thoughts – Why Get A Kerosene Heater?
Having a kerosene heater at home can prove a life-saver during a winter power outage. On construction sites or in spaces where you do remodelling, having a forced air model is also useful. Having a heat source available and efficient contributes to your comfort or productivity. Not to mention, a kerosene heater can complement your home heating system.
Portable units allow you to heat up quickly only the room you need, helping you reduce the utility bills. As you’ve seen, there are plenty of options on the market, for every need, budget and space. Let us know in the comments where a kerosene heater would make a positive difference for you.
Until the next review… Stay warm and safe!