In the prepping world, a common rule is to have a backup for your backup plan. This methodology applies to many aspects of prepping and survival but is especially important when it comes to heating your home.
In today’s society, we have ample access to electricity and you will typically find furnaces and fireplaces in homes across the country, but how do they cope when there is no electricity?
This is one scenario where a kerosene heater would be advantageous to have as an alternative source of heat.
They are incredibly efficient on fuel, in the sense that they can heat large spaces for a relatively small amount of kerosene.
Kerosene heaters can heat a space without the need for electricity which is vital in a multitude of situations.
This article will give you the information you need to make when picking a kerosene heater for your home. It also includes a list of top kerosene heaters with a detailed breakdown of their pros and cons.
Before we get to that part, let’s learn about some of the best practices in owning a kerosene heater.
Table of Contents
There Is More Than One Type Of Kerosene Heater
Kerosene heaters come in a few varieties with some being better at things like heating large spaces or providing even heat in more than one direction.
Luckily, it’s not complicated to understand and each model will tell you what category it falls in.
Forced Air Kerosene Heaters
These kinds of heaters are the powerhouses meant to heat large garages or single room spaces.
Not only do they pump out some impressive BTUs, they include a forced air fan that projects the heat outward from the heater.
Forced air heaters are designed to heat a large space as fast as possible. Some models come equipped with built-in thermostats to regulate the heat output.
The downside to these units is that they are generally quite expensive and require electricity to power the fan part of the heater which doesn’t work when there is a power outage.
Some of the fans are so powerful that you’ll need a heavy-duty battery setup to be able to meet the energy requirements.
Radiant Kerosene Heaters
Radiant heaters heat objects and spaces directly in front of them. You could call them directional heaters since they only heat in one direction.
It consists of a reflector to help push the heat and some have fans built in to push it out more, not as powerful as a forced-air heater, however.
They come in many sizes with some being portable and others that can’t be moved around as much.
You can find models of radiant kerosene heaters that don’t require electricity, instead of relying on battery power to initiate the spark that ignites the wick. These heaters are perfect for directing heat to a sleeping space.
Convective Kerosene Heaters
If you’re looking to heat a large space then convective heaters are ones you want to look into. They pull in cold air, heat it, and then disperse it in all directions as it rises up.
As the heat rises the cold air is then pushed down towards the heater and the cycle continues. This has far more even heating effects than a radiant heater.
This is the more common type of kerosene heater that doesn’t require electricity to run. You can light the wick yourself or use the battery-operated function to light it for you.
Out of all the above heater types, this is one that is best suited for heating a large room in your home during a power outage.
What Qualities Define The Top Kerosene Heaters?
There are so many kerosene heaters on the market that making a decision can quickly become difficult.
Here are some key things to consider when looking at kerosene heaters before you buy one.
British Thermal Units (BTU)
This is a rating that tells you how much heat is being produced by the heater.
Every heater has a BTU rating and it’s designed to give you an idea of how powerful the heater is. It can also help interpret how big of a space it can provide consistent heat for.
If the space you want to heat is too large for the BTU rating on your heater then you will have reduced efficiency which leads to increased fuel consumption.
Smaller kerosene heaters can produce up to 20,000 BTU which is great for a small tent or room up to 1000 square feet.
Medium-sized heaters can get up to 70,000 BTU and are meant for less than 2,000 square feet.
It’s when you get to the larger heaters that you start to see BTUs over 120,000 which is great if you work in a large garage or a small warehouse.
Tank Size And Consumption
Tank sizes on a kerosene heater will always match the heater output capabilities. Larger tanks won’t necessarily last longer than smaller tanks because of heating differences.
Gallons are the most common measurement for tanks and they will often have a runtime rating in hours associated with it.
The tanks range in size from 1 gallon to 15 gallons for the larger models.
Kerosene heater tanks also come in two varieties: removable and permanent. Smaller portable heaters generally come with removable tanks so that you can move them around more.
A lot of the larger kerosene heaters come with permanently fixed tanks on them. It’s easier to fill a removable tank than it is a permanent one, however, it’s best to fill them both outside.
Some consumers will want their kerosene heaters for camping or heating a hunting camp, while others will need it as a backup if their furnace cracks out.
Portability is important for the former group and there are models that can easily heat a small single room dwelling. Ensuring that electricity isn’t needed is a must for these units.
You’ll also generally find portable units with removable fuel tanks so they can be packed away easier.
The downside is that you will have a smaller heater with a smaller tank which cuts down on how long you can use it before it needs to be refilled.
Pay attention to any product features that could be included in your kerosene heater. These can include things like:
- Automatic shutoff for low oxygen or accidental tipping
- Battery-powered kerosene heater starter
- Safety guards around the burner to stop anything from catching fire
- External thermostat for temperature regulation
These features are not necessary nor will they impede the function of the unit but they are great to have included, especially for safety reasons.
Tips On Using A Kerosene Heater
Kerosene heaters are pretty easy to use but there are some key things you can remember to get the most out of them.
Keep It Watertight
If you are storing your kerosene heater over the winter it is important to make sure that no moisture can get at it while it is packed away.
Ensure you empty your kerosene tank and remove the wick so that there is no chance of accidental ignition.
Filling Kerosene Tanks
Even if the tank is removable you should fill them outside because if you end up spilling kerosene inside on the floor or furniture it then becomes a fire hazard.
Ventilation Is Required
Having some form of ventilation, whether it be an open window or open door, is important since kerosene can emit carbon monoxide.
As with all heaters it is recommended that you don’t leave it on without your attendance.
The Top 12 Kerosene Heaters
Here are the top 12 kerosene heaters you can buy on the market.
They cover a range of types and features and should give you a good idea of what would suit your specific situation the best.
1. Dyna-Glo RMC-95C6B Indoor Kerosene Convection Heater
|Quite large at 27 inches
|Automatic shutoff for tipping
|Heats up to 1,000 square feet
This kerosene heater is made to be used indoors and since it can heat up to 1,000 square feet makes for an excellent product for smaller-sized rooms.
This is a convective heater and gives you heat all the way around.
The tank holds almost 2 gallons of kerosene and the company boasts a 12-hour runtime. The BTU rating on this unit is 23,000 BTU.
The nice thing about this heater is that if it is tipped over there is an auto shut off that also stops kerosene from spilling out.
2. Dura Heat DH2304S
|BTU rating is high at 23,800
|A heavy heater at almost 28 pounds
|10 hours of burning on a 2-gallon tank
|Built-in fuel gauge
|Small form factor
It has one of the largest BTU ratings of a small heater and can heat a 1,000 square foot for over 10 hours.
It gives you a 360-degree radius of heat which means it can heat up a room pretty quickly.
The interesting thing about this heater is that it comes with a built-in fuel gauge so you’re never caught off guard for fuel. It has an automatic ignition which doesn’t require electricity to start up.
3. Dyna-Glo 10K BTU Indoor Kerosene Radiant Heater
|Small unit at only 11 inches tall
|Can have a strong smell when lit and in use
|Can run for 14 hours on a one-gallon tank
|The internal wick needs regular replacing
This tiny indoor radiant kerosene heater is amazingly efficient and uses a powerful reflector to push out heat in one direction.
It includes a removable tank and safety features like an automatic shutoff when accidentally knocked.
4. Craftsman Forced Air Kerosene Heater
|Rugged metal construction
|The thermostat can sometimes be inaccurate
|Heats up to 2000 square feet
|Runs on multiple fuel types
|Lots of quality of life features
Craftsman makes some powerhouse heaters and this model is a testament to that. This is a forced air kerosene heater that runs on multiple diesel fuels as well as jet fuel.
It has a fuel gauge and air pressure gauge to give you readings which is convenient.
A lot of attention has been given to safety and you can see it in the construction. The handles are top-mounted so that they never get too hot to handle.
5. Sengoku HeatMate HMN-110
|Price is economical
|Can be a stinky heater
|Provides up to 14 hours of heat on a tank
|Fuel gauge included
|Lots of safety features
A budget-friendly radiant heater that can heat a small trailer or tiny home, the Sengoku HeatMate is a powerful solution for 380 square feet or less.
It features a fuel gauge, battery-operated starting function, and safety grills to minimize the chance of a fire.
6. Sengoku KeroHeat CV-23K
|Heats up to 1,000 square feet
|It’s a heavy unit at over 20lbs
|It runs 12 hours on 1 gallon of kerosene
|Includes fuel gauge and siphon
The Sengoku KeroHeat is ideal for workshops or large living spaces since it can heat up to 1,000 square feet.
It even distributes heat 360 degrees which means it can easily be used outdoors.
It has many of the safety features you’d expect to come from the company including the guard that runs all the way around the heater.
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7. Mr. Heater MH125KTR
|Has wheels for easy moving
|Components can break down if left in the cold
|Heats up to 3100 square feet
|Shutoff switch for overheating
This is a high-powered forced air kerosene heater that pumps out 125,000 BTU of heat. It can use a variety of fuels such as kerosene, diesel, and oil used in home oil furnaces.
This provides a lot of flexibility when certain fuels may not be available. You’ll need power for this one as the forced air fan requires it to use so it’s not designed for off-grid use.
8. ProTemp 80,000 BTU SilentDrive Oil-Fired Heater
|Portable and light
|The heat can be intense if used in smaller spaces
|Heats up to 2,000 square feet
|Radiant heater only directs heat in one direction
|Multi-fuel heater (kerosene and diesel)
This heater is unique in that it is a small and portable forced air kerosene heater. The fact that it can heat up to 2,000 square feet with a 4-gallon tank at 0.5 gallons per hour is pretty substantial for fuel economy.
An additional benefit is that this is one of the forced air heaters that is quieter than some of the larger competitive models.
9. Dyna-Glo Delux 80K BTU Forced Air Kerosene Portable Heater
|Pretty heavy at 26lbs without wheels to move it.
|The thermostat controls fuel usage
|The air pressure gauge included
|Auto-shutoff feature for the flame going out during operation
Dyna-Glo is known for its smaller kerosene heaters so this is a nice change from the usual. It runs off kerosene, diesel, jet fuel, and household furnace oil.
It can heat up to 1900 square feet for up to 9 hours on a 5-gallon tank. One interesting feature of this unit is that it has a self-diagnostics tool for troubleshooting.
10. DeWALT 50,000 BTU Forced Air Kerosene Heater
|An efficient heater that can run for 11 hours on a 5-gallon tank
|An expensive unit for what it provides
|Two-piece split barrel for easy disassembly
|Heats up to 1250 square feet
DeWalt is a brand that you wouldn’t expect to see in the kerosene heater aisle of the internet but they have a pretty robust offering.
This forced air heater gives you 11 hours of runtime on a 4-gallon tank which can heat up to 1250 square feet.
The barrel has an innovative split design and features a continuous ignition system. As with a lot of forced air heaters it can run on multiple types of fuel aside from kerosene.
11. ProTemp 140,000 BTU Kerosene/Diesel Radiant Heater
|Both a radiant and forced air heater
|A heavy unit at about 68lbs dry weight
|Noticeably quieter than other models of the same range
|Uses almost 1 gallon an hour
|Runs off of kerosene and diesel
|Has wheels for easy transportation
This heater is unique in that it’s a radiant heater with the capability of using a forced-air fan to push the heat out.
ProTemp is known for how quiet its heaters are and this one is no different. It can heat around 500 square feet of space.
If you have the power capacity to run this machine then it’s a good option for heating your place up.
12. STANLEY ST-80T-KFA Kerosene/Diesel Forced Air Heater
|Sealed electric motor to keep out moisture and dust
|Some users have noted that it can leak when the tank is full so be mindful when you move it.
|Convenient carry handle that won’t get hot
|80,000 BTU with a built-in thermostat that is able to heat up to 2,000 square feet
Stanley is another one of those companies that specializes in tools so it’s refreshing to see them have kerosene heater options.
This one has all of the bells and whistles you could want including safety shutoffs, a thermostat, and a built-in air pressure gauge.
Frequently Asked Questions
As with any fuel heater, there is a chance that you will notice some off-gassing. This is especially true upon start-up and shut off as the unit heats up and cools down.
If your kerosene heater starts to smell a lot, it could be an indication that there is a fault within the machine.
Most radiant and convective heaters don’t require electricity as they can be lit manually or with a battery-powered ignition. They use reflectors and physics to throw the heat in the desired direction.
As soon as you cross over into the forced air kerosene heaters you’ll need electricity to run the fans and ignite the kerosene.
Generally, the higher the BTU count the more space it can heat. To heat approximately 1,000 square feet you will need about 40,000 – 50,000 BTUs for even temperatures.
A forced air kerosene heater can help with this as it actively blows out the heat into the room.
Perrin is an adventure guide and naturalist currently living a nomadic life in the Canadian wilderness. His education and expertise is in wilderness survival and wildlife tracking. He enjoys teaching people about the outdoors and has managed large groups on expeditions.
With several accredited certifications, including being a wilderness first responder and a leave no trace expert, Perrin believes it is important for all of us to reconnect with the natural world.