Whether you want to enjoy crisp fall evenings outdoors or need a supplemental indoor heating source, a kerosene heater can be a great option. The heaters are available in a variety of models.
To understand the best kerosene heater for your needs, we’ll explore pricing, safe use, and how to replace the wick in a kerosene heater. Based on thousands of online reviews, we’ll also guide you on the best kerosene heater options for indoor and outdoor use.
What is a kerosene heater?
A kerosene heater is a unit that produces warmth by using kerosene as fuel. A cotton or fiberglass wick is fed into the burner piece that is positioned above a fuel tank that’s filled with kerosene.
Kerosene is pulled from the tank through a capillary effect. When the kerosene heater wick is lit, the kerosene heats until it converts to a gas that’s used to heat the surrounding air. Some kerosene heaters rely on electricity to force the warmed air throughout a space while others have an easy-to-use push button start and don’t require an outlet.
Modern styles also offer an installed thermostat-controlled function and do not require a match to light. The ignitor in these units is operated by batteries, but if the device fails to ignite, it can be started manually.
Types of kerosene heaters
Consider how you plan to use the heater before making your purchase. We discuss the differences between the types of kerosene heaters below.
Convective kerosene heaters use the convection process to warm a room. The warmer, less dense air created by the heater rises while cooler air sinks to be pulled into the heater and warmed. These heaters are known for their even distribution of warm air and quiet operation.
Radiant kerosene heaters are best suited for small spaces. They project heat outwards, warming the objects and space around them. Use this type of heater when a targeted area, like a sitting space, needs to be warmed.
For large outdoor spaces like event tents or open venues, a forced air kerosene heater is best. They work similarly to a furnace in that they force air into a designated space. These units are also referred to as torpedo heaters and can be quite loud.
The majority of kerosene heaters are portable to some degree. Small kerosene heaters are usually built with handles to be carried from room to room and weigh between 12 and 30 pounds. Larger models are designed with wheels to offer mobility when needed.
How to choose a kerosene heater
When shopping for the best kerosene heater for indoor use or one to take on camping or hiking trips, it’s best to research the features of the unit. Some of the most important considerations include:
- Size: When using a kerosene heater indoors, the size of the equipment should be in proportion to the room. A larger size is best for bigger spaces, like heating a worksite or warehouse space. A small kerosene heater is ideal for a room inside your home (see our tips below for how to safely use a kerosene heater indoors).
- Capacity: The more fuel the tank can hold, the longer it will produce heat without having to be refuelled. Most indoor kerosene heaters hold up to two gallons of fuel and will operate for 8 to 12 hours on a full tank.
- Safety features: Regardless of where you want to use the kerosene heater, you must be mindful of the safety features. Auto shut off, electrical ignition system (that allows you to turn on the heater with only a button), thermostat, fuel gauge, and anti-tip switch (for leak prevention) are some of the must-have safety features of any kerosene heater.
- Warranty: Most manufactures typically offer a one-year warranty for kerosene heaters. If you plan to use your heater infrequently, it may be smart to pay extra and get a two-year warranty.
Best kerosene heater for indoor use
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The best kerosene heater for indoor use is the Sengoku KeroHeat CV23K(H) Convection Kerosene Heater. This unit is designed to warm a space up to 1,000 square feet without electricity or a match.
Sengoku KeroHeat CV23K(H) | $224.99
Best features of the Sengoku KeroHeat CV23K(H):
- Push-button start
- Easy flame adjuster to regulate heat output
- Fuel capacity of 1.9 gallons
- Provides approximately 12 hours of heat without needing a refuel
- Automatic safety shut off
If you don’t need 23,500 BTU (British Thermal Unit) power that comes with the Sengoku model, other choices on the market may fit your needs. We also like:
Dyna-Glo RMC-55R7 Indoor Kerosene Radiant Heater | $274.99
Heats up to 500 square feet with 10,000 BTU. The automatic ignition offers an easy start and no electricity is needed.
World Marketing of America KW-12 Convection Style | $252.99
Heats up to 450 square feet with 10,500 BTU without electricity.
For even smaller spaces, like an office or workshop, a radiant kerosene heater may be more ideal. These heaters will push warmth to a specific area.
Best kerosene heater for outdoor use
The best kerosene heater for outdoor use is the REMINGTON REM-80T-KFA-O Kerosene Heater. This unit is designed to warm a space up to 2,000 square feet and can operate for up to 10 hours on a full tank.
REMINGTON REM-80T-KFA-O | $195.99
Best features of the REMINGTON REM-80T-KFA-O:
- High-temperature limit shutoff
- Flame-out protection
- Circuit breaker protection
- Heat sensor safety label indicator
- Adjustable thermostat
- Multiple fuel options
The Remington unit is best for construction sites, ventilated warehouses, open barns, and other outdoor work environments. We also like:
Depending on the size and power you need from your outdoor or indoor kerosene heater, the price will vary.
How much is a kerosene heater?
The cost of a kerosene heater typically ranges from $150 to $200 for an indoor unit. A larger unit that’s designed for outdoor use is more expensive, ranging from $250 to $400+.
Unlike other fuels, the price of kerosene is on the cheaper side, with a gallon averaging at around $3. When stored properly, the fuel can last for a long period of time.
Kerosene can last up to five years without going bad, but it must be stored in the appropriate container in a cool, dry space. It’s recommended that you keep the kerosene in its original packaging. If that’s not possible, kerosene storage containers are the safest option.
The best kerosene heater should operate smoothly for 10 years or more. With regular cleaning and maintenance, one kerosene heater can offer long-lasting service for a pocket-friendly cost.
How to use a kerosene heater
Safety is of utmost importance when using a kerosene heater indoors. Improper use of the heater will produce excess carbon monoxide and increase the risk of fires and burns.
If your heater came with a user manual, read it thoroughly to get a good understanding of how the equipment works. Always clean the heater and replace the wick before each use.
Using a standard kerosene heater starts with filling the fuel tank. After the wick has soaked in the fuel for at least an hour, your heater is ready to be lit. If your heater has an automatic ignition system, you can light it with a press of the button. If your unit does not have an ignition system, you’ll need to lift the burner chamber and light the kerosene heater wick with a match.
Kerosene heaters must be vented when being used indoors. They consume oxygen and produce a number of harmful gases, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and sulphur dioxide.
When burning kerosene, use these safety precautions to protect yourself and your home:
- Clean the kerosene heater regularly
- Do not operate the heater near furniture, drapes, or combustible fuels
- Place the heater in a space with little foot traffic to avoid accidental burns
- Never move the heater while it’s operating
- Never leave a burning heater unattended
- Follow device instructions for proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide build up
Another safety measure to be aware of when operating a heater is how to replace wick in kerosene heater unit.
How long does a wick last in a kerosene heater?
It is recommended that the kerosene heater wick be replaced every year. This helps the heater run smoke-free and keeps the air cleaner.
The wick burns after soaking up fuel, and when the heater is cleaned regularly and the kerosene is properly maintained, the wick should work without problems for years.
If the heater begins to produce smoke when you ignite it, then you should dry burn the wick. Dry burning the kerosene heater wick is a process of cleaning the unit by allowing your heater and wick to burn completely out of kerosene. Complete dry burning outdoors because it’s likely the unit will smoke.
The dry burn process rids the wick of carbon deposits. Old or contaminated kerosene can ruin a wick much quicker, so it is advised that you replace the fuel when you see smoke.
If you are wondering how to replace wick in kerosene heater, the process can be a little tricky sometimes. The steps for a standard kerosene heater are as follows:
- Make sure the fuel tank is empty and the wick has been dry burned
- Remove the screws and the batteries
- Remove the cabinet base, wing nuts, and the adjuster assembly
- Remove the wick cover and take out the existing wick
- Install new wick
- Lower the adjuster back onto the base and put the cabinet back together
All of these steps must be performed with the utmost care and precision for your safety and to avoid damage to the heater. If needed, you may get a professional to clean and replace the kerosene heater wick.
Frequently asked questions
Is it safe to use a kerosene heater indoors?
Unlike propane, kerosene produces fumes when burned, and requires ventilation. If using a kerosene heater indoors, proper ventilation must be ensured to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. The size of the room also matters. A large heater should never be used in a small space.
What is the BTU of a standard kerosene heater?
The heat generated by a kerosene heater is measured in British Thermal Unit. A standard kerosene heater generates 75,000 BTUs per gallon, but you can also find smaller heaters whose output varies between 11,000 and 25,000 BTUs.
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