Best Kerosene Heaters

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
138 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best kerosene heaters

Last Updated October 2019

You have a variety of options available to you if you are searching for a portable heat source. Heaters that run on electricity, propane, or natural gas all have their place, but kerosene heaters also have much to offer. They are generally safer than gas heaters, in addition to being more economical and more reliable. While some kerosene models rely on electricity to start them, others don’t, making them a perfect choice for areas where power isn’t an option.

Whether you want to heat a garage, camper, workshop, or a jobsite, kerosene heaters are a viable option. They are also handy to have around in an emergency as a quick go-to heat source. If you’ve ever shopped for one, though, you know that the different features and capabilities of kerosene heaters can be daunting. Plus, there is the key question: how safe are these to use?

This guide will bring you up to speed on the range of considerations you will run into when in the market for a kerosene heater. Additionally, we offer our suggestions for some of the safest and highest quality kerosene heaters out there.

Kerosene can be purchased at gasoline stations or in cans at the majority of department and hardware stores.

Key considerations

Construction and assembly

Whether on the job site or in your garage, kerosene heaters can take some abuse. As such, any heater you consider should be durable enough to survive prolonged use. A rugged, rust-resistant housing material such as steel is common here. The heater will also be easier to clean down the road if it has a housing that quickly disassembles.

Vital parts like wicks (present in all kerosene heaters) should be solidly constructed and made for your brand of heater; do not go with a generic wick you picked up at your local hardware store.

While some light assembly may be required, the majority of these are usually pretty much ready to go right out of the box.

How long will it run on a full tank?

The size of the fuel tank is one consideration when determining how long a heater will go between fill-ups, but it is not the only one. The amount of British thermal units (BTUs), and whether the output is adjustable, will also factor into how long a heater can run.

In addition to knowing how much fuel you need to have on hand, knowing how long a heater will run also has safety issues factored into it. Bottom line: it’s an important number, so be aware of it when shopping for a heater.

Most kerosene heaters will run for anywhere from 8 to 14 hours before they need refills. Any heater you buy should be equipped with an easy-to-read fuel gauge so you can quickly tell what the fuel level is.

Heat output

The heat output of kerosene heaters is measured in BTUs. In general, the more BTUs a heater can put out, the more square feet of space you can heat (and the more fuel it will consume). The number of BTUs per square footage varies heater to heater.

When researching this product, we ran across kerosene heaters rated for under 400 square feet and heaters capable of heating 6,500 square feet. Some heaters have adjustable thermostats, which you can use to more easily regulate the temperature in the room (and, again, the amount of fuel you go through).

FOR YOUR SAFETY

The purest kerosene is 1-K kerosene, which contains .04% sulfur and can be burned without a flue. 2-K, with up to .3% sulfur, releases much more harmful fumes and should only be burned with a flue.

Weight and size

Some kerosene heaters will weigh in under 30 pounds, while other are over 100 pounds. And that is before you fill the tank. Heaters that are heavier (or physically larger) are going to be more difficult to move around and harder to store when not in use.

Heaters that are designed with wheels or handles can render a heavy or bulky heater much more portable and easier to store.

Ignition system

The old days of lighting a kerosene heater with a match are pretty much behind us. Many heaters today have some form of ignition system such as a push-button start or an on/off switch. Some of these rely on electricity to start, which can limit portability or their use on remote job sites. Other heaters with electric starters overcome this by having a battery start option.

Safety features

Not surprisingly, safety is a prominent concern when it comes to heaters in general, but especially kerosene heaters. When comparing heaters, pay close attention to what safety features they offer, particularly if you have small children or pets that might come into contact with it, or nearby it, or may use it indoors.

Some safety features to watch for include:

  • A tip-over switch. This shuts the heater off in the event that it tips or is knocked over.
  • An overheat switch. If the heater becomes too hot, this switch engages and shuts it off.
  • Safety cages. These surround the heating elements to keep small hands (or paws) from being burned.

Safely heats large spaces

This option from Mr. Heater can heat a large space quickly and incorporates safety features such as overheating sensors. The oversized tires are handy for both transporting and storing it.

Kerosene heater prices

Kerosene heaters start around $100 and can easily rise into the $300 to $400 range or more. The majority that you find will be in the $200 to $300 range. More expensive models will generally be more powerful, featuring a higher BTU output and more advanced features such as an adjustable thermostat or wheels for improved portability. Also consider the amount of kerosene you plan to go through, as well as any extra expenses such as batteries.

CAUTION

Kerosene won’t explode, but it is still flammable and should be used with caution. Gasoline can explode and should never be used in a kerosene heater.

Tips

  • You should fill your kerosene heater fuel tank no more than 90 percent full, particularly if you store the kerosene in a cold area. Kerosene expands as it warms up, which could lead to a dangerous overflow.
  • If you use dyed kerosene in your heater, stock up on wicks. The dye in the kerosene can foul a wick much quicker than undyed kerosene will.
  • Never use a can that was used with gasoline to carry or store kerosene. Even minor amounts of gas can produce harmful or even deadly fumes.
  • To minimize kerosene odor, never let the heater fuel level run down to the point where the heater stops working. Shut off and refill the heater before it reaches this point.
  • Use a siphon pump to transfer fuel from the kerosene can to the heater tank. This is not only easier than trying to fill it by hand but will eliminate spills.
  • When storing your kerosene heater over the summer months, do some preventative maintenance so that it will be in prime shape for the next season. Drain the tank and properly discard the kerosene (it will go stale over time). Clean the heater and replace the wick if necessary. Store it in a dry, dust-free space.
  • Recessed controls on a kerosene heater will hold up better on a jobsite or through rough handling than controls that protrude too much from the heater housing.
  • A heater that comes equipped with tires will be easier to move around and store in tight spaces.
  • If you plan to use the heater primarily on a job site, search for one with larger controls. These will be easier to manipulate when you have gloves on.
  • If your kerosene heater will be used frequently, purchase a carbon monoxide detector to go near it, just to be on the safe side.
  • While kerosene heaters will run on other fuels such as diesel or heating oil, such fuels can produce greater amounts of soot and toxic fumes and should be avoided, particularly for inside use.
EXPERT TIP

If you use your kerosene heater regularly, you should be replacing the wick at least once a year or as needed.


Staff  | BestReviews

Large-capacity tank is great for a job site

The six-gallon tank holds enough to keep this kerosene heater from DEWALT pumping out the heat for up to 11 hours. Features recessed controls. Easy to use directly out of the box.

 

Other products we considered

In addition to our top five kerosene heaters, we had a few others we wanted to mention that caught our eye. While you will pay for it, the DEWALT 215,000-BTU Forced Air Kerosene Heater pumps out an impressive 215,000 BTUs and can heat up to 6,500 square feet. It also has wheels to help you move around its 100+ pound weight. The Dyna-Glo Delux Kerosene 80,000 BTU Forced Air Heater is a much more compact 27 pounds and offers a high level of control with its adjustable thermostat and run time fuel gauge. If money is a primary consideration, the Dura Heat 50,000 BTU Kero Forced Air Heater is an economical option that can run up to 14 hours on a tank.

CSA certification is a US-accredited testing certification. Kerosene heaters that have this certification will likely be of higher quality than those that don’t.

FAQ

Q. Are kerosene heaters safe to use indoors?
A.
Kerosene heaters can be used indoors, if you take the proper precautions. The first: be sure you are using just kerosene in the heater, preferably non-dyed 1-K grade kerosene. Even the purest kerosene can still produce toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, so be sure that the area you are using it in is properly ventilated. To do this, either open a door leading to the rest of the building or crack a window if the area is super-insulated. Put a carbon monoxide detector nearby (but not too close). Be sure you consult your manual before using any heater indoors for additional safety warnings.


Q. What is the difference between convection and radiant heaters?
A.
Usually circular in shape, convection heaters use fans to circulate hot air and heat an entire room. These are best used to heat closed areas where people will be gathered for longer periods of time.

Radiant heaters work by transferring heat directly to people or objects. These heaters — usually rectangular or tube-shaped — are best used when people are in line of sight of the heater. Radiant heaters provide warmth without the need to heat up a complete space.


Q. What is the safest way to fill a kerosene heater?
A.
First, turn the heater off and let it cool off. When the heater has completely cooled, take it outside and fill it there. You can use a siphon to limit spills, and you should never fill the heater around open flames, such as a lighter or lit cigarette.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer
  • Stacey
    Stacey
    Writer

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