Packs 125,000 BTUs of heating power, enough to warm over 3,000 square feet of space. Fuel tank holds 8.5 gallons of fuel to last up to 15 hours. Oversized tires allow easy transport. Allows easy access to fuel and maintenance.
Loud. Requires electricity to operate.
With 80,000 BTUs of power, can warm up to 2,000 square feet of space. Has a 5-gallon fuel tank to last up to 10 hours. Can run on kerosene, diesel, or jet propellant (JP-8) without modification. Easy-to-maintain split shell. Glove-friendly controls.
Requires electricity to operate.
At 75,000 BTUs of power output, effectively heats about 1,250 square feet. Offers a 4-gallon fuel tank that can last up to 11 hours. Accepts kerosene, diesel, jet fuel, or fuel oil. Controls are easy to operate even through work gloves.
Great for indoor or outdoor use. Can heat up to 4,250 square feet. Designed with overheating sensors that will shut off the heater. Oversized tires make it easy to transport and store. Provides up to 10 hours of heat. Comes with a one-year warranty.
This is the most expensive item on our list.
Can run continuously for up to 11 hours. Powerful enough to heat up to 1,750 square feet, making it safe for indoor or outdoor use. 6-gallon tank. CSA certified. Easy to use and can be used directly out of the box.
At nearly 40 pounds, this is not the easiest heater to move around.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
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. Generally safer than gas heaters, they also tend to be 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 job site, 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?
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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:
Kerosene heaters start around $100 and can easily rise into the $300 to $400 range or more. Also consider the amount of kerosene you plan to go through, as well as any extra expenses such as batteries.
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.
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 the 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.