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In 1846, geologist Abraham Gesner discovered that solid coal could be distilled into liquid fuel. Since then, kerosene has been a part of everyday life. In the 1860s, kerosene was most widely used in North American homes and played an important role until electric lighting became commonplace. However, kerosene heaters never faded away.

In many places, kerosene heaters are still widely used for everyday heating. Portable kerosene heaters come in handy when electric or natural gas heating is unavailable. A small kerosene heater can take the chill off, regardless of where you are. It can heat a garage, tent or workshop and bring warmth to outdoor activities such as camping and more.

The best kerosene heaters make people’s lives more comfortable. Today, it can heat any space, from indoors to outdoors, from small rooms to large warehouses and more.


A kerosene heater, also known as a torpedo heater, a kerosene space heater, or a paraffin heater, is a portable heating device. The Japanese use them as a primary heat source for their homes, while Americans and Australians use them as a backup heat source in case of power outages.

Typically, a wick is in a burner unit. It is usually made of fiberglass or cotton and can draw kerosene. When ignited, it heats the kerosene and vaporizes it. The gas is then burned, heating the air and nearby objects by convection or radiation.

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  • BTU Output
The BTU output should ensure that it can adequately heat your space. The BTU rating measures how much heat it can put out in an hour. Typically, a kerosene heater with a high BTU rating can put out more heat.

  • Tank Capacity
Usually, the more fuel a tank can hold, the longer it will burn. Fuel should not exceed the maximum capacity to allow room for combustion. If you buy a heater with a small tank capacity, you may need to refuel it often.

  • Convection or Radiant
There are two types: convection and radiant. Convection kerosene heaters only heat the surrounding air and are less likely to heat the items around them. Radiant kerosene heaters will heat the surrounding objects. However, do not place radiant kerosene heaters with flammable items.

  • Indoor or outdoor
First, you must fill the heater with kerosene outdoors, ensuring the machine is cool and turned off. When outdoors, ensure the device is away from flammable items, such as a house or tent.

If indoors, don't put it in a doorway or hallway. Please keep it away from curtains, blankets, clothing, etc. Also, use a carbon monoxide detector to prevent safety hazards. You can also keep a fire extinguisher on hand.

  • Portability
If you travel or camp a lot, buy a portable kerosene heater. Although most heaters are portable, you must struggle to move the larger ones.

  • Safety Features
Overheat protection feature: If the machine gets too hot, it will shut down.

Anti-tilt switch: It keeps the kerosene heater from being knocked over. If the kerosene heater is tipped over, it shuts off automatically.

Smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector: It ensures that oxygen levels are below what is considered safe.

Removable fuel tank: It makes it easy to refill the fuel tank if you use the heater frequently.

  • Unpack the kerosene heater
Take it out of the cardboard box and remove the plastic, cardboard, etc.

Save the carton for storage when you are not using it.

Assemble the kerosene heater

Install the grill guard.

Install the battery.

If you don't have a grill guard installed, don't use it.

  • Add Fuel
Purchase K-1 kerosene. Either clear or red is fine.

Use a siphon pump to transfer fuel to the heater. Make sure the fuel does not exceed the full mark.

  • Take a break
Set the wick adjustment knob to the lowest setting. It will take at least one hour for the wick to draw enough fuel. When burning the fuel tank dry, you must wait one hour.

Also, read the instructions for the heater.

  • Ignition
After the wick has been immersed for one hour, turn the knob clockwise until it stops.

Then open the access door (convection type), and you can see the ignition process.

Push the ignition lever downward.

When the wick is lit, look for an orange glow.

If the wick is not lit, adjust the wick.

Push the ignition lever fully down.

Once the wick is lit, immediately release the ignition handle.

  • Adjust the Burner
Reach inside the access door and move the small metal pigtail burner handle. It should be in recess.

The flame will grow for about 15-20 minutes. If the flame is too high, use the wick adjuster to adjust it.

Read the owner's manual for more information.

  • Check the kerosene heater
Please often check if the wick needs to be readjusted. If the kerosene heater is still working, do not go to bed or to work.

  • Turn off the kerosene heater
Before going to bed, make sure the heater is turned off. When you are warm enough, you can turn off the heater. After a few minutes, open the access door and make sure the flame has gone out.

  • Fill the heater with water
You can use a siphon pump to fill the heater with water. If the kerosene runs out, refill it for an hour before lighting it.

You can use off-road diesel in a kerosene heater, but it may reduce wick life. However, as a temporary substitute, diesel works well.

Without ventilation, kerosene heaters can pose a safety hazard. If you do not turn off the kerosene burner before going to bed, this can cause a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Therefore, sleeping with a kerosene heater on is not advisable.

A kerosene heater can be used indoors if you follow the guidelines and safety precautions.

1. use it in a well-ventilated area.

2. have a carbon monoxide detector.

3. keep it away from walkways, furniture and curtains.

4. look for a heater with safety features. For example, some units will automatically shut off when they tip over or get too hot.

Generally speaking, kerosene heaters cost from $150 to $800.

The amount of kerosene consumed depends on the size of the tank and how long the heater runs. Typically, with a 1.0 to 2.0-gallon tank, the heater can operate for more or less than 18 hours.

Most kerosene heater wicks last about seven days. However, the number of uses and type of fuel may make a difference in the life of the wick.

Typically, you can replace wicks at least once a month. Wicks can also be replaced if they are difficult to light.

There are two types of kerosene heaters: convection heaters and radiant heaters. Let's understand how they work one by one.

  • Convection kerosene heater
Convection heaters are like kerosene lamps. It uses gas to warm the space. The wick is fixed to the burner of the oil tank and draws kerosene from the tank. The fuel is turned into vapor in the wick. Then, the kerosene vapor changes in the gas ( gasification).

  • Radiant kerosene heater
It works on almost the same principle as convection heaters. The electric heating element of a radiant heater raises the temperature of the kerosene and turns it into steam. A fan transfers the gas into the burner assembly. Finally, a fan or reflector transfers the heat to you.

Propane is a clean fuel that is more commonly used for home heating. It is more environmentally friendly due to its low emissions. Since propane is heavier, people usually compress it in a tank. But, propane can be dangerous if inhaled.

Propane is more costly, while kerosene is more cost-effective. Kerosene produces heat quickly and is ready to be turned on and off. It is not very dangerous when adequately vented, and the instructions for use are followed. You can also use a carbon monoxide detector to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.