Kerosene Heaters

Emergencies that take place during the winter months in the northern climates present a special challenge - keeping warm.  Kerosene space heaters provide a simple, safe, cost-effective solution.  They are indeed quite safe, contrary to the opinions of some who have never used them.  Unfortunately, they seem to be falling out of favor in the United States, and at the present time the available selection of new heaters is small.

Key to maintaining efficiency and conserving fuel in an emergency situation is to limit your heating to one or two rooms.  Move all that you need into these rooms, and to the extent possible, try to seal these rooms off from the rest of the house.  Bring in as many blankets, quilts, or sleeping bags as you own and dress warmly.  You are trying to get by with the minimum amount of heat, to conserve fuel and extend the amount of time that you are able to run your heater.

There are two main types of kerosene heater - radiant and convection.  A radiant heater radiates heat (Imfrared energy) and directly warms objects in the room, including your body.  They are generally box shaped.  A convection heater heats the air, which then circulates and heats everything else, so the effect is indirect.  They are generally tower shaped.  Radiant heaters tend to be smaller, putting out on the order of 10k BTUs.  Convection heaters tend to be larger, on the order of 23k BTUs.  Each has its purpose.  Convection heaters work best in large spaces (such as when trying to heat an entire house) but must be centrally located to work best.  Radiant heaters work best in smaller confined spaces.  Since they only give heat in one direction, they can be placed against a wall.  Most heaters do not require electricity though some take batteries for the igniter.  If you don’t have batteries or if they die, no worries, it is simple to light the heater with a match or lighter.

Be sure to follow the directions that come with your heater closely.  Never burn anything other that K1 clear kerosene in them.  Follow the break-in procedure, be sure to burn down the wick at the recommended frequency, and keep pets and small children away from the heater.  Also be sure to keep a few extra wicks on hand, as they are a consumable item.

My personal approach was to buy one radiant heater and one convection heater.  The convection heater can be run for a couple of hours early in the morning to get the air up to temp, and then it can be turned off and the radiant heater used to maintain the temps from there on out.

For a radiant heater, I recommend the Heat Mate HMHR 1101.  This heater is sold under several other labels, including the Kero Heat CT-1100 and the Mega Heat Mega-110.  For a convection heater, I recommend the Heat Mat HMHR 2230.  This heater is also sold under several other labels, including the Kero Heat CV-2230 and KH-250, and the Mega Heat Mega-230.  These heaters can be found sometimes at Ace Hardware or ordered from Northern Tool or other online sellers.  The Dynaglow models typically carried by Home Depot and Wal-Mart are not recommended.

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  1. Posted November 21, 2008 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    This amazing product is absolutely ideal for your home’s metal surfaces. Darin Wall

  2. Posted January 18, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I’m interest about the adiant heater radiates heat (Infrared energy). That is great for small place like house…

  3. Posted August 20, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Your article is very well written.

  4. Stephanie
    Posted January 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for such a great explanation to kerosene bestes. I just bought a mega heat 230 for $75. It works great, heats up our entire basement. It was used very little before I bought it and looks and works like brand new. I’m very impressed with it & hope I got a great deal. So far I really love the heater. It has little smell at ignition but goes away quickly. I have it on the lowest setting and its got so warm the kids all went upstairs! I have used a smaller kerosene unit that can go against the wall up to this point but it does not seem to be able to heat the entire basement as well or as quick. Lastly, I love the auto ignition, it is quick h easy to light and you never have to search for matches!

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