The 8 Best Kerosene Heaters
8. Sengoku CTN-110 KeroHeat
7. Dyna-Glo RMC-55R7B Indoor
6. Mr. Heater F270270
5. Dyna-Glo RMC-95C6B
4. Mr. Heater F270370
3. Protemp Sun Stream
2. Dura Heat DH2304
1. Dyna Glo Delux
What Separates a Good Kerosene Heater From a Great One?
The first feature you'll want to take into account whenever shopping for a kerosene heater is its BTUs (British Thermal Units). While the metrics surrounding a BTU can be a bit confusing, the thing to know is that an average kerosene heater should provide between 8,000-15,000 BTUs, whereas a superior kerosene heater might provide as many as 25,000 BTUs, or more.
A kerosene heater with high BTUs should be capable of warming a small room almost immediately. Beyond that, certain heaters boast a wider range than others. By way of example, consider that an inexpensive heater might have a range of 300 sq ft (i.e., a tiny bedroom), whereas a top-of-the-line heater might have a range of 5,000 sq ft (i.e., a full-court gym or a social hall).
Every kerosene heater needs fuel. What differentiates one model from another is how long it can last based on one tank of fuel. Most heaters can operate for 8-10 hrs after being refueled, while others can last as long as 15 hrs, or even more. This is relevant in that extra kerosene equates to extra costs, which is why you'll want to research how long a heater's power can last, along with how much fuel each model's storage can hold.
Before purchasing a heater, you'll want to take note of whether it runs on straight kerosene, or whether it also requires batteries (or outlet power). In addition, you'll want to take note of a heater's weight. Certain kerosene heaters weigh 20-30 lbs, and they feature wheels and handles for portability. Other models weigh 60-70 lbs, and they are extremely unwieldy, at best.
Several Safety Tips for Operating a Kerosene Heater
Kerosene heaters are a tremendous resource for warming a room, or even a small campsite. But the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) warns that any kerosene heater needs to be operated with a degree of caution. There have been incidents, for example, via which people have mistakenly filled their kerosene heaters up with gasoline. This is usually the result of two or more multi-gallon containers being situated side-by-side. The best way to avoid such a mishap is by marking each of your multi-gallon containers, and color-coding each of those containers, as well.
When it comes time to refill your kerosene heater, turn the heater off and give it several minutes to cool. Once the heater is at room temperature, carry it outside to avoid any indoor kerosene spills. Fill the heater up, and then hose the surrounding area down. Make sure to reattach any safety valves or caps before carrying the heater inside and turning it back on.
If you are operating a kerosene heater indoors, make it a point to open a window at least once a day. Kerosene heaters emit carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in very minor doses, but any heater operating for an airtight atmosphere could cause these gases to accumulate. In addition, you'll want to avoid placing any papers or books within a kerosene heater's reach. Paper and cardboard aren't only flammable, they're capable of getting knocked into a heater's central core.
Finally, get in the habit of confirming that any kerosene heater has been turned off before you leave it for an extended period of time. The majority of modern heaters have been designed with built-in safety features (i.e., auto shut-off), but that doesn't change the fact that an owner's vigilance might hold the key to preventing any accidental fire.
A Brief History of Kerosene (By Way of Its Inventor)
During the 1840s, a Canadian geologist named Abraham Gesner developed a uniform process for refining fuel from coal, oil shale, or asphalt. Convinced that his fuel was cheaper and cleaner than any other fuel-oils on the market, Gesner trademarked his new product under the name "kerosene," which is based on a Greek word for wax.
In the mid-1850s, Gesner opened a Long Island refinery which he called North American Kerosene Gaslight Company. Almost immediately, business skyrocketed to an extent that Gesner could scarcely keep up with the demand. Gesner responded by importing petroleum, an oil-based commodity that allowed for distilling liquid kerosene a bit quicker. Having solved the issue, Gesner shifted to writing a series of articles extolling the benefits of his product.
During the late 1850s Abraham Gesner sold North American Kerosene to a Brooklyn-based competitor named Astral Oil. Gesner returned to Nova Scotia, where he was employed as a Natural History Professor until his death in 1864.
Standard Oil absorbed North American Kerosene (along with Astral Oil) toward the end of the 1870s. Standard went on to become the largest oil company in the world - a veritable monopoly that eventually needed to be broken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. Kerosene has been slightly superseded over the past century thanks to a combination of technology, electricity, and more efficient types of fuels. Today, kerosene is still a billion-dollar industry, and yet it only accounts for .1% of all petroleum-related revenues worldwide.