Creating a backyard space takes planning and effort, so it’s a shame that you can’t use it as often when temperatures drop. If you’re tired of letting winter’s icy grasp drive you inside, a kerosene heater could be a solution. A kerosene heater on a patio or deck can keep you and your family warm so you can enjoy the great outdoors. These cold weather wonders are available in different types, sizes, and capacities. Learn why the following models are considered among the best kerosene heaters on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: DuraHeat Portable Convection Kerosene Heater
- RUNNER-UP: Sengoku Kerosene Heater, White
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Sengoku HeatMate 10,000-BTU Indoor/Outdoor Kerosene
- UPGRADE PICK: Dyna-Glo Delux KFA80DGD Kerosene Forced air Heater
- BEST MIDSIZE: Mr. Heater MH75KTR kerosene heater
How We Chose the Best Kerosene Heaters
Since there are multiple types of kerosene heaters on the market, we provide a list of recommendations that covers as many options as possible. Our top picks include a selection of the best forced-air, radiant, and portable kerosene heaters for shoppers to choose from. Depending on what you’re looking for, our list can provide solutions for smaller areas, all the way up to a powerful 80,000 BTU heater that can heat up areas of up to 1,900 square feet.
During our research, we made sure to only include top brands that use the highest quality materials. Most importantly, we ensure that each of our top recommendations include common safety features such as tip-over and high-temperature shutoff.
Our Top Picks
Kerosene heaters aren’t new technology, but some improvements have been made to safety and efficiency, so keep the considerations detailed above in mind while comparing products. This list of some of the best kerosene heaters on the market helps streamline the shopping process.
Jump to Our Top Picks
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Kerosene Heater
Kerosene heaters produce plenty of heat, which can make them ideal for outdoor applications. Kerosene is a relatively inexpensive fuel, so burning a kerosene heater on “high” in an outdoor space may be more affordable than using another type of heater. When shopping for a kerosene heater, keep in mind their specifications, such as tank size, heat type, and the all-important safety features.
Kerosene heaters are available in various models, each of which produces a different type of heat. Some are more suitable for specific applications than others. Note: All kerosene heaters run on a liquid fuel, which can be messy. If that’s not a task you want to undertake, other non-electric heaters use propane, natural gas, and easier-to-manage fuels.
- Convective kerosene heaters use convection to heat a space. They produce warm air that rises and pushes cold air down toward the heater. The heater then draws in the cold air and heats it, which rises and pushes colder air down again. This produces a very even heat within a space, and they run quietly.
- Radiant kerosene heaters produce localized heat, essentially warming the objects in front of them. They don’t do a particularly good job at heating a larger space evenly, but they’re ideal for targeting a specific area, such as a table or sitting area.
- Forced air kerosene heaters (also known as torpedo heaters and salamanders) heat air and force it into the area, much like a furnace. They’re suitable for heating large outdoor tents and gazebos, but they can be quite loud.
- Portable kerosene heaters come in both convection, forced air, and radiant models, though the latter type is the most common. These heaters are small and easy to transport. Take it outside to refill the fuel tank, which helps minimize potential mess or dangerous accidents.
Kerosene is a liquid fuel, so tank sizes are measured in gallons or liters. The ideal tank size is relative, so consider these factors:
- Heat output: Large heaters burn more fuel, so they need a larger tank.
- Portability: Smaller heaters need to be light and portable, so they have a smaller tank.
- Fixed vs. removable: Fixed tanks are usually larger, while removable tanks must be small and manageable.
In general, larger wheeled kerosene heaters have fuel tanks that hold up to 15 gallons (roughly 56 liters) of fuel, while smaller models may hold only 1 or 2 two gallons (about 7 to 8 liters).
Kerosene heaters also come in a variety of outputs, which are measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). The higher the number of BTUs, the more heat a heater can produce.
Smaller heaters that produce heat within the 10,000 to 25,000 BTU range are ideal for smaller rooms, patios, or porches. Depending on the model, they can heat between 300 and 1,000 square feet. Midsize heaters (roughly 50,000 to 75,000 BTUs) warm spaces between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet.
Larger models—typically forced hot air—can pump a lot of hot air throughout a space. These heaters, which sometimes produce more than 150,000 BTUs, work well for large backyard parties and semi-enclosed tents.
Anytime energy is a factor, efficiency must be considered when choosing the product. Since kerosene heaters burn fossil fuels, make sure the model you choose is efficient and wastes as little fuel as possible.
Many kerosene heater manufacturers list their products’ efficiency rating, describing it in percentages. The best kerosene heaters burn around 99 percent of the fuel, passing less unburnt fuel through the exhaust.
But for a heater to work efficiently, it must be the correct size for the space. A 10,000-BTU heater may never heat a large garage, for example, which means fuel is wasted. Heating a small patio might not require a 135,000-BTU heater, as it will burn more fuel than necessary to keep the space comfortable.
Run time is directly related to the size of the fuel tank, the heater’s output, and its efficiency, the most important of which is tank size. The larger the tank, the more fuel it uses, so the longer the heater will run. A heater that runs for several hours without refueling is a convenience worth shopping for, but manufacturers aren’t always forthcoming with this information.
Some of the best kerosene heaters can provide heat on a low setting for up to 12 hours before running out of fuel.
Kerosene heaters have the potential to be dangerous. If left unattended or used incorrectly, they can start a fire or cause burns. Many heaters have an overheat switch that shuts down the unit if it gets too hot. Also, compact kerosene heaters can tip over quite easily if inadvertently bumped. An anti-tip switch shuts off the heater if it tips over.
Moreover, any machine that burns fuel—kerosene, gasoline, wood, or any other type—also produces carbon monoxide. The best kerosene heaters are extremely efficient and designed to emit very little carbon monoxide, which makes them safe even for indoor use. However, when used indoors, it’s a good idea to install a functioning carbon monoxide detector as a safety precaution.
If you have concerns about running a fossil fuel-burning heater in an enclosed space or want more info about kerosene heaters, check out the answers to the common questions below.
Q. How big of a kerosene heater do I need?
This depends on the space you’re heating. In most cases, a 50,000-BTU heater is effective at heating a small porch, while a 100,000-plus-BTU unit might be necessary for a large open space such as a wedding tent or barn.
Q. How many square feet will a kerosene heater heat?
The amount of space a kerosene heater heats depends on BTU output. Low-output heaters, in the 25,000-BTU range, may heat 1,000 square foot spaces, while 135,000-BTU units can heat over 3,000 square feet.
Q. Do kerosene heaters give off carbon monoxide?
Yes, carbon monoxide is a by-product of the combustion process. Generally speaking, these heaters produce levels considered safe, but users should have a functioning carbon monoxide detector when running a heater indoors.
Q. Is it safe to run a kerosene heater all night?
Kerosene heaters are not as safe as a furnace or boiler, but they could be the only heat source in a power outage. While these heaters may be considered safer than sleeping without heat in subzero temperatures, you should never leave a kerosene heater unattended.
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