Kerosene Heaters: What No One
Ever Tells You About Them
Straight Talk About Buying Kerosene Space Heaters
With winter just around the corner, smart homeowners are preparing for snow and the cold. While almost all are familiar with furnaces, what about kerosene heaters for use indoors? Sure they are useful, if for nothing else but as back-up comfort and warmth should you lose power. But are they safe? Are they cheaper compared to electric heaters? These are just a few questions asked whether you're going high end with a Kerosun. Or looking at one of the Corona, Sanyo, Aladdin or Dyna Glo models. So let's turn the light on kerosene heaters.
What are kerosene heaters?
Kerosene heaters are radiant, indoor heating devices that are often used as space heaters in homes. They're portable, unvented and may also be referred to paraffin heaters. They can best be used as small back-up heaters but some may rely on them as their main source of heat during the winter.
How do they work?
In a way imagine kerosene heaters as super sized kerosene lamps. They have wicks and a tank filled with kerosene. When the wick is lit, it heats up the burner and the burner produces heat in the surrounding air. Kerosene heaters don't need electricity to run although some do use battery-operated igniters to fire up the process. If this doesn't work, you can always light the wick manually using matches.
How safe are they?
Used properly and with caution, convection kerosene heaters are safe. Just so long as you keep up with little bit of wick maintenance that may be required and remember to refill them outside. Although most people prefer electric heaters for their homes, some still use kerosene heaters. They are especially good for emergencies and power outages.
The main concern with kerosene heaters is carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that is produced by any oil based fuels or natural gas. If there is not enough oxygen in the air to sustain the flame, it releases carbon monoxide instead. It can suffocate anyone in the house even if you are sleeping. Any risk can be minimized by keeping a window cracked and using CO detectors.
Are there safety guidelines when using kerosene heaters?
Yes, of course. One needs to be safe when using kerosene heaters. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
What should you look for when buying one?
Heat! BTUs of heat. Typically the more BTUs the more heat will be put out.
Burn time on a fill up. Another good thing to know. The longer the better. Obviously. Just don't take what the manufacturer tells you as the gospel truth.
Consider how easy the unit will be to lug around. Does it come with a removable fuel tank which can cut down on how much you have to lug? If not you may be trying to maneuver 35 pounds of heater when fully fueled. Which is why many consider a removable fuel tank to be a deal breaker.
Look for ones with a sturdy handle. That can take the weight of a fully fueled unit if you can't remove the fuel tank.
Push-button ignition is a nice convenience feature that lets you save your matches for something else.
Remember the wick is what counts when it comes to cleaner, odor-free operation. There may be some "wick maintenance" involved.
A fuel siphon can help to make refueling less of a hassle. More or less a no-spill activity. Still to be done outside however.
And if the instructions say to do the first burn off outside, do that. It will have you avoid any noxious fumes that come from any leftover manufacturing residues.
So there you have it, some things you should really know about kerosene heaters. Not only will these keep you and your family safe but you'll know what to do, what not to do and what to look for when heater shopping.
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