I’m all for building thick skin and forcing yourself to deal with hardships as a healthy form of exercise, but there’s no reason to let your shop go cold this winter. The bitter sting of cold tools sucks the will right out of you, and the magnified bite of sharp edges is enough to make even the toughest among us squeal. Nobody wants that.
A more comfortable environment allows you to focus more and put that much more care into your project. Kerosene heaters are among the most cost-effective and efficient methods of heating your shop. They’re cheap and easy to run, and, best of all, likely won’t contribute to your skyrocketing electrical bill, and may even serve as a backup heat source for your home in a power outage. The hardest part is determining which is best for you, and I’m here to help you with that. Here are the best around.
Dyna-Glo 23,800 BTU Indoor Kerosene Convection Heater
Backed by an industry-leading name, this heater is sized perfectly for most garages and is built to last the test of time.
- Excellent performance
- Aptly sized for most shops
- Superior Quality
- Wick needs intensive maintenance
- Strong smell during starting and stopping
Sengoku HeatMate 23,000 BTU Convection Kerosene Heater
Affordable, yet just as capable as leading models. The ideal choice for someone working on a budget.
- Competitive pricing
- Aptly sized for most shops
- Great quality for the price
- Auto-start is finicky
- Not as efficient as others
Bilt Hard 85,000 BTU Forced Air Kerosene Heater
Built to blast the chill out of average workshops. This forced-air heater will make you sweat in a hurry, even on the coldest days.
- Rapidly heats most garages
- Competitive pricing
- Easy to setup and run
- Quality control issues are common
- Can be difficult to light
We’ve inadvertently burned ourselves on far more kerosene heaters than we care to remember. Needless to say, we’ve grown to be intimately familiar with these hot pieces of shop equipment over the years. That doesn’t mean we’re flying by the seat of our pants and recommending whatever we like with no regard for relevant data. We put in the time to research the market and what folks like. More than simply including what the masses find to work, we made sure to skip past the bots and read real reviews. That way, we’re not including any dangerous fuel burners that might turn your sanctuary into a hellish scene. That said, this list is subject to change as the industry advances and better models are introduced to the segment.
Best Kerosene Heaters: Recommendations and Reviews
Aptly sized for most shops
Wick needs intensive maintenance
Strong smell during starting and stopping
The Dyna-Glo 23,800 BTU convection kerosene heater is the best choice for the typical garage owner. It’s capable of heating up 1,000-square-foot spaces, with an eight to 12-hour run time with its 1.9-gallon tank. Overall, the price is really competitive despite coming from one of the best brands in the segment, with quality and performance to show for that.
The biggest drawback of this unit is how maintenance-intensive it is, with the wick and starter being a little more finicky than most. And even if you do keep up with it, there will always be a strong smell while starting and putting out the flame. Though, it’s hard to be too critical of these drawbacks. Even if you pay a little more for this unit, these issues are typical of this heater type.
Aptly sized for most shops
Great quality for the price
Auto-start is finicky
Not as efficient as others
The HeatMate 23,000-BTU heater is your best choice if you need something to heat your shop on a budget. Unless you’re considering buying and freshening up a used unit, paying any less for a convection kerosene heater can be dangerous as the build is going to be questionable. This model delivers the quality you would find in a higher-end model, just at a lower price, and will heat a 1,000-square-foot space with ease.
Operational features do take a hit with the lower-than-average price, with the auto-lite function being the first to fail. While you may still be able to safely use this unit without that function, it’s worth being aware of before you buy. It’s also reportedly not as efficient as other choices, which reduces its economical appeal in the long run.
Rapidly heats most garages
Easy to setup and run
Quality control issues are common
Can be difficult to light
Need to heat that workshop in a hurry? This Bilt Hard forced air heater has your name all over it. This 85,000 BTU heater will blast the cold right out of a 2,125-square-foot garage in no time. Unless you’re working out of an airplane hangar, that’s more than enough power. Despite that kind of juice, it’s super easy to set up and operate. It’s even got a relatively low price, making it the ultimate heating upgrade for the average shop.
Is it perfect? No. The lower price comes at the cost of quality control, with there being several complaints of related issues in the comments. Among them is a reoccurring theme of starting issues that render it useless.
Rapidly heats large spaces
High-capacity tank allows for long run time
Easily transported with large wheels
Easy to setup and operate
Those of you who are actually working in an airplane hangar of a garage need this beast from Mr. Heater. With a 210,000 BTU rating and the ability to heat a 5,250-square-foot space, it’s the most powerful option on our list and among the most juicy options you’ll have if you’re limiting yourself to burning kerosene fuel with an auxiliary heater. Despite how big it is, it’s easy to transport, thanks to the large wheels. It’s also super easy to set up and use, which is great for large shops, as anyone with a basic understanding of mechanical things can easily fire it up.
This monster is as expensive as you’d expect it to be. That’s not necessarily a drawback considering the performance it can deliver, but it’s nothing to just breeze past. Also, it’s extremely loud, which can be problematic if you need to use it for an extended time.
Perfect size for small shops and workbenches
Small and easy to carry
Limited to use in small spaces
Expensive for the size
If you’re just heating a workbench or shed, there’s no need to go with a huge heater. In fact, this 10,000-BTU heater from Dyna-Glo may be all you need. It’s a radiant heater, and though that means it’s meant for smaller spaces, it will get up to temperature more quickly than convection heaters. That said, it will work perfectly for a 500-square-foot space. And seeing as it’s so small, it’s very easy to transport and is far more efficient than other options.
This is the smallest option on our list, and that will be the biggest limiting factor. As is the price, considering you can get far more powerful units for the same amount of money. That said, it’s still cheaper than running electrical heaters that will send your utility bill through the roof.
Our Verdict on the Best Kerosene Heaters
Types of Kerosene Heaters
Most people think of convection heaters when kerosene heaters are of discussion. In fact, both our top pick and pick for Best Value are convection-type heaters. These offer great efficiency and are ideal for indoor use due to their low odor output. They get up to temperature more slowly than other types of heaters but are designed to provide a prolonged burn to heat moderate spaces over sustained periods. Using them in combination with forced air heaters is a popular method for achieving warmth quickly and maintaining it over an extended duration.
Radiant heaters are very similar to convection heaters, but there are some key differences. These heaters are great for getting small areas up to temperature quickly and are extremely efficient. They generally aren’t up to the task of heating larger areas, though. Radiant heaters are best for small shops, sheds, or use heating up work benches in shops equipped with other heat sources.
Forced Air Heaters
Forced air heaters are great for rapidly heating large work areas. The are generally used to get the chill out of an area, with radiant or convection heaters being used to maintain temperatures. You can use them for an extended period in exceptionally large areas, but that will come at a cost. These are loud, burn through fuel very quickly, and can be very dangerous if fresh air sources aren’t available. Take it from someone who’s learned the hard way. These will suck the oxygen out of a room if you’re not careful.
Every heater is attached to a BTU rating. BTU stands for British thermal units and is basically used to tell you how powerful a heater is. While a higher BTU rating is generally better, you don’t want to focus on this number alone. You should treat it more as a quick reference while comparing it to the size of the room the heater is intended to work with to gauge how well it’s going to work for you. The heater with the highest BTU rating for the square footage you need is going to be the best-performing option.
All kerosene heaters burn kerosene, right? Well, yeah, but not all work with the same type of kerosene. Some heaters will only work well with 1-K kerosene, and recommend not using red kerosene, like what you may find at a local fuel station. Others will run all sorts of heating fuels and even road diesel. It’s important to know what the heater you’re considering purchasing uses and how practical that is for your situation before buying.
FAQs on Kerosene Heaters
You have questions. The Drive has answers.
Q. Is it safe to run a kerosene heater indoors?
A. Yes. Many are meant specifically for indoor use. However, it is important to allow fresh air into the room to maintain healthy air quality.
Q. Is it safe to run a kerosene heater all night?
A. No. You should not allow a kerosene heater to run all night without someone there to monitor it.
Q. Is a natural gas heater better than Kerosene?
A. No. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. Generally speaking, natural gas heaters are better as a heat source for quick bursts, while kerosene heaters are better for longer periods.
Q. How long can you leave kerosene in a kerosene heater?
A. Kerosene fuel will stay good for six months. Though, you shouldn’t store a heater with fuel in it.
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.