Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Small Heaters; Kerosene or Propane?

I'm looking to purchase a small heater. It's uses would be as an alternate heating source for whatever events might come. I've pretty much narrowed it down to the Mr Buddy type propane heater with an adapter to connect to a 5 gallon propane bottle (instead of the tiny disposable bottles) or some sort of kerosene heater.

Propane has a slight edge as it's a fuel we already stock for the ambiguous Coleman stove and lantern plus BBQ. However the (admittedly one time) cost of 2 more bottles is a factor.

On the other hand Kerosene does not have that cost and it will work in our hurricane lantern as well as my multi fuel camping stoves. My folks had these heaters when I was a kid, both to add predictability to winter heating expenses and for emergencies. Generally they worked quite well though are more suited for occasional/ emergency use than several hours a day all winter long.

Open to your thoughts before making a purchase.

As always please separate input based on personal experiences from 3rd hand and internet type stuff. Thanks

22 comments:

Prairie Patriot said...

I just picked up the 18000 btu Mr Buddy. It definitely puts out enough eat for both the living room and kitchen. You can go through the small canisters fairly quick on the high setting. If you go the route of the hose for large propane tanks, then it's recommended to pick up the line filter as well. Some have said it's not strictly needed because you can just turn off the gas at the tank and let it burn the remaining fuel in the line. You won't be able to do the max setting on a 18000 btu without both sides having a canister/tank attached. One other thing to note is that there's an electric powered fan to push the air. It's powered by D cells or a sold seperatly power adapter.

Julie said...

I can safely say I've used them all. Kerosene has gotten so expensive, i save that for emergency lighting only. I'm not fond of the smell of Kerosene, plus the shelf life is not as long as propane. I do dose the Kerosene with Pri D, but that is another expense.
The Mr Buddy's are nice and can be moved about at will, but with any appreciable use, last about a season and are done. I heat with wood primarily, but for back up ( say you're just too ill to tend a fire), I now use a vent free propane that hangs on t he wall with a pipe outside to the 30 pound tank of propane. It is quite amazing, really. So far it is still working after two seasons, is easy to start ( push of a button)and comes in several sizes depending on ones needs. They do come with little "feet" if you do not wish to hang it on a wall and the tank can sit beside it. Propane heating does create a bit of moisture, but in the dry country I live in, not an issue. Northern Tool has several sizes and I think their sale might still be on. Anyway, for me, wood with a propane back up!
Julie

Prairie Patriot said...

@Julie,

Are you saying the Mr. Buddy will only last a season and they conk out? Or that the element is just used up?

Carteach said...

Why, exactly, would you limit yourself to one option? They both have strong enough good points to merit having both if possible.

I do.

Edheler said...

I have a round 24k BTU kerosene heater. It works well as an emergency heater and after starting it up I don't generally smell kerosene until it runs out. If you go this route make sure you store a spare wick (or three).

There is a propane heater and water heater in my RV. I don't use them because I consider the propane too valuable for cooking and refrigeration. The RV is really a backup for my backups.

I like keeping the fuel for the two purposes separate. I am thinking about installing propane oven, stove and refrigerator in my house with a 1000 gallon tank for them alone. With normal usage that should last a few years.

Neither are going to work well enough as the only source of heat in northern climates (~40N). I tried to use my kerosene heater a few winters ago and gave up in late December with a house temperature in the mid 50's.

riverrider said...

just be careful of the buddy heater in small spaces. mine used up all the o2 in the 8x16 cabin and didn't cut off until we were nearly unconscious. no problems in larger spaces.

Anonymous said...

I use propane in my cabin for everything but heat. The propane frig is great. 100# tank lasts 2 months for those interested. Thinking of a 10k propane heater to keep the interior above freezing here in the northern Midwest while I'm away. Anybody think that's a problem?

Theother Ryan said...

PP, Thanks for the input.

Julie, I don't plan to burn too much so cost of fuel isn't a huge concern. Didn't consider shelf life.

My plan is for this to be a contingency heating source so it should get minimal use.

Carteacho, It's more than I have funds planned to purchase a heater. 4 of each would be great but unless the heater fairy shows up that isn't happening this year.

Edheller, That's the type I was thinking.

Riverrider, Carbon monoxide detectors are a must and neither would run while we sleep.

Commander_Zero said...

Something to think about: you cant take a 1-gallon can or a 5-gallon bucket down the road to your neighbors to borrow some propane.

I like kerosene for its stability and safety for portable devices. My heater, lanterns and camp stoves will run it. However, for a more permanent installation, I think a propane heating system in thehouse, along with a 500 gal tank would be awesome.

Theother Ryan said...

Zero, Excellent point.

Aesop said...

As a rule, propane is for a short-term back up, whereas kerosene is for a longer-term emergency.

The Little Buddys are okay, but after using one, I got one of the heater/stove combos, depending on whether the heat source is pointed up or out.

http://www.amazon.com/Century-000-BTU-Heater-Cooker/dp/B000LVL674

Twice the short-term utility for the same price.

I'd also recommend one of the brass propane canister recharger doodads (>$10 IIRC) from Horror Freight, which lets you refill the 1 lb canisters from a 10/20/100# cylinder.

Prairie Patriot said...

@Aesop

I like the two in one of that combo. Can you use that heater/stove combo indoors without worrying about CO? Part of the selling point for me with the LB was that it was considered indoor safe.

riverrider said...

anonymous, i run a 40k for whole house until the winter sets in, then burn wood. i use a 10k in the master bath which is far from the wood stove year round with no problems. i have a 10k in the basement for those in between temps too. buy a quality unit and i don't think you'll have any problems.

Anonymous said...

The buddy heaters work great BUT you really really have to watch the filter , I bought one and also bought the line for a larger tank. NOWHERE did I get a warning about the problems with the line or the need for a filter. I have tried repeatedly to send the unit for servicing but the company that makes them only makes them to sell !
I just want to get the damn thing to work. I tried the "approved service center" and they said they wouldn't touch the things because the makers of the unit were Doody Heads....plain and simple ....too bad cause its a good product.......

Bob Strong said...

I would recommend using propane heating in PA. It is a lot more easy to access. That and you can put the rest of your propane in the grill afterwards.

Jackson Leavitt said...

When I lived in Chile, we used propane heaters. It was hard because the propane would run out fairly quickly. I wonder if propane heaters in the U.S. can last longer than a few days.

Self Heating & Cooling

sky said...

I made the switch to propane long time ago,because for me personally, propane is cleaner. safer and cheaper. And also very helpful when there would be a power outage. Propane does not go bad like some of the other fuels and has an indefinite shelf life. There are multiple storage sizes; the 1lb, the popular 20lb and even some 200lb tanks that are available at various hardware stores. Many use propane for their primary fuel source and have the much larger tanks that are filled only once or twice a year. Before you decide to store larger tanks of propane, you should check local laws.
gomowpropane

Anonymous said...

Found this and thought it might of interest to you?
What is Kerosene

Slarty Melger said...

I would say go with propane. It's cheaper and longer lasting plus you can get it more easily. I've used Kerosene and it works great, but propane typically is the better option. Make sure you get the right heater for it though. I've made that mistake before of using the wrong fuel for the wrong heater.
http://www.busterbrownpropane.com

Propane Heater Cooker said...

It's uses would be as an alternate heating source for whatever ... propanecooker.blogspot.com

WesternPA Outdoors said...

Problem getting propane to your pilot? Here's a problem we found and fixed. Maybe it's yours?? http://youtu.be/s58YeeyD0zE

William Braylen said...

nice post

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