Can you use a kerosene heater indoors?
The warning labels on many, if not most, kerosene heaters advise people to keep them at least 18 inches away from the walls of a room and not inside a building, but these labels often do not explain why.
So, are kerosene heaters safe to use indoors?
The short answer is “sometimes”.
It is not recommended to use kerosene heaters as a permanent form of indoor heating, but they can be used to supplement or provide heating in case of an emergency.
What Is A Kerosene Heater?
A kerosene heater is a fuel-burning appliance that uses kerosene as its fuel source.
Kerosene is burned inside the heater, causing it to become hot. Air is then pulled through the unit by means of either natural or battery-powered convection fans, which causes the area in which the heater is situated to become heated.
This effect is much like a regular household furnace, but instead of using electricity as its main source of fuel it uses kerosene.
Kerosene heaters are mostly used in cold countries with high electricity prices or no electricity access at all. Kerosene is much more efficient than electricity, so it’s cheaper to use a kerosene heater.
Many people also buy Kerosene heaters because they’re concerned about the worry over possible power outages during the winter season.
They are also popular for outdoor activities such as camping, hunting, and fishing due to their ease of transportability.
Why Using a Kerosene Heater Indoors Permanently Is Not Recommended
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To understand why it is not suggested to permanently use kerosene heaters indoors, it’s important to know the dangers of burning kerosene.
The reason why kerosene heaters should not be used inside houses and other buildings is that the fumes that they emit when burning kerosene are highly combustible.
Because of this, it’s possible for a house to catch fire if the heater were to tip over or malfunction (this can also happen with gas heaters).
Kerosene heaters also put out carbon monoxide, which in large amounts can be deadly. It’s also possible for a person to get carbon monoxide poisoning from smaller amounts, which can result in flu-like symptoms that go away after the person has been removed from the environment.
Therefore, you need to be aware of precautionary measures when using a kerosene heater inside.
This is also the reason why it’s not recommended as a permanent form of indoor heat. In case of power outages or for other possible emergencies, you can use a kerosene heater inside as long as the precautions below are taken.
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1. Keep The Kerosene Heater In A Well-Ventilated Area
Do not use the kerosene heater in small rooms or in an area without ventilation. This is a popular mistake many users of kerosene heaters make. They assume that because it emits no odor, there is nothing to worry about.
However, kerosene heaters use petroleum fuel as their source of energy, and this is very combustible.
As such, it is essential that you keep the heater somewhere where there is plenty of ventilation.
If you are using it in a small room or poorly ventilated area, place it close to an open window so that the fumes have a chance to escape.
2. Place The Heater In The Right Location
The best way to keep you and your family safe while using a kerosene heater inside is to place it in the right location.
Make sure you place them on a level surface and far away from any flammable materials (including items that may produce excess vapors).
Never place a kerosene heater in an enclosed area, such as a closet or cabinet, even if you leave for just a few minutes.
When it comes to heaters, “out of sight is not out of mind.” If you are using the heater in your bedroom and step out for a few minutes it doesn’t mean the heater has turned itself off.
When you wish to leave the room, it is best to check and make sure the heater is completely turned off before exiting.
3. Choose the right Kerosene Heater
When it comes to kerosene heaters, size matters.
If you are choosing a kerosene heater for indoor use, opt for a smaller model. This means that you should choose a model with a tank that is no bigger than one pound.
A larger tank is fine if you intend to use the heater outside or in a garage where there is nothing combustible nearby.
However, if you plan on using it inside your home, then opt for a smaller model instead of one with an oversized tank.
Some kerosene heaters include safety features such as an automatic shut-off switch that will turn the heater off if it tips over, which makes them safer for indoor use than older models.
Also, the newer designs tend to emit fewer fumes.
4. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors
It is also important to install carbon monoxide detectors in areas near kerosene heaters.
If you can, put them right outside the door to your room; this way you will be immediately alerted if there are any fumes in the area.
5. Keep Children And Pets Away From The Heater At All Times
Many people make the mistake of thinking a kerosene heater is completely safe, but this isn’t always the case.
Just because it won’t start a fire by itself doesn’t mean that something can’t go wrong while it is running.
For example, if you have kids or pets in the area they could knock over the heater and start a fire.
In some areas where the heaters are regularly used, the floors and carpets become flammable from all of the kerosene that is spilled on them.
6. Before Refueling, Let The Heater Cool Down Completely
It is also important when refueling to make sure the heater has cooled down completely. You never want to add fuel while the unit is in use because this can create a fire and/or explosion hazard.
Turn off the heater and let it cool for at least an hour before refueling.
So, are kerosene heaters safe?
Kerosene heaters can be used indoors with certain safety precautions.
However, as there are many safety precautions to take when using a kerosene heater it is probably best to consider another type of heater for permanent indoor heating.