What is a Portable Kerosene Heater?

Lori Kilchermann

A portable kerosene heater is a type of heating device intended to be easily moved from one location to another and even room to room as needed. These heaters can operate on a wick system or even forced air. The portable kerosene heater is used in construction areas as well as in homes. Modern heaters are virtually smoke free and very safe.

Portable kerosene heaters can be used to heat individual rooms of a home.
Portable kerosene heaters can be used to heat individual rooms of a home.

One of the downsides to using a portable kerosene heater used to be the amount of smoke the heater would produce. This smoke would not only make it difficult to breathe, but would also stain painted walls. Advances in design as well as cleaner burning fuel have made the portable kerosene heater a welcome back-up and in some cases a first-line heating instrument.

The wick type of portable kerosene heater operates much like an oil lamp. The wick becomes saturated with kerosene and when lit, produces a warming flame. The flame height can be controlled by the user, thus adjusting the amount of heat given off by the heater. The upside of this type of heater is that it requires no outside power source.

The forced air type of portable kerosene heater operates much like a jet engine. The fuel is sprayed into a burning chamber by a pump and is ignited with a spark plug-type device. An electric fan blows air through the fire chamber, resulting in hot air being blown into the room. These heaters are often called by the generic term salamander. The down side of this portable kerosene heater lies in its requirement of electricity to operate.

When operating on kerosene, the portable heater is a relatively clean-burning device. It produces a great deal of heat with a minimal amount of soot and smoke. If number one or number two grades of fuel oil are used to fuel the heater, a great deal of smoke can be produced. This smoke can cause damage to the interior of a home and can even be responsible for bronchial damage to the occupants of the home.

When used with the proper fuel, the portable kerosene heater can be successfully used indoors with no adverse effects. The portable heaters can even be found on the sidelines of professional sporting events when the weather warrants a heating device be used. During power outages and natural disasters, these portable heaters can be the difference between life and death. The heaters are also an effective back-up to a home heating unit and can be used to warm an individual room without heating up the entire residence.

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