The Home Depot, Lowe's and Walmart sell kerosene heaters. These units use liquid kerosene fuel and work for zone heating or as an emergency backup heat source, which requires no electricity. In Japan and other locations outside the United States, kerosene heaters serve as the primary heat source.
Kerosene heaters are self-contained units that include their own fuel tank. They include a circular wick above the tank that burns the fuel. A battery-operated igniter starts the fire. The adjustable flame allows the user to control the amount of heat the unit produces, and a switch automatically retracts the wick to extinguish the fire. The design of the unit provides 99 percent efficiency.
Kerosene heaters require regular maintenance to ensure they burn the fuel efficiently and reduce any fumes. In units with fiberglass wicks, cleaning the wick involves moving the unit outside of the living space and allowing the fuel tank to burn dry to remove any deposits. To clean cotton wicks, the user wipes debris away using a paper towel. The burning process eventually consumes the wick, so the user must replace it.
Kerosene heaters raise some safety concerns. Since the units are unvented, a lack of maintenance releases fumes into the area, with the possibility of forming carbon monoxide. The hot surfaces present a burn and fire hazard, requiring caution when the unit is in use.