space heater suggestions: propane vs kerosene

Hi guys, I'm keen on your input


I'm working in a borrowed garage in a place with a winter, so I need a space heater. Modifying the place is out, the owner would prefer I don't. I need to finish the project and I like to spend time after work on the project and I can't wait all night to warm things up. I'm working on the interior of the NE Dory. I've got a nice cover and some worklights and can keep the temperature in the boat in the 50's with the cover on no problem. However it seems to me the temperature will drop if I remove the cover to work on it. The solution for me is a fossil fuel torpedo style heater that can heat the air in the garage in a short amount of time. I'm thinking about either a 60k btu/hr propane or 80k btu/hr kerosene/diesel. It seems the cost of heater + tanks is close enough. 


My thoughts are diesel is cheap and available. However it stinks. The exhaust from the heater smells like riding a bike behind a bus and sometimes you can smell unburnt fuel. Maybe there's a way around this. Also I've heard you can get an oily film on your work from the heater too and then get fish eyes in the epoxy. 

Propane as a fuel is something like 1.9x more expensive on a btu basis than kerosene and 2.5x more than diesel. I've had trouble finding kerosene though.


So the meat of the question: What are the drawbacks of propane besides cost? Which would you go for? Are some of these ideas about kerosene overblown?


5 replies:

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RE: space heater suggestions: propane vs kerosene


I used two propane space heaters for a period in late autumn when working on my Peeler Skiff. The main drawback, besides the cost, is the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. I installed a carbon dioxide detector and was careful about ventilation.

As a young Army officer in the 1960s, I used diesel heaters. You are correct that unburned diesel and carbon particles will foul the air and condense on surfaces. I cannot imagine that having a positive effect on epoxy application. Kerosene is much the same. I would avoid them both.



RE: space heater suggestions: propane vs kerosene

Carbon Monoxide is an inherent risk with any unvented, fuel-burning device. Please use caution when choosing to use one in your activities, follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe and practical use.

Using a household CO alarm may be a good idea IF you remain conscious long enough to ACT once the alarm is triggered.

This is one of those areas where risk vs. reward must be weighed with care. Overcoming emotional rationalizations regarding personal safety may indicate the best course is to stand by & wait for warmer weather.

(-15F / -26 C here this AM, hoping it's the bottom for this winter's weather.)

RE: space heater suggestions: propane vs kerosene

My apologies if that last post came off sounding preachy.

It wasn't intended to be taken that way.

For a positive contribution (as this forum's format precludes editing one's posts) I'd offer that there are relatively inexpensive, oil-filled electric heaters that may be effective for keeping a space previously brought up to working temp (with a propane heater; I'd avoid kerosene/diesel for contamination reasons) warm enough over time to accomplish useful work.

This way you avoid burning up any more of the area's oxygen than you need to, particularly while you're inside & working away.

@ $0.15/kWh where I am a 1,500W unit costs ~ $5 to run for 24 hours. I'd mitigate the need to heat the entire space by tenting off my work area with poly sheeting.

RE: space heater suggestions: propane vs kerosene

   Aside from the CO problems, kerosene, like other diesel fuels, generates soot when it burns. This will lead to "fisheyes" in any epoxy work. Propane burns much cleaner and units like Mr. Heater Buddy have low O2 and tip over protection but propane does produce water vapor which may cause cosmetic problems with finishes.

The most significant problem with any of these is having an ignition source in a confined space with the various solvents we use. Not good. Also, leaving any space heater, even electric, unattended overnight for epoxy cures etc. is risky.

I've used quartz and oil electric heaters while working on an unheated room and saw a marked increase in the electric bill on the order of 20%. You should talk to the owner before investing in any heat source to see if he/she will allow it.


RE: space heater suggestions: propane vs kerosene

   This is interesting because I'm repaiting now at the jersey shore. I tried a northern tool quiet heater and could get it to light, had to send it back. Then to Home Depot and got the Orange 30-60k BTU propane. Rated at 14 hours @ 30k BTU. I did an entire interior with Brightsides wearing a mask of course. I have to shut down the heater because it gets close to 75-78 degrees. Some smell, but I didn't blow up or pass out. I do have 4 " of open space directly behind the heater along the side wall for ventilation. My next step is to varnish but I may be concerned about fume ignition. It does have a nice flame inside the tube. Really happy with the unit itself. Noise doesn't bother me(what did you say). May try 1/2 the boat at a time on the varnish. Dan

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