Propane vs Kerosene Heater

People living in cold climates know the value of heat. The bottom line is that multiple layers of clothing or blankets won’t do what a heater does. We’ve come to rely heavily on heaters for warmth indoors. In any case, it is wise to have a backup portable heater for an emergency heating solution in the event of a power outage or in a SHTF situation. You should also have an extensive knowledge of its fuel sources— commonly propane and kerosene.


In this post, we will give you a clear comparison between propane and kerosene. We will also help you decide which fuel source is better for you when prepping for the future. 

These two below are the best-reviewed and best bang for your buck when it comes to portable kerosene heaters and propane heaters. Read on and you can weigh the pros and cons of using these different style heaters. But when it comes time to buy, know that Prepper Base has tried these two suckers out, and they far exceeded our expectations. 

Propane Heater vs Kerosene Heater

A Propane heater and kerosene heater are both portable devices which are solely intended as heating solutions. They are both fuel-reliant to function- obviously, a propane heater uses propane, whereas kerosene heater uses kerosene.


Let’s take a closer look at them- they each have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Propane Heater

Propane heaters use pressurized gas to warm up poorly insulated settings such as courtyards, warehouses, and garages. Construction firms, event organizers, outdoor restaurants, and homeowners all mostly favor using propane heaters due to the wide range of applications and easy portability of propane tanks.

Advantages of Propane Heaters

Diverse Fixing Styles. Propane heater uses a gas heater to heat up, sending it off to the launch tube. By the time these tubes finally heat up, they will discharge heat enough to warm around its environment. As a result, the warmth it produces can be felt right immediately. However, if you aren’t close enough to the heater, the radiant heat dissipates super quickly. Luckily, these can be portable, so that you can easily reposition it wherever you want. 


Fast Convection Space Heating. Propane heaters with convection-style fans are just as powerful devices as kerosene heaters. They drive air in one direction and help circulate warm air throughout an enclosed space. They are extremely convenient and can heat up the air in a home space or garage space right away. They are extremely convenient in cases where a space needs to get warmed immediately. You won’t have a hard time operating them as they are simple enough to manage.


Product Professional Support. If you will be staying in one personal space only, you can just install your propane heater permanently. This is likely the option if you want a large, wide space to get warmed evenly. You can use any existing propane hoses or separate cylinders to install it. However, these may require professionals, so that you can rest assured that it is installed correctly.


Low Fuel Cost. Propane is an economical option as a source of fuel. But the cost of propane may fluctuate from time to time, considering the fuel prices these days. Even so, it can still be deemed to be cost-effective.

Disadvantages of Propane Heaters

Fuel Limitations. Clearly, a propane heater needs fuel to function. If there is no propane fuel, you cannot use the heater.


No Clear Indication of Remaining Fuel. You may have a hard time guessing how much propane is left in the tank. You won’t be able to fully open the tank to check the amount of propane inside. Some tanks are installed with meters which will help you determine how much is left. However, it is not always reliable as what’s shown on the meters can be inaccurate compared with the actual amount inside.


Low Security. Propane is highly flammable, so make sure to tighten its fittings to prevent any leakage. If it happens to come in contact with an open flame, it will certainly cause an explosion. Proper ventilation is vital, especially in restricted spaces as incomplete combustion discharges carbon monoxide.

Kerosene Heater

A kerosene heater is suitable to be used in an open space outside where there is good ventilation. However, if the outdoor temperature is too low, you should not use it. This is an excellent device for heating solutions in cases of power outages.

Advantages of Kerosene Heaters

High Burning Rate. With a quality kerosene heater, the combustion rate of the fuel can reach close to 100%. Notably, its combustion heating process is nearly smokeless.


Transportable. You can easily transport a kerosene heater from one place to another. Usually it has its fuel tank and body joined together in a single unit.


Safety performance. Quality kerosene heaters use three key safety features, which are hypoxia protection, flameout protection, and dumping protection. With all of these, you  can easily use one without worry. So long as you’re operating it correctly, that is!


Large Heating Area. The scope of the area where a kerosene heater warms up can reach 60 square meters, and the average cost compared to an electric heater is only one-half of the regular electric heaters.


Energy Saving and Environmental Protection. Everyone can be comfortable in using kerosene heaters since it will burn safely, smokeless and odorless.


High Efficiency. In just a matter of seconds, a kerosene heater can ignite or extinguish the flame—and within 2 minutes, it will reach a good combustion state. As technology continues to innovate, kerosene heaters are refined to be used safely. It may have some protection features in which it will automatically shut down when you accidentally bump into it—such features subjected to vibration, burning or operation.

Disadvantages of Kerosene Heaters

May Cause Fire and Explosion. Kerosene is still a highly volatile fuel. Heck, it’s used as jet fuel. Strictly speaking, you should only add kerosene fuel to your kerosene heater if you plan on using it. If you put in other types of fuels, there are greater chances that it will cause explosions, fires and other safety hazards.


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. Kerosene heaters are not recommended to be used in closed spaces. The concentration of carbon monoxide produced while using the heater is measly 2-3 PPM (parts per million), but over time it will become extremely harmful to humans. Thus you should avoid poor air circulation indoors, especially in small spaces, or else you just might get yourself poisoned.

Propane and Kerosene as Fuel Sources

When choosing a fuel source, there are some corresponding advantages and disadvantages as well—by means of availability, cost, efficiency and storage. You should consider these four important factors before purchasing either a propane or kerosene heater.

Let’s dig deeper to find out which is more seemly on your part:



Both propane and kerosene are not difficult to acquire. They are most likely available at gas stations or even in some grocery stores. However, propane still has the edge when it comes to market availability since it is the primary fuel source of gas grills. Having that said, you should be aware that large propane tanks are almost impossible to get hold of. You’ll probably be stuck using the small containers you see at gas stations. If things start going badly with supply chain issues and infrastructure, you may need to take a trip from one city to another just to find a reliable gas station that sells propane.

Kerosene is a little less common than propane, particularly in large volumes. You should look for a gas station that owns a kerosene pump—which is also the best deal in acquiring kerosene. Large stations that have diesel pumps often have a kerosene pump as well. 



In general, propane can be sold for 2.70 to 2.85 USD per gallon, whereas kerosene costs 3.00 to 3.30 USD per gallon. This price range simply makes propane to be a more economical fuel option than kerosene.

Keep in the mind that the price for any fuel is always subject to change over time. It varies as well depending on your location and the gas stations.



As related to cost, propane easily takes over kerosene on a per-gallon basis. But the price per gallon is the real deal breaker as to how much heat per gallon you spend money for. We measure the energy content with BTUs (British Thermal Unit). Kerosene offers 135,000 BTUs per gallon, whereas propane only has 91,300 BTUs per gallon— indicating kerosene is more energy-dense than propane. If you calculate it long-term, it can amount to a huge difference, especially if you will be using the heater for days or weeks on end.


But then again, you will probably only use up at least 10 gallons of fuel while you make a decision to leave home and bug out or start searching for alternative heat sources. So the price of your fuel is not a very big factor in making a decision between kerosene and propane. 



You do not need to worry if you are storing either propane or kerosene as a fuel source. Both of them can be kept for a long time if stored properly. This aspect is what makes them perfect for an emergency heating solution.


As we dive into the subject, storing kerosene is relatively easy. You just need to transfer the liquid fuel in an airtight container—no additives necessary for long-term storage, unlike gasoline. More importantly, it is safer and less volatile than other popular fuels in the market. It has a much lesser tendency to ignite, unlike other popular fuels. It is ideal to store your kerosene fuel in 50-gallon drums that come with a clamp seal. Due to possible cases of leaks, it is wise to have a secondary water-tight container in which you can put the drum inside.

On the other hand, storing propane can be somewhat problematic. It will depend on the volume that you personally need. If you are living in a region with a mild to moderate weather temperature only, then your propane heater’s usage is likely to be infrequent. You can just settle on a couple of cheap 20-pound propane tanks or even go smaller. But if you are in a severe cold climate where you might need to use your propane often. for several days or even weeks, then your solution is to purchase a large propane tank for the large volume of propane. Typically, these large metal tanks are designed to be placed outside. They are highly durable and stable—perfectly built for withstanding harsh weather. However, you should know upfront that this tank does not come cheap. These large tanks are made to heat entire homes, and they cost a pretty penny. If you have a place to safely stockpile consumer propane tanks, then you can keep yourself warm for a while- but you’ll run out soon enough. The goal is to keep you warm until you make your next move, though- so plan out how long you think you’ll be bugging in, and plan accordingly. 

In Conclusion...

To conclude which is better really depends on your situation—as both have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Regardless, they’re both an effective heating solution to give you immediate help when you’re cold. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons, then come to your own answer about your heating solution. 


And don’t worry, we’ll get into electric heaters too!


Kerosene and propane are also dangerous. You need to be careful handling any type of fuel, but especially these fuels since they are quite volatile. Safety first!.