How to Heat Your Home Without Electricity: Perfection Kerosene Heaters

If you’re trying to figure out how to heat your home without electricity, this is the article for you. Take a note from the past and consider heating your home with an appliance that's over 100 years old. Perfection kerosene heaters are a fantastic alternative to modern heating systems.

Why use perfection kerosene heaters?

Why use perfection kerosene heaters?

Perfection kerosene heaters are portable and easy to use. They also give off more than 10,000 BTUs of heat, which is higher than propane. A perfection kerosene heater tank is slightly under one gallon and will heat a small space for eight to 10 hours.

Unlike modern kerosene heaters, changing the wick on a perfection kerosene heater doesn't involve cracking open a manual.

Where to place perfection kerosene heaters

Where to place perfection kerosene heaters

Sufficient ventilation is a must when using kerosene heaters, so always open a window at least one inch to allow fresh air to come in and old air to escape.

Move your heater to a place where it's not too close to furniture or fabric. Then raise the wick and light it. Within minutes you've got a cozy, small space heater that puts out incredible heat. 

The history of perfection kerosene heaters

Perfection kerosene heaters were extremely common in homes well after the turn of the century. Through the mid-1900s, perfection kerosene heaters were ubiquitous appliances and rural farm kitchens as households transitioned primarily from wood or coal to oil fuel. 

By 1918, over 5 million heaters had been sold for use in American homes. It wasn't until the mid-1950s, when the perfect storm of postwar economic boom, cheaper electricity, and rural power line infrastructure ended the golden age of these heaters. 

How we use our perfection kerosene heater

Rather than have our electricity heat all the rooms at our home, when we're only in two rooms or on one floor, it's been a cinch to heat individual rooms. Today the thermostat was set to 65 degrees, and my kerosene heater raised the temperature to a snug 72 degrees.

About every 20 minutes, I gain another degree, so I really only operate my heater for two to three hours at a time.

Perfection kerosene heater

A perfection kerosene heater tank is slightly under one gallon and can burn from eight to 10 hours on a single fill. At night, perfection heaters display a gorgeous sailing pattern that modern-day heaters can't replicate.

This heater is art, decor, and practicality all in one. It's timeless because it functions just as reliably now as it did 100 years ago.

Does a perfection kerosene heater smell?

Does a perfection kerosene heater smell?

You may be wondering if your house will smell like kerosene if you use a perfection heater. A well-maintained heater doesn't emit smoke or odor when it's operating, but it does release a brief kerosene smell when it's lit or extinguished.

You can easily eliminate the smell with a few sprays of white distilled vinegar or by placing a few bowls of vinegar in the room that you're heating.

How do perfection kerosene heaters work?

How do perfection kerosene heaters work?

Modern kerosene heaters have dozens of parts, but a perfection kerosene heater has just four. First is the body. It pops off with a latch. Then you have the font, which is like the control center of the heater. It holds the kerosene burner, flame spreader and wick. The gallery covers the wick.

How to change the wick on a perfection kerosene heater

How to change the wick on a perfection kerosene heater

Changing the wick couldn't be any more straightforward. If you need a new wick you can find them at hardware stores or Amazon. To replace the wick, remove the flame spreader cap by lifting it while giving it a slight turn. 

The flame spreader controls the height of your flame, and the tiny holes you see are what feed your flame air. Over time char will start to build up and you don't want this. If this part gets stopped, your heater could start smoking. I use an old toothbrush to keep this part clean. 

Next, twist off the gallery by turning it counterclockwise to unscrew it. You'll also want to give this a good clean. I like to put a coat of petroleum jelly on this just to keep things from sticking.

Removing the old wick

Remove the old wick. The wick will need replacing when it burns down to the wick carrier, which is the metal sleeve that the wick is attached to. Turn the wick up as high as it will go with the adjusting wheel, grab it with two fingers and just pull it off.

How to heat your home without electricity

Take the new wick out of the carton and flatten out the folded end tails. Place the tail side down over the tube, making sure that the tails straddle the cogwheels that move the carrier.

Apply pressure and pull down the wick until the cogwheels latch with the holes in the metal wick carrier. Then adjust the wheel so that the wick is turned down as far as it can go.

Lastly, make sure that the wick is level with the top of the tube. Any gaps or uneven areas can cause the heater to smoke. Screw the gallery back on and top it with the flame spreader over. 

How to heat your home without electricity

I want you to be a confident kerosene user, but also carry around a healthy dose of fear. The moment you decide to start taking shortcuts is the moment you start taking risks.

Stay safe and follow safety guidelines. Perfection heaters are absolutely safe to use indoors, but if you ignore those guidelines, all bets are off. 

I leave my heaters out all year. Why not? They fit seamlessly into the decor and store easily. During the spring and summer, I just pop a plant on top.

Perfection kerosene heaters allow you to have a piece of history in your home that's both practical and decoratively pleasing. They will also save you a ton of money. Sometimes the old way of doing things makes the most sense.

Let me know in the comments if you have a perfection kerosene heater, or if you’re feeling inspired to get one. Take care, friends.

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2 of 15 comments
  • P P on Jan 30, 2024

    be aware - I wasn't - that kerosene has an expiration date, & should be discarded then! I had stockpiled plenty for kerosene lamps for upcoming hurricane seasons, & my daughter discovered researching online, that past expiration date, it becomes dangerously more volatile & fire-hazardous! so use it before the expiration date!

  • Chickchoc Chickchoc on Feb 12, 2024

    When I was young our neighbor across the street died when her house burned due to a kerosene heater. I don't know the brand, but she was very elderly and possibly misused or knocked it over. PLEASE be careful using ANY space heater.