5 Safe Emergency Heaters You Can Use In Your Home | Build a Stash

How do you keep freezing if the weather turns bad and the power shuts off to your home? What are the five safe emergency heaters you can use in your home?

With all the extreme weather going on, many people are demanding more from the electric grids powering their communities. While energy companies scramble to handle the increased demand, unforeseen events can happen. Equipment breaks down. Storms appear out of nowhere. Temperatures plummet. You never know when a sudden snowstorm might shut down power for thousands of customers. In the event of a prolonged outage, one of the things that your family might need is a way to stay warm. The last thing you want is for your family to freeze when you could have avoided their discomfort by being more prepared.

The five best and safest emergency heaters that you can use in your home are -

  • Best Propane Heater - Mr. Heater Buddy Radiant Heater
  • Best Lithium Ion Battery Pack - Demico PLB40
  • Best Propane Heater for Large Rooms - Sengoku Keroheat
  • Best Kerosene Heater for Smaller Room - Dyna-Glo Indoor Kerosene
  • Best Fireplace Insert - Osburn 1700 Wood Fireplace Insert

While sleeping bags, blankets, and winter coats can only provide so much protection, many survivalists are securing emergency heaters to use in the home. They range in shape, size, and output. Many have different fuel systems, from propane to kerosene to wood. With all of the options available on the market, what kind of heater do you need? How can you be sure that you will be ready to face what an emergency might bring?

What are the best emergency heaters that are both safe and reliable? This article looks at several options to help provide you with the information you need to purchase the right heater for your situation.

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Why Would a Backup Emergency Heater Be Needed?

While no one can predict the future, a variety of scenarios might lend themselves to needing to keep your family warm.

  • Natural Events;
  • Extreme weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.
  • War on US soil
  • Economic Collapse
  • Nuclear Exchange
  • Supply chain Interruptions

What kinds of Emergency Heaters are Out There?

There are many options for individuals who need to find an emergency heat source during a severe power outage.

Fireplaces - Wood Burning Stoves

While many people have homes with fireplaces that they intend to use during a severe power outage, an old fireplace can be more hazardous than most people realize. The issue is that unless you have had your fireplace maintained and regularly cleaned, it could cause more harm than good. NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends that you have your fireplace or wood-burning stove inspected at least once a year by a certified professional. Cleaning any creosote out of the chimney or piping will help prevent you from waking up to the burning living room in the middle of the night.

Fireplace Inserts

Many families have an old fireplace that they do not trust and have opted for a ventless fireplace insert. Most of the heat a traditional fireplace produces is lost up the chimney, while an insert is often equipped with a fan to blow the heated air out into the room. Standard inserts are economical, can burn wood, or can be hooked directly to natural gas. Inserts have about an 80% efficiency rate. A local fireplace store can help install any kind of fireplace insert that might work for you.

Many companies offer fireplace inserts that use fireplace glass beads that can be heated from an open flame (usually natural gas fueled). The glass beads heat up, generate lasting heat, and can help give a large room enough warmth to last until the power comes back on. Families that are opting for these kinds of inserts are finding that they are improving the aesthetic of their homes and guarding against a time when heat might be needed when there is no electricity.

Kerosene Heaters

Many people have portable kerosene heaters in their garage that they can drag out and use in a pinch. These heaters use kerosene as a fuel, and while some are designed for indoor use, many are not. Many house fires have started because a heater was placed too close to a wall or accidentally fell over in the middle of the night, spilling fuel onto the floor and creating a more significant hazard. In addition, the fumes from kerosene are carbon monoxide which is highly toxic to the human body. High levels of exposure can result in death, while lower levels can leave your family with flu-like symptoms. Over time, heaters of this type can show signs of rust and begin to leak fuel, which, as you can imagine, might have severe consequences. Any kerosene heater should be inspected for damage, rust, or signs of leakage and used with the utmost caution.

Despite these hazards, companies continue to produce and sell indoor kerosene heaters that are small enough to heat a room but not large enough to produce enough fumes to create issues.

Catalytic Gas Healer

Gas heaters ignite an internal element and use propane from a tank as a fuel source. Many gas heaters are very efficient and have been designed for indoor use. Like any other heater, these units should be kept from flammable objects.

Propane heaters can have an open flame or a heating element inside them, but both are powered by propane. The Catalytic heater produces no carbon monoxide and burns at almost 100% efficiency.

Fuel Gel Cans

Fuel cans filled with flammable gels can be lit and used for minor heating applications. While these cans are eco-friendly and can be used in a pinch for a couple of hours each, they are not very useful for anything other than self-warming. If you are by yourself, then a package of Sterno cans might be helpful to keep you warm, but they will not heat a room or give any comfort to the shivering members of your family.

Portable Battery Packs

We have all seen the commercials where an electric car or truck plugs into the home and supplies electricity when the power grows out. The technology exists, and for those who can afford the high price of EV driving, this is a very safe and efficient solution. Although, there may not be enough power in your vehicle to power anything if it is low on a charge.

One of the offshoots of this new electronic vehicle push by car manufacturers is that the battery packs that run these technologies continually transform and improve. Portable battery packs can charge a few items for a decent amount of time. As the years go by, expect more and more companies to make these kinds of battery packs.

What are the Top Emergency Heaters to Purchase and Use?

We have tried to make some recommendations to help you decide what might be best for your situation.

Best Propane Heater - Mr. Heater Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater.

Enerco makes this portable heater called Mr. Heater that has taken the world by storm since it was first introduced in 1984. The unit will heat about 225 square feet of space (although they have a larger version Mr. Heater Big Buddy which has the capacity for 400 - 500 sq. ft.). The unit puts out 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs and connects easily to a propane tank. This portable heater also has several safety features, including auto shut-off if tipped over or the unit detects that the pilot light has gone out. Mr. Heater Buddy is one of the top choices on Amazon and is rated 4.6 out of five on Amazon’s website.

Price $92.25 on Amazon

Check out Today’s Price or visit the manufacturer’s website @ mrheater.com

Why We Like It!

  • Great Track Record
  • Safety feature with auto shut off
  • Very reasonably priced
  • Top pick and well-reviewed

Why We Would Pass

  • Propane heaters still need adequate ventilation.’

Best Portable Lithium Ion Battery Pack - Dometic PLB40

Dometic products are a favorite of RV and nomads, and they have been in the business of helping supply quality products to those who prefer an open-road lifestyle. While they might call it mobile living, there is no question that their products sell very well. They make products from food storage to cooking to lots of gadgets for RV and outdoor adventurers.

This portable battery pack allows for over 40 hours of electricity from a self-contained unit. How does this impact being able to heat a room - well, you can plug in any ceramic heater or corded heater that you own. Many Americans who work in offices or cubicles understand the need for an electric heater to warm their feet. The same principle applies here. Simply buy a battery pack for emergency and plug in a corded heater or lamp to keep things somewhat normal.

Price $899.00 on Amazon

Check out Today’s Price or visit the manufacturer’s website @ dometic.com

Why We Like It!

  • No fumes. No fuss.
  • Just plug in a heater and go to sleep.
  • 40 hours is usually enough time for power to be restored
  • Top pick and well-reviewed

Why We Would Pass

  • The expense of purchasing a lithium-ion battery -

Best Indoor Kerosene Heater for Large Room - Sengoku KeroHeat 23,500-BTU Indoor/Outdoor Portable Convection Kerosene Heater

This company is a Japanese firm with US headquarters based in Torrance, CA. They have been a leader in alternative heating sources for nearly 65 years. (In Japan, not many homes are equipped with furnaces or air conditioning, so space heaters are a big business). This portable kerosene heater is very efficient and is a top seller on Amazon’s website. This unit will heat a large family room to 1000 square feet for up to twelve hours on a tank. The heater has several safety features, including push-button ignition (no matches needed) and an automatic shutoff if tipped over. This heater is the bestselling unit on Amazon’s Website. Please note that a carbon monoxide detector is an excellent idea if you plan on using this unit for any length of time.

Price $159.95 on Amazon

Check out Today’s Price or visit the manufacturer’s website @ sengokula.com

Why We Like It!

  • Great Track Record
  • Safety feature with auto shut off
  • Very reasonably priced
  • Top pick and well-reviewed

Why We Would Pass

  • Propane heaters still need adequate ventilation.’

Best Kerosene Heater for Smaller Room - Dyna-Glo Indoor Kerosene Radiant Heater

Dyna-Glo has been making wood stoves, grills, and heaters for over 100 years. Owned by GHP and based out of Niles, Illinois, they are a leader in space heaters. Many survivalists and preppers swear by the artistry. If you just need to heat a smaller room - 500 sq. ft or so, then the Dyna-Glo heater will do the trick. (They also make a larger version that heats up to 1,000 sq. ft).

Price $199.95 on Amazon

Check out Today’s Price or visit the manufacturer’s website @ dynagloheater.com.

Why We Like It!

  • Great Track Record
  • Safety feature with auto shut off
  • Very reasonably priced
  • Top pick and well-reviewed

Why We Would Pass

  • Propane heaters still need adequate ventilation.’

Best Fireplace Insert - Osburn 1700 Wood Fireplace Insert

Osburn has been making wood-burning stoves and inserts for a long time. This insert has a heavy cast iron look with an excellent handle and ceramic glass. The unit can heat up to 1800 square feet. It burns wood with a 78% efficiency and meets or exceeds the 2020 EPA standard. A cast iron faceplate covers the existing fireplace opening, making for a nice aesthetic.

While you might have to modify your existing fireplace (a Direct air intake is required - venting can be horizontally through a self-contained housing or vertically through the top of your chimney).

This model is expensive, but once installed, you won’t have to worry about emergency heat. It can be used to lower your dependence on the electric grid.

Price $2499

Check out Today’s Price on woodlanddirect.com or visit the manufacturer’s website @ Osburn-mfg.com

Why We Like It!

  • Large Selection - easy to find a fit
  • Can save on electric dependency

Why We Would Pass

  • Expensive
  • Requires modifications to the fireplace for use

Are There Some Things That We Can Do that will Help Prepare?

There are several things that a homeowner can do to prepare for the event of a loss of power.

Begin Preparations Now

One of the most important things to do is to prepare by having a plan. If you intend to use a fireplace and wood-burning stove as your primary heat source, then have a certified professional inspect and repair any damaged areas. It will be too late to call anyone out to have those items fixed when the hurricane is bearing down on your home. All fireplaces and stoves should be cleaned and be free of ashes.

You will likely need a source of wood that has been chopped and kept dry. Regardless of your heating choice, it will need a fuel source. A wood-burning stove or insert may need a steady supply of wood. (The time to chop and stack wood is during the summer when you have warmth because, in the winter, no one wants to face a blizzard just to find a few sticks to burn).

Inspect all heating sources to ensure that they can hold fuel. You might want to stockpile an extra couple of propane tanks to use or a five-gallon can of kerosene so that you have adequate fuel to run heating units. Be sure to stock chemicals away from foodstuffs, and just in case you do not have a heat source to prepare food, have fried fruits or powders that you can easily mix to provide adequate nutrition.

Many families are turning to solar panels to create their autonomous electric grid rather than depending on their municipality. With the cost of solar energy coming down, Americans are finding that a dependence on solar power can be an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution.

Winterize Your Home

A lot of heat that our homes generate during the winter months is lost through the gaps and crevices of our homes. Spend time caulking windows and adding weather stripping to doors. If your home needs it, consider adding additional insulation in the attic. If you own an older home, windows are not thermal and might need to be replaced with more efficient glass.

Have an Emergency Kit Ready

One of the best things you can do is to prepare a crisis kit that includes essential staples and medical supplies and toss in a few hand and body warmers. In a pinch, these small packs of chemical compounds can be activated and slipped inside clothing or a sleeping bag to provide warmth. While the remedy is temporary at best, hopefully, the electricity will be back on before you run through your emergency kit. Many survival companies sell these packs or even emergency kits that include them.

Make Sure Your Family all Sleep in the Same Room During Crisis

If a winter blizzard hits and knocks out the power, you want to consolidate the area you have to heat. That means setting up the family in sleeping bags or pallets with lots of blankets all in the same room. If the primary heat source is strong enough, everyone should be able to sleep all right and enjoy some of the heat. Keeping everyone warm and in decent humor might be tricky if they are scattered all over the house.

A word of note here. If it is cold for you and your family, it is cold for your pets. You should try to keep your dog inside as much as possible. The more active they are, the more energy they will give off and the more heat they lose. Keep pets well-fed during this emergency so they will not catch an illness.

Keep Your Strength Up

If you are immune compromised, do not stop taking your medication. Make sure you are eating and taking in carbs. Many families try to minimize their consumption during times of crisis, but this is a mistake. Be sure to eat, and make sure your family stays hydrated and fed.

Minimize Opening the Door

Every time you open the door, heat rushes out. Try not to open the doors any more than you need to. Consolidate trips so that the doors can stay closed and keep heat where it belongs, inside your home.

Dress in Layers - Insulate Your Body - Invest in Extra Bedding

Your body needs to retain heat, and dressing in layers can help. You should minimize physical activities that make your body sweat or release heat through perspiration. It might be a good day to stay under the covers and just try not to get bothered by the rattling of your teeth.

Since you never know how many blankets or sleeping bags will be needed, take some time to inventory what heavy bed linen you own and purchase more if you can. Each person in the family should have a thermal sleeping bag that can easily be stored in the same area as your long-term food pantry,

Keep Fridge Closed

Not only should you not open the fridge or freezer because you don’t want too cold to compete with what little warm air is in the house, but without electricity, the food inside needs to stay as cold as possible to prevent items from spoiling. While items in a fridge may turn in four hours, items in a well-sealed freezer can last up to 48 hours.

About THE AUTHOR

Mark Walker

Mark Walker

I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.

Read More About Mark Walker