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Thread: Kerosene, Diesel and Torpedo Heaters

  1. #1
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    Kerosene, Diesel and Torpedo Heaters

    We have decided to heat the garage with a torpedo heater the rest of the season. When the weather warms we plan to insulate, drywall and install an electric furnace. But for now a torpedo will do. Problem is kerosene is hard to find in the city these days. Home Depot sells it in a five gallon can for $45 but that is way too high to be using it for heating. A friend says he knows someone who runs one on diesel with no problems. Anyone have any experience doing so. Any safety issues? What about soot or odor?

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    Silver Hawk Member Milaca's Avatar
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    Diesel will not burn as clean as Kerosene. I would look into a heater that burns LP gas and lease a small tank from the gas supplier. Some LP gas suppliers will give you a portable heater to use for free provided that you give them a deposit for it and purchase your gas from them.

    Oh, and be careful of carbon monoxide poisoning!

    In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BubbaBear View Post
    We have decided to heat the garage with a torpedo heater the rest of the season. When the weather warms we plan to insulate, drywall and install an electric furnace. But for now a torpedo will do. Problem is kerosene is hard to find in the city these days. Home Depot sells it in a five gallon can for $45 but that is way too high to be using it for heating. A friend says he knows someone who runs one on diesel with no problems. Anyone have any experience doing so. Any safety issues? What about soot or odor?
    If the space is already enclosed I'd avoid both Kerosene and Diesel. I"ve had two kerosene heaters and both were rated to run diesel. I used diesel once and the fumes will drive you out. Whenever the heater starts or stops it reeks. Kerosene is better but you still have the odor issues.

    I now have a similar heater that runs on LPG. Much less odor but lets not kid ourselves, you will be burning fossil fuel in an enclosed space so you will get some odor and CO2, possibly some CO. The more enclosed the space the more issues with odors it will generate. I run mine for limited increments to reduce the odor/contaminate issues. These units are generally only used in poorly enclosed areas for a reason.

    There about two months left to heating season, so let me suggest that before you spend $150 or so on a "torpedo" heater that you consider just buying the furnace you plan on using and install it.

    Lastly, there are catalytic heaters that reduce the CO and odor emissions but they are not cheap and the moisture they produce will rust the heck out anything in the garage.

    My last comment is: Unless you have no sense of small you will not be happy with Diesel.

    Bob
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    Golden Hawk Member Dick Steinkamp's Avatar
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    That is the going price for kerosene here also.

    I have this shop heater...



    It runs on kerosene, diesel, or jet A.

    I don't use it anymore. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is too great (I would get light headed after a long session with the heater on), I come home from the shop smelling like a diesel/kerosene heater, and that flame is a little scary around car stuff (like gasoline).

    I use electric heaters now. Maybe more expensive but a lot safer.

    If you use a combustion type heater, get a carbon monoxide detector...but I'll bet it goes off pretty quickly with one of those running.
    Dick Steinkamp
    Bellingham, WA


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    The problem with getting the permanent furnace now is that it will be electric and the garage is not wired for it. We plan on digging a trench and laying a new 220v line.

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    can you run the electric service for it on top of the ground routed out of the way temporarily? I've done that but only when i didn't have to worry about kids and cars running over it?
    when the time comes let me suggest using Aluminum 60 Amp SE cable (SE= Service Entrance) . You can easily slip it into some PVC piping to protect it as you bury it
    It is dirt cheap and will get the job done. I also make welder extensions out of this stuff. While a 60 Amp service is nearly a thing of the past (the old Main-Range - and 4-fuses boxes from the 50s-60s, and now everyone has at least 100 amp, they still make the cable. Be sure to use Alnox or equiv brand anti-corrosion paste which you can get at Lowes and other suppliers (at Lowes it is with the wire nuts, in a smallish squeeze bottle on the ends when you tighten them down. I have used this trick this for over 30 yrs without problems, learned it from a master electrician who was a good friend.
    The spec is Aluminum SE cable 6-2 w/ ground. (the ground is woven around the outside of the black and red current carrying conductors). As with any SE cable, you use the ground as the neutral also, since both of those end up connected together back at the pole anyway, and in most states the 2 are bonded to each other in the panel anyway
    ? yr M5 under restoration
    a bunch of non-Stude stuff

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    Silver Hawk Member Milaca's Avatar
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    The LP gas heaters I speak of do not require any electricity and are portable and can put out a LOT of heat.

    In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.

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    This is going to be a lonely post. I have the exact same heater as Dick's picture and love it. My shop is small, about 400 sq. ft., and rather open to drafts and fresh air. No insulation, the only "air-tightness" is created by the wood construction quality. I have an exhaust fan/vent in the peak of a gable.

    I don't notice any odors, and diesel isn't much more than regular gasoline, right now about $3.50 per gallon. It heats up my shop on a 30 degree day in about 15-20 minutes, and then operates according to the thermostat setting I have chosen. As drafty as my shop is, the heater never runs more than about 30-40% of the time. The case does not get hot, and I have total confidence in that there is no danger from the small open flame at the radiator part.
    \'50 Champion, 1 family owner

  9. #9
    Golden Hawk Member DEEPNHOCK's Avatar
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    A year ago I was at the point you are...
    What to choose? I want a full heat-A/C setup, but just can't get myself to pull the trigger...
    I thought a lot about a salamander torpedo setup.
    Then, a good friend (Sonny) made this screwy face at me and said
    "You don't want kerosene or diesel film and soot all over everything in your shop".
    He suggested this.... http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200178774_200178774

    Now, I don't remember if I bought mine there,
    but I was comparing $ vs BTU, and stuff like that.
    Swiped the BBQ propane tank and used the snot out of it.
    Now... I didn't try to heat the entire shop. Just where I was working.
    And found out that this thing would add 15-20 degree's real fast and make it comfortable.
    Was stingy on propane, and there is no stink.
    Easy to set up (110v), easy to start, easy to store.
    Might not be your cup of tea... But it sure works good for my shop.
    HTIH
    Jeff



    Quote Originally Posted by BubbaBear View Post
    We have decided to heat the garage with a torpedo heater the rest of the season. When the weather warms we plan to insulate, drywall and install an electric furnace. But for now a torpedo will do. Problem is kerosene is hard to find in the city these days. Home Depot sells it in a five gallon can for $45 but that is way too high to be using it for heating. A friend says he knows someone who runs one on diesel with no problems. Anyone have any experience doing so. Any safety issues? What about soot or odor?
    Last edited by DEEPNHOCK; 01-22-2012 at 12:46 PM.

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    Speedster Member JJWMACHINECO's Avatar
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    This is what I use. It heats up my shop real fast and it runs on propane. It's adjustable from 75,000-200,000 BTU and it's only $130.00 from McMaster Carr.



    J&JW Machine Co.
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    Dick makes a good point: whatever combustion heater you get, spend a few bucks more and get a CO detector. Place the detector between the heater and the place where you plan to be the most. These indoor heaters are designed to put out zero CO, but anything made by Man can go wrong, or maybe your shop is so airtight that the heater depletes oxygen in the room, and starts producing CO by default.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

  12. #12
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    My garage is insulated and this is what I use. I have 2 of them.
    http://www.amazon.com/Heater-MH18B-P.../dp/B0002WRHE8
    7G-Q1 49 2R12 10G-F5 56B-D4 56B-F2
    http://ozarktrails.tripod.com/
    SDC Member 1985

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    Posted by DEEPNHOCK
    <snip>Now... I didn't try to heat the entire shop. Just where I was working.
    And found out that this thing would add 15-20 degree's real fast and make it comfortable.
    Was stingy on propane, and there is no stink.
    Easy to set up (110v), easy to start, easy to store.
    Might not be your cup of tea... But it sure works good for my shop.


    I own this exact heater and I'll stand by my initial comments: In a situation like Jeff describes, heating a small area with air circulation will work fine. In my pole barn in the dead of winter with the doors closed, I'll develop a headache in a couple of hours, so I use mine intermittently to minimize the effects.

    Those that are describing the catalytic LP heater are correct that you can warm a confined area and not have the same issues as the salamander types. We use the Buddy Heater style in ice fishing and deer hunting enclosures routinely.

    Bob
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    President Member aarrggh's Avatar
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    I recently bought this thing and will be trying it out soon . . Might be to much for a one car garage i`m thinking . . . we`ll see..........


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    Too much in this case would be better than not enough....you can always turn it off right?

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    President Member aarrggh's Avatar
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    Yeah : I gotta get off my lazy butt and read the manual . . I think it may have an automatic shutoff when reaching a certain temp - i think .

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    Here in Ca we don't get anywhere near the cold temps many of you folks get in other areas. Yet it has been pretty chilly here the last few days. I have all of my engine parts and still have not gone out in the garage to finish putting it together, only a couple hours max left of work to have it a long block, because it has been in the 30's here over night and 50's in the day. I know that is not cold to you guys, but here, that is really cold and with a big hunk of metal in my neck...I don't like the cold now. Locks up my neck Kryptonite bike lock. Some kind of heater is in my future.

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    We found a nearby source of kerosene and bought the last 75,000 btu torpedo heater they had for $40 off. Sometime this summer we plan to insulate and drywall the garage. We will run new electric and install a furnace at that time. We would have gone with the LP heaters except in the city I don't know of any place to get any larger than the size used on BBQ grills filled. And knowing this city I suspect anything that uses a tank larger than those on BBQ grills require permits.

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    President Member Jeff_H's Avatar
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    Back in the mid 90s I did a lot of work on the '53 in a un-insulated garage and used one of those kerosene heaters like you are looking at. In rural MN they are generally called Knipcos by all the farmers although most of the ones you see are not that brand name (sorta like kleenex....). Mine was (is) a Reddy Heater. They come in many sizes from hand carry to ones on wheels big enough to look like small JATOs from a airforce bomber.... Too sealed up of area and you will get a headache from the exhaust. I also found they put out a lot of water vapor (as they would from basic combustion chemistry) and that got my garage to be somewhat damp and I had some problems with tools getting rusty. Mine is now still buried in my shed and hasn't been used since 1996 (moved to present house in '97) since I have a oil furnace in the garage. Hopefully it is not all gummed up if I ever need it. My dad when he was farming used to set one to blow onto the tractor engine (along with a block heater plugged in) that was used for the snowblower in the winter to get it warmed up quicker so it would start.

    Jeff in ND

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    Golden Hawk Member Dick Steinkamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
    Mine is now still buried in my shed and hasn't been used since 1996.
    Mine are on Craigs List...

    Kerosene Heater

    Shop Heater
    Dick Steinkamp
    Bellingham, WA


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    In Canada, portable heaters are often referrred to generically as Herman-Nelsons.

    http://www.herman-nelson.com/

    They are the go-to guys for heaters to warm up aircraft.
    Gord Richmond, within Weasel range of the Alberta Badlands

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    Thanks for the memory, Craig. I spent some time in the Arctic about a zillion years ago, and we used Herman-Nelsons for everything. It only takes about an hour for the engines of a DC-3 to get too cold to start when parked in temps of minus 40 (as you know, that's the same in both degrees C and F). But you can't leave the port engine running, as the draft from the prop makes it too windy for anyone to load/unload and refuel the aircraft from that side. The solution was to let the starboard engine idle while the port engine was kept warm with a Herman-Nelson.

    We once re-occupied an abandoned ice station near the North Pole, and only had an hour or so to see if the 20-year-old Cat diesel generator on the station could be coaxed back to life after a couple of years of slumber. (If not, we had to get back aboard the plane and go back to Barrow.) 55 minutes of blasting by two Herman-Nelsons, and that old Cat roared back to life.

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    Silver Hawk Member JRoberts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJWMACHINECO View Post
    This is what I use. It heats up my shop real fast and it runs on propane. It's adjustable from 75,000-200,000 BTU and it's only $130.00 from McMaster Carr.

    I have one that looks exactly like this, but I got it at Northern Tool. It will keep you warm if are staning right next to it, but not if you are very far away from it isn't worth very much.
    Joe Roberts
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    Speedster Member JJWMACHINECO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRoberts View Post
    I have one that looks exactly like this, but I got it at Northern Tool. It will keep you warm if are staning right next to it, but not if you are very far away from it isn't worth very much.
    Yea, they do make a smaller one that Northern Tool sells and it's only 80,000 BTU. http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too..._503598_503598

    I did not mention that my 30X42 shop is insulated and I have 2 Jet filtration systems at ceiling height that circulates the hot air that hangs up high. The 200,000 BTU one I have takes about 15 minutes to make it comfortable in my shop when it's 20 degrees outside.

    With all the equipment in my shop, I don't have enough floor space to use a torpedo heater.


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    Champion Member belgum's Avatar
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    may i suggest going with a wall mount gas heater that is used in many apartment buildings, they can be converted to lp and if you go to a large HVAC company you can pick up new one that has been scarched or has a dent fairly cheap. i have gone the torpedo route and did not like it noise ,smell, etc the wall mount heaters are about 5 foot high and 8 inches deep and atre made to fit betwween the wall studs
    randy belgum

  26. #26
    Silver Hawk Member jclary's Avatar
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    I have followed this thread for a while. However, feel the need for a disclaimer before commenting. I am certainly no engineer and have past posts that should confirm that fact. In addition, being a life-long resident of the south is sufficient to cause you northern folks to be suspicious of my comments. I am sure there are engineering charts and figures for sizing them, but I won't dare attempt any of that!

    Just because a heater claims to produce, a given BTU does not mean it will heat your space. A cutting torch can give tons of BTU’s but not heat anything a foot or so away. You need to keep in mind the Volume of air and rate of exchange for the space. There are two major types of heaters… Infrared and convection. I have two freestanding (wick-type) kerosene heaters. One is convection and the other is infrared. The infrared can be placed near a wall without much heat generated at its back. Infrared heats what it “sees” with incidental but minimal convection. The convection heater will heat the air, but must have a three-foot clear area all around to be safe.

    I also have small propane “Mr. Buddy” heater that has a ceramic element. It seems to be a combination infrared/convection heater. I use it in my shop for the rare occasion I need a little heat for a short period. I have also used it in my tent during a few sub-freezing winter camping trips. I always carry a CO2 detector as well.

    I also have a kerosene torpedo heater. I use it mostly in my pole barn. That building is so poorly constructed that the wind is directed like a venturi effect. I seems to chill the air and increase the velocity as it blows through all the cracks! I have a plug-in thermostat for this heater that is useful when used inside a closed room. However, I rarely use it in a closed shop. On the occasions I have, it makes me feel light-headed even though the CO2 detector has never alarmed.

    If you choose a kerosene heater, remember to use the cleanest burning K-1 rated kerosene. These are the simplest and cheapest (to buy) types of heaters. Since we are usually working around vehicles with “gas tanks”…these are also the most dangerous types of heat. The safest types would be something that uses a “heat exchanger” or “plenum” that isolates the ignition source (or open flame) from the air being heated.

    For us southerners…it is a nuisance for few weeks. For you northern folks…it is serious business! In a few short months, we will be discussing the opposite topic. Stay safe and keep warm.
    John Clary
    Greer, SC


    SDC member since 1975

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    Quote Originally Posted by BubbaBear View Post
    We found a nearby source of kerosene and bought the last 75,000 btu torpedo heater they had for $40 off. Sometime this summer we plan to insulate and drywall the garage. We will run new electric and install a furnace at that time. We would have gone with the LP heaters except in the city I don't know of any place to get any larger than the size used on BBQ grills filled. And knowing this city I suspect anything that uses a tank larger than those on BBQ grills require permits.
    BB

    Just a note to future readers of this post as you have your heater. Most midsize and larger travel trailers have 30# and possibly 40# tanks that our local LPG facilities will fill. 30# cylinders, Which I Use, should be the equivalent of 4-5 gallons of kerosene. I believe the 100# and larger cylinder can not be transported here by private citizens. Your results may vary by state.

    For your short usage period, 30# tanks new would add a fair amount of cost so kerosene should be a good choice for you.

    Bob
    , ,

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    At one time I used to heat my garage with a wall mounted propane heater and a 100 pound tank of propane. It heated my garage ok but always felt that I was losing to much heat because I always made sure that I had plenty of air flow through my garage. However I never felt comfortable having an open flame while working in the garage and never liked the Oder that propane heaters put off. After a dispute with the local propane company I installed electric base board heating in my garage. I feel that by installing the electrical heat that I am much safer working in my garage and not putting up with that hated Oder.

    I think that using any type of torpedo heater in any type of enclosed space for any length of time is risky at best even though you think you have proper ventilation.

    John S.

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    "However I never felt comfortable having an open flame while working in the garage"

    Yes, and in that regard, KEEP THE FLAME OFF OF THE FLOOR.
    I believe there is a spec for this, but gasoline fumes tend to "float" or "accumalate" just above the floor, and can be ignited by exposed flames such as pilot lights, ignitors, and any other flames.
    A leaky gas tank or a spilled gas can can be a disaster.
    I worked in a commercial shop where a customer car sprung a leak after hours. The drip and or fumes made their way to the grated floor trough, and from there to the hot water heater pilot. It was a pretty good fire and they were lucky not to lose the whole building.

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