I first wrote about the H45 several years ago when I still found it listed on Amazon, and it may still show up there sometimes if you do a search for it (I’ve provided an option for this below). At that time I did not own one, but having used kerosene heaters successfully for several years I like them well enough that I decided to step up a notch and get the H45. Kerosene is the only fuel that burns clean enough to use inside without a vent stack — the space heaters I use require careful maintenance and adjustment and you do need to open a window about an inch to ensure a supply of fresh air. Even though this works well enough, there’s a limit to how many BTU’s you can crank out via a kerosene heater without installing some sort of vent. Vented kerosene heaters are not common although I did find one company in Japan that manufactures them and they are apparently a popular item in Alaska. The only option available to me was the H45.
I’m not a novice or a “remote reviewer” when it comes to the H45. I’ve used it before, in Quonset huts in the Army in Alaska, where it was the only heat source for the whole building and it worked very well. Rated at 45K BTU’s, it’s roughly double the heat output of the largest kerosene space heater I own. With the liquid fuel supply system installed, it burns — at least in theory — liquid fuels including kerosene, diesel, jet fuel and gasoline. I would never try this heater with gasoline or jet fuel and anyone who does needs to be a little bit crazy. A small mistake with either of those can make your house go boom. Neither diesel nor kerosene creates explosive fumes, and diesel costs considerably less than K1 kerosene, so it is an attractive option as heating fuel and is no better nor worse than the fuel oil that runs the furnace in my basement (the one that I’ve not used in four years). With a simple conversion kit — a cast iron grate that replaces the liquid fuel burner in the H45 — you can burn either coal or wood in this stove. In Alaska we used debris wood to fuel our H45. I would do something similar if I chose to burn wood in mine, because the stove is not large enough to take standard cuts of firewood.
Here we have the only real problem with the H45: whether installing and using it affects the cost of the homeowner’s insurance. I’ve researched this and here’s what I’ve found. Homeowners are not required to notify the insurer if they install kerosene heaters. If you should shift to wood heat as your primary heat source, that does affect the cost of the policy, although how much it raises your rates depends upon the insuring company’s rules about this. Wood stoves are risky compared to other types of heating and require considerable attention and maintenance to operate safely. The H45 must be installed according to local fire codes and should not be used as a full-time wood-fired heat source. The best fuel for it is still kerosene. If you do install a wood-fired stove and do not notify your insurer, any fire caused by your stove and your negligence could void your insurance claim and result in cancellation of your homeowner’s policy. Professional installation is certainly recommended and insurance providers will at least demand that the results meet code, no matter who does the work.
I suppose an example of why this is so is the fellow who lives next to me. Two winters ago L replaced the shingled roof on his house with metal roofing. Apparently the central chimney had always troubled him because up until then he had covered the top of it with a black plastic trash bag sealed with duck tape. The roof remodeling was a good excuse to get rid of that bothersome chimney, or at least enough of it that the roofing would cap it off.
This did not become an issue until the next winter, when L decided it would be a good idea to install a wood-burning barrel stove in case we have another extended power outage during a fierce winter storm, as we did the previous winter when L and S lived in their basement for a week watching the frost line descend the walls. I noticed the pile of neatly split firewood building in their yard and one day had a chance to talk with them about it and discovered their plans. I did mention to them that they should talk to their insurer about the upgrade, because it could affect the insurance premium, and that caused some wide eyes and exchanged stares between the two of them because not only do they not want higher premiums, they do not want anyone looking in their basement. So as yet, the stack of firewood has never met the barrel stove. I am looking forward to the day when it does, and both L and S realize suddenly why it is that a chimney extends beyond the roof.
For a look at other economical heating solutions, see my post Alternative Home Heating On or Off the Grid.