Most helpful critical review
79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
Poor quality factory wick
on March 14, 2010
I've had this heater for just less than four weeks now. In the interest of disclosure, I'm certainly not an expert, and this is my second kerosene heater - I also have a dyna-glo 23k BTU that I've been using happily for about a year and a half.
I was very excited to get this smaller 10k heater since the worst of the winter is about over in my area, and the Dyna-Glo is too much when the outside temp reaches forty or so. The item came double boxed and intact - great shipping and packing from Amazon as usual.
I put it together (it was easy and the instructions were simple) and then went to carry it downstairs and nearly dropped it from the top steps because the handle fell out - this is definitely my fault, and luckily I hadn't filled it yet and had fast enough reflex to grab it before it tumbled down. Since then I've bent the handle inwards so that it fits a bit tighter and hopefully that won't happen again. However, the handle bends considerably when the unit is picked up, especially with a full tank, and needs to occasionally be bent back into place so that it can swing freely. I think it needs a heavier gauge handle to be moved around safely. It probably goes without saying for any kero heater, but definitely don't try carrying this while it's lit.
After lighting it the first time, I noticed no visible smoke, but it had a sooty odor - not the normal mild kerosene odor I noticed with my other heater from time to time. I looked at the book which said an initial odor was normal until the first dry burn. So I lived with it, using it on and off for about a week until I felt it was ready to burn dry. After (double) burning it dry the real problems began. The burner assembly would no longer burn red to the top, the blue flames were obviously way too low while the adjustment was as high as it would go, the sooty odor got worse, and most times after lighting it, the flame would just flicker in a small (two-inches or so) part of the wick. Frustrated I'd put it out and try to relight it - again and again. After a few days of this, I got a flame going, and tried to dry burn it again, then again. After dry burning it, the wick was soft on the top, and stiff everywhere else. I tried pinching it with pliers, flexing it around with my fingers, and dry burning it again. The result was no better. The more I tried the worse it got.
Today I put in a new wick, and everything is back to normal ... and NO SMELL at all and the heat output is considerably better than even the first time I fired it up. I'll edit this later if the problem returns (and bump it up one star if it doesn't), but I believe that the manufacturer put a poor quality wick, trying to save a few pennies, so the unit was not getting hot enough to burn clean and odorless. A wick should last about a year for most people, not less than a month (assuming it was ever good at all). But hopefully this solves the problem and saves someone else the same frustration that I had.
Normal burn time on a tank is probably around fourteen hours as others have mentioned. The wall guards do not add any stability and are an annoyance if you don't actually put it near a wall, so I took them off since I keep it in the middle of the room I'm trying to heat. The manufacturer needs to add a small wire door to the front grill to facilitate easier match lighting - I had to buy the long eleven inch matches to reach down in there (break of the charred end and relight them with a lighter to make them last longer).
In summary, I've not been happy with the heater for the short time I've had it. If the whole problem actually was the wick and not some design problem, I'm sure I'll be content with this unit for many years.
Edit 03/29/09: After using this an additional two weeks I can confirm that the new wick made all the difference. So if you bought this and are having smell or heat output problems, try a new wick. I'm using a Kero World 91009. I've also decided not to bump this up one star as promised. After comparing the two wicks I can see difference in construction and I feel that Sengoku's QA could and should have seen the difference as well. -* for bad QA and -* for all the time I had to spend troubleshooting because of it.