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Oil Vs. Propane

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First off, the cost per BTU is usually much less with oil. Don't forget, a gallon of #2 oil will give 138,000-140,000 BTU, while a gallon of propane only 91,000 BTU. You'll have to do some math to get an accurate comparison, but it's worth it.

Second, in many cases the propane company owns the tank. This ties you to one propane supplier who can charge whatever it wants- just as bad as most gas utilities these days. With oil, you own the tank and can buy from whomever you want. With either fuel, I would never use a buried tank.

Third, propane is heavier than air. If a leak should develop, the gas will build up on the floor until something ignites it. You don't want to be in or near the house if that happens. True, a proper piping job won't leak- but any moving part can fail. Oil can leak too, but with a modern tank such as the Roth with its secondary containment, and an oil safety valve that stops the flow if a line breaks or a pump seal blows, the damage would be minimal.

Any oil burner made since the early 1980s has no business generating soot. Period. If it does, there's something wrong. Sooting is NOT normal with these newer burners.

If you're looking for a condensing boiler (and I think this job needs one) check out the oil-fired Monitor FCX. Our friend Ken Secor has one running next door to you, in northern Vermont. He loves it.

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Comments

  • Granite Stater
    Granite Stater Member Posts: 11
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    Oil vs. Propane

    I am building a new house and I would like some information on Oil vs. Propane. I am heating around 4500 sq. ft. This includes two floors, a basement and a garage. I am going with radiant in the concrete and clipped up pex on the two main floors. Should I go with a propane boiler or an oiled fired boiler? What is the model and brand that you would recommend?

    Thank you for your help,

    Granite Stater
  • airflo mech
    airflo mech Member Posts: 11
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    propane

    Go with lp wall hung boiler made by buderus.lp has around 91,000 btus per gallon,oil is 140,000 btu per gallon.german made boiler.you can get up to 95% eff with lp.no chimney needed, vents with pvc.you can also use for radiant, ice melting,storage tank.no smelly oil tank in basement.buy 500 gallon tank, then you can shop around for a good price.you can do so much more with lp. with todays controls its very safe.good luck.......
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,047
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    Make sure

    if you go with propane to buy the largest tank you can and bury it in the yard. Out of sight, you own it and you have enough storage to buy when you want. I'd go propane too.
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,541
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  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
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    What is most common in your area?

    oil is very rare in my area of the midwest. Only two suppliers listed in the Yellow Pages compared to 20 or more LP dealers.

    I believe you can "own" your own LP tank anywhere. You need not rent one. This allows you to shop, as you do for gasoline.

    Be sure you have someone local to service whatever fuel you choose. I've yet to find an oil service person in my area. Oil is mainly limited to the military bases.

    Next home I build will be at least dual fuel optioned. These off peak electric rates being offered in many places as of late intrigue me. With a clever design a forward thing contractor could build a system to leverage the least expensive fuel option.

    Of course don't forget passive and active solar options :)As at least a supplement to DHW.

    hot rod

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  • john_83
    john_83 Member Posts: 76
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    As a modcon installer a house of that size and with low tempatures from your radiant a propane modcon is a no brainer. Yes oil does give you a little more for your money. But in the end with outdoor rest with your modcon and a full modulating boiler and less service issues with propane and a buried propane tank in your yard that you can buy from your local propane dealer. You can later buy propane from who you want. Also with what your explainng Radiant applications will give effiencies uppers to the mid to high 90s with all radiant applications. Beats 87% from and oil fired boiler. Dont get me wrong oil has its place but not for a new install like this. I would reccommend a Weil Mclain utlra high effeincy gas boiler. But ther are plenty other out there as well Buderus GB142. Hope i answered some of your ouestions
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
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    Frank

    With all due respect, do you really think it is fair to frighten people about LP gas blowing up their homes?

    Do you believe that LP gas should be banned?

    We could just as easily talk about the nightmare of an oil tank failure.

    The oil companies in my area, all 4 of them, tried to scare consumers about Nat. gas a few years back when the utility was expanding their coverage. The oil company that my parents used sent them a letter in the mail warning them of exploding houses. I mailed it back to them with the word BOGUS written on it.

    In this day and age, nothing beats a sealed combustion mod/con boiler. When it's a steam system, I'm all for oil.


    Not trying to pick a fight, I just do not think that "exploding houses" is a valid reason for choosing oil over LP.

    Mark H

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  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
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    Mark, if you read my post again

    you will see it says that oil can leak too, and that a proper propane piping job won't leak. I think you'll agree, though, that the consequences of a propane leak can be more severe. In fact, I believe some Codes now prohibit propane equipment in basements for this reason.

    I agree that job is a natural for a condensing boiler, that's why I suggested the Monitor. It doesn't modulate, but since oil is almost always cheaper per BTU it should cost less to run than a propane-fired mod-con.

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  • [Deleted User]
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    Having worked at a company that sold both #2 fuel oil and LP gas, in business for ninety years and with about 15,000 gas customers I can say that LP gas is relatively safe. We've had more oil related damage due to the fact that customers take less of a chance with a gas leak. One oil tank about 20 years old, leaked and cost over $100,000 to the customers insurance company. They were lucky they had coverage for just such a thing. The last gas tank that exploded was caused by an electrical fire that spread to the tanks outside next to the house. I actually would prefer a buried tank far enough away from the house with anode bags attached and periodicly tested. If you go with gas get a good supplier that has enough guys on 24 hour call, that perform pressure tests with a manometer and not just check fittings with soap. Good luck.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
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    one other thing

    Just to cover the basic's..In many area's gas suppliers now require a gas check be performed on any system. Even if you own the entire system to include regulator's and tank.. So the theory of bouncing from supplier to supplier may not work unless you want to pay a service charge up front...And if you do not do buisness with a company for a year or two they may require you to do another gas check prior to delivery.

    Check with your area suppliers to gather as much information up front. That way you know exactly what your doing prior to jumping in with both feet...IMHO


  • kevin coppinger_4
    kevin coppinger_4 Member Posts: 2,124
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    In NH...

    I would use oil to heat with. I had the option at my own home and oil is much less expensive. Especially w/ a home of your size. Where in NH are you building? There are lots of options to boilers. I personally like Buderus. W/ the right control package you can save $$$ and be very comfortable...kpc

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  • bryant wheeler_2
    bryant wheeler_2 Member Posts: 1
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    oil

    I Had a customer that wanted to replace an old oil boiler with w/m Lp gas fired boiler.Did it.Customer than did not pay his final bill because his gas bill was to high.Got an indepent enginer over to his house.Said the boiler was perfect no job better.The promblem is that Lp gas cost you 50% more to heat with.(this was before Mod Boilers)149,000 btu per gallon for oil-
    97,000 btu per gallon gas-plus it was about 30 cents more per gallon.
    Another customer wanted to repace Lp gas peerles boiler with a new high eff.Gas boiler.Told him we would install a buderous oil fired w/logomatic.Cost HO $2,500 dollars a year to heat with Lp.Next year cost HO $1100 dollars to heat with oil.
    another Ho was putting an addition on to his house about the same size as exesting house.The W/M Lp gas boiler was not big enough to do it.Plus his mother in law was moving in to the basement(good place for her)so that was going to be heated to 70 degrees as well.Replaced Lp boiler with buderous W/logomatic cost him an extra $200 dollars to heat the house next year.
    so from my experience oil hands down.My best guess is a fuel swavings of 50% if you go with a mod Lp gas boiler you will get a 10% increase in Eff. So in that case oil is only 40% more Eff. Good luck.
    by the way all these jobs are in the not so free live or die state
  • john_83
    john_83 Member Posts: 76
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    Perrless Pinnacle oil fired

    Anyone used any modulating oil fired boilers?This would be great set up with a Tekmar TN4.
  • [Deleted User]
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    Oil Fired Pinnacle

    does not modulate. AFG Beckett Burner.

    #2 has a nominal 140,000 btus per gallon. Propane nominal 91,000. Propane is made from oil. Reason says more btus were expended producing propane than #2. Can propane fired mod/cons provide enough efficiency to match, or exceed, the advantages of #2 in btu content & resource conservation, when the #2 is burned in a 3-pass cast iron boiler?

    Does any organization, or individual, have an unbiased handle on all the advantages, or disadvantages, of either fuel verses the other? If so, who & where? More facts please.
  • Granite Stater
    Granite Stater Member Posts: 11
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    > I am building a new house and I would like some

    > information on Oil vs. Propane. I am heating

    > around 4500 sq. ft. This includes two floors, a

    > basement and a garage. I am going with radiant

    > in the concrete and clipped up pex on the two

    > main floors. Should I go with a propane boiler

    > or an oiled fired boiler? What is the model and

    > brand that you would recommend?

    >

    > Thank you

    > for your help,

    >

    > Granite Stater



    Any more opinions?

    Granite Stater
  • Granite Stater
    Granite Stater Member Posts: 11
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    Any more opinions?

    Granite Stater
  • heatboy
    heatboy Member Posts: 1,468
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    If you think a gas fired mod/con...............

    ........short cycles, wait till you fire up a low mass, high input, oil fired boiler. Now, that is short cycling.

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    heatboy



    The Radiant Whisperer





    "The laws of physics will outweigh the laws of ecomomics every time."
  • Scott OB
    Scott OB Member Posts: 22
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    I stated wrong function

    > ........short cycles, wait till you fire up a low

    > mass, high input, oil fired boiler. Now, that is

    > short cycling.

    >

    > _A

    > HREF="http://www.heatinghelp.com/getListed.cfm?id=

    > 304&Step=30"_To Learn More About This

    > Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in

    > "Find A Professional"_/A_



  • Scott OB
    Scott OB Member Posts: 22
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    I wrote wrong function

    I should of said Peerless oil fired condensates.I think that the combination of this boiler and the BTUs of oil can't be beat for my application.
  • Bob Forand
    Bob Forand Member Posts: 305
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    Hey Granite Stater

    Hi Granite Stater- I noticed in your post you said you will be using clipped up pex on 2 floors. If you are referring to a suspend system, I would be sure to make sure your installer is using heat transfer plates instead of clips. Much better heat transfer with lower water temperatures. Also, because you will be almost entirely radiant a mod/com boiler may be your best bet. If going with oil perhaps the Viessmann Vitola boiler. It can handle return water temps as low as 104 degrees. It has a lot of water content with plenty of insulation surrounding the boiler. The Vitola also has a fantastic control package to handle your heating system. Good luck..
  • Dave_4
    Dave_4 Member Posts: 1,405
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    LP gas

    If people knew how dangerous this stuff was, they would not use it.

    Yes, I have seen about 6 buildings leveled in the last 20 years in this area.

  • Solarstar
    Solarstar Member Posts: 82
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    I've also seen 4 houses, make that 5 within about a 4 mile radius alone that are doing oil spill detox(cleanup) and there at a $250,000 dollars and climbing ... insurance companies are freaking over this alone.
  • Eric_25
    Eric_25 Member Posts: 79
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    NH installer

    I find that at least 75% of our customers these days choose propane over oil when shown all the pros and cons. True you get more BTU's out of a gallon of oil but with the Mod-Con boilers today operating at 94+% efficiency with the modulating effect on top of that they are tough to beat. As far as I know no one has found an accurate way to rate the effectiveness of the modulating burner over the steady state of oil or a conventional gas burner. In NH today gas is cheaper per gallon than oil also by about 30 cents the last time I checked. If you choose gas or oil make sure you shop prices and own your own tank, there can be huge differences in pricing especially it seems with LP. Also make sure you spend the extra money and use the Joist Trak or equal aluminum transfer plates or go with Gypcrete either of these methods will pay for themselves in the long run with reduced water temps.

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  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,541
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  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 1,035
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    The key

    Any combustible fuel can be dangerous. Whether it is catching fire, blowing up, gunking up a chimney to the point it backdrafts, or fugitive gas igniting, they are all "bad things". So, how do you minimize or eliminate "bad things"? Proper installation with a comprehensive commissioning checkup, comprehensive annual service by a tech qualified and equipped, permits and inspections, and informed homeowners. That's about all we can do. Will this prevent DIY'rs from doing stupid things? No, in fact the reason houses blow up from LP is a lack of my list and DIY'rs. We can reduce the risk but never eliminate it.

    BTW, how do you feel about LNG? Are you aware of the lawsuit trying to block the terminal in Boston harbor? They are concerned a major leak of LNG would rise into a mushroom cloud that then spreads out so when ignited, it will take out a 50 mile radius? Now, which gas is safer? How do you as a tech measure the Wobbe number and adjust the burner to that fuel? What happens when the gas company changes the blend?

    I've seen tons of LP installs where they used small tanks with skinny lines to save a buck but it was part of the reason for the delayed ignition that blew out the glass on their fireplace or sooted it up.

    Which is safer and more efficient: an undersized NG furnace or an oversized oil burner? Answer--neither.

    Don't mix safety with efficiency discussions. Weigh them each separately but make sure you give them your full attention. For instance, when factoring either fuel, are you baking the cost of a full service into the price? Very few oil guys include scubbing out boilers, pulling smoke pipe, etc. Same for LP. Did you have to buy the tank and regulators? What were the setup fees and deposits? Just make sure you bake in all the costs.

    I service LP and NG all the time and I have oil heat with NG hot water for now ( installing Buderus G-115, Riello, indirect tank and Logamatic in 3 weeks). For me, the best system is the one properly installed, maintained and serviced and is the best selection and size for my application. The money is secondary.
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