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Oil vs gas

Jim_109Jim_109 Posts: 45Member
Should I stay with oil or convert to gas? What are the pros and cons with each?

I am considering changing my old/inefficient oil boiler with a coil to a modern one with an indirect. There is gas on the street. If I intend to change, now is the time when purchasing new equipment.



  • Oil/gas debate

    Oil contains more BTU's than gas. Modern oil heat equipment is very efficient, quiet and has many features that gas does not, including remote communications & diagnostics. If you have an in ground tank, get rid of it yesterday, and install one of the new double walled tanks inside, or in an enclosure alongside your house. Oil fired equipment varies in efficiency, if you plan to stay in your house for more than 5 years, purchase the highest efficiency product your budget will allow.(Same for gas.) You may need to alter your chimmney to accomodate the new equipment. You also have the option to shop around for oil dealers, an option you don't not have with gas.

    You will need to run a new pipeline into your home for gas. Gas units are also quiet and range fron basic to high efficiency. They offer modulating, condensing types that are ultra efficient and small sized that mount on the wall. Some will need a drain for condensate, and alterations to your chimney. Consider your hot water needs. How do you heat it now?

    Equipment is important, but more important is the quality of the installer. Do your homework! Use the "Find a Contractor" feature on this site. Also, familiarize yourself with what a well done installation looks like by checking out the installations posted on this website. Check out contractors by calling references, Consumer Affairs or the BBB. Remember that you will be living with the choice you make for the next 20 years or more, paying for oil or gas, make sure you are comfortable. Make sure you are up to date with insulation, windows, housewrap, programmable stats and all the other basic energy savings measures. Your house is a system, and the heating/cooling/domestic hot water system is a part of it.

    Look for EnergyStar rated equipment, note the yellow "Efficiency" tags, rating their energy consumption. If you choose ultra high efficiency products, make certain to purchase an extended warranty or service plan; these products are complex, and need more than just basic attention.
  • Brad WhiteBrad White Posts: 2,392Member
    Oil v. Gas

    I would not go so far as to say one has more BTU's than the other without specifying a quantity, by the way. Comparing gasses and liquids by volume is just so disappointing :)

    Most boilers rated for gas and oil tend to have higher outputs with oil, which may have been Bill from Honeywell's point.

    Oil today is not the oil you knew. Well, the actual fuel is pretty much the same but the equipment burns more cleanly than your parent's boiler ever could. Out of the box conventional efficiencies hit 85% regularly whereas gas with electronic ignition and a vent damper makes 82-83%.

    If you have steam- oil would be my choice. Why waste gas when you will not condense? If you have hot water as I suspect you do, that opens it up a little.

    If gas is available and hot water is the medium, I would not think of using anything less than a mod-con at 92 to 96% efficiency. Modulation is the key here. Condensing is a bonus, IMHO. (Oil fired condensing boilers are available, are few in number and require the lowest sulfur oil you can get, which may not be available in your area.)

    If I could get modulating oil fired performance, that would be interesting, but for efficiency it is hard to beat a modulating boiler and a modulating condensing one is the best of both worlds.

    My order of preference?

    1) Gas-Fired ModCon 92-96% Eff.

    2) Oil fired HW 85% Eff.

    3) Conventional Gas-fired HW wet base 84%

    4) Getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick

    5) Atmospheric on-off gas.
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • Bruce StevensBruce Stevens Posts: 133Member

    I would not go so far as to say one has more BTU's than the other without specifying a quantity, by the way. Comparing gasses and liquids by volume is just so disappointing :)

    If bill is referring to Propane then he is correct as Propane has about 91,500BTU per gallon and oil in the neighborhood of 135,000 to 140,000 BTU per gallon. Since we buy both by the gallon nice comparison. I think is a country boy city boy thing as county boys think gas they think Propane city boys think NG. Now its how many BTUs can we extract from each dollar spent and put back as heat in the home that makes the the difference on which product is better for the end user.
  • Brad WhiteBrad White Posts: 2,392Member
    Understood, Bruce

    on the per-gallon basis but the choices are natural gas and oil. As you said, it is the cost of the fuel units and how many are needed. Bottom line is, a net BTU is a net BTU, we know we have different ways to get there.

    Have not heard from you in a while. How are you?

    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • Tom HopkinsTom Hopkins Posts: 539Member

    Have you seen the work BNL did on integrated heat and hot water systems?To my surprise an oil non-condenser beat the field including a gas mod-con.

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • Brad WhiteBrad White Posts: 2,392Member
    Hi Robert

    No, I have not seen that but would like to. Do you have a copy or a link? BNL is right in your back yard, is it not?

    That study you mention must have found a lot of hours making DHW. Did it make the case for separate HW and not to use an indirect? Interesting.

    The Dr. Butcher study in that other thread did use a Monitor FCX condensing oil boiler which is a neat twist.

    Thanks for letting me know about it. Next to having a great military, BNL makes me almost happy to pay taxes. Almost :)
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"

    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • I knew I'd get nailed for the \"generalization\"...

    I realized that about 2 seconds after I pushed the "send" button! Thanks, Brad, and you are right about what I meant. I also forgot to advise this gentleman to visit manufacturer's websites ans contractor's showrooms.
  • Glenn Sossin_2Glenn Sossin_2 Posts: 592Member
    BNL Study


    I think this might be the study Robert was referring to.

  • Tom HopkinsTom Hopkins Posts: 539Member

    Glenn,no it's a NORA funded study recently completed on integrated heat and DHW systems.I saw it at NAOHSM,very interesting stuff!

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • Ted_9Ted_9 Posts: 1,718Member
  • J.C.A._3J.C.A._3 Posts: 2,981Member
    Teddy \"Star Trek\" G. and Brad.

    Ted, unlike the Dilithium Chrystal scenerio...I have seen and played with a true "MODULATING oil burner! In FACT...I've seen 2!

    One was the Herrmann burner from Germany, that uses quite familiar equipment to all of us here when controling the air portion of the Fire Triangle. The big difference is the FUEL 3rd!

    They have an electrically driven "Pulse Pump", that uses the same technology as any mod con using a Dungs gas adjust the pulses of the fuel unit.

    The biggest problems with getting this technology here is (get may have NEVER heard this before)....THE FUEL!

    Second biggest hurtle to using or getting anything close to this is....the SIZE of our oil fired boilers!!!

    Whats the smallest oil boiler out there right now? I've seen a few that fire a .50 GPH nozzle, but with the pump pressure bumped up, the equivelant fire is .60 GPH.(Lets see.... .6 GPH,even at 85% STILL equals 71000btu's!

    These puppies are firing between .25 and.45 GPH, with an UPPER limit of 60,000 btu...

    WE don't have a BOILER SMALL ENOUGH to use these products!!!

    We got the houses, we got the heatloads...but where are the units to use them...and the fuel that will allow it?

    Condensing oil, what a gold mine! Too bad we'll not be seeing it until the fuel makers decide we need it!(Score another win for the presidents Mafia!...JMHO) Chris
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