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Electric Boiler for residential heating

frankm1960
frankm1960 Member Posts: 13
I've got about 1100 Sq ft home to  heat and I'm considering a 15KW electric boiler unit.

Right now I have an old oil fired boiler system (hot water hydronic system) in place but boiler leaks and I need to replace it. I'd like to get rid of oil and all that so I'm wondering if a 15KW electric boiler will do the job. I realize I'll have to also put in a new hot water heating tank for my domestic water as I believe the electric boilers out there don't include domestic hot water heating for some reason.

Comments

  • LarryC
    LarryC Member Posts: 331
    Is your Electricity free?

    ***********************************************************

    ************* Not a heating professional **************

    ***********************************************************

     

    Unless your electricity is VERY cheap, you may find out it is much more expensive to run an electric system versus a combustion system.  Electric heating is very efficient IF you ignore the 2/3 loss getting from the power plant to your house.



    You will probably need to upgrade the house electrical service and learn to deal with an increased electric bill by $400 to $800 a month.

     

    I would strongly recomend investigating replacing the boiler with a new system that is right sized for the building's heat loss and invest some money into improving the building insulation, if you have not done that already.



    Good Luck.
  • frankm1960
    frankm1960 Member Posts: 13
    electric

    The building is well insulated and the oil system has worked well until now.

    I'm still undecided on oil vs electric. The ease of electric boiler is compelling... low maintenance costs and fewer parts to replace.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,910
    I'm not going to say no...

    right off the bat.  However.  You should be very very careful to be sure that you know what your priorities are, and what the real costs to you (or whatever) are.



    If you are concerned about money, be careful about comparing your potential electrical cost with the cost of oil.  Also, be realistic.  A good steam boiler (you don't say whether this is steam or hydronic) will run about 85% efficiency; a good hydronic can be pushed to 90%.  Electric may run close to 98%.  So take those figures and compare them on a per BTU basis in your area.  In some areas -- e.g. Montreal -- it's a no-brainer; the electricity is subsidized by Quebec, and is lots cheaper.  In others -- like most of New England -- oil is going to be way ahead.



    You do need to add to the oil the cost of maintenance of the burner and boiler.  That is, however, minimal, particularly if you have a service contract.  The amount of service required is also minimal -- the only additional service for oil vs. electric is the burner itself.



    On the other hand, if you wish to get rid of oil on environmental grounds, be sure to make your comparisons on a source to end basis.  Electricity, in most parts of North America, does not come out very well on that basis.  Generation plants are mostly coal or oil, with a peak conversion (oil to electricity) efficiency in the low 40s, and there are transmission losses as well -- so you are burning a lot more fossil fuel (and generating a lot more CO2) using electricity than you are if you were to use the oil directly.  Again, this is not true in Quebec -- there the power is a mix of nuclear and hydro, and as a result really does get rid of oil (what the hydro does to the First Nations people and the wilderness is pretty horrible, but we won't go there).
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • frankm1960
    frankm1960 Member Posts: 13
    electric boiler

    Thanks for the info James.

    I haven't been able to make up my mind yet.  Oil or electric. I'm renting my property, it's about 1250sq ft and I've had someone recommend an 18kw electric boiler which can easily heat 3000 sq ft according to them. But I don't know. It's hard to find any info on the electric boilers as far as sizing goes... they tell you the BTU's but I'm not sure how to relate that to house size.



    Electric is no bargain by any stretch but when renting it sounds like a better option. I'll probably have to go with a larger size than18kw which would mean a new electrical panel which will drive the price right up there. So as far as electric boiler installation costs go it's probably the same as an oil fired boiler.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Plug -n- Play boilers...

    Switching to an 18 KW boiler is NOT as simple as plug-n-play. In order to power up the boiler, you have to make sure you have an adequately sized electrical service coming to the house, as well as a large enough branch service to serve the boilers needs.



    And, as others have been pointing out, unless you are near a cheap hydroelectric energy source, electricity can be expensive.



    Look before you leap.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • frankm1960
    frankm1960 Member Posts: 13
    edited March 2011
    125 amp panel

    I've got a 125amp panel and I believe it will handle an 18kw electric boiler. Just not sure if I have room for the water heater circuit which I'll need to add if I go electric.



    I'm renting the property so electric makes more sense than oil... easier to deal with but more costly. I do live close to a hydro powered damn so electricity is somewhat reasonable. I don't know what the condition of my chimney either. So electric starts to look good.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Best have an electrician look at it...

    I calculate 82 amps for the boiler alone...



    Better safe than fried...:-)



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,398
    edited March 2011
    I agree

    although a presumed higher voltage will ease the amperage a bit. Your 18 kW boiler will be 220V likely. Still, overall a high demand for a 125A panel. Get a sparky in there to give you a full assessment.



    First cost no one argues, electric does tend to be cheaper. But as a renter, how long will you be there? Length of tenancy is a determining factor. Eek out another year, or are you in place with a good deal for ten years? That kind of calculation.



    At the other end of the scale is the ground-source water to water heat pump. I have never seen this pay for itself in a residential installation but in commercial, you have a shot. By "pay for itself", I mean that the break even point, (where your cumulative savings plus escalation and cost of money equal your capital expense), is shorter than the useful life of the equipment.  Probably not a renter's system!



    At the low end of the scale, an electric boiler makes sense -if you move to Montreal as Jamie suggested.



    Cheap electricity and Yvette to keep you warm.  :)
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"



    -Ernie White, my Dad
  • frankm1960
    frankm1960 Member Posts: 13
    renting

    I'm actually renting OUT the dwelling and the tenants pay heat and lights.

    Sorry for not making this clear earlier... sadly, what's in my brain and what comes out of my keyboard are almost two different things at times :)



    I think I will upgrade the panel if I go electric. I'm still looking at patching my old boiler tank at the moment (subject of another thread in the Oil boiler section on this site if anyone has any ideas there) just to buy me some extra time to get my head around all the options.
  • Brad White
    Brad White Member Posts: 2,398
    Well that is a "duh" on my part as well.

    I could read it both ways and so what do I do?



    OK, my landlord hat is back on. Screw the tenants! (kidding!)



    Hard to beat the first cost but in a tight rental market (whatever it may be), the projected energy costs may be a factor and may force a reduction in the rent. Here in Boston, (well the city proper, I no longer live there), the housing court is getting involved in heating costs even if the tenant meter is in their name. Just a thought, not to get on another topic!
    "If you do not know the answer, say, "I do not know the answer", and you will be correct!"



    -Ernie White, my Dad
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