Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Oil vs. gas heat dilemma

Options
Bobbyd2727
Bobbyd2727 Member Posts: 27
I have a forty year old dunkirk cast iron oil fired boiler with a indirect water heater.  I use about 1200 gallons a year to heat my home. I have baseboard heating. The house is about 2800 square feet.    With the high cost of oil [ about $4.00 per gallon in my area], I'm considering either a new oil system or converting to gas since national grid will bring the line in from the street at no charge.  I'd like to get the most efficient system available.  Most people I have talked with all say if the gas is available go with that.  What would be the best gas boiler system to get and what would be the best oil heating system?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!!

Comments

  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Options
    Hands Down

    Gas mod/con will save you 50- 70% over what you're paying now.
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    Options
    talk

    with installer's in your area. Read all the warranty info with each system. Ask people who have had their system's installed and find out how they like them...Make sure a heat loss is done. Since your not in a hurry up situation, take the time to ask the questions, whether you go with oil or gas. Dont do it based on who's the cheapest...
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Options
    Ditto Ichmb

    and don't expect the new unit to last even 1/2 of the life of your old oil fired boiler. Have the heat loss done, research any proposed systems, and way both oil and gas. System 2000 would be my choice, but i am an oil guy. You'll get 20-30 years out of them, and just as quiet as gas
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 930
    Options
    NAT GAS YES

    If you have Nat gas available to you use that and a condensing gas boiler. 1200 gallons x $4 =$4800 if you are saving 50% per year that would be $2400 or higher. Bite the bullet now and go condensing or just keep paying the oil company. Don't forget you will also have to replace the oil tank if that is old sooner or later and that can add to the cost of staying with oil. Have a professional do a heat loss to get the right size boiler and to make sure there is enough baseboard to run as low a temp as you can. I went from oil to nat gas and this is the third heating season and I love the savings 55 - 60% and comfort of the condensing boiler gives with ODR control and P/S piping. I have a Triangle Tube Prestige Excellence installed. Take a look at Triangle Tube Prestige Solo with their Smart IDWH. www.triangletube.com Oil pricing is going nowhere but UP!!!  Through Triangle Tube and your heating professional you can get a 5 or 10 year parts and labor warranty. I would buy that warranty it is cheap insurance against any repairs that might be needed for the next 10 years. Good luck.
  • Al Corelli_2
    Al Corelli_2 Member Posts: 395
    Options
    Replacement parts

    Whatever you decide to buy, make SURE you can get replacement parts for the unit you choose.

    And don't just believe what the local parts warehouse says. Ask them what parts they have in STOCK.

    6 weeks out on one particular brand of boiler. Good thing there is four of them.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • Paul48
    Paul48 Member Posts: 4,469
    Options
    Maybe

    You can "Find a Contractor" here?
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Options
    Don't forget you will also have to replace the oil tank if ...

    And that cost me over $1000 to have my old 1000 gallon in-ground tank removed. But the extra cost was almost $50,000 for environmental cleanup because it leaked a little. That will pay for a lot of mod-con boilers.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Options
    that's a bit extreme

    not all customers and companies allow underground tanks to leak. In Mass 1995 the push was on to get rid of them, and that we did.
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,542
    Options
    What dilemma?

    $5K/year for oil or $1400 for gas?
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Ron Jr._3
    Ron Jr._3 Member Posts: 603
    Options
    $5K for oil .........

    Based on the old unit ? 
  • NRT_Rob
    NRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    Options
    are you saying

    if you left it in the ground it would not have leaked, ever?
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
    Options
    I do not understand.

    Not allowed to leak? I do not know if my town, county, or state, allow underground tanks to leak. I do know that anything over about 250 gallons cannot be above ground and the tank I had was nominally 1000 gallons. The advantage was I needed to fill it only once a year, and in recent years, it would take only about 300 to 400 gallons. Filling after the winter was over usually got lower prices. One very cold winter it wanted around 700 gallons.



    But whether leaking was allowed or not, I would have repaced it as soon as I knew it was leaking. I doubt much water was getting in, as I never had trouble with water in the fuel. Only oil was getting out.



    My state wants in-ground tanks out. They pay something like $1500 to homeowners to have in-ground takes removed. I do not suppose they permit new ones to be installed, but I do not know that for sure. They also pay up to $50,000 for remediation. At least the law says they do. But the money to pay this was not allocated, so there is about a 3-year delay to get the money. My tank is gone, so it is no longer leaking. But what oil is in the ground is just working its way down into the water table and spreading around, which is a misfortune, IMAO.



    Since my tank was removed by a licensed contractor, who did some contamination tests, and the contractor filed all the necessary forms with the DEP, the DEP will not prosecute me for not doing the remediation right away.  At the current rate, it will be about 5 years after the leak was discovered until the remediation is performed. Two years delay due to slow-moving insurance companies who did not want to pay. One got off scott free, and the other pays only a very small percentage. Only direct problem for me would be if I wanted to sell the property. I would get about $50,000 less than I otherwise would.
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,542
    Options
    $5K for oil?

    Sure,he said he uses 1200 gallons. 1200 times $4.25/gallon is $5100. Average price on LI is $4.24 as of today





    http://www.nyserda.ny.gov/en/Page-Sections/Energy-Prices-Supplies-and-Weather-Data/Home-Heating-Oil/Average-Home-Heating-Oil-Prices.aspx
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Ron Jr._3
    Ron Jr._3 Member Posts: 603
    edited February 2012
    Options
    A more accurate comparison

    would be matching the new gas system with a new oil system   Top of the line oil for that homeowner wouldn't be anywhere near 1200 gallons burned . But you knew that already :)



     At any rate , no doubt about it  .........  gas is way cheaper now on Long Island and everywhere else  . Is that $4.24 for full service ? What's COD going for ? And how did you figure the $1400 for gas ? Check their bills for 12 months ? 
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Options
    Was it 2 pipe system?

    That was possibly your leak issue. Only single suction line is needed. Also, did your fuel company or yourself stick the tank periodically and monitor the level/gallons? No one wants a tank to leak underground, but test wells, tank vaults, and charts have been around for a long time. Your town or county should have been on that ball years ago. I live coastal here so I guess we see preventative measures developed and practiced before most. Your tank situation may not be applicable to this poster. It only puts false fears in people's minds when it comes to oil heat, that which I will defend, as it is how I earn my living.
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,212
    Options
    We do it Differently...

    We do many conversions.  We also own buildings that we have converted and our opinions are somewhat different than what you've read here. 



    We don't advocate "buying the most efficient boiler you can find."  Especially if you plan on staying in the house and servicing the beast for a good period of time.  



    The problem is that many of the very-high efficiency products are unreliable junk that require expensive and frequent service parts.  In our experience, the price of service and parts far outweigh the extra 2% or 3% efficiency you'll find credited with these units.  And in reality, the extra efficiency billed is often not realized in the field.  



    Without making any specific recommendations (we have out favorites as each reader probably does),  we'd recommend a moderately efficient cast iron unit with off-the-shelf controls that are stocked by your supplier.   Otherwise you can find yourself waiting a week in the cold for parts that can grow obsolete in less than a decade. 



    If a mechanical failures set you back $400 per year in parts and service, you haven't saved any money.  If the lifespan of your double-the-price-of-a-standard-boiler is ten years, you've lost a fortune over a slightly less efficient fourty-year unit. 



    The oil vs. gas debate is simple to us.  We laid back for decades and endured the service nonsense that oil burners require.  We were saving money on fuel.  The tides have turned.  Gas is cheaper now by a huge margin.  It's also easier and cheaper to maintain and burns at a consist ant efficiency. 



    This is one case where squeezing the last penny in efficiency will only cost you more in service, comfort and reliability over the long run. 
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Options
    well said Ed

    No doubt oil is at a premium, and will go up before it goes down. Just waiting for this fracking practice to wash ashore, then the tides will probably turn again. The extreme gas machines are most definitely over engineered, and parts and service will gobble up the "savings" quickly, and like anything, is it in stock, or do i freeze.
  • NRT_Rob
    NRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    Options
    i don't find this argument compelling

    for several reasons.



    1. not all mod/cons are unreliable or have short lifespans. there are bad units, and there are good units. Get a good unit with a stainless steel HE.



    2. not all cast iron beasts last for 50 years either. I've seen many die in 10-15... the same lifespan you consider inadequate for a high efficiency appliance. Cast Iron does not automagically mean "built to last".



    3. Real world efficiency difference, atmospheric cast iron to sealed combustion mod/con, is more like 20% minimum and often more, not a "few" percent. and that ignores massive domestic efficiency gains in the summer... cast iron without purge control is 25% efficient all summer for DHW if you're lucky. mod/con is double, apples to apples.



    4. who has $400/year in mechanical failures??



    Cast Iron is a dinosaur that needs to finish rolling over and dying. There are several brands of mod/con out there with excellent service records. Pick one and roll...
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,212
    Options
    Ultra high vs high efficiency

    I understand your point, NRT.  And I do agree that there are many good boilers out there with advanced design.   And yes,  a smart customer who does his research and chooses the proper installer can find one of these high efficiency boilers and not regret his purchase.  



    But I make a living dealing with the common man -- the average customer in New York City.  And I see MANY, MANY people who terribly regret buying the ultra-high efficiency stuff that's in their basement.  VIRTUALLY ALL OF THEM that I see have lost any efficiency gains because they purchased a poorly designed boiler, or because the boiler was installed improperly by poor contractors or because they are being hit with replacing parts that cost me $250. 



    Just this weekend I had a service call from a fellow who has been without heat for three days waiting for a part.  We had the part in stock and he cried at our price.  He had replaced the same part two years ago.  What money did he save with his ultra-high efficiency boiler?  



    Of course there's good equipment out there too.  But there is a jungle of alligators that a customer and his installer must wade through to find it. 



    When a customer has a cold house with four kids and the replacement part he needs is four days away, the thousand bucks he saved in fuel over three years means nothing.   When the part's no longer available a decade later, he's saved nothing and bought nothing but aggravation.



    If you are sold on ultra-high efficiency, you have to be active in the research, selection, installation and service of your equipment. 



    A mistake here will cost you much, much more than you save.  



     
  • NRT_Rob
    NRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    Options
    I agree

    there have been some real lemon boilers and there are even more lemon installs out there... I still run into massively oversized mod/cons with no outdoor sensor installed all the time! it's criminal. and man, NYC seems PACKED with installers of that mindset.. astounds me every day.



    but that's a "you chose a bad installer" issue, not a boiler issue. I guess if you're going to hire a hack, it's harder for them to screw up cast iron and it's cheaper if they do, that's true.. but I don't think I'd advise people (who are listening to advise) to go cast iron as a result... I would advise them on how to pick a decent installer. the decent installer's job is to know what are good boilers.



    it's not really that hard. do they ever do heat load calcs? do they use outdoor reset?



    those two questions knock out most of the hacks immediately.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • Long Beach Ed
    Long Beach Ed Member Posts: 1,212
    Options
    Actually

    About 30% of the small boilers we install could be considered low mass ultra-efficient modern condensing boilers.   And you are right when you say the devil is in the details of installation.  The vast majority of problems with jobs we see are installation faults and some are incredible -- just unbelievable!



    We let the customer make the chose.  We've shaken out the bad apples and usually offer a handful of different models and types.  We try to educate, offering the strengths and weaknesses of each design. 



    And of course, we are never to low bidder, but on the condensing boilers we always get the repair call after the low bidder who got the job stops answering his phone. 
  • swr
    swr Member Posts: 3
    Options
    its not the fuel

    its not the fuel its the system.If you ever want to sell the house though i'd convert.oil's got a bad rap.but most oil systems are connected to old, oversized boilers that were installed when fuel was cheap.however from a practical stand point if you plan on selling in the near future you may want to convert.another option is to down fire boiler, install an outdoor reset control,install setback tstats,re-pipe,and zone.If you replace the exsisting boiler,i wouldstill incorporate some or all of the afore- mentioned upgrades.also most oil boilers can be converted to gas after market.most important of all though,is to remember that if you improve the space being heated,you wont have to burn as much fuel.its the difference between a paper cup and a thermos.I live in nj have aprox.2700sq.ft w/gas house is 1922,i pay about 150 to 250 a mon. to heat.i did all the things i suggested to you,except windows n insulation.but i do have old style storm windows that i re-calked.these things cut my bill in half.[ireplaced the boiler w/ 1 that is about 70k btus less]
  • swr
    swr Member Posts: 3
    Options
    finally!

    thanks for your comment glad to see some commen sense.been doin this for 17 yrs.gettin tired of all this overpriced,overcomplicated,unreliable junk being jammed down our throats and marketed to our customers.totally agree with everything you said!
  • hotpipe
    hotpipe Member Posts: 24
    Options
    parts on the van

    Something to think about, but for most any oil fired system, the replacement parts are easily available. With the mod/cons, this is a lot less frequent. And the gas systems parts can be five times more expensive. Do the research and question those you expect to service the system Christmas day when its ten below.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • NRT_Rob
    NRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    Options
    I wonder

    if that's different with all firetube boilers. I know the TT offers a suitcase of all service parts needed for their solo series boilers. pretty convenient.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • hotpipe
    hotpipe Member Posts: 24
    Options
    TT parts kit

    We do carry the TT case of parts and it is very handy. But we also use the Solo boilers as our go to Lp modcon, and there are many other brands out there. It becomes a question of how much stock due you warehouse? When you have around 20 techs in the field, you can't stock each rig with these parts. A modcon I looked at Tuesday had a bad module and the blower/fan assy was on its way out. I was there at 6 am, the parts were ordered at 7 am, and by lunch they were installed. One of our guys probably had 150 miles of driving to pick up and drop off the parts. The customers service plan covered all labor but the parts prices made me prefer oil systems that much more.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

This discussion has been closed.