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Oil or Propane

Tgardiner65
Tgardiner65 Member Posts: 2
Hello there. I have a Burnham boiler with Beckett oil burner. Although its only 15 years old, my oil company is saying its time to replace the boiler, the serviceman says he thinks its getting ready to leak and we should start to budget for a replacement. If I do replace the boiler should I consider replacing with a Propane fired boiler or just stick with the oil? I do not have natural gas available at my house but do have propane which we use for cooking, clothes dryer, etc. I'm not sure there is any benefit by switching to Propane all though I sure could use the extra space in the basement if I didn't have that oil tank. Thanks?

Comments

  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,973
    If it was me, I'd go with LPG for the simple fact it's so much easier to deal with and maintain.

    That, and I hate the smell of Diesel.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    Bob Bona_4Empire_2
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,228
    As long as the pricing isn't bad (not just this year but long term) i would go with the LP just because it does burn cleaner and boiler maintenance should be easier.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    Bob Bona_4
  • DJS
    DJS Member Posts: 4
    I would go with LP. If you are able to per buy, you can usually avoid the price spikes. Plus LP to me, seams a lot cleaner to work on and service.
    What type of system do you have. If you have an old radiator system, you could go with a modulating boiler and get into the 90% eff.
    Whatever you decide, do your homework and don't let your tech lead you by the nose. Even new oil boilers can have add ins like outdoor reset, that will help with eff.
  • RJMCTAFO
    RJMCTAFO Member Posts: 113
    Well.
    I would get a second opinion on the boiler for sure. I have been doing this for 14 years and have yet to know how to predict when a cast iron boiler is going to start leaking. Maybe I need a crystall ball?
    As for fuel choice there are alot of things to consider. Right now in my area (northern Ct) oil is cheaper than LP. If you consider LP make sure you budget purchasing the tank outright. Don't get me started on some of the things LP companies get away with around here as far as pricing, especially if you lease the tank.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,242
    Oil at $2.32 per gallon, or l.p at$4.50 per gallon up here. Not even close to being a question which way to go. But if the l.p is cheap where you are at, then it would definitely be something to look at. If, you really did need a new boiler....
    Rick
  • Jack
    Jack Member Posts: 1,045
    I paid $.99/gallon for LP this past summer. I'm a gasser ;) myself. The way to make it most cost effective is to own your tank and bury it in your yard. That way you control the buy and aren't getting mid-season, every few week, fills at market price. That is a killer. As well, it is nice not having an oil tank in the house.
    Bob Bona_4
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 15,023
    If you go with LP and NG becomes available some day, it would be an easy conversion.

    With LP you can cook and dry laundry also.

    I'm in N Wisconsin and Iron Mt MI driving past LP companies offering 99.9 per gallon. With a mild winter so far up here I'll bet that continues to go down.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • spoon22
    spoon22 Member Posts: 32
    That is a burnahm v8 series boiler if they cleaned the boiler and noticed a Crack it is possible to tell that it will leak soon these boilers (more so the v7 series )have cracks that don't always leak they open when the circulator run. Burnahm had a big problem with the v7 and v8 series in the late 90's and early 2000s . You can get a new burnahm at a discount from burnahm. The mpo is a much better boiler with efficiency around 86%. I would stay with oil the cost to remove tank bury propane tank and pipe house adds up when you can improve the efficiency with an new oil boiler for less upfront money. The price of propane can fluctuate just as much as oil. Oh BTW if you do replace the boiler make sure they do a load calculation an over sized boiler will cost more to operate.
    billtwocase
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,302
    If fuel costs are similar then how's your chimney?

    If you have a good interior chimney and nice clean basement then I might stay with oil.

    If you're talking low temperature system then lp gets my vote.

    Although i don't like how lp regulators freeze up once in a blue moon

    It's all good
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,973
    GW said:

    If fuel costs are similar then how's your chimney?



    If you have a good interior chimney and nice clean basement then I might stay with oil.



    If you're talking low temperature system then lp gets my vote.



    Although i don't like how lp regulators freeze up once in a blue moon



    It's all good

    Everyone I've ever seen with oil didn't have a nice clean basement. They usually have an oily stinky mess and a pile of kitty litter on the floor. :)

    And then when it's time to service the boiler once or twice a year, that's a stinky dirty mess.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    GW
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    Switched to LP myself, from oil 2 years ago. We had a 50 year old oil boiler, it was time, and we didn't appreciate $800-$900 fill up invoices. Now we have more space in the garage, the new boiler is silent, hangs on the wall out of the way, no chimney worries. $1.69 per gallon. What's not to like?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,059
    ChrisJ said:



    Everyone I've ever seen with oil didn't have a nice clean basement. They usually have an oily stinky mess and a pile of kitty litter on the floor. :)

    And then when it's time to service the boiler once or twice a year, that's a stinky dirty mess.

    C'mon by, good buddy. I'll grant you it's not a McMansion recreation and theatre lounge, but it is a good clean usable basement -- for over 200 years old.

    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    billtwocase
  • Tgardiner65
    Tgardiner65 Member Posts: 2
    Thanks to everyone for all the great advice. As much as I want to get rid of that oil tank in my basement and as much as I want to lower my carbon footprint...I can't make the numbers work. I did some research on current fuel prices and boiler efficiency ratings and propane just doesn't measure up cost wise...at least not right now here in the Northeast. I know the site has a rule against discussing pricing...but I'm guessing that relates to labor and materials on installs, service etc. and not for general fuel price information? If so here's the math I did to figure out the cost of a million btu's. I took the fuels price per gallon and compared it to that fuels btu content and then to a typical efficiency rating on a boiler that uses that fuel. I found a Weil-Mclain oil boiler with an efficiency of 86.2 and a Weil-Mclain propane boiler with a rating 91, I did also find a Slant Fin High Efficiency wall hung propane boiler with a rating of 95.4 although that Slant Fin was 2x the cost of the other boilers. BTU assumptions were 138,690 per gallon of oil and 91,333 per gallon of propane. The price of fuel oil today is $2.18/gal. and the price of propane is $3.43/gal.

    So I used the following math:
    $ per gal. / (btu content * eff.rating)*1mm=Cost per 1mm btu's

    Oil boiler
    $2.18 / (138,690 * 86.2%)*1mm= $18.23 per million btu's

    Propane boiler
    $3.43 / (91,333 * 91%)*1mm=$41.27 per million btu's

    High Eff wall hung Propane boiler
    $3.43 / (91,333 * 95.4%)*1mm=$39.53 per million btu's

    So if I'm looking at this correctly...heating with Propane at this point in time is roughly 2x the cost of heating with fuel oil. I know oil is at a very low price at the present time and I also realize that Propane is more expensive in the Northeast US than it is just about every where else. But using the same math as above I believe that Propane would have to be about 70% the price of oil to make it worth while. For example if oil were $3.00/gallon then Propane would be cheaper to heat with only if it were priced lower than $2.10/gallon ($3.00 * 70% = $2.10)

    I'm I figuring this correctly? Am I missing anything?




  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,973

    ChrisJ said:



    Everyone I've ever seen with oil didn't have a nice clean basement. They usually have an oily stinky mess and a pile of kitty litter on the floor. :)

    And then when it's time to service the boiler once or twice a year, that's a stinky dirty mess.

    C'mon by, good buddy. I'll grant you it's not a McMansion recreation and theatre lounge, but it is a good clean usable basement -- for over 200 years old.

    Any kitty litter?
    Oil stains on the floor, wet spots on the lines or filter housing?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    Not under Jamie's watch!
    ChrisJbilltwocase776v63
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356

    I took the fuels price per gallon and compared it to that fuels btu content and then to a typical efficiency rating on a boiler that uses that fuel.

    AFUE may be a 'typical efficiency rating' but it does not make a very good predictor of actual fuel use. Net thermal efficiency differences between a modulating/condensing boiler and an on/off conventional boiler are 20% minimum, and usually more like 30%.
    The price of fuel oil today is $2.18/gal. and the price of propane is $3.43/gal.
    $15.72 per million BTUs versus $37.55 per million BTUs. No contest. Today. In your neighborhood.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,059
    ChrisJ said:

    ChrisJ said:



    Everyone I've ever seen with oil didn't have a nice clean basement. They usually have an oily stinky mess and a pile of kitty litter on the floor. :)

    And then when it's time to service the boiler once or twice a year, that's a stinky dirty mess.

    C'mon by, good buddy. I'll grant you it's not a McMansion recreation and theatre lounge, but it is a good clean usable basement -- for over 200 years old.

    Any kitty litter?
    Oil stains on the floor, wet spots on the lines or filter housing?
    One small oil stain right at the filter. Dating from before when @Charlie from wmass and I were working on the system!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Why not both, you could easily pipe in another boiler, fired by propane, high efficiency to be vented through the sidewall, and switch back and forth as prices fluctuate. I did this in my own house. But with oil prices low, I would wait until oil prices drastically increase, or when the boiler actually starts to leak, that could be many, many years.

    Thanks, Bob Gagnon
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
    SWEI
  • spoon22
    spoon22 Member Posts: 32
    Oil on the floor is easier to clean up than with propane if it leaks you can pick up the toothpicks that used to be your house
    billtwocase
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 4,826
    ChrisJ said:

    ChrisJ said:



    Everyone I've ever seen with oil didn't have a nice clean basement. They usually have an oily stinky mess and a pile of kitty litter on the floor. :)

    And then when it's time to service the boiler once or twice a year, that's a stinky dirty mess.

    C'mon by, good buddy. I'll grant you it's not a McMansion recreation and theatre lounge, but it is a good clean usable basement -- for over 200 years old.

    Any kitty litter?
    Oil stains on the floor, wet spots on the lines or filter housing?
    Chris in my parents house the furnace is in my fathers workshop (oil burner). I would eat off the floor anywhere in there including under the oil tank. House was built in '77 and there has never been a drop of oil on that concrete ever.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • Aaron_in_Maine
    Aaron_in_Maine Member Posts: 315
    edited January 2016
    I don't know how propane is priced where you are but up here the price is based on usage the more you use the less you pay per gallon. Heating and hot water you should be cheaper than someone that is just cooking or drying clothes. I pay 1.79 for propane. It also helps if you own your own tank too.
    Aaron Hamilton Heating
    [email protected] yahoo.com
    (207)229-7717
    Bob Bona_4SWEI
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    Some Home Despot stores have 420# cylinders at a very good price. Used refurb 499s can be a steal.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,973
    What are the downsides to owning your own tank?

    How long are the tanks certified for before something needs to be replaced or inspected?

    Will all LPG companies or states allow you to own a tank?


    What is up with PA's 80% full rule?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    DOT tanks come certified for 12 years, at which point they need a requal that is good for another 5, 7, or 12 years depending on the type of testing/inspection done.
  • billtwocase
    billtwocase Member Posts: 2,385
    Sad that poor installs and service continue to give oil heat a bad rap. I would stay with oil unless natural comes into your picture in the future. He may be right with the up and coming leaker, but have him point it out