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.

Dual Fuel Advice; oil v wood v pellets? Vitola 200 best?

Hi all,

I'd like to get a dual fuel boiler for hot water heat for my house that I am renovating. We're putting in 30 R value insulation on the walls and 50 for the ceiling and I am going for a low heating bill. I want to get dual fuel to have a backup if the gas goes out or if gas prices climb back up.

Two questions:
1. Should oil be my backup fuel of choice? Or should I go for wood or pellets? (If I did oil, I wouldn't even put the tank in at this time, I'd wait for gas prices to go up).
2. I read on The Wall that the Vitola 200 is a good dual fuel boiler (see: http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/82607/any-dual-fuel-boilers-out-there). Is the the best? Should I consider others?

Budget is of course a concern, but I am willing to spend up to $1,000 more for a dual fuel than a firm gas boiler.

Thanks for the help!


  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506
    edited February 2017
    First of course start off with a heat loss when you're finished all your insulation, and install the right sized btu boiler.
    Many boilers, like Energy Kinetics can use a power gas burner or a power oil burner in the same boiler.
    But if you have to have dual fuel, I'm guessing by your name you live in a row home, the smallest oil boiler is going to be way to big, and waste energy-even if gas prices go up.
    Plus you're going to have to carry an oil burner/parts, then hook up a tank, clean the boiler, get fuel, bleed, combustion test, etc. The flue pipe and barometric damper for oil vs. gas are different, so change that too, and keep the other one.
    Sounds like a lot of hassle, have you tried to figure out how much you'll save on the fuel switch, against the cost of the extra equipment, and the labor to commission it?
    Oil is low, but of course can go up and down quickly. Gas prices are higher (in my area) but move slowly, unless you're with a gas energy provider that has in their contract the ability to adjust your rate. If you're getting your gas from a public utility company, you usually know when the increase is coming.
    If it were me, and I'm an oil guy, just put in the properly sized mod con, do the annual maintenance, enjoy the savings. Or put in a high efficiency oil boiler, and if oil gets out of control, put a gas gun in it.
    Also consider the cycle, and note that heating oil just doesn't sit well anymore.
    So you start with gas, then switch to oil. Now you're installing a tank, piping the supply/fill, running oil line, filters, firomatic, etc.
    Use the oil for a while decide to switch back to gas. Run the tank and oil line dry, all the labor for switch over. Are you going to leave that tank sit there empty for years, then if you want to switch back, expect the tank to be nice and clean? They'll be moisture, sludge, microbes and other nasties that you'll have to treat for and hope they haven't been eating away at your tank.
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 833
    ANY dual-fuel boiler will be a compromise. Don't get one. Design a system with primary/secondary piping and then have inputs from a primary fuel burner and a secondary fuel burner. All done with proper controls.
    Its hard enough to design a good boiler with one fuel source. Designing one that uses two fuels... is twice as hard. I can't think of a good one that uses two fuels.
    With all the insulation and energy efficiency you are designing into your renovation, why would you install a compromised single burner with dual fuels? This is a bad match.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    I wood ;) not consider wood or pellets as a backup. The only way it makes sense is if you enjoy it and it is cheaper than other fuels available. In some areas oil or propane are the only other options and biomass make very good fiscal sense.

    Unless you are non-condensing gas and could switch to oil, I would only do separate units.

    I burn wood exclusively in a gasification boiler, and have oil as a backup. Soon to be propane mod-con. Oil doesn't store well for a decade.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!