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Energy Kinetics: Oil vs Propane?

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hughbucks
hughbucks Member Posts: 9
Looking at replacing my 30+ oil boiler with an Energy Kinetics system. I also have a 500 gallon propane tank on my property.

I'm contemplating switching to propane as I'd have to replace my oil tank anyway, but Energy Kinetics seems to throw a wrinkle into it. My understanding is that if oil and propane were the same cost per unit, oil would be cheaper to operate as it generates more BTUs / $. The Energy Kinetics boilers don't seem to differentiate between efficiencies of oil boiler vs propane boiler. Is that true? (The Accel is the only want you can't use an oil burner). If true, would there be any benefit to propane over oil?

In my area, oil is currently around $2.8/gallon and propane around $3.1/gallon at least as of today.

Comments

  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Personally I would stick with the oil. Nat gas & propane have some volatility coming, and propane is more prone to supply issues of heating oil.
    That's just my opinion. Where you are may not have that issue.

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  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,841
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    I'm an oil guy too but you cant go wrong with either. The Carlin EZ gas burner in the EK-1 Frontier is as perfect a match as the Beckett AFG is the for the EK oil.
    I use LP for cooking and the clothes dryer but it's not cost effective by me to use it for my heating system. Turns out it wasn't cost effective for my dryer either.
    The Accel CS being a mod con might offset higher LP costs but you have to do the math. Most here know that's not my strong point.
  • hughbucks
    hughbucks Member Posts: 9
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    Argh, my original question got cut off.

    The Ascent, System 2000, and the Resolute can all be equipped with either propane or oil burner. EK lists the efficiencies as 87/88/91%. Are those the same efficiencies for oil or propane or both?

    If so, and if oil is the same or cheaper per unit -- which it is where I live in southeast PA -- why not go oil? Everyone seems to want me to go propane (I wouldn't mind getting my oil tank out of my basement) but I'm trying to figure out which is the most efficient cost-wise. Only thing against oil cost-wise is I've heard 1) tune-ups are a bit more and 2) you really can't afford to skip a tune-up where propane doesn't require it.

    I could go to the Accel CS at 98% which is only propane/nat gas but that is more upfront cost.
  • JayMcCay
    JayMcCay Member Posts: 32
    edited January 2019
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    As you mentioned, @hughbucks ,the multi-fuel models (oilheat, natural gas, or propane) are the System 2000 Frontier, the 90+ Resolute, and the Ascent Combi, and the Accel CS is natural gas or propane. For the multi-fuel models, the efficiency is just about the same for oil vs gas, with oil performing about 1% to 2% higher than propane or natural gas – either is difficult to see on your fuel bill for energy consumed.
    If you want to compare fuel costs, you may want to look at a page we have dedicated to that here:
    https://energykinetics.com/savingsheatingfuelcomparisons/

    For reference, Energy Kinetics and all oil and gas boiler manufacturers we know will have a statement requiring an annual tune-up – some gas combi boiler manufacturers actually require annual tune ups twice per year. An interesting development is that as of 2018, oilheat has ultra-low sulfur content in most states and essentially burns as clean as gas when properly tuned (which should be easy with a combustion test kit and a well-designed combustion area and chamber like our models). Pennsylvania is 500 ppm sulfur (which is low sulfur) and very clean burning, and Philadelphia is 15ppm (ultra-low sulfur) which is just like gas for particulates.
    Jay McCay
    National Sales Manager
    Energy Kinetics
    908 328-7154 cell
    GBartRobert O'Brien
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
    edited January 2019
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    Just a FYI, consumers and some in the field think you can skip an annual maintenance on a gas unit, NOTHING is further from the truth. Gas units rarely need to be vac'd and this is becoming true with oil if the tech set it up correctly and especially with the System 2000, a System 2000 is not to be opened unless the draft test says otherwise.

    There is this thing called a Factory Manual and it not only lists the frequency of maintenance but what must be done and tested. If only people followed and read them.

    Pretty sure most people that have been sickened or died from CO in their home that was caused by a gas fired heating appliance was due to a lack of maintenance.
    STEVEusaPAEdTheHeaterMan
  • StingerIII
    StingerIII Member Posts: 3
    edited January 24
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    I'm getting close to full retirement and just saw the Energy Kinetics for the first time today. I'm impressed with what I read, but currently have a Burnham MPO that I installed in 2006. I thoroughly clean and tune it each year and its running at 86%. Its also the only boiler I've every worked on. Would I see much if any gain in efficiency if I were to switch to an oil fired EK?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,539
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    @StingerIII no you would see virtually no difference. keep what you have until it fails.
    DJD775StingerIIILong Beach Ed
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,859
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    I'm getting close to full retirement and just saw the Energy Kinetics for the first time today. I'm impressed with what I read, but currently have a Burnham MPO that I installed in 2006. I thoroughly clean and tune it each year and its running at 86%. Its also the only boiler I've every worked on. Would I see much if any gain in efficiency if I were to switch to an oil fired EK?

    Not enough to recoup the costs.
    StingerIIILong Beach Ed
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 917
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    @hughbucks The key point is that the heat content of propane is 90,000 BTU per gallon, while the heat content of No. 2 fuel oil is 140,000 BTU per gallon; so you must burn many more gallons of propane to get the same amount of heat.

    Bburd
    MaxMercyLRCCBJ
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,842
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    I'm getting close to full retirement and just saw the Energy Kinetics for the first time today. I'm impressed with what I read, but currently have a Burnham MPO that I installed in 2006. I thoroughly clean and tune it each year and its running at 86%. Its also the only boiler I've every worked on. Would I see much if any gain in efficiency if I were to switch to an oil fired EK?

    @StingerIII no you would see virtually no difference. keep what you have until it fails.

    pecmsg said:

    I'm getting close to full retirement and just saw the Energy Kinetics for the first time today. I'm impressed with what I read, but currently have a Burnham MPO that I installed in 2006. I thoroughly clean and tune it each year and its running at 86%. Its also the only boiler I've every worked on. Would I see much if any gain in efficiency if I were to switch to an oil fired EK?

    Not enough to recoup the costs.
    This.

    The MPO is an excellent boiler. Maintain it and you'll get years of efficient, reliable service.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Which MPO? You can change the capacity with some adjustments, if possible and save some money if you’re oversized.

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  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,844
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    I like the energy manager that controls the EK boilers. It has that purge feature that dumps the normally wasted heat out of the boiler into the last zone that called for heat, even if it is the DHW tank. That leaves less heat in the boiler during the off cycle so less waste up the chimney. I wonder if anyone has tried to adapt that technology to other boilers like the MPO. or the WGO
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    H2OBandit603
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 527
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    hughbucks said:
    In my area, oil is currently around $2.8/gallon and propane around $3.1/gallon at least as of today.
    At those prices, oil wins by a long shot.  
    LRCCBJ
  • JDHW
    JDHW Member Posts: 73
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    @EdTheHeaterMan
    I think you just need a delay off relay. For a single zone heating systems the call for heat from the thermostat energises the boiler and the pump via the delayed off relay. At the the end of the heat call to boiler shuts down and the pump keeps running for a minute or two.

    I have seen this in old Honeywell documents from years ago showing how to wire up heating systems. It is also a common setting in modern condensing boilers - pump post run time.

    John
  • JDHW
    JDHW Member Posts: 73
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    Just found the document - Look at the later diagrams with overrun.

    John
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    JDHW said:

    Just found the document - Look at the later diagrams with overrun.

    John

    Thats all 230v 50 hz.

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  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,539
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    @EdTheHeaterMan

    I used a strap on aquastat (reverse acting) on my boiler on the return line (one zone). When the thermostat call ended, and the boiler was sitting there with 180–190-degree water the aqastat would keep the pump running until the water dropped to 130 deg. Any lower and I would get some flue gas condensation on the next call for heat. The temp in the house used to overshoot 1-2 degrees . Hardly noticeable
    MikeAmann
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 906
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    I won't comment on this discussion of oil vs propane in a residential setting since I did very little residential and have been retired since 2007. Also, a lot has changed in the equipment that is available today. My only comment is that I never liked propane as a fuel since it is heavier than air and any leakage always seeks the lowest point in a building. Any accumulation of propane will just sit there, almost forever, and wait for an ignition point, then "BOOM".