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Want to replace oil boiler with electric baseboard. Advice?

verosorch Member Posts: 1
I am working with a property owner who wants to replace an oil boiler system with electric baseboard heating. The house is 200-year-old cape cod and has had one mini-split heat pump installed to help with heating the two main rooms. The property is currently rented so the owner is obligated to make sure there is a working system for the entire house, but the tenant refuses to use the oil furnace/boiler as they do not wish to pay for the oil. Due to lack of use, the furnace no longer works. The owner wishes to replace it with electric baseboard heaters that can be controlled in each room. Is this a viable option? More mini-splits might work, but the number required to heat the house would take up a ridiculous amount of interior and exterior space, rendering it unusable and unsightly, and could not be relied on to effectively heat the house in the coldest winter months in this area (Nova Scotia, Canada).


    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,149
    Electric heat works fine. Cheap to install but costs $$$ to run.

    The only way to know would be to compare electric cost to oil cost and efficiency..

    this is a math problem, not a heating problem
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,263
    You should do a room by room heat load calculation first and foremost. Determine how much "heat" the home needs. Then see if you have enough power in the breaker box to run the required resistance heat.

    You might want to use an online energy calculator to show operating cost between the two systems.

    Also look into a heat pump, air to water could use the existing hydronic distribution possibly. It may have a much higher COP, depending on the design conditions, if you really want to use electricity?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,497
    Well... Nova Scotia electricity is, for the moment, relatively cheap. You may find that you would almost break even.

    However, pay close attention to @hot_rod 's comment: add up how much heat you really need, convert that to kilowatts (roughly 3,400 BTUh output per kilowatt) and check what your power available really is. Just to get you started -- if you need 100,000 BTUh, and have 240 volt power, you'll need 122 amps for the heat alone...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,435
    As noted above, the biggest hurdle will be electrical service size. If power is available and might be simpler to install and electric boiler rather than fishing wires all over the house.
    The issue is puzzling. The tenant is willing to pay an electric bill but not the oil bill? Shouldn't the lease spell this out? The mini splits will be much less expensive than oil. With resistive electric it will be a close call.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,767
    What boiler is in there now? How well has it been maintained?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,981
    You’re neither the property owner or the tenant? I’d get the boiler fixed, they don’t go bad like milk, and a new tenant
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,870
    edited August 2019
    I'm not sure if the OP is referring to a boiler or furnace.
    If there is currently a warm air furnace with air conditioning, replacing it with a properly sized heat pump with the manufacturers OEM second stage electric heat kit would make it an all electric heating bill. But again, big amp draw.
    If the furnace does not currently have air conditioning, it cannot be added unless major duct modifications are made. At that point an air handler can be installed in place of the furnace and still use the OEM electric heat kit.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,336
    Is burning electrons really cheaper than burning dinosaur juice directly up there?

    I think @Zman has it, install an electric boiler. It'd be a lot less invasive but you'd still have the electrical capacity issue noted.

    Seems like a lot to go through for something a tenant appears to have done to themselves.

  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 639
    I'm assuming that most electricity up in NS is 'hydro' from Quebec. Almost "too cheap to meter"! Don't forget they also have 'tar sands' further west. But that takes some serious extraction and transport. Those 'oil trains' in Que. can become...runaway! Check your recent history.
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,085
    I do work for a land/slum lord who converts everything to heat pump when the equipment needs replacing. The reason is simple: the tenants won't fill the oil tanks but instead use electric or kerosene heaters. A situation that either leads to frozen pipes or overloading of circuits. Since none of them will go without television, they'll pay their electric bills and thus the heat stays on with heat pumps.

    Maybe that's the situation here and an electric boiler makes sense if the service can handle it.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.