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Boilers that can use oil or propane

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If a boiler can burn either oil or propane, does that mean I could realistically run it on oil for a few years (while my oil tank holds up) & then convert to propane once I'm ready to take on that expense? Learning so much from all of you! Many thanks
hot_rod

Comments

  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,614
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    Yes that can be done. Some boiler manufacturers frown on using gas burners in their oil boilers. Burnham I believe is one.

    I think Slant Fin is ok with it. @Steamhead has a lot of experience with this. Perhaps he will comment
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 5,861
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    A lot of cast iron boiler manufacturers approve the use of a gas power burner.
    Carlin, Riello, and Beckett all have retrofit specs for many boilers.
    If it were me, I might order a 2nd burner door. Instead of dealing with the burner flange gasket or amulet or something, just remove a nut or two and unhinge it.
    new_explorer
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
    edited January 2020
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    Slant/Fin is OK with Carlin EZ-Gas or Midco EC burners on their Intrepid boilers. We've used both. Same with Columbia on their CSFH/CSFE units.

    Boyertown Furnace offers Carlin EZ-Gas burners for their Solaia residential series boilers, and Beckett commercial gas burners on the Solaia commercial series. We've installed both.

    Most other manufacturers are noncommital. US Boiler (Burnham, Crown, New Yorker) is the only one I know of that gets a hissy fit when you mention firing one of their oil boilers with a gas conversion burner. But we just put an EZ-Gas in an 11-year-old MPO and it runs great, especially now that we've saved it from the oil company's neglect of proper maintenance. @Gordo took some video of this job, watch for it.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    ethicalpaul
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Don’t forget EK

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    SuperTechskibum
  • retiredguy
    retiredguy Member Posts: 914
    edited January 2020
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    Before I retired, many areas of Pennsylvania especially eastern Pa. required that all boilers over a certain BTU input be equipped with burners that could be switched between #2 fuel oil and nat gas. I was told that the reason for that requirement was that in many areas nat gas was at a premium with very little excess supply and that the homeowner was always "first at the trough" when it came to heat. Most large operations always were installed with a back-up fuel source anyway. I am going to guess that since we now have "FRACKING" that requirement is a moot point. Here's a little "tid bit" of information, most but not all boilers can be retrofitted to burn anything; nat gas, propane, methane, sewer gas, coal (hard or soft), wood chips, saw dust, municipal waste, even nut shells etc., I know this because I have seen it or worked on it. I have said this before, I did get to work on some smaller systems, however, most of my work was in commercial/industrial installation, service, and start-up etc. I find it fascinating to read about the work of the many of you that are well versed in heating systems. I read and re-read "The Lost Art of Steam h=Heating" by Dan and found it very interesting. Many thanks to all of you for your insight.
    new_explorer
  • new_explorer
    new_explorer Member Posts: 11
    edited January 2020
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    @Steamhead EK is advertised as running on oil or propane. Does EK transition better than others? Or is it more of a Porsche vs Ford situation?

    Also, I searched this site but no contractors are near me. Any of you have recommendations for CT shoreline?
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    What @retiredguy is referring to are 'interruptibles'.
    The gas company gives the large user a discount on the gas with the understanding that when a extended cold snap hits, that user switches over to heating oil (or any other source).
    So in the Philly area, they do everything to get you on nat gas, then when it's really cold, they don't have enough supply, so they switch the heavy users to heating oil, which causes a spot price spike and allocation runouts, which affect the people who heat with heating oil...who unfortunately get it from both ends.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    new_explorer
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,430
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    @Steamhead EK is advertised as running on oil or propane. Does EK transition better than others? Or is it more of a Porsche vs Ford situation?



    Also, I searched this site but no contractors are near me. Any of you have recommendations for CT shoreline?

    For reasons I can't explain, though there are some contractors in CT who are good, they are very hard to track down. I'd suggest you get in touch with @Charlie from wmass , who is excellent and who works in Connecticut. He is, however, busy...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    > @new_explorer said:
    > @Steamhead EK is advertised as running on oil or propane. Does EK transition better than others? Or is it more of a Porsche vs Ford situation?
    >
    > Also, I searched this site but no contractors are near me. Any of you have recommendations for CT shoreline?

    EK transitions very easily. The fact that a properly setup EK burning oil will run very cleanly helps make gas transition a breeze. No rope gaskets or refractory components to replace.
    new_explorer
  • Gordo
    Gordo Member Posts: 857
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    Herewith is a short poorly produced video on an oil to gas conversion using a Carlin EZ gas burner:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDYRqfnPVgI

    Steamhead worked all day to chop out the hard deposits in this boiler.

    I am sorry to say, but the oil company has very little to be proud of on this. They installed this otherwise well designed boiler in 2009 and had ten years of "service" to correct any issues (ie the wrong type LWCO, by-passing the LWCO, poor fuel economy).
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
    new_explorer
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    SuperTech said:

    > @new_explorer said:

    > @Steamhead EK is advertised as running on oil or propane. Does EK transition better than others? Or is it more of a Porsche vs Ford situation?

    >

    > Also, I searched this site but no contractors are near me. Any of you have recommendations for CT shoreline?



    EK transitions very easily. The fact that a properly setup EK burning oil will run very cleanly helps make gas transition a breeze. No rope gaskets or refractory components to replace.

    Never having done this on an EK, I'll defer to @SuperTech 's experience.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
    edited January 2020
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    Gordo said:

    Herewith is a short poorly produced video on an oil to gas conversion using a Carlin EZ gas burner:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDYRqfnPVgI

    Steamhead worked all day to chop out the hard deposits in this boiler.

    I am sorry to say, but the oil company has very little to be proud of on this. They installed this otherwise well designed boiler in 2009 and had ten years of "service" to correct any issues (ie the wrong type LWCO, by-passing the LWCO, poor fuel economy).

    Before and after photos. In the first one, you can see where the second-pass baffle on the left had gotten stuck halfway in, so someone just folded it over to get the door shut:





    The only way to get those baffles out was to get the soot-saw in alongside them and start sawing downward- and keep sawing. This boiler was condensing so badly that the soot and sulfur had formed a liquid mass that solidified around the baffles. I'd never seen that before.

    Stack temperature was around 440° F when we tuned it. This should keep it out of condensing range for now. We'll be going back to inspect this unit toward the end of the heating season.
    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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    Sad, abused wonderful boiler (First Gen MPO?). Nice work!
    That's the easiest boiler to clean and keep clean. Set up with true zero smoke, proper draft, double filtration, I just cleaned mine after 4 years, could've vacuumed it out with a dustbuster.

    Just curious, what's the insert depth for the gas burner on that burner/boiler combo?

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    Gordo
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    Right- first generation, not the current IQ model. Perfect candidate for a HydroStat or AquaSmart.

    I don't recall the exact depth, but the AFG's depth was flush with the refractory. We set up the EZ-Gas the same way, and used a Lynn #1046 cuff to adapt its 3" air tube to the 4" refractory opening. We also sealed around the flange/air tube joint with hi-temp RTV caulk.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    STEVEusaPA
  • new_explorer
    new_explorer Member Posts: 11
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    Interesting to see the conversion, appreciate the pics & video. And hammers home the importance of good servicing.
    @STEVEusaPA you mentioned EK for boiler that's easy to convert. I haven't gotten any pricing on them yet but if I'm shopping an oil boiler with intent to convert to propane in future, better value to go with EK vs MPO with future costs to convert it?
    Gordo
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    @new_explorer , do you have a steam or hot-water system?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • new_explorer
    new_explorer Member Posts: 11
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    @Steamhead hot water baseboard
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    I like them both, but if you’re buying new, why not get a boiler that’s easily converted by the manufacturer-the EK.
    You may do so well with the efficiency of the EK oil you may leave it that way unless oil prices sharply rise. Super efficient, burns as clean as nat gas.
    My only caveat (I of course love oil), is gas supply, and more importantly distribution is becoming a real challenge with municipalities and even entire states putting up road blocks for new customers, new pipelines, etc.
    The same applies to propane-pricing, availability, delivery/distribution.
    I personally would never use propane (...”Oil wipes up, gas blows up...”). Oil first, nat gas under protest :)

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    new_explorer
  • new_explorer
    new_explorer Member Posts: 11
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    @STEVEusaPA leaning towards the EK oil for all those reasons. Seems like there's only 1 contractor near me that offers them & waiting for quote. Should I expect it to be comparable to Peerless WBV-03 cost? Hard to wait while mopping up water from crack in my current boiler & temp dropping outside
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    Even if the EK costs a bit more, it's worth it in reduced fuel consumption and easier maintenance.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    SuperTechrick in Alaskaszwedj
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    EK will usually not be the least expensive option. I have a WBV-03 in my house, It can't be compared to the Energy Kinetics boilers. A properly installed EK will be worth the extra expense. It will be more efficient and easy to convert to gas if that becomes an option.
    szwedj
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,457
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    If you buy the EK, you can get the conversion burner from Energy Kinetics that is set up for that boiler. You have to do a couple of wire changes and change out the pressure switch, but they include it all in the box. They also throw in a co detector! This boiler converts over really nicely, but I have also done the MPO's and they also work well. My preference is the EK though.
    What I do with all my conversion customers is make sure the oil burner stays right there with the boiler. If for some reason we lose gas, say an earthquake or something, that oil burner can be put back on and with five gallons of fuel from the gas station, you can be back in business.
    Rick
    szwedj
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,889
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    If you buy the EK, you can get the conversion burner from Energy Kinetics that is set up for that boiler.. Rick

    Same with the Solaia.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • szwedj
    szwedj Member Posts: 66
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    @new_explorer If you call EK customer service they should be able to give you some names of dealers near you.
    Joe
    Joe Szwed
    Energy Kinetics
  • new_explorer
    new_explorer Member Posts: 11
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    @Steamhead @STEVEusaPA @SuperTech @rick in Alaska @szwedj @HVACNUT @Jamie Hall @EBEBRATT-Ed
    Appreciate all the guidance. Went with the EK. Seems like the best set up for the job & once sticker shock wore off, I can appreciate it for the investment that it is. Thanks for helping this novice figure it out
    SuperTech