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Oil to Gas conversion

RJHNY1
RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11
edited April 5 in Gas Heating
Hi guys, first post here. I have questions about a potential oil to gas conversion.

I have oil in my home right now. My oil tank has a slight leak that I would characterize as the bottom of the oil tank having a few soft spots. There's no continuous leak, but I've been advised to replace the oil tank sooner than later. Before I do that and spend thousands to replace the oil tank, my wife and I are exploring the possibility of converting to gas.

My oil boiler is the Energy Kinetics System 2000. It is 9 years old. My hot water tank is also 9 years old and 40 gallons. I have myself, my wife, my 3 and 1 year old in the home. I can't rule out having another child, so eventually, there could be 5 people living in my house. Generally, my heat has worked fine, but I have a monoflow system and we've had a number of issues with heating in the bedrooms since air gets into the system and has to be bled to get it working. Also, I've noticed the hot water when we shower doesn't stay hot for too long. I usually take about a 5 to 7 minute shower and the hot water definitely gets no hotter than lukewarm toward the end of the shower.

I already have gas in my home to the dryer, grill, and generator. The gas was brought in by the previous owners of the home. I live in Long Island, New York. I've been in this house 3.5 years and have no expectation of moving soon. My house is 2200 square feet, split level. There is the possibility my wife and I will expand the house in the next 5 years, which would probably add an additional 500 square feet.

I've gotten quotes from about 7-8 plumbers, ranging between $ and $. The job entails lining the chimney, replacing the boiler and hot water tank, running a gas pipe to the utility room where the boiler is, and removing the oil tank. Two plumbers wanted to do tankless. The remainder of them recommended doing the standard boiler and hot water tank, with some of them having a difference of opinion whether to do direct or indirect hot water tank.

My questions are:

1) Is it worth it to convert? I hear that gas is cleaner and cheaper and currently and oil has gone up a lot. Could oil come back down in the coming years as more people use electric cars such that it's better to keep oil?

2) What is better? Indirect or direct? It seems there's a huge difference of opinion that goes 50/50. I know indirect is more efficient, but I was told that having direct means I have hot water in case if the power goes out. I do have a generator that powers the boiler, so I'm not sure if having direct water tank makes sense for me. But on the other hand, does the indirect system mean that my boiler is on during the summer for hot water?

3) Most of the plumbers I met with recommended the Burnham boiler. One plumber under heavy consideration said he could install the ES2 or the Series 2 (price doesn't change in the quote), but he likes the Series 2 more because it's a simpler system and causes less problems. He said he has more service calls with the ES2. However, I can get a rebate with the ES2 b/c it's 85% efficiency whereas the Series 2 is 84% efficiency. The rebate is only for systems with 85% or greater efficiency.

The other side of it is, my oil boiler is not that old. It's 9 years old and I was told by Energy Kinetics the life expectancy for the boiler is about 30 years. However, I was also told the water heater has a lifespan of 12 years and it's at 9 years now, so it could be approaching the end. Two companies told me they could convert the oil boiler to gas, but it wouldn't be as efficient. Also, their quotes to do that were extremely expensive to the point where it would be cheaper to get a new boiler.

I'm no expert in oil/gas and heating and I'm learning a lot of new things with this stuff being a first time homeowner. I would appreciate any feedback or advice so I can make the best decision for my home. Thank you for reading this much and making it to this point.

Comments

  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 1,963
    1st Pricing is not allowed just too many variables.

    Personally oil/ gas the pricing seems to average out over 10 year periods so that shouldn't matter.

    Can your gas meter handle the extra capacity, I've heard no new meters due to limited capacity.

    Has a Proper heat Load / loss Manual "J" been performed, or are they proposing like for like btu output? 75% of the equipment I see is oversized.
    Erin Holohan Haskell
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11
    Yes, I was told the meter can handle it. Even then, National Grid will upgrade the meter, free of charge. That's not a concern.

    None of the contractors have performed a heat load. They came and gave quotes. When I decide on one I like, but before I formally hire, I was going to ask about the proper head load/manual J. Thing is, the layout/style of my house is very common in my town, so some of these contractors are familiar with the layout/size and already know what size boiler would be appropriate. But that's a follow up question I will pursue once I get an idea of what I want to do.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 8,840
    I would get a heat loss done. I wouldn't install a Burnham anything. EK make great equipment. I would do an oil-gas conversion if EK approves it
    SuperTech
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 1,963
    RJHNY1 said:

    Yes, I was told the meter can handle it. Even then, National Grid will upgrade the meter, free of charge. That's not a concern.

    None of the contractors have performed a heat load. They came and gave quotes.

    Better check on that, I'm being told no upgrades or new hook up at least on the east end.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,734
    A few thoughts here... sort of at random. First, I doubt that over the long run converting from oil to gas -- even keeping the same boiler with a gas conversion, if EK permits it, will save much on fuel. Some years oil costs more some years gas costs more. And unless you have a crystal ball on politics...

    Then there's the cost of a new boiler if you go that route as compared to a new oil tank. Likely to be a factor of 10 in there.

    The water heater is a different matter. However, the problems with it -- running out of hot water (though it is a little small in my opinion) and some of the problems with the heat may be due to the same thing: maintenance. With regard to the boiler, that should include a yearly -- or certainly every other year -- thorough going cleaning of the fire side, a check of the breeching and chimney, and a cleaning and adjustment of the burner. The latter must be done by a competent tech. with the proper instruments. The same needs to be done for the water heater. Getting air into the system may mean that the system water pressure is low -- frequently the case -- or that the expansion tank is tired; also not unusual -- and both are things that you can check yourself. The system water pressure should be between 12 and 15 psi when the system is cold, and not much more than 20 psi when it is hot. There should be a pressure gauge on the boiler to show you that.

    If you were to go ;for the ES2 or series 2, is that rebate really worth the extra maintenance and troubleshooting on the more expensive boiler. The quoted difference in efficiency is meaningless in real world terms, but keeps the paper pushers happy -- and comes with significantly greater upkeep costs and first cost.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11
    Thanks for the feedback guys. The problem with converting the EK boiler is that so many plumbers want a ton of money to do it. Do you guys know how much it costs to buy the EK conversion kit by itself? None of the plumbers I met with wanted to do that. PETRO said they would do it (they were the ones who installed the system for the previous owners), but their cost to do it was ridiculous.

    As for maintenance, I have a service contract with PETRO. They supposedly check the system and do whatever they need to do at the start of each heating season.
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,178
    We can't discuss pricing here due to regulations, but if you were to pay me your lowest quote, I would fly up there and do the job, and be quite happy about it.
    And if they won't do it, then you need to find an actual heating person.
    Conversion takes about an hour, another hour to clean the boiler, and a half hour or so for the final adjustment.
    Rick
    SuperTech
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 3,906
    RJHNY1 said:
    Thanks for the feedback guys. The problem with converting the EK boiler is that so many plumbers want a ton of money to do it. Do you guys know how much it costs to buy the EK conversion kit by itself? None of the plumbers I met with wanted to do that. PETRO said they would do it (they were the ones who installed the system for the previous owners), but their cost to do it was ridiculous. As for maintenance, I have a service contract with PETRO. They supposedly check the system and do whatever they need to do at the start of each heating season.
    In other words, a conversion on the existing boiler isn't a big enough sale for them, which is BS. 
    They can get an OEM Carlin EZ gas from EK direct. That and a liner is all that's needed.
    Let me know when they bring the EK to the curb. I'll take it.
    Call EK for a list of their dealers near you. Maybe there's a smaller company willing to give you a fair price. 
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 1,963
    PETRO has been bought by a National Company, A lot of great techs moved to different company's or out on there own.

    The law of supply and demand apply to us also. The Average house price in Nassau County is now 639K and going up. (Long way from @DanHolohan Levitt Home) The techs have to get a livable wage so that's up there also.

    Have you contacted EK direct for a list of contractors?
  • Jon_blaney
    Jon_blaney Member Posts: 122
    Go on the EK website and get a local dealer name. They will fix your problems. Their service gets rave reviews.
    SuperTech
  • Robert O'Brien
    Robert O'Brien Member Posts: 3,306
    RJHNY1 said:

    Thanks for the feedback guys. The problem with converting the EK boiler is that so many plumbers want a ton of money to do it. Do you guys know how much it costs to buy the EK conversion kit by itself? None of the plumbers I met with wanted to do that. PETRO said they would do it (they were the ones who installed the system for the previous owners), but their cost to do it was ridiculous.

    As for maintenance, I have a service contract with PETRO. They supposedly check the system and do whatever they need to do at the start of each heating season.

    It's probably about half the cost of an entire replacement. Where are you located?
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 15,734
    The poor guy lives in Nassau County. Not quite as expensive as the SF Bay area, but right up there. Where you can't buy a cup of Dunkin' Joe for what most of us would pay for a decent night out with the wife.

    But I agree, the conversion may well be not more than half the cost of a replacement.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,078

    The poor guy lives in Nassau County. Not quite as expensive as the SF Bay area, but right up there. Where you can't buy a cup of Dunkin' Joe for what most of us would pay for a decent night out with the wife.

    But I agree, the conversion may well be not more than half the cost of a replacement.

    I wish I was poor enough to live in Nassau County
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11

    The poor guy lives in Nassau County. Not quite as expensive as the SF Bay area, but right up there. Where you can't buy a cup of Dunkin' Joe for what most of us would pay for a decent night out with the wife.

    But I agree, the conversion may well be not more than half the cost of a replacement.

    Hahaha, that's funny. Tell me about it. It sucks living in NY and I would love to move to a warmer, southern or mid western state, but I would rather not leave my parents or sister's family behind.
    SuperTech
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11
    edited April 6

    RJHNY1 said:

    Thanks for the feedback guys. The problem with converting the EK boiler is that so many plumbers want a ton of money to do it. Do you guys know how much it costs to buy the EK conversion kit by itself? None of the plumbers I met with wanted to do that. PETRO said they would do it (they were the ones who installed the system for the previous owners), but their cost to do it was ridiculous.

    As for maintenance, I have a service contract with PETRO. They supposedly check the system and do whatever they need to do at the start of each heating season.

    It's probably about half the cost of an entire replacement. Where are you located?
    I'm located on Long Island. You said half the cost, is that just for the boiler conversion itself or for the whole job including a new hot water tank and removal of the oil tank?

    How efficient would a EK boiler converted to gas be compared to a new gas boiler? It seems a lot of people here favor converting the EK boiler as opposed to replacing it.
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11
    HVACNUT said:


    RJHNY1 said:

    Thanks for the feedback guys. The problem with converting the EK boiler is that so many plumbers want a ton of money to do it. Do you guys know how much it costs to buy the EK conversion kit by itself? None of the plumbers I met with wanted to do that. PETRO said they would do it (they were the ones who installed the system for the previous owners), but their cost to do it was ridiculous.

    As for maintenance, I have a service contract with PETRO. They supposedly check the system and do whatever they need to do at the start of each heating season.

    In other words, a conversion on the existing boiler isn't a big enough sale for them, which is BS. 
    They can get an OEM Carlin EZ gas from EK direct. That and a liner is all that's needed.
    Let me know when they bring the EK to the curb. I'll take it.
    Call EK for a list of their dealers near you. Maybe there's a smaller company willing to give you a fair price. 

    That's exactly right. They want the bigger sale. Also, a lot of them want to install their own boiler systems they're familiar with. Replacing the entire thing means it's their work and if they're called back after that to fix an issue, they know their handiwork and they know their system.
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11

    Go on the EK website and get a local dealer name. They will fix your problems. Their service gets rave reviews.

    I actually spoke to a company who is a EK dealer. He was very very expensive to do a gas conversion in the EK boiler (in addition to new hot water tank, removing the oil tank, etc.). Some guys who wanted to outright replace the EK were cheaper than this guy who was willing to do the conversion.

    I didn't get his name from EK themselves, but through my own research. I contacted EK just now and hopefully I hear from them soon.
  • GW
    GW Member Posts: 4,083
    I dig these conversations, we are all the arbiters of trades morality and fair pricing 😀. If the EK guy is even jamming you, then you’re right back to square one. “A conversation burner for more than other guys quoted for a whole new boiler” 😳 

    Rich- an hour???? Come on man. Sure, maybe if the gas is already there, your spill switches are in place, but that type of talk is what gets homeowners all fired up. If you can swap burners and run a gas line and wire in an hour, you’re the worlds fastest tradesman. 
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    [email protected]
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 3,906
    edited April 6
    RJHNY1 said:
    I'm located on Long Island. You said half the cost, is that just for the boiler conversion itself or for the whole job including a new hot water tank and removal of the oil tank? How efficient would a EK boiler converted to gas be compared to a new gas boiler? It seems a lot of people here favor converting the EK boiler as opposed to replacing it.
    Where on Long Island? I believe @Robert O'Brien operates out of Nassau. Me? I'm a Suffolk hick and will never work west again. Dealing with the one percenters on the south fork keeps me on my toes.
    There's no draining, cutting, wringing out the wiring, out with the old, in with the new. That's about 2 to 3 hours labor saved right there. If it's the EK-1 Frontier, no spill switch is needed. The boiler incorporates a blocked flue (puff) switch. No draft regulator required. If it's an exterior masonry chimney, then it will need a liner. And if it's not there already, use outside combustion air to the burner box.
    You mentioned a new water heater. The existing is not the EK water heater?
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11
    edited April 6
    HVACNUT said:


    RJHNY1 said:


    I'm located on Long Island. You said half the cost, is that just for the boiler conversion itself or for the whole job including a new hot water tank and removal of the oil tank?

    How efficient would a EK boiler converted to gas be compared to a new gas boiler? It seems a lot of people here favor converting the EK boiler as opposed to replacing it.

    Where on Long Island? I believe @Robert O'Brien operates out of Nassau. Me? I'm a Suffolk hick and will never work west again. Dealing with the one percenters on the south fork keeps me on my toes.
    There's no draining, cutting, wringing out the wiring, out with the old, in with the new. That's about 2 to 3 hours labor saved right there. If it's the EK-1 Frontier, no spill switch is needed. The boiler incorporates a blocked flue (puff) switch. No draft regulator required. If it's an exterior masonry chimney, then it will need a liner. And if it's not there already, use outside combustion air to the burner box.
    You mentioned a new water heater. The existing is not the EK water heater?

    I'm in Plainview. My hot water tank right now is a 40 gallon EK brand.
  • JayMcCay
    JayMcCay Member Posts: 14
    Thank you to everyone for posting such good information and comments. @RJHNY1 , it’s good to see your detailed information and that you’re “doing your homework”. As you have some concerns with the quote’s you’ve received, please reach out to us so we can help coordinate. John Hachmann is Energy Kinetics’ territory manager on Long Island he can be reached at (516) 459-1701. John and I are happy to answer any questions and to assist with local Energy Kinetics dealer support in your area.

    Also, you should have ample hot water, and as mentioned earlier in this post, the plate heat exchanger likely needs to be cleaned.

    Jay
    908 328-7154 mobile
    Jay McCay
    National Sales Manager
    Energy Kinetics
    908 328-7154 cell
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11
    JayMcCay said:

    Thank you to everyone for posting such good information and comments. @RJHNY1 , it’s good to see your detailed information and that you’re “doing your homework”. As you have some concerns with the quote’s you’ve received, please reach out to us so we can help coordinate. John Hachmann is Energy Kinetics’ territory manager on Long Island he can be reached at (516) 459-1701. John and I are happy to answer any questions and to assist with local Energy Kinetics dealer support in your area.

    Also, you should have ample hot water, and as mentioned earlier in this post, the plate heat exchanger likely needs to be cleaned.

    Jay
    908 328-7154 mobile

    Thank you. Do you have an email address for Mr. Hachmann?
  • JayMcCay
    JayMcCay Member Posts: 14
    Hi
    John left you a message on your home number, he's currently on the road and best reached at his mobile number 516 459-1701 feel free to contact him anytime.

    Jay
    Jay McCay
    National Sales Manager
    Energy Kinetics
    908 328-7154 cell
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11
    edited April 8

    "All of those options are going to use more energy than your existing EK, it's the most efficient non condensing boiler made. The hot water problem is probably a fouled flat plate or a domestic circulator problem. If you want to go gas, I'd go with a conversion burner in the existing boiler and repair/upgrade the domestic water setup. If you stay oil, go with a Roth tank."

    I have done quite a few gas conversions on the EK boilers and they work great. Energy Kinetics not only approves it, they also sell the kit to do it. It comes with a new burner, end cone "amulet", new pressure switch, small wiring change kit, new cover box for the burner, and even a co alarm.
    It does take a little time to do it as you have to do a bit of re-wiring, but it is fairly straightforward. I would highly recommend going this way with the setup you have. I am not sure of the fuel cost you have there, but it makes a lot of financial sense here. It is also about 1/3 of the cost you were quoted.
    If you are running out of hot water, I would suggest you take the heat exchanger off and descale it. That can make a big difference.
    Rick

    Thanks Rick. If I were to do the conversion, what would you do about the water heater? You mentioned repairing/upgrading the domestic water setup? What does that mean and what would that do?

    I have three zones of heat and one circulator. A lot of the plumbers I met with weren't happy with that setup and said there should be three circulators. Could that cause any issues?

    I wish you were in NY and not Alaska!
    JayMcCay
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 3,906
    The EK water heater is specific to EK. As mentioned, it probably needs a flush of the plate heat exchanger. 
    EK does offer piping and wiring options for using all circulators instead of zone valves. But the "plumbers" who said that might as well have been looking at a nuclear reactor. They have no clue of the EK design. 
    rick in AlaskaRoger
  • JayMcCay
    JayMcCay Member Posts: 14
    @RJHNY1 , when clean, the plate heat exchanger will convert the full output of the boiler into hot water for nearly the entire hot water replenishment cycle so cleaning/repairing your current system is what we recommend. The plate heat exchanger allows the tank to heat from the top down, so hot water is added right where it flows to the fixtures for the best hot water quality. That means a 40 gallon tank can be heated from cold in 12 to 14 minutes; the heat remaining in the boiler is then “thermally purged” to heat the remaining bottom part of the tank, saving energy.

    The plate heat exchanger arrangement outperforms tanks with coils because tanks with coils heat the water through convection and the tank “churns” through gravity flow; as the tank gets hotter, the heat transfer rate drops because the difference in temperature between the water temperature and boiler temperature is continuously reduced through the heating cycle.

    John can help coordinate on any of these items as well.

    Thank you,
    Jay
    Jay McCay
    National Sales Manager
    Energy Kinetics
    908 328-7154 cell
    RJHNY1
  • RonnieJ
    RonnieJ Member Posts: 42
    Hello @RJHNY1, This is going to sound like an advertisement for Energy Kinetics - my experience has been very positive. I am a homeowner in CT with an EK1 and baseboard emitters. It's about 26 years old and going strong. We added a well-insulated addition and new windows and oil consumption remained flat. If it fails, I would buy another one just like it. I think it says something that I have that option. We are a family of 5 - my three young adult children keep the water department busy with their showers. In 22 years, I've seen the hot water output wane twice. Cleaning the plate exchanger in a mild acid wash and back flushing restored it's performance both times. I proactively replaced the original 40 gallon tank two years ago - it wasn't leaking, but it had earned the right to die.

    I've tracked our oil usage since '99 and it's been a consistent miser. I considered swapping to NG several years ago, but in my area, the price of gas per BTU has led me to stick with oil. That has paid off in the long run. The Dept. of Energy study linked on EK's site tells the efficiency story. This boiler has served us faithfully with very few issues. Most service is performed by the local oil dealer- who is not an EK installer. They have been able to get parts without issue. I've made a few minor repairs- transformer, zone valve, etc. I called the factory when I was stumped over the hw issue - they were gracious and helpful.

    As you can see from this forum, the company stands behind their product with "old fashioned" service that is first rate - even helping homeowners like us. Whatever you decide, this forum will support you. IMHO, you will be hard pressed to find a boiler as good as the one you have now.

    You've already received good advice from the pros - get a new oil tank, install a chimney liner if needed, and have the plate exchanger flushed. Consider a descaler on the domestic side of the plate exchanger if your water is hard. Any competent oil service company should be able to perform all of those tasks. If gas is a better deal or you just prefer it, go for the conversion. Shop around - EK helped me find a new dealer when I needed one. Good luck and please do report back once you get it resolved.

    Ron
    Energy Kinetics EK1
    SpacePak 3 ton Chiller
    Aircell Air Handlers
    RJHNY1Roger
  • RJHNY1
    RJHNY1 Member Posts: 11
    Great post Ron, thank you very much. I have a service contract with PETRO, so I think what I'll do is I'll have them come in and ask them to check the plate exchanger.

    At this point, I think it's going to be too cost prohibitive to convert the boiler over to gas. I would love not to have an oil tank in the basement anymore and not deal with negotiating oil prices every year, but I don't see how spending $8-9 grand for a conversion is going to be worth it in the long run.
  • JayMcCay
    JayMcCay Member Posts: 14
    Thank you for such kind words and sharing your experience with your System 2000 and Energy Kinetics, @RonnieJ – it’s very rewarding for us to hear such positive comments!

    I’m glad that you’ve made the decision that works well for you, @RJHNY1 , and we thank everyone contributing on HeatingHelp for helping you get the information and perspective that you were looking for. For reference, the Roth and Granby double wall tanks have a very nice appearance.

    Please let us know if we can help out going forward.

    Jay
    Jay McCay
    National Sales Manager
    Energy Kinetics
    908 328-7154 cell
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