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Convert from oil to propane???

Bill123
Bill123 Member Posts: 9
Posted 18 hours ago
We have a not very old and very efficient Buderus boiler, currently running on oil, which is approaching 4 bucks a gallon, as opposed to $2.80 gallon for propane, since last fill-ups. I have a 125-pound propane tank outside and a 275-gallon oil tank in the basement. If I switch the boiler to propane, I will just buy another propane tank to install next to the other one in the backyard. Propane also fuels the gas cooktop and fireplace gas log. Been googling around looking for info, and not finding much of anything definitive? It appears to be not much money to change the burner from oil to propane, and some sites claim it can save 20-45% on heating with propane versus oil. We are very rural here, so no natural gas in the streets just propane or oil delivered by truck, as needed. Boiler serves 4 zones, domestic hot water tank, 1,400 SF first floor, basement (rarely used), and 700 SF Garage Loft Studio apartment.

Thanks in advance!

EDIT. Also changing out 11, 1965 wood, double-hung windows with Anderson Renewal this year which should also help quite a bit.

Comments

  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 527
    1. At those prices, heating oil is a better deal. See attached picture.
    2. You would need a larger tank to heat with propane.



  • Bill123
    Bill123 Member Posts: 9
    Thanks Robert, I guess oil would have to quite a bit higher in cost to justify converting to propane.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,838
    Bill123 said:

    Posted 18 hours ago
    We have a not very old and very efficient Buderus boiler, currently running on oil, which is approaching 4 bucks a gallon, as opposed to $2.80 gallon for propane, since last fill-ups. I have a 125-pound propane tank outside and a 275-gallon oil tank in the basement. If I switch the boiler to propane, I will just buy another propane tank to install next to the other one in the backyard. Propane also fuels the gas cooktop and fireplace gas log. Been googling around looking for info, and not finding much of anything definitive? It appears to be not much money to change the burner from oil to propane, and some sites claim it can save 20-45% on heating with propane versus oil. We are very rural here, so no natural gas in the streets just propane or oil delivered by truck, as needed. Boiler serves 4 zones, domestic hot water tank, 1,400 SF first floor, basement (rarely used), and 700 SF Garage Loft Studio apartment.

    Thanks in advance!

    EDIT. Also changing out 11, 1965 wood, double-hung windows with Anderson Renewal this year which should also help quite a bit.

    Get it in writing. Zero savings going to LP.

    Now tightening the envelops WILL give savings simply by going to a smaller boiler. Like wrapping a blanket around you.
  • Robert_25
    Robert_25 Member Posts: 527
    Bill123 said:

    Thanks Robert, I guess oil would have to quite a bit higher in cost to justify converting to propane.

    Yes. At best you might get to where propane costs you the same, but then there would be no savings to pay for the conversion. Your $$ is much better spent on tightening the house up.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,110
    What type of heat emitters? Fin tube baseboard?  What are your electric rates?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Bill123
    Bill123 Member Posts: 9
    Yes, fin tube baseboards. Electric heat is very expensive in CT.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,838
    Bill123 said:

    Yes, fin tube baseboards. Electric heat is very expensive in CT.

    So is LP!
  • Bill123
    Bill123 Member Posts: 9
    pecmsg said:

    Bill123 said:

    Yes, fin tube baseboards. Electric heat is very expensive in CT.

    So is LP!

    Yes, from what I have gleaned here and elsewhere, converting the boiler to propane from gas, will be better for the environment, but MUCH worse for our expenses!!
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,826
    @Bill123 , also make sure your boiler is being properly serviced. Here's what can happen if it isn't:

    https://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/146509/serviced-every-year-we-were-speechless
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,838
    Bill123 said:
    Yes, fin tube baseboards. Electric heat is very expensive in CT.
    So is LP!
    Yes, from what I have gleaned here and elsewhere, converting the boiler to propane from gas, will be better for the environment, but MUCH worse for our expenses!!
    Got #’s to show that?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Bill123 said:

    pecmsg said:

    Bill123 said:

    Yes, fin tube baseboards. Electric heat is very expensive in CT.

    So is LP!

    Yes, from what I have gleaned here and elsewhere, converting the boiler to propane from gas, will be better for the environment, but MUCH worse for our expenses!!
    How's that again? Propane is most assuredly not better than natural gas from the environment (never mind the cost). Propane -- or, more accurately, LP -- liquid petroleum gas -- is a varying mixture of propane and butane, depending on the expected temperature of storage. Natural gas is almost pure methane. Methane is a nasty greenhouse gas (but very short-lived) if it is freed into the atmosphere, true, but when you burn it it is converted into one part carbon dioxide (a much longer lived greenhouse gas) and four parts of water vapour, which is pretty harmless. Propane, when burned, goes into 1.5 parts carbon dioxide to four parts water vapour. Butane creates 2.5 parts carbon dioxide for four parts of water vapour. To a first approximation, the energy released is more or less equal for equal volumes -- parts -- of exhaust, so LP produces, to that approximation, roughly twice as much carbon dioxide -- greenhouse gas -- as natural gas does for the same energy output.

    This is better for the environment? Um... maybe not really?
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,110
    It’s a roll of the dice on energy cost these days.

    Since many oil dealers now sell LP also , maybe look at the history of the fuel costs in your area. The EIA website has that info. The question remains going forward, as far as oil costs, how high  for how long?

    In some areas homeowners have dual fuel systems. Quebec for example, where folks switch to electric from oil when low peak electric rates are offered. In your case you could switch to electric or Lp if the numbers work out, Any low peak rates offered in your grid? 

    With Lp you could heat, cook, dry cloths and run a generator, easily.

    Looks like oil at 5 bucks and electric at .16 is about a wash.
    If possible a air to water heat pump would be the least expensive way to use electric, but with a higher install cost compared to an electric boiler 

    Really know way to get a good answer currently

    A good fuel comparison spreadsheet at the coailpail website
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Bill123
    Bill123 Member Posts: 9
    I am no expert, but the helpful info provided here and elsewhere, says we should stay with low sulfur oil for home heating, and continue with propane for fireplace gas log and 5 burner cooktop.

    3 ton Mitsubishi split system is electric, primarily for AC in summer, but also has a heating mode for spring and fall, when we just want to take the chill of the main living area, without heating the unused bedrooms by burning oil.

    I think what we have now, is as good as it's going to get any time soon.. In our lifetime anyway!! :-)

    Thanks all for your help and suggestions!!
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,838
    You would be surprised how low that Mitsubishi’s will supply heat.
    The only problem is during the what 5 minutes defrost! Cycle?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Probably heresy -- but just as well this thread as any: Cedric is getting company. Two Mitsubishis -- one mini-split and one "central" in part of the house which had a gravity hot air before it had steam...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    pecmsg
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,817
    If it does get to be cost effective, and it may, don't throw away the oil burner. At some point you may want to put it back in. You may even get it to be a DIY conversion . Just will need to have a combustion test when you make the switch. You can probably get an old Bacharach CO2 bottle type for cheep at an oil company nearby. I know there are thousands of them sitting on a shelf in parts rooms all over the country.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,838
    Probably heresy -- but just as well this thread as any: Cedric is getting company. Two Mitsubishis -- one mini-split and one "central" in part of the house which had a gravity hot air before it had steam...
    Humidity Control?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    Oh no. Cedric will still be the primary heat! He's not going anywhere. There's over half the building the heat pumps can't reach at all -- and I expect the cutover point will be right around 30 anyway, and it gets a good bit colder than that around here. And @Charlie from wmass will still be my main man for tuning the oil burners and cleaning the boiler!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Bill123
    Bill123 Member Posts: 9
    pecmsg said:

    You would be surprised how low that Mitsubishi’s will supply heat.
    The only problem is during the what 5 minutes defrost! Cycle?

    Thanks but not sure what you mean? We only use the heating function of the Mitsubishi very seldom, to take the chill off the main, open living area, and kitchen without burning oil to heat the now unused bedrooms. Usually in conjunction with the gas log fireplace that is 5 feet away from the Mitsubishi.
  • Bill123
    Bill123 Member Posts: 9
    edited March 2022

    If it does get to be cost effective, and it may, don't throw away the oil burner. At some point you may want to put it back in. You may even get it to be a DIY conversion . Just will need to have a combustion test when you make the switch. You can probably get an old Bacharach CO2 bottle type for cheep at an oil company nearby. I know there are thousands of them sitting on a shelf in parts rooms all over the country.


    Based on what I have learned here and elsewhere, I doubt it will be cost-effective to change from oil to propane for the Buderus boiler, at least not in our lifetime! LOL!

    But, it's good to know the option is there if we ever get to that point...

    EDIT.. It might make sense to get a second 125-pound propane tank and run a plumbing line near the walkout basement door in case we lose power for more than a day or two. Our portable 7KW Generator can be rolled out the walkout basement door, plugged into the propane line, instead of using the gasoline tank, and plug into the house, but turned off at night to save on fuel usage??

    I recently read a book about a giant solar flare canceling all electrical power for many months, which is unlikely, but possible??
  • Bill123
    Bill123 Member Posts: 9
    edited March 2022
    pecmsg said:



    Probably heresy -- but just as well this thread as any: Cedric is getting company. Two Mitsubishis -- one mini-split and one "central" in part of the house which had a gravity hot air before it had steam...

    Humidity Control?


    That is an issue here for sure!! If we don't run room humidifiers in the main living rooms during the winter months to get the humidity above 40% we have bloody noses in the morning.'

    Conversely, we run a dehumidifier in the basement most of the summer to keep the humidity lower in the living space above. And when the Mitsubishi split system AC is on, that also removes excessive unwanted humidity in the warmer, muggy months.