Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Should I convince the inlaws to switch from propane to natgas ?

Options
Natgas is coming down our road this summer. The inlaws use propane for high-eff forced air, cooking, dryer. About 600 gallons a year.
When I crunch the numbers, they could save $500/yr or more overall.
Plus get rid of that big tank in the back yard.
We have the conversion parts that came with appliances, everything is about 7 years old.

Are there any drawbacks when it comes to condensate drain ? Does natgas make way more ? Is it more acidic ?
30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
Currently in building maintenance.

Comments

  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,952
    Options
    They will probably never see a return on investment. 

    Tightening the envelope will help reducing the cost of heating and cooling!
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 604
    Options
    I think they're fairly good for envelope, current high standards at the time (7 or 8 years ago ?). 53 Million BTU for heating, cooking and clothes seems good by me. Heck, I use 55+ Million just for heat.

    For the compare calcs, I did include the mainline install surcharge (fixed per unit usage for 15 years).
    I didnt include the tech's fee for regulator and swapping the appliance's bits, and tuning. That may eat the first year's savings.

    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • bburd
    bburd Member Posts: 930
    edited April 2023
    Options
    The only thing that would keep me from doing this is if much of the gas piping must be changed, since natural gas has a lower heating value per unit volume than propane.

    Bburd
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,605
    Options
    What is the cost of natural gas? What are they paying for propane? Is the piping sized big enough?
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,917
    edited April 2023
    Options
    The costs will be ever changing. I suspect natural gas will be cheaper over 15 years, but I’m not paying. It’s not the end of the world to switch back. 

    Out of curiosity, are gallons the same size in Canada? What’s the conversion you’re using?
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
    Options
    Take the National. Gas (choices...options).  If  you already have the correct size black screw pipe in place, use it.  The odd propane that we come across  way out in  "East Cupcake'" ( as we call it) or North of Da Bronx is 1/2" O.D. soft  Copper tubing with Flare fittings.  Mad Dog 

  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 604
    Options
    Good points on the piping. It's all screwed iron other than at the appliances (csst i guess ? orange flex), theyre going to get a gas ticket guy to come looksee.

    A "Canadian" (Imperial) gallon is larger than a US one, yes, but I use the standard US gallon for the btu calcs. I used 91452 btu/gallon for propane.

    The price per source gets tangled with the metric and then other fees and stuff , but in total.. propane works out to $36 (cdn) per million btu. Natgas works out to $26. Thats for input BTUs, I assumed the same eff for both fuels in the same appliance.

    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,472
    edited April 2023
    Options
    Lp is a tough fuel to do comparisons with as it varies so much. It should be dropping as India and China are now buying discounted Russian LP instead of US. But.

    over the 23 years I was an Lp customer I paid  as low as .69, per gallon and over $4.00 one winter. It went to 6.00 in some areas!

    Seems they always find a reason to take those big price jumps. Lack of inventory, lack of refining capacity, aging infrastructure, flooding in Texas,  lack of long haul drivers, Covid, strikes, colder than normal winters, etc, etc.

    Here us a 10 year history.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,792
    Options
    Forget the payoff, whether it will occur or not, you won't have to worry about your tank running out, or freezing, or rusting

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

    Mad Dog_2GGross
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,917
    Options
    I'd be interested in seeing your cost numbers how you come to $500/year in fuel. On the one hand getting rid of a 500+ gallon size propane tank might be worth it, but given how build back better is going if you own that tank and you did convert to nat. gas keeping then having such a full propane tank just to have for future need is somewhat attractive.


    The OP is in Canada.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,511
    edited April 2023
    Options
    I previously expressed what I think. My Dutch uncle sat me down and read me the facts. I'm going to do the same.

    LP once it is purchased is inelastic. Nat gas is elastic and must be purchased on a monthly basis. This means you can't raise the price of LP that's in the tank, but Nat gas can have a monthly change in price and can be shut off in 24 hrs leaving you high and dry. Not so with LP. LP guarantees supply for a year.

    hot_rod, makes a good point about China and India buying Russian LP. Whether that would increase the supply, thus reducing the cost, I don't know. The price can't be sustained below the cost of production and profit.

    The world is becoming unglued. Inflation is running from 12-15%, seems intractable this time around. So, you can expect price increases on both Nat gas and LP. Buying at yesterday's prices is like 'money in the bank'. As an example, Costco had two pallets of bath tissue on the floor. One was old stock and one was new stock. The old stock was 420 sheets per roll and the new stock was 380 sheets per roll. People were grabbing the 380, I was stocking up on the 420. I was saving 9.5% on my purchase over theirs. LP bought at yesterdays prices is the way to go.

    In an inflationary economy, $500 dollars a yr in savings is peanuts. It can all be eaten up with price increases. bburd and Mad Dog_2 make a good point, too. Is there going to be a need for piping changes? That could alter the savings one could expect.

    The decision for myself would be, I would stick with LP and move from a 600 gal tank to a 1000 gal tank and see what the future has in store. "The future ain't what it use to be."--Yogi Berra





    Mad Dog_2
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,511
    edited April 2023
    Options
    An addendum, Expect the central government to add a surtax to the price of, desperately needed, can't live without, fuel gas. That's a monthly tax for Nat gas and a yearly tax for LP. Desperate governments do desperate things. Desperate means, we need more revenue because the Canadian dollar is going down in value.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,658
    Options
    Regardless of the pricing, the existing propane piping is likely sized too small for NG and the gas valve on the boiler will have to be changed, unless you have a Viessmann boiler.
    HomerJSmithMad Dog_2
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,040
    Options
    One very important point we arr missing in this discussion. Seems that we are all assuming that OP is looking for what's in his in-laws best interests. Don't know if we can take that for granted. Just saying.
    For what it's worth, I used to have a bit of a guilty conscience about saying these types of jokes. Now that I am a father-in-law myself, I don't feel so guilty anymore!!
    Mad Dog_2EdTheHeaterMan
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,792
    edited April 2023
    Options
    > but Nat gas can have a monthly change in price and can be shut off in 24 hrs leaving you high and dry.

    Natural Gas price is regulated here in the states at least. It doesn't change in price monthly. It did drop dramatically with the introduction of fracking though. One tank of propane isn't going to save you from a Propane price change (for long).

    I've only known about natural gas for about 45 years and I can count on zero hands the number of times it has been shut off at my house. How many times have propane tanks run dry?

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

    Mad Dog_2EdTheHeaterMan
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,915
    Options
    Regarding pipe sizing, if they allow higher pressure in your area that would solve that issue.
    We converted my friends LPG system over to a 2 PSI nat gas system with regulators at the appliances.

    Instead of his piping being too small, it's now big enough to run several houses.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    HomerJSmithbburdEdTheHeaterMan
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,511
    edited April 2023
    Options
    Yes, ethicalpaul, Nat gas has a long, good, track record with few disruptions and some surcharges. The same with propane. Those were mostly stable times, where the economy was relatively stable.

    It is really up to the in-laws to determine their best interests as to costs and savings. Dave Carpentier can present his thoughts on the matter, but there are other considerations that I and others have presented. If the only consideration is immediate cost savings, that may be inadequate, then future cost saving should be included, too, I would think. No one plans on the past. Plans only relate to the future.

    “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley.”--Robert Burns (the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry). No matter how well a project is planned ... The reason why is because we don't know what the future holds, we lack information. There is a lot to consider over immediate savings which is what I'm saying. There may be more Black Swans circling over head than can be imagined.

    "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be, the future's not ours to see)..."--The Lovely Doris Day I think she was my first love!

    https://youtu.be/xZbKHDPPrrc


  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 604
    edited April 2023
    Options
    Well, both properties (us and inlaws across the road (diagonally offset, Im not crazy..)) have forests. Cant really be beat for renewable personal bird-in-the-hand.
    But, that has a considerable physical commitment. If the SHTF, we would have the resource but perhaps the appliances would be unavailable due to rush.. I dunno.
    I just have faith that the S isnt going to H.

    I was a bit smug thinking that diesel (our current heat) surely is stable and available because the whole transport fleet runs on it. That window is beginning to close, slowly though. The cost is currently a premium per btu, and I cant see that dropping.

    Their propane works well, and its not largely more expensive than natgas. But they have come close to empty. Driver shortages, supply timings, too much snow, etc. Ive seen some stressed inlaws. Plus the tank is an eyesore against the surrounding nature.

    I will gather the btu requirements for each appliance and make sure the tech thats quoting looks over the piping to help prevent surprise add-ons at job time.

    Thanks all, for the good posts!
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • DJD775
    DJD775 Member Posts: 252
    Options
    I'm not sure if this has been brought up already but the install cost is a significant factor when deciding to switch. I have a friend who was on propane and the gas company was installing new natural gas pipes in his area. The gas company paid for the all of the work from the street to his house so his to choice to convert was a no brainer. Another friend, who already had natural gas service in his area, looked into converting but since he was far off the road the cost was going to be $10,000 plus. Of course he stayed with propane.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,472
    Options
    DJD775 said:

    I'm not sure if this has been brought up already but the install cost is a significant factor when deciding to switch. I have a friend who was on propane and the gas company was installing new natural gas pipes in his area. The gas company paid for the all of the work from the street to his house so his to choice to convert was a no brainer. Another friend, who already had natural gas service in his area, looked into converting but since he was far off the road the cost was going to be $10,000 plus. Of course he stayed with propane.

    After about a year after NG became available in the town near me, those line extensions became $$ negotiable :) Many of the residences were reluctant to make the switch to NG until the numbers got better.

    Evidence of when the $$ penciled out was all the used LP tanks on Craigslist
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 604
    edited April 2023
    Options
    DJD775 said:

    Another friend, who already had natural gas service in his area, looked into converting but since he was far off the road the cost was going to be $10,000 plus. Of course he stayed with propane.

    There are older farmhouses further off the roads around here. When I measure by googleearth and going by the standard gas util charge (first 100ft free, $14/ft after that), $6k+ would not be unheard of for just the yard pipe.
    Mine would be about $700, the inlaws would be free or nearly.
    The mainline expansion fee into the area is fairly steep, a surcharge based on usage over a time period. Ours will be about $6k over 15 years, so the pain isn't too sharply felt there.

    People pay for the large propane tanks in the US ? Here, afaik, its all rentals. Coupla hundred a year kinda thing. Installation is free, if i recall, but removal is charged (maybe 500 for the deck/crane truck ?)
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,472
    Options
    You can buy or lease the large LP tanks, at least where I lived. You can buy used ones also.
    If you own your tanks you can shop for prices. Filling up in July is usually the lowest time of year.
    Some suppliers want them re-certified after certain date codes. Others don't even look at the manufacturers tags, many are under coats of paint.

    Dealers send them to be pressure tested, sandblasted, and repainted. You would see semi truck loads of old tanks going to be re-certified. The lease tanks are usually used tanks that have been remanufactured.

    The majority of new homes go with underground 500 gallon LP tanks, or two on larger homes. Unless you have an artist in the household :)

    I noticed lots of new subdivisions outside of Dallas were still getting LP tanks. Don't mess with Texas!
    Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, upper midwest, are still big LP markets.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    JUGHNEHomerJSmithDave Carpentier
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,915
    Options
    Back in 2011 I converted my house from oil to natural gas.   The gas Co paid to install the line from the road and the meter.  I did the rest.

    It freed up a lot of my electrical panel and now I have infinite fuel for the boiler, water heater, stove, clothes dryer, Weber grill and generator.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,792
    Options
    I assume it's because once a building blew up and someone said "make a rule that I can point to next time this occurs so I can be without blame"

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 522
    Options
    Dave Carpentier said:<snip>. Their propane works well, and its not largely more expensive than natgas. But they have come close to empty. Driver shortages, supply timings, too much snow, etc. Ive seen some stressed inlaws. Plus the tank is an eyesore against the surrounding nature. <snip>
    I think you answered your own question ..

    Peace of Mind... Priceless 
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,511
    Options
    Everything has a price and everything is a compromise.
  • reggi
    reggi Member Posts: 522
    Options

     Worry about your Diesal ..if they want advice give them your opinion ..
    JMHO
    One way to get familiar something you know nothing about is to ask a really smart person a really stupid question