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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    14

    Oil to propane worth it?

    I have a 82.7% oil furnace with a .70 nozzle and 2 ton hp system. We run the hp until 30f outside, use approx. 400 gallons of oil a season. We live in ne ohio the house was built in the late 60's about 1800 sf ranch. Fuel oil has been running about $4 a gallon and propane $2.17. Was wondering if anyone else has switched and what their results were or if it is worth it to go to a 95% propane 2 stage or mod. furnace. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Lancaster PA
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    67,753
    At the rates you posted, you could reduce your heating bill by about 450 bucks a year. If you buy your own tank.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    6,829
    Using the current costs of oil and LP gas in your area is the first step toward realizing a savings. However, you must also subsequently try to forecast the future price of both fuels. That's a little more difficult but history could be a reasonable indicator of what to expect. In our area, for example, the difference between oil #2 and LP gas is only a few cents per gallon. In your area it's more substantial. One method of couching your exposure to radical, unexpected price increases, would be to install a gas conversion burner rather than an entire new furnace. With a properly sized conversion burner, your oil furnace could continue to operate, while allowing you to keep the old oil burner and if costs dictated a conversion back to oil, it's then just a matter of swapping the burner and attaching the old oil line. Your energy efficiency for the converted unit should be about equivalent to what it is with oil.

    All that being said, there are many more comfort options available with gas units than with oil. Modulating or staged furnaces (I'm now speaking about forced air units as the 'furnace', not a water boiler) with variable speed ECM motors will both improve home comfort (when properly sized by Manual 'D') as well as lower both the operating costs by use of LP gas at your area prices as well as lower your electrical consumption year 'round when using the furnace blower for cooling in the summer.

    When armed with the knowledge of the various options, the ultimate decision is up to you. There is no 'pat' or 'stock' answer as the only opinion that matters is yours alone.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    67,753
    Quote Originally Posted by skippedover View Post
    Using the current costs of oil and LP gas in your area is the first step toward realizing a savings. However, you must also subsequently try to forecast the future price of both fuels. That's a little more difficult but history could be a reasonable indicator of what to expect. In our area, for example, the difference between oil #2 and LP gas is only a few cents per gallon. In your area it's more substantial. One method of couching your exposure to radical, unexpected price increases, would be to install a gas conversion burner rather than an entire new furnace. With a properly sized conversion burner, your oil furnace could continue to operate, while allowing you to keep the old oil burner and if costs dictated a conversion back to oil, it's then just a matter of swapping the burner and attaching the old oil line. Your energy efficiency for the converted unit should be about equivalent to what it is with oil.

    All that being said, there are many more comfort options available with gas units than with oil. Modulating or staged furnaces (I'm now speaking about forced air units as the 'furnace', not a water boiler) with variable speed ECM motors will both improve home comfort (when properly sized by Manual 'D') as well as lower both the operating costs by use of LP gas at your area prices as well as lower your electrical consumption year 'round when using the furnace blower for cooling in the summer.

    When armed with the knowledge of the various options, the ultimate decision is up to you. There is no 'pat' or 'stock' answer as the only opinion that matters is yours alone.
    A conversion burner wouldn't be anymore efficient then his current oil burner, and would take much longer to pay back since any savings would come from price difference only.
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  5. #5
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    Jul 2004
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    Massachusetts
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    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    A conversion burner wouldn't be anymore efficient then his current oil burner, and would take much longer to pay back since any savings would come from price difference only.
    I didn't say it would be more efficient but the cost of fuel is 1/2 and that in and of itself is a savings. 80% of $4.00 is $3.20 of useful fuel. 80% of $2.17 is $1.74 of useful fuel. Thus 400 gallons of LP gas would cost him $868, while oil would be $1,600. And the cost of a conversion burner is likely substantially less than the cost of a new high efficiency gas unit. So in reality, he could see a quicker payback with a conversion burner than with a new furnace. But that doesn't address any utility rebates, federal tax credits or any other incentives being offered for replacing the furnace with a new gas furnace. So as I stated, the only opinion that matter is his, once he's armed with the facts.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

    If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    67,753
    Quote Originally Posted by skippedover View Post
    I didn't say it would be more efficient but the cost of fuel is 1/2 and that in and of itself is a savings. 80% of $4.00 is $3.20 of useful fuel. 80% of $2.17 is $1.74 of useful fuel. Thus 400 gallons of LP gas would cost him $868, while oil would be $1,600. And the cost of a conversion burner is likely substantially less than the cost of a new high efficiency gas unit. So in reality, he could see a quicker payback with a conversion burner than with a new furnace. But that doesn't address any utility rebates, federal tax credits or any other incentives being offered for replacing the furnace with a new gas furnace. So as I stated, the only opinion that matter is his, once he's armed with the facts.
    Except using a conversion burner, it wouldn't only be 400 gallons of propane. It would be 608 gallons(propane has less BTUs per gallon then oil). So it would cost $1,320.87, Long payback time.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    14
    Thanks for the replies. Looks like the biggest variable is what happens with the fuel costs, oil is terrible, my sister has propane and said while it has gone up and down it hasn't been as bad as oil. Another question is about the furnaces, the mod ones sound great for comfort and fuel costs, but are they over complicated or more trouble than say a 2 stage unit? Sometimes more technology=more headaches than something simple or is that not the case?

  8. #8
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    Jan 2004
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    Lancaster PA
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    Most manufacturers have had the mods out for a while now. And pretty much have the bugs worked out of them. So they aren't more prone to break downs.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    SW FL
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    6,243
    Alternative -
    1. Check infiltration to assure < 0.5 Air Change per Hour
    2. Check and upgrade ducts to 1,050 CFM capability
    3. Install new high end 3-ton heat pump - thermal balance point would be ~23'F

    3-ton heat pump with 3 kW heat strip, the House- Heat pump total electric SYSTEM would be adequate down to 15'F.
    Oil use at temperatures < 15'F ought to be < 100 gallons.



    Propane at $2.17 / gallon, 90% efficient is $2.54 / 100,000 BTU/Hr ( therm)
    Electric at $0.10/ kw-hr down to ~20'F would be $1.25 / therm or half of propane.
    Designer Dan
    It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art". ___ ___ K EEP I T S IMPLE & S INCERE

    Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    SW FL
    Posts
    6,243
    NE Ohio vicinity
    http://www.wunderground.com/history/...q_statename=NA

    Akron
    About 35 days < 21'F at 10 hours per day about 300 hours

    Oil use ought to be < 0.4 gallon per hour (~ 40,000 BTU/HR delivered)
    for < 250 hours at < 15'F per season.

    CHECK
    Designer Dan
    It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art". ___ ___ K EEP I T S IMPLE & S INCERE

    Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    14
    By high end you mean higher seer? With only 3kw heat strip would the hp run with it down to 15? Will have to figure out the duct capability prob have someone look at it, the furnace now has a 1400 cfm blower but that doesn't mean the ducts are up to it. Thanks.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan sw fl View Post
    Alternative -
    1. Check infiltration to assure < 0.5 Air Change per Hour
    2. Check and upgrade ducts to 1,050 CFM capability
    3. Install new high end 3-ton heat pump - thermal balance point would be ~23'F

    3-ton heat pump with 3 kW heat strip, the House- Heat pump total electric SYSTEM would be adequate down to 15'F.
    Oil use at temperatures < 15'F ought to be < 100 gallons.



    Propane at $2.17 / gallon, 90% efficient is $2.54 / 100,000 BTU/Hr ( therm)
    Electric at $0.10/ kw-hr down to ~20'F would be $1.25 / therm or half of propane.
    The control and wiring to use both electric aux and oil aux is far beyond many techs.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    14
    I checked the model no of my heat pump(2HP13B30P-1B) it's a 2.5 ton 13 seer system, had it installed about 6-7 years ago. Would adding a certain size heat strip to my current setup save any heat costs? Or does the hp have to be one of the higher efficient models to see the savings? Thanks.

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