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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    SW Virginia (Roanoke)
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    48

    Fuel-flow meter for oil furnace?

    About half of my house is heated with an oil furnace/base-board serial water system. This will be only my second winter in the house.

    Due to the nature of the installation , there is no way to meaure the amount of fuel remaining in the fuel tank. (If there was ever a mamometer, its no longer visible.) I know the capacity of the tank only because I ran it dry at the beginning of last winter.

    Therefore, I'd like to install a fuel-flow sensor in the 1/4" fuel line enters the boiler.

    Minimally, a simple running total would suffice, but resetable counter showing gallons used since last refill would be nice.

    Ideally, this meter would enable me to harvest usage data (via USB port) based upon date and time. Using this data, and correlating it with OAT from NOAA, I could construct a usage profile that would enable me to manage my fuel purchases rationally. (For example, the first cold snap is on its way and I have no idea how much fuel is in the tank, so I'm buying fuel today--probably than I need--at time when prices are rapidly falling.)

    Does such a gadget exist? If so, I would appreciate links or other info to help research.
    Last edited by tigerdriver; 10-24-2008 at 12:20 PM. Reason: typos

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Kingston, NY
    Posts
    74

    Fuel flow meter

    Flow meters are not a common item.

    Another option is a hour meter. If you know the nozzle size and the pump pressure you can calculate the oil consumption used by your burner in hours. Then it's a simple matter of multiplying the hours run by the gallons per hour and have a pretty accurate estimate of gallons consumed.

    -JM

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    7,321
    There are gadgets that will allow you to measure accurately the flow as either a total, or at a flow rate. They are expensive. There is also a fuel levle indicator system available at ssupply houses who sell oil burners and parts. If you are in the trade it should be easy to get.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    SW Virginia (Roanoke)
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    48
    Quote Originally Posted by flange View Post
    ...There is also a fuel levle indicator system available at supply houses who sell oil burners and parts. If you are in the trade it should be easy to get.
    Thanks. (I'm not in the trade.)

    I'm assuming that the the fuel-level indicators you mention are either manometers or resistive flotation devices. Neither of these is an option for me becase I have very little access to the (275-gallon) tank; in fact, the only portion visible to me is about one-fourth of one end.

    I think the earlier suggestion of calculating flow based upon time, pressure, and nozzle size is my best bet.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,837
    Get the "Rocket" wireless fuel level indicator. You'll only need access to the tank 1-time to install the sensor in a 2" bung. Then just plug the receiver into a wall outlet and you're done. There has to be some access to the tank. What happens if it leaks? How do they fill it? Where's the rest of the tank hiding, behind a wall? Have sawzall will travel. Cut a hole.
    If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Gold Coast of Connecticut
    Posts
    4,578
    Why do you need to know how much oil you have in it?

    Set up automatic delivery with the local oil company and let them calculate usage based on degree days. I NEVER look at my tank and I have never ran out in 11 years.
    Aire Serv of SW Connecticut- Gas heat, dual fuel and central a/c systems installed and serviced

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    7,321
    Two reasons, first is that he would probably like to try to time the market and buy fuel as it dips in price. When doing this many delivery companies have minimum purchase levels. Second for peace of mind. I am on auto delivery as well, and they try to time it too close. In several instances over the last sever years they have let me down. I have tried various firms, and one after the other drops the ball. having no heat or hot water is no fun.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    SW Virginia (Roanoke)
    Posts
    48
    Quote Originally Posted by flange View Post
    Two reasons, first is that he would probably like to try to time the market and buy fuel as it dips in price. When doing this many delivery companies have minimum purchase levels. Second for peace of mind. I am on auto delivery as well, and they try to time it too close. In several instances over the last sever years they have let me down. I have tried various firms, and one after the other drops the ball. having no heat or hot water is no fun.
    Correct on both counts. Additional factors:

    (1) Our fuel-usage pattern is inconsistent. We travel during the winter--a week or more several times per year.

    (2) We live at the end of a long, steep switch-back private road that becomes impassible to fuel trucks after even a miniscule amount of snow.

    (3) I'm an engineer. I like to quantify things and manage them myself.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Gold Coast of Connecticut
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    4,578
    Quote Originally Posted by tigerdriver View Post
    Correct on both counts. Additional factors:

    (1) Our fuel-usage pattern is inconsistent. We travel during the winter--a week or more several times per year.

    (2) We live at the end of a long, steep switch-back private road that becomes impassible to fuel trucks after even a miniscule amount of snow.

    (3) I'm an engineer. I like to quantify things and manage them myself.
    You need to gain access to install a gauge.

    I have never ran out on automatic delivery. Maybe I am lucky, i am not an engineer and do not want to deal with things like an oil level which i prefer to keep off my plate and let the professionals handle it. It would not mater being away a week, you still need to heat the home.
    Aire Serv of SW Connecticut- Gas heat, dual fuel and central a/c systems installed and serviced

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,910
    Quote Originally Posted by Freezeking2000 View Post
    You need to gain access to install a gauge.

    I have never ran out on automatic delivery. Maybe I am lucky, i am not an engineer and do not want to deal with things like an oil level which i prefer to keep off my plate and let the professionals handle it. It would not mater being away a week, you still need to heat the home.
    Oil companies deliver oil based on a "K" factor times the HDD's since last delivery.

    A 110 gallon delivery is a wastefull delivery, and not very profitable for an oil company.

    Most try for a 180 gallon delivery on 275 gallon storage tanks.

    It becomes very difflcult to do that, for customers that go away in the winter and set their stats back for a week at a time.

    It worse if they live at the end of your range. So some companies will risk a run out, to prevent wasting driving time, and fuel on a non profit delivery.

    4 miles to the gallon makes it hard to justify a short delivery.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    SW Virginia (Roanoke)
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    48
    Quote Originally Posted by jm0711 View Post
    Another option is a hour meter. If you know the nozzle size and the pump pressure you can calculate the oil consumption used by your burner in hours. Then it's a simple matter of multiplying the hours run by the gallons per hour and have a pretty accurate estimate of gallons consumed.

    -JM
    Sounds like a simple (= great) solution. The nozzle & pump info are on the label. I posted a photo of the label on my website (click here).

    (1) What's the formula for gal/hr?
    (2) Where can I purchase a suitable hour meter?


    Thanks for your help.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    Gross input divided by 140000=GPH
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