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Oil or Propane???

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by Oilhater, Jan 14, 2011.

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  1. Oilhater

    Oilhater Member

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    Which would you choose ( and why ) for your heat and hot water. I am( hopefully ) having a house built in the spring. The builder says it will be a forced hot air system, but will put either oil or propane as the fuel source. I would do a pellet boiler but I dont think I can afford it. The house will only be an 1850 sq ft cape so I plan on getting a pellet stove and using it for my main heating source. I am currently doing this in a 10yr old 1500 sq ft cape with no problem at all.

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  2. woodsman23

    woodsman23 Minister of Fire

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    I'd go with propane for sure it seems to be more stable on price than oil. Propane burns much cleaner and you can store plenty of it outside and even underground now.
  3. imacman

    imacman Guest

    You could try calculating which fuel will give more BTU per $ using one of these calculators. Input the cost for your area for oil & propane, adjust the efficiency setting for the models the builder recommends, and you should get a decent idea which is cheaper.

    http://pelletheat.org/pellets/compare-fuel-costs/
  4. kinglew

    kinglew Member

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    my opinion go with propane much cleaner less maintenance.then with oil .had oil when first bought the house then i convert over to propane now run pellets just propane for cooking and hot water. when natural gas come thru add conversion kit your ready to go .oil you need a whole new furnace.
  5. smoke show

    smoke show Guest

  6. johnny1720

    johnny1720 Member

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    I have a tankless propane hot water heater. I have had it for almost 2 years and it has saves me at least $40 per month.

    I almost got a oil one but it just didnt work out and I am happier for that.

    I use oil for my primary heat source I don't use too much oil if I can help it.

    Johnny
  7. ChrisWNY

    ChrisWNY Feeling the Heat

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    Propane because it's much cleaner and should cost a bit less than oil when all is said and done, but that depends on prices in your area. Propane in my area is about $2.50 per gallon, last year at this time (because gasoline was less expensive), LP was closer to $2 per gallon which makes a huge difference when your refills are 100 gallons or more. As recent as 5 or 6 years ago, Propane was under $1/gallon.

    If you do decide to go the Propane route, check with various LP suppliers in your area on pricing and whether or not there are installation costs. When I built my house in 2007-08, some Propane vendors wanted $400-$500 to run a few feet of piping to my house, including extra cost to hook up LP adapters for my appliances (gas dryer and range). After interviewing various Propane vendors, I found one that didn't charge a cent for installation, and I had my excavation guy bring in some sand and bury the entire tank so that it wasn't protruding above ground. The excavator was already installing my septic system, all his equipment was on my property, so he dug the hole for the LP tank at no charge, I was billed around $150 or so for the sand he brought in. No cost for the LP tank, pressure valve, or installation, and the LP vendor installed the proper orifices on my appliances to "adapt" them to LP.
  8. RiddleMasterMorgon

    RiddleMasterMorgon Member

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    The cost for Oil and Propane per BTU output are usually around the same (comes from the same source after all), but Propane seems more flexible to me. You can also use it for your range, outside BBQ, Sauna ect. The outside above ground tank might be an eye sore, but the basement oil tank is a space killer and no beauty either. propane lines can be installed to whatever place you want, oil line is more painful and last not least the propane company will install the main lines for you including outside tank...nice extra to divert investment costs.

    No chance for natural gas ?
  9. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    On a btu for btu basis oil is a better deal and I believe that is true after heat system efficiency is taken into consideration. Find a cost calculater and run the numbers.

    Also for everyones information it is possible to put a natural gas burner on an oil fired heating system.

    If I were thinking of going the pellet route for heat then I'd be tempted to put in a pellet boiler. Then no separate heating system/pellet stove would be needed.

    But that is just me and after further research I might change my mind.

    ETA: BTW the builder wouldn't be telling me what was going into my house if I was having one built.
  10. Indiana

    Indiana Feeling the Heat

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    I didn't have an option. Propane was installed with the home 12 years ago. At that time propane was less than $1 per gallon. Now it's $3.09 per gallon. I have a 400 gal tank and go through 3 1/2 to 4 fill ups per year for heat, hot water, dryer and cooktop. Now with pellet heat I use less yhan 200 gal a year. I kept the houde at 64 degrees last winter at a cost of $4200. Now I'm heating my home to 72 degrees for about $200 a month thanks to my Englander multi fuel stove.
  11. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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    Neither. Both are ridiculously expensive and they're only going to get worse. I'd go all electric, 16 seer 2 stage HP and variable speed air handler with strip heat. In NH it would most likely run all summer at the first stage cooling and then you'd have the extra capacity (2nd stage) for the heating side in the winter. Strip heat is less expensive then either oil or propane and you're not prone to the wild fluctuations of either of them. I'd then have a pellet stove to supplement the HP.

    Using oil or propane just doesn't make much sense anymore now that they cost more to heat then strip heat. New heat pumps can easily handle temps above 30º and below that you would have the pellet stove. Insulate and seal your ducts as well as possible, place the returns in the room with the pellet stove (if possible) so that you can circulate that warm air from the pellet stove throughout the house with the indoor blower motor in the air handler. When you couldn't use the pellet stove you'd have the heat strips for heat when the heat pump couldn't handle it.
  12. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    Hello Kinglew

    Please tell us how many gallons of propane that you use per year to heat your hot water?

    Now that I heat my 2,000 SqFt split in southern NH completely with wood pellets, the oil boiler is now only used for DHW. Using my 22 year old inefficient boiler and a efficient SuperStor Indirect DHW Heat Tank, I was using 425 gallons of oil per year. Back in September the old boiler gave out and I replaced it with a cold start oil boiler with an outdoor reset. It should cut the oil consumption in half. So I am hoping to use approx 250 gallons of oil per year for a family of 4!

    So if we know how many gallons of propane is used per year for DHW only, it would be a great comparison!!

    However this oil boiler install may be more expensive than a propane boiler install??

    Good luck.
  13. kinglew

    kinglew Member

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    i used 190 gallons last year hot water and cooking
  14. hoverfly

    hoverfly Minister of Fire

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    Make sure you specify a high efficiency condensing furnace, gas or oil they have are efficiency rating of 91 percent or better. Also think about a pellet furnace in conjunction with the set up. Don't cheap out, the cheap stuff will need to be replaced in ten years.
  15. rickwa

    rickwa New Member

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    greg m, How would you plug the average effiency of that system into a fuel calculator? I realize that when it is below 30f you are running on strip heat which is 100% effiecent but i know that above 30f it is way over 100 % effiecent. Running on strip is very costly, about twice of propane. I think the propane, heat pump combo is a better way to go.
  16. gfreek

    gfreek Minister of Fire

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    Hank Hill says Propane ....
  17. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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    What's your rate for electricity and propane?

    In my area strip heat is less expensive the propane. Using a 90% furnace brings them almost even in price at the current rate ($2.44 per gal, .10 per kwh) but the current rate for propane was based on oil that was about $20 lower per barrel. Oil is on it's way back up so next season's price on propane will be much more expensive. Electricity doesn't jump around like that.

    Percent efficiency of the heat pump can be figured using the following formula.
    HSPF of the heat pump divided by 3.412

    That's for temps in the 40's. As you get closer to 30 that figure drops. Today's heat pumps work down into the 20's and bring on the strips as needed.

    I have 2 dual fuel systems and 1 HP with strip heat in my house. This past summer I got rid of the propane and now I'm using pellets to heat most of my home. One section of the house uses a HP with strip heat. The other 2 sections have been 100% pellets. I am about the same cost as last year for heating but this year has been much colder and my house is much warmer then last year.
  18. kinglew

    kinglew Member

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  19. Fsappo

    Fsappo Minister of Fire

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    As a vendor that sells both, I vote for propane for the reasons stated above:
    Easier storage
    More stable pricing
    cleaner for the home and the Enviroment
    real nifty high efficiency propane furnaces and boilers out there.
  20. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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  21. Greg M

    Greg M New Member

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    Why wouldn't you choose all electric? It beats both oil and propane in all your reasons. I really am interested in knowing why people seem to be stuck on either propane or oil. In the past they both made sense over electricity for areas with high heating requirements but times have changed. Electricity meets or beats both.

    Plus if NE alone would switch to electricity (dump oil) we'd greatly reduce our oil imports and that would bring down the cost of a whole lot of goods that we buy.
  22. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

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    The last time I looked at electrical heating systems they were not even in the ball park for most new england homes.

    Perhaps some of the newer stuff might work, but here is a case for you from December 1 to March 14 the daily average temperature is below 30 degrees houses built in this area must have a heating system designed for 0 degrees.

    I keep seeing folks on here from south of the Mason/Dixon line that do nothing but complain about the high cost of electric heating systems in a variety of configurations.

    Why is that?

    The real thing that would reduce oil imports is for about half of the vehicles in the US to disappear.
  23. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I'm no expert, but I think it would be good if you owned the propane tank and had all rights to it so you could shop around for the cheapest price.
    Also, you could power a standby generator with propane.
  24. smoke show

    smoke show Guest

    agreed! the best thing I ever did was purchase my own tank.
  25. Don2222

    Don2222 Minister of Fire

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    Hello Kinglew

    That is interesting, I will not know for sure how much I will use until September. The Granite Group told me about 200 gals per year but we will see.

    How many in your family?

    How much per gallon do you pay for Propane?
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