1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Oil vs. propane boiler?

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Badfish740, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Messages:
    1,441
    One of these days I'd like to convert my home to hydronic heat with a gasification boiler as the primary unit and a fossil fuel backup that would be rarely used since I'd be incorporating storage into the system as well. We don't generally go away during the heating season so as long as my storage allows me to skip a day/day and a half between burns the backup would not be used much. I'd also be incorporating a home built flat plate solar collector which should provide plenty of DHW outside of the heating season, and should supplement the boiler during it. Right now I have forced air oil heat so I have a 275 gallon tank in good condition in my basement, so that's one factor steering me toward an oil boiler. I also have a good relationship with my oil supplier (even though I don't buy much oil ;)) who is local, family owned, etc... For these reasons I was thinking of going with the cheapest oil boiler I could find since I'm not to worried about efficiency considering I'm going to try to use it as little as possible.

    Then there are the other dinosaur based fuel options. Natural gas is out because there is no gas available where we live (bummer, since it's so cheap), but of course there's always propane. Propane is not the most attractive since it's more expensive, but it does have the added advantage of allowing me to have a gas stove (we have an electric range which we hate), plus I could hook up the grill to the big tank instead of paying through the nose to fill 15 pound tanks. What would you do in my case?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    4,242
    Loc:
    Nova Scotia
    I would put in an electric boiler & get rid of the oil & fossil fuels all together - since you say it would be rarely used. That is assuming your panel would support it. I see them quite often on Kijiji here - that's where I got mine.

    That's what I just did here this summer. One factor in my decision was my oil tank was almost due for replacement (insurance regs are getting pretty sticky on that). Another factor was we used a tankless coil in the oil unit for DHW all summer, and it was rediculously inefficient. So I put in a new electric DHW tank too.
  3. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,623
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    I'd go propane, unless you get a cheap used oil boiler on CL or something. The age of the oil tank and supply of propane are other factors as well. Gas is THE ONLY way to cook IMHO, other than top of wood stove when that is going......... I have an LP range, dryer, and if I were to stop burning wood for some reason, I'd have a condensing LP boiler as well. The more you use the less it costs/gallon, so useing it to do things like run the grill, dryer, range, are all bonuses. You can do some math to see if it's cheaper than electricity even with the top tier pricing, it was here, so the range and dryer were just savings.

    TS
  4. SmokeEater

    SmokeEater Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    328
    Loc:
    Northeastern NY
    I have a LP cook stove and have it connected to 2 x 100 lb bottles. One bottle will last about a year, so the cost to operate the stove is very reasonable. LP gas has a lower heating value than #2 fuel oil, yet may cost the same or more. You will burn about 40% more propane than oil for the same heat. Electricity at $0.14 per kWh is equal to #2 oil at $4.47 per gal. if the oil boiler is 85% efficient.
  5. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    Messages:
    1,238
    Loc:
    Central Maine
    My own opinion is that even though electric is a CHEAP backup.. It's not very reliable. A true backup should be as near to stand alone as you can get. Low or No power consumption as folks in NY are finding out now.

    If you are truly comparing apples to apples... propane is pretty cheap, fuel stores well, AND the dang burners are CLEAN! No yearly cleanings.

    If you have a big propane tank for a stanby generator, and cooking and clothes drying... you're doing pretty good. IMHO.

    JP
  6. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2012
    Messages:
    1,623
    Loc:
    Northern Maine
    This is true our electric rate is also .14/Kwh. The way to use LP is to buy alot of it, so the more apliances you would otherwise use electricity may as well be LP. JP also has good points about LP will store indefinatly......... and there is almost no cleaning with gas equiptment (they should still be tuned yearly) I only have 2 100# bottles that I own and they last over a year, but I have wood only heat.

    TS

Share This Page