Convert steam radiators from oil to gas

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Old 05-07-13, 03:57 PM
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Question Convert steam radiators from oil to gas

My old post is here for history: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/bo...n-oil-gas.html

With winter over, I am back thinking about conversion from an oil burner/boiler to natural gas.

I ran into someone I know who did this a few years ago. He also is the plumber on a local team that provides this service as a business. He also has steam radiators like me in an old 2 story house, and said he installed a furnace that has 90+ efficiency with a pipe out the wall (not chimney). This surprised me as I have been told for steam radiators you need to use an oil (gas) burner, not furnace. I asked what brand, he believes it is American Standard.

What is going on - can a more efficient gas furnace (not burner) be installed?
 
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Old 05-07-13, 04:30 PM
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To me, a "furnace" implies a forced air unit, not a boiler. But, people use terminology in different ways. Obviously to make steam or hot water, a boiler is required, no matter what the fuel or efficiency.

If you converted from steam (or hot water) to forced air, you'd need to add supply and return air duct throughout the house.

A condensing hot-water boiler can achieve 90% efficiency.
 
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Old 05-07-13, 04:34 PM
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This is not forced air. He had decided not to change from steam radiators due to the cost.
 
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Old 05-07-13, 05:44 PM
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said he installed a furnace that has 90+ efficiency with a pipe out the wall (not chimney).
What gilmorrie is saying is that we generally call a hot water or steam heat system a 'boiler', and the units that scorch air and run through ducts a 'furnace'.

That said, I believe that you mean he installed a BOILER that has 90+ ... etc...

But he's selling you a tall tale I think... if you are saying that he stuck with steam... I don't believe that there IS such an animal as a 90+% efficient STEAM boiler. I'm reasonably certain that there are DIRECT VENT steam boilers (at least able to be sidewall vented with a power venter), but that efficiency thing is totally wishful thinking (in fact, impossible).

OH LOOK! One of your legs is longer than the other! Somebody must have been pulling on it!
 
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Old 05-07-13, 07:19 PM
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can a more efficient gas furnace (not burner) be installed?
"Not burner"? I assumed that was a typo, meaning "not boiler." But now I'm confused. What is a "burner"?

I think you are going to have to get more explanatory information from your friend. Not much more we here can guess at.
 
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Old 05-08-13, 04:19 AM
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Maybe the feedback will change after a visit and specifics are put on paper. I'll be back....!
 
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Old 05-08-13, 05:36 AM
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You can convert steam rads to hot water.
It's not easy is many cases, and expect there to be troubles along the road.
Once your rads are filled with water, you can then heat them with a high eff. condensing boiler.
You may need to add some insulation and better windows, if you have not already, to reduce your heat loss. Rads running with steam product more BTU/hr than the same rads with 140 F water in them.
 
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Old 05-08-13, 05:51 AM
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He said he did not convert to hot water or "baseboard", and kept steam radiators. Now I'm anxious to get the specifics from his partner from the company when he makes a formal estimate for my home situation.

I've posted here over recent years on projects I was considering. I did finally have my home insulated via the NJ Clean Energy program rebates and the Federal tax credit, which really helped financially. That included required safety updates like completing the rewiring of my tube and knob electric wiring. And I did last year finally make the decision to purchase a new wood stove with the biggest fire box I could find (and which was new for my stove store to carry, so good timing and helped me make the decision). I have wonderful cozy nights. So those projects got done. Now this decision to convert to gas from oil is still up in the air. And NJ Trooper has traveled these roads with me!
 
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Old 05-08-13, 05:59 AM
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What is driving my review of doing this conversion is the cost of oil. I now pay about $900 per tank fill. With the wood stove that is 3 fills a year, without (I was sick one year) it is 4 fills. Pretty expensive. I did a chart and the cost of oil doubled in 3 years. With all the publicity of how there is a boom in domestic oil and gas, it seems only gas price is benefiting and greatly so. Oil instead goes up with each fill - when will it go down like gas has? Why is the oil industry so lagging even with the big boom in our country? Can anyone explain this to me? Is it the state utilities that have driven gas prices down? And oil has no such control?
 
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Old 05-09-13, 07:58 AM
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Is it the state utilities that have driven gas prices down?
No, it's because there is a glut of natural gas in the U.S. and Canada - caused by new discoveries and enhanced extraction technologies, e.g., fracking.
 
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Old 05-10-13, 01:36 PM
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There is no such animal as a 90%+ steam boiler and never will be with current technology. When you need 212f to boil water and at that temp you cannot achieve 90% efficiency. You can't even get 90% boiler efficiency at 180f water temperature.
To lower fuel costs with steam a few pointer are good radiator vents, good main line vents, all steam mains insulated and a boiler sized by measuring the connected radiation to determine sq ft of radiation and choose then proper boiler. Many people can cut their fuel bill by following these tips.
For more info see the following link and click on FAQ for steam in the right column.
Heat Loss calculation
 

Last edited by NJT; 05-10-13 at 03:16 PM.
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Old 05-10-13, 04:15 PM
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Thank you for your reply, appreciate the feedback!
 
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Old 05-10-13, 04:29 PM
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Oil to gas

I had an oil fired steam boiler in Queens NYC. The Utility Co made me an offer I could not refuse. Basicly for very little $ they installed a Gas Gun, and removed my fuel tank. We were very happy with the gas system. I felt that the gas gun was more efficient than those "oven draw" type burners. I understand that some states do not allow gas guns, but we were quite pleased , and never had a problem for the 20 yrs that we remained in that house.
Sid
 
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Old 05-11-13, 02:49 PM
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netmouse, converting from oil to gas is a no brainer. It's easy to compare the cost of gas to oil. You take the the cost per therm X 1.38 to give you an equivalent to a gallon of oil. My latest bill charged me about $1.11 per therm. You would need oil to be $1.53 a gallon to be equal in cost.
 
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Old 06-17-13, 09:36 AM
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Question

I had new quotes for gas boiler-burner (converting from oil) for steam radiators.

He first quoted Lennox (efficiency 80.4%). When I asked for a brand that has the efficiency to get a NJ rebate (82%) he then quoted Peerless (83%) but it is a bit more expensive so the rebate is not as big a deal.

I called him and asked for a quote for the Burnham (the only brand quoted by two other vendors) which also meets the NJ efficiency rebate - he will call back on that one.

What is the better brand of the three? Is it possible he presented Lennox mainly because he gets a deal from the manufacturer that makes him more money? Thus his higher initial cost of Peerless, and then the lack of data for Burnham with his feeling they have more problems (which may be real).

Your thoughts?
 
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Old 06-17-13, 05:03 PM
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My only thought is to act fast, because if I'm not mistaken, the NJ rebate program ends on June 30.

And even if you DO manage to get the app in under the wire, be prepared for them to make you jump through hoops asking for all kinds of information that is NOT on the application... rejecting your application at least once for all kinds of made up excuses. Been there, done that, TWICE. In fact, I don't ever expect to see the rebate check.
 
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Old 06-17-13, 05:20 PM
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Been there, done that, TWICE. In fact, I don't ever expect to see the rebate check.
You should start a seperate thread on that.... Curious to the difficulty's....
 
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Old 06-17-13, 07:53 PM
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Maybe I will... I suppose it's boiler related... but I'm gonna wait until I'm sure I'm not gonna see the check. They said SIXTEEN WEEKS! I don't wanna get Chris p.o.ed at me.
 
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