Propane VS Oil


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Old 03-01-13, 06:48 PM
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Propane VS Oil

I know this has been beaten to death so forgive me up front but I think I'm losing my mind. The internet searches are filled with people touting the lower cost of burning oil over propane. The problem as I see it ( I could be wrong ) is that no one mentions prices as it pertains to bulk delivery. Here on Long Island, NY, 1000 gallons of oil is 3.89/gal cash. 1000 gallons of propane is 2.69/gal. Yes, oil has the potential for 140,000 Btu's/gal. while propane has the potential for 91,500 Btu's/gal., but... 85% efficiency for oil and 94% for propane ( approx.) puts propane ahead in btu's per dollar. Am I missing something here ????
 
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Old 03-03-13, 04:52 AM
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You are correct with your calculations.

Current efficiencies for oil are up to 87% and propane up to 96%.

IF your heating system is forced air, then the best thing to do when choosing between oil/propane is to go propane with a heat pump for even more energy savings.
 
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Old 03-03-13, 07:43 AM
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Thanks HVACtechFW ! How does the heat pump work in conjunction with propane ?
I do have forced air with a hydronic coil. 3 zones and a hot water zone. I'm currently on oil but have recently put a 1000 gallon propane tank in the ground for a standby generator. My boiler is an peerless 5 section cast iron beast and I can watch my oil fill level drop every time it fires. Ouch !!!
 
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Old 03-03-13, 08:01 AM
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The heat pump would be in place of your current AC if you have one. It would heat the home efficiently down to 20-35F outdoor temp. Below the balance point outdoor temp the oil furnace would then be used to heat the home. I'm not sure as to exactly.how you heating system is setup so I don't know for sure that a HP system will work with your current system.
 
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Old 03-03-13, 05:16 PM
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Thanks Kevin, I'll look into it.
 
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Old 03-04-13, 09:49 AM
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I have no direct experience, but according to spec sheets modern heatpumps can provide useable heat down to 10-15F. A hydronic coil can be used to carry the balance rather than take over completely when the heatpump can no longer keep up.

With the hydronic coil (like what you already have), it's possible to run a heatpump below 20-35F and use the oil only for supplemental heat. However, the heatpump's coil will have to be installed upstream of the hydronic coil
 
 

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