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Discussion Starter #1
Although I'm new to this forum, I've been in the heating business for 24 years.
I live in Maine and 90% of the people here use oil heat.
Most of the posts on here involve heating with gas. I understand natural gas is an inexpensive fuel if you're in an area where it is available. My question is,,,, Why would anybody choose propane heat over oil heat when building a new house or converting an old system, in an area where NG isn't available.
In my area, #2 fuel oil costs less than propane #1 is about the same price per gal..
There are approximately 50,000 more btu's in a gallon of heating oil than in a gallon of propane. (1/3 more)
The only times I install propane heat is if someone has a camp or house that makes it impossible to get a oil truck to.
Just curious why propane is so popular on here.
 

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It could be the area for many of the posters. For example, the only oil heaters you will really find in my parts are waste oil burners (used motor oil). I think also it is the fear of a mess, the odor, EPA/Environmental concerns as far as tanks, and just being able to find and keep a good service company to keep their unit running properly.
 

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I have also been working on oil furnaces for let's see, about 22 years now. I have always been a strong advocate of oil over propane. In Michigan, we do not have the oil following that Maine does, but we do have a lot of territory not served by natural gas. The switch to propane is one of convenience for the customer. In addition, when I serve a new oil customer, they are quite happy to find someone who will deal with the beast in the basement. For me, oil customers are quite loyal.
I am planning a new house in the country and will go with oil even if the price eventually exceeds that of propane. I have cleaned one too many heat exchangers and replaced one too many late model furnaces, which ran out of propane. Sure, I hate the occasional stink, but I don't have time to cut wood!
 

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How about initial cost. I just installed a propane furnace in my house and it was much cheaper than going with oil. The furnace cost less and with propane, I didn't have to buy the tank. The companies around here supply the propane tanks for free but you have to buy your own oil tank. I'm selling the house so I could care less about long term savings.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You say the initial cost of a propane heating system is much cheaper than a oil heating system.
The cost of a oil fired boiler or furnace, and gas fired from the same manufacturer, are about the same price. Usually within $100.00. The only initial cost savings, is the price of an oil tank. $1000.00 maybe?
With todays fuel prices, that savings would be consumed during the first heating season.
Here's another thing to consider as a homeowner. When your propane company sets up a tank at your house, you are obligated to buy your fuel from that company.
 

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I don't know about you guys in the U.S. but up here in Canada natural gas is far from cheap.
 

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Oil

Bestheating said:
I have also been working on oil furnaces for let's see, about 22 years now. I have always been a strong advocate of oil over propane. In Michigan, we do not have the oil following that Maine does, but we do have a lot of territory not served by natural gas. The switch to propane is one of convenience for the customer. In addition, when I serve a new oil customer, they are quite happy to find someone who will deal with the beast in the basement. For me, oil customers are quite loyal.
I am planning a new house in the country and will go with oil even if the price eventually exceeds that of propane. I have cleaned one too many heat exchangers and replaced one too many late model furnaces, which ran out of propane. Sure, I hate the occasional stink, but I don't have time to cut wood!
Our company will not even touch oil furnaces, they are so out of date here. It's Gas or Heat Pumps only :)
 

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LP vs. Heating Oil

Comparing propane vs. heating oil.

You can calculate a BTU's per dollar of each to get an apples to apples comparison. BTU's X efficiency of the system / cost per gallon = BTU's per dollar.

Using the BTUs from the EIA (Energy Information Administration):138,690 BTUs per gallon for heating oil and 91,333 BTUs per gallon for propane.

Efficiencies: Assume 85% for heating oil and 94% for propane

Cost per gallon: Assume September, 2011 averages in Maine. Heating oil $3.65 and propane $2.99

Heating Oil BTUs per dollar: 138,690 BTUs X .85 efficiency / $3.65 = 32,298 BTUs per dollar

Propane BTUs per dollar: 91,333 X .94 efficiency / $2.99 = 28,713 BTUs per dollar.

Even though the price of propane is much less than heating oil, the difference BTUs lead to a lower BTUs per dollar and means it costs more to heat your home with propane. Of course, this will vary depending upon where you are and what price you pay for heating oil and propane. However, there are other factors to consider such as annual maintenance costs. Propane burns cleaner so there is less maintenance costs. And with propane there are no concerns over heating oil leaks and clean up.

Thanks, David

 

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You say the initial cost of a propane heating system is much cheaper than a oil heating system.
The cost of a oil fired boiler or furnace, and gas fired from the same manufacturer, are about the same price. Usually within $100.00. The only initial cost savings, is the price of an oil tank. $1000.00 maybe?
With todays fuel prices, that savings would be consumed during the first heating season.
Here's another thing to consider as a homeowner. When your propane company sets up a tank at your house, you are obligated to buy your fuel from that company.
Buy your own tank then you can get propane anywhere. Maintenance is the big thing. Get one bad tank of oil and or just the annual cleaning and ho insurance for spills...no more savings.
 
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