We live in a six-unit coop apartment building with an oil-fired boiler which
supplies radiator heat throughout the building.
We installed a new boiler in 2006 at a cost of $28,000. At the time we
considered switching from oil to gas, but were told that we likely would
have to run new gas supply lines from the street to the building, and this
could cost as much as $20,000. So we opted to continue with oil.
Based on current prices, gas costs only about half as much as oil to produce
the same heat. So we are reconsidering switching to gas.
Leaving aside the cost of installing new gas-supply lines, can anyone give
me a ballpark figure on how much it would cost to switch the new furnace
from oil to gas? Or possibly even have a dual supply system so that we could
switch to gas or oil depending upon the costs at a given time?
Well, I wouldn't ask that guy again.
How far is the street?
WAG... as much as a new gas furnace of similar output. Or, you could
check one of the auction sites, if you're of that persuasion. The
market is flooded with everything from a-z, mostly commercial and
industrial grade stuff as smaller businesses are giving up and larger
ones continue to downsize.
Or availability. I like the idea. Here, I don't have that kind of
In MT though, I use (free) wood with propane backup. I wonder how
long it might be before more oil users start to consider wood...
My residential boiler is certified for both oil and natural gas and I
chose this particular model for this reason. I'm told that all they
have to do is replace the current burner head with the equivalent gas
version. Perhaps this is possible for you too.
The boiler installer should be able to give you a close estimate on the
phone. The burner head and some controls have to be replaced. When figuring
in the cost difference, include the lower maintenance costs too. Gas burns
much cleaner so you save a few hundred bucks a year there too.
You aren't suggesting that they can skip the annual service on the
boiler are you??? Gas may not need to have a nozzle and filter changed
like oil, but it certainly needs an annual service just like oil,
particularly for a commercial sized unit like the OP has. The cost of
that annual service isn't going to be any different since a nozzle and
filter account for about $10 worth of materials.
We run two 125 HP boilers fired with gas. They are checked for efficiency
every two months. We are, in fact, putting on controls at $45,000 to gain
just 2% in efficiency. They get opened and cleaned once a year and the fire
side gets a quick brushing. Takes one person about an hour
We used to run a smaller (40 HP) oil fired boiler. It had to be opened
every three months and it took two men about 4 hours to clean, vacuum,
dispose of the soot, dispose of their now filthy coveralls, breathing
apparatus, and then another hour to clean up the boiler room.
Now you say the cost of annual service is not going to be different?
The boilers have input of 5,500,000 Btu each. Tell me how many acres of
solar I'll need to convert 350 to 450 gallons of water per hour (at 60
degrees) to steam at 100 psi, especially running at night.
I don't know and neither do you. What I'm saying is that if I had
no choice but to spend that much money on heating just one thing
I would at the very least, get a quote instead of complaining about
First off, I'm not complaining, I'm looking at reducing fuel costs. Just
stating a fact
The magnitude of steam that we use would probably need a few thousand acres
of solar panels in Arizona, not New England. Then we'd need accumulators
capable of holding massive amounts of high pressure steam during the dark
hours. There are NO industrial process boilers powered by solar because of
the utter impracticality of it.
A building the size that would house such boilers and the process
equipment using their output probably has enough roof area to hold a
reflector array and collector tower to generate the daytime steam. Not
going to help at night, but assuming constant three shift use could
cover 30% of the energy needs.
To run at 50% capacity of 5,500,000 Btu it is not practical.
A very efficient solar panel can produce 20 watts per hour per square foot
at noon on a sunny day . I'd need 80,000 sq. ft. of the 30,000 sq. ft.
available to do it for even a portion of the day. Factor in cloudy day,
winter sun hours, loss of transmission and conversion, heat storage and
anything else, you see the practicality of it.
Anyone know what 80,000 square feet of solar collection is worth? Now we
have to store surplus energy to be used at other times of the day.
You're thinking of the wrong technology. You don't use solar PV or solar
hot water thermal, you use a concentrating steam boiler setup, like used
at a few CA commercial solar utility generating stations. An array of
tracking reflectors concentrating the energy on a single central
collector-boiler. For your application there are no transmission and
conversion losses since you directly generate the steam you need above
the plant that is using it. You do not bother trying to store any of the
energy for night use, you simply ramp the oil / gas fired boilers back
up for the evening. 30% energy savings using existing roof space. Think
tax credits too...
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