Electric vs propane

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I am so tired of it all. I love my propane central furnace and water heater . However, I lease my tank from Southern States and they come unannounced t o fill it up. I had it filled up in October, I think that bill was 600 buck s. In January they came again. That was 741 bucks. I just had a bill left o n my door where they came the other day and the bill was another 700 bucks. On the last bill it showed propane is 3.30 a gallon I believe.
I looked up the electric rate where I live. It said there is an 18.80/month charge plus the rate is .06560 during the winter. I am not sure how to com pare these two, but I am assuming electricity is cheaper in the long run?
I live in southern ky. I will admit it has been a colder than normal winter . And I do use a lot of hot water with two girls in the house and I will ad mit I love my showers. But I have only a 1500 square foot house. It was bui lt in the mid 90's and everything is insulated as well as I can. (Although my walls are only 2x4).
I am not sure if converting to electric is the way to go or not. I am tryin g to convince my wife to let me install a wood burning fireplace with a wat er heater option. (I actually found a company that sells a fire place that is a wood burning furnace)
The other option I have considered is geothermal but doing the work myself due to installation costs. I have 5 acres which is plenty room for the fiel d lines. However, in my area there are very few basements. (I only have a c rawl space). I am not sure if one of those can be installed in a crawl spac e or not.
I like the idea at least in my head of having multiple fuel sources, so I c an choose which one to utilize based on the rate because things vary so wid ely. Maybe if I were to install an electric furnace somehow still keeping t he propane furnace under the house where I could easily switch from one to another.
Unfortunately I don't have natural gas available.
Any advice?
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On Wednesday, February 19, 2014 8:53:09 AM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

er. However, I lease my tank from Southern States and they come unannounced to fill it up. I had it filled up in October, I think that bill was 600 bu cks. In January they came again. That was 741 bucks. I just had a bill left on my door where they came the other day and the bill was another 700 buck s. On the last bill it showed propane is 3.30 a gallon I believe.

Aye Carumba!

th charge plus the rate is .06560 during the winter. I am not sure how to c ompare these two, but I am assuming electricity is cheaper in the long run?

First thing I'd do is check and make sure that rate is correct. It's the l owest I've heard of in recent times. Many places there is a charge for the electricity and then another charge for the delivery and then some monthly charge for whatever. Make sure the 6.5c rate includes the delivery. For example, here in NJ, I'm paying about 18c, half for the electricity, half for the delivery.

er. And I do use a lot of hot water with two girls in the house and I will admit I love my showers. But I have only a 1500 square foot house. It was b uilt in the mid 90's and everything is insulated as well as I can. (Althoug h my walls are only 2x4).

Easiest and most cost effective would probably be to switch the WH to electric. Depending on if the panel, service etc can support the required circuit, the cost could be $400 to $1000 depending on if you DIY or have it done. I'd make sure there are reasonable flow restrictors on the showers too.

ing to convince my wife to let me install a wood burning fireplace with a w ater heater option. (I actually found a company that sells a fire place tha t is a wood burning furnace)

f due to installation costs. I have 5 acres which is plenty room for the fi eld lines. However, in my area there are very few basements. (I only have a crawl space). I am not sure if one of those can be installed in a crawl sp ace or not.

Not sure about the climate in KY, but how about conventional heat pump supplemented by electric? I'd check around and see if folks are using them. New generation ones can produce heat at lower temps and even if it has to go to backup resistance heat, your cost of electricity is low and it's going to be significantly less to run than pure resistance electric heat.
IDK about the actual cost of the geothermal eqpt itself, aside from the cost of the installation, but I suspect the eqpt probably is more than an air heat pump system. You can probably get an idea online. As to installing it yourself, no idea how practical that would be. They typically use wells or else the pipes have to be buried very deep, because you need to get down to where it's like ~50F all the time.

can choose which one to utilize based on the rate because things vary so w idely. Maybe if I were to install an electric furnace somehow still keeping the propane furnace under the house where I could easily switch from one t o another.

That could probably be rigged up. But there are dual fuel systems designed for that, eg heat pump plus gas. I'd look into that.

How old/efficient is that propane furnace? It's it's 25 years old, just switching to a new high efficiency unit would cut your bills substantially, maybe 40%. That's about what I saw when I switched out my 25 year old nat gas furnace for a 93% unit.
How about experiences of neighbors? With electricity that low and propane high I would think a lot of other people would have done something already. Also, call a couple of contractors for estimates, opinions, etc. They should have lots of experience with folks in your situation.
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Per snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net:

During the last power outage (better part of 5 days), I was *really* glad we did not have electric heat.
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On 2/19/2014 11:44 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Assuming you have other heat that works when the power is out. Most won't, although a generator can get a gas or oil heater running easy enough.
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Per Ed Pawlowski:

A 2KW generator did the job for us.
Had to cook on gas burners on the patio instead of electric stove, but se had lights, hot water (gas), heat (gas), TV, Computers, Internet...
I'm thinking about a second 2KW run in parallel - but only for redundancy and the ability to use toaster/microwave/coffee maker without shedding loads. Mainly for redundancy.
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On Wednesday, February 19, 2014 2:24:51 PM UTC-5, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

You can't run two generators in parallel on the same circuit. It's AC and to do they they would have to be in sync which they will no tbe.
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On Thursday, February 20, 2014 2:44:13 PM UTC-5, jamesgang wrote:

We've been there, done that. That was my initial reaction too. And it's true in most cases. But as others have pointed out, there are generators that allow this, eg the Honda EU which the OP has. They use a special control cable between them to keep them synchronized, which being inverter based, is easy to do.
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On 2/20/2014 2:44 PM, jamesgang wrote:

same circuit. It's AC and to do they they would have to be in sync which they will no tbe.

I don't have a link to the info, but I've heard some models of Honda have a way of synch the two generators.
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Per Stormin Mormon:

EU2000 and EU3000 for two.
I've got an EU2000.
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On 2/20/2014 4:18 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Would it make more sense to buy a larger generator? You might be able to get a (Coleman) 5,000 watt for the price of the (Honda).
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Per Stormin Mormon:

I've been going back-and-forth on that one - and still haven't made a final choice.
The relevant tradeoffs seem to be fuel consumption, noise, reliability, ease of use, and portability
Running a single EU2000 burns less than a third of what a 5kw gennie does. It's not so much the cost - because use would be limited to outages. But if run on gas, fuel availability/storage becomes a real issue.
I can only store so much gasoline and there are hazards and inconveniences associated with storing gasoline. My neighbor was driving heaven-knows-where to stand in line to buy gas for his Home Depot monster. I had no problem with five 5-gallon containers of gasoline on hand, but it was getting close. Hence my flirtation with Propane or NG.
Noise is self-evident if you've been around one or the other.
Reliability is in redundancy. With a pair of EU2000's one would run full time, but the other only around meal times when we'd want to run high-draw appliances like the big microwave oven, coffee maker, toaster, and so-forth. Actually we get by pretty well on a singe EU2000 with a smart transfer switch. Put some toast in the toaster, and the switch just takes as many other circuits offline as needed to feed the toaster and then brings them back when the toaster is done.
The real utility of the pair is that one could fail and we'd still be covered. The other day I talked to a guy who has a 20kw propane-powered setup (well water, sewage has to be pumped uphill to a sand field...) whose alternator failed part way through his recent 7-day outage (ours was only 4.5... his was 7).
Clearly a single gennie is easier to use. No going out to the shed to fire up or turn off the second one is a convenience.
Portability comes when/if somebody close needs a generator. The EU2000's weigh less than fifty pounds and can be carried/loaded into a vehicle by one person. The flip side of that is that they're easy to steal (and *very* easy to sell).
I liked the summary of tradeoffs at http://www.hidefromthewind.com/generators.html
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On Friday, February 21, 2014 9:38:36 AM UTC-5, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Sounds like a very good description of the merits. Another advantage of having two is that if you have a friend or relative that needs to be bailed out, you could lend one for a day so that they could get their fridge /freezer chilled down again too, run a power vent water heater if they have one, etc. The noise difference can be a real factor with the inverter based ones. Since they decouple engine from frequency, they can run at lower, quieter RPMs. If you have neighbors close by, etc that could be a factor.
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Per snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net:

I didn't say it, but being The Good Guy for somebody without losing power myself is a significant factor to me.
There's another aspect to the noise thing: with a neighbor running one of Home Depot's high-volume monsters less than fifty feet away, my little EU2000 becomes pretty-much unnoticeable except for the fact that lights are on in the house. Run it in the garden shed with a hasp and padlock on the door and an IP cam inside, and my comfort level with theft becomes acceptable.
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On 2/21/2014 12:57 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

(Next time, they will expect the service.)
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This is a very valid concern. I live in a rural area and have a 5 Kw cheap generator. It burns about 1/3 gal of gasoline per hour under load. Most of our power outages are 1 hour to 24 hours, but some have been as long as 10 days.
I keep 30 gals (6 days worth) stored out in the tractor shed but it requires management (cycling through the farm vehicles) to avoid going stale. It's a pain in the ass, but I can't justify the cost of a large propane tank just to avoid the work. If storing that much gas was illegal or dangerous that would be another matter and I would go with propane or (even better: NG). Note however that propane or NG will produce about 20% less power from the gen unit.
Another consideration is that cheap gen units have a cheap generator which produces pretty poor quality power that may be a real problem for modern electronics. The better gen units use inverters to produce a better quality power.
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On 02/22/2014 07:20 AM, CRNG wrote:

One cause of poor power quality from POS portable generators is the electrical receptacle/plug connection. Cheap generators tend to have low quality receptacles. And since generators are not stored under ideal conditions, those low quality receptacle contacts become corroded. Throw in some engine vibrations and you've got the recipe for a poor/intermittent electrical connection loaded with spikes.
And if that loose connection happens to be the neutral on an unbalanced load...uh oh!
To minimize the vibration problem, I took out the receptacles and soldered in 8' pigtails and placed the receptacles at the end of the cord.
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You can't sync generators. They do it on the output side with inverters. The price for this equipment seems outlandish.
Should it be called alternator ?
Greg
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On Thursday, February 20, 2014 11:40:15 PM UTC-5, Gz wrote:

I think what you mean is you can't sync the typical portable generator that doesn't use inverter technology.
They do it on the output side with inverters.

Depend on what the requirements are. If you need something that produces a very clean sine wave, is thrifty on fuel, and makes a lot less noise, they are obviously worth it to some people. If you're using them at an outdoor fair for example, just being a lot more quiet could make it worth it.

They are routinely called generators by the industry and the folks using them. If you want to change to alternator, it wouldn't solve anything, because then you'd have to call all the typical portable generators alternators too, because that's what they really are.
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On 02/19/2014 07:53 AM, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Electric is more expensive than gas or propane. If you are getting a bill for $600 or $700 for three months of use, that actually is inexpensive. (I know it does not seem so.)
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On Wednesday, February 19, 2014 10:18:29 AM UTC-5, philo  wrote:

ater. However, I lease my tank from Southern States and they come unannounc ed to fill it up. I had it filled up in October, I think that bill was 600 bucks. In January they came again. That was 741 bucks. I just had a bill le ft on my door where they came the other day and the bill was another 700 bu cks. On the last bill it showed propane is 3.30 a gallon I believe.

onth charge plus the rate is .06560 during the winter. I am not sure how to compare these two, but I am assuming electricity is cheaper in the long ru n?

nter. And I do use a lot of hot water with two girls in the house and I wil l admit I love my showers. But I have only a 1500 square foot house. It was built in the mid 90's and everything is insulated as well as I can. (Altho ugh my walls are only 2x4).

rying to convince my wife to let me install a wood burning fireplace with a water heater option. (I actually found a company that sells a fire place t hat is a wood burning furnace)

elf due to installation costs. I have 5 acres which is plenty room for the field lines. However, in my area there are very few basements. (I only have a crawl space). I am not sure if one of those can be installed in a crawl space or not.

I can choose which one to utilize based on the rate because things vary so widely. Maybe if I were to install an electric furnace somehow still keepi ng the propane furnace under the house where I could easily switch from one to another.


He said he got a bill for $700 for the period from sometime in Jan to now. That's not 3 months. And even $740 from Oct to JAn doesn't sound inexpensive for a 1500 sq ft house in southern KY. He's spent $1440. With a 3100 sq ft house here in NJ, I've spent maybe $600
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