We probably need a new furnace. Existing one is a 30 year old boiler
system that feeds steam radiators. We have both natural gas and an oil
tank (oil tank is 5 years old). Should I consider converting to
natural gas? What are the issues here?
If you need a steam boiler your choices are a bit more limited for
equipment vs. the regular hydronic boilers. Be sure to get a quality
As for the fuel source, if you currently have both oil and gas you
should have some idea of the reliability of each. If you're in a cold
area reliability should be a concern. Both oil and gas costs vary and it
seems that gas is cheaper these days. If you could find one in a
residential size and firing rate a dual fuel burner would give you a lot
of flexibility. I expect the available steam boilers will be rated for
I'm not a big fan of nat. gas, but if you have it already and haven't
had issues then it's worth considering for the current lower cost.
I'm from New England..cold winters. We run a gas heating stove off the
natural gas supply. Main boiler and water heater run off oil. Not
sure what the water heater system is called - it doesn't have it's own
burner, the boiler heats the water and the water heater more or less
stores the hot water.
I don't know where you live
But is it possible for your supply of oil to not reach you ?
Also your oil is affected by international events.
Natural gas is from US or Canadian sources.
And the supply will NOT be interrupted unless the gaz pipeline is
As a backup, with natural gaz is also possible to convert to propane in a
Particularly if the furnace is dual-use.
Personally, I would avoid oil.
Why do you want a new furnace if your boiler is in need of replacement. It
would be easier and cheaper to put in a new boiler rather than a furnace and
all the ducts that go with it. (boilers heat gas, furnaces heat air)
Both fuels have advantages and disadvantages. Do some checking on price as
it can vary considerably in some regions. Personally, I like gas. No
stinking oil, less cleaning, no delivery problems.
The boiler is the big piece with the combustion chamber, pipes and
whatnot. The burner unit is the smaller part that mounts in a more or
less standardized hole in the boiler leading to the combustion chamber.
The boiler and the burner are rarely made by the same company.
One boiler unit can often take oil or nat. gas or propane burners from
many different companies and one companies burner can fit many different
boilers. You often have a choice of getting a factory package system
where the boiler manufacturer selects and provides a burner with the
boiler, or getting the boiler without the burner and installing the
burner of your choice on the boiler.
Carlin and Beckett are the most common burners you'll find and both are
good units. Riello burners are also fairly common and are in some ways a
bit nicer then the other two.
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