Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:46 pm

First let me assure everyone I am not getting rid of my Harman VF3000 coal boiler. I could not be more pleased with it as it takes me into it's 10th heating season. I hope to continue using it at least another 10+ years. However it's been pointed out to me that I am not going to live forever. I was naturally disappointed to hear that but have decided to move on and make the most of my remaining time. :lol:

My wife will not deal with the coal boiler when I'm gone so I want an alternative for her that will be easy to deal with. Currently I have a cast iron Weil-McClain oil fired boiler. It's 25 years old and undersized for my home. I bought it used from a bar owner who was going out of business about 20 years ago. When I bought it, it was adequate for my home but since then I have made 3 additions to my home and it's undersized now. I don't want to stick with oil for several reasons. An oil boiler requires cleaning and servicing annually. Oil is too subject to world energy demand. I can get rid of the tank from my basement.

I've already got a 1,000 gallon underground propane tank and black iron pipe roughed-in to my basement. I want to plan this so that I don't install it and then later say, "why didn't I do such and such." There is a wealth of knowledge on this forum and I want to take full advantage of it.

Here are some things that I know I want to incorporate into the system. Please add (or subtract) anything else you think would be an advantage.

The zone pumps would pump away off of the supply side of the boiler
All circulators will have shut offs on both sides of the flanges for easy replacement
Air purger with shut off on the air vent device for easy replacement
Diaphragm type expansion tank with shut off for easy replacement
Backflow preventer on supply from domestic water
Low water cut off

Thanks in advance for all of your input.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: Rob R. On: Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:57 pm

coalkirk wrote:My wife will not deal with the coal boiler when I'm gone so I want an alternative for her that will be easy to deal with.


Gone for good? Or gone for the weekend? The reason I ask, if you got hit by a bus tomorrow do you think she would want to keep such a large house? Mine has already made it clear that she couldn't keep our house without me, so for now I've decided that if something happens to me, the next guy can worry about replacing the 35 yr old oil boiler.

Back to your question about the install - I think you have a good list of things to incorporate. Are you thinking about a wall-hung condensing boiler? Or an atmospheric unit?
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: titleist1 On: Wed Dec 12, 2012 1:12 pm

I'm gonna outlive my wife just for spite so I can have some fun again!! :box: :junmp:
titleist1
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman Mag Stoker (old style) one in basement, one in workshop
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Harman Mark III on standby for long power outages
Coal Size/Type: Rice/Anthracite; Nut/Anthracite


Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:08 pm

Rob R. wrote:
coalkirk wrote:My wife will not deal with the coal boiler when I'm gone so I want an alternative for her that will be easy to deal with.


Gone for good? Or gone for the weekend? The reason I ask, if you got hit by a bus tomorrow do you think she would want to keep such a large house? Mine has already made it clear that she couldn't keep our house without me, so for now I've decided that if something happens to me, the next guy can worry about replacing the 35 yr old oil boiler.

Back to your question about the install - I think you have a good list of things to incorporate. Are you thinking about a wall-hung condensing boiler? Or an atmospheric unit?


:lol: Well kinda both. Mostly if I'm gone for good but if we (or I) decide to take a trip in the winter, I wouldn't want someone who is house sitting or house watching to deal with the coal. Of course the oil would work for that case as well. :gee:

You are probably right. When I croak, she wil probably move to a smaller place. So I guess I should also add to the equatation that if I get too old and or physically unable to deal with the coal, it would be another consideration.

I'm undecided on the type of boiler. Obvioulsy an atmostpheric boiler is going to be alot less expensive.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: coalkirk On: Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:10 pm

titleist1 wrote:I'm gonna outlive my wife just for spite so I can have some fun again!! :box: :junmp:


I've got long odds there. She eats mostly salad and goes to the gym. I'm a meat eating, beer drinker who should lose about 40 lbs. :oops:
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: Sting On: Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:19 pm

Regarding all the drivel posted in these pages about automatic fail over and dual boiler set up

well this shouldn't be a big drama

buy the books and decide how automatic you want your design to be

then hire a plumber to build it AS YOU DESIGNED or just do it

now that written -- there are folks haunting these threads that can debunk ideas - but no one can design and build from this side of the public internet
Heck many have proven _ I cannot even post good advice from here :P
Sting
 
Other Heating: BurnHAM=NG-gas

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: Berlin On: Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:13 pm

"Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation"

...Don't. Stick with oil.

Service on a barely used oil boiler? hardly anything - change filter and nozzle every other year. Propane is just as dependent on price of oil and significantly more $$ per btu. Even if I already had propane storage, there is no way I'd switch to it over a simple straightforward oil boiler.
Berlin
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: Will-Burt Combustioneer 77B
Coal Size/Type: Ohio BITUMINOUS pea stoker coal

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: oilman On: Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:28 pm

Well, I agree with Berlin. You can get a larger size 86-87% oil boiler and just replace your undersized one.

But- please rethink your comment about a LP boiler not needing service- they get filled up with all sorts of rust and scale. The last 2 I was on last week-the first one I was using a shovel to get the mounds of rust out of it they both were tripping the safeties and spewing out some fine CO into the living space.

The wall hung or mod-con units require extensive yearly service and water quality testing etc. and have a lifespan of about 10 years or so.

If you have your heart set on LP, go standard cast iron . Better yet, an oil boiler w/ a gas power burner. The Smith Series 8 is one that is available like that from the factory.

To expand a little on what Berlin said in coalman's terms, gas is like pellets, oil is like coal. The oil will give you more heat for less product consumed. Pellets......well...umm.......... :roll:
oilman
 

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Sat Dec 22, 2012 6:15 am

I disagree with the propane versus oil. I have had an propane boiler for 6 years now and it has never seen a tech guy. The thing just runs flawlessly without annual cleanings, maintenance, chimneys or filter changes. At the beginning of the heating season you turn the boiler on with a flip of the switch, and at the end you just shut it off; you are NOT going to do that for 6 years with an oil fired boiler without having some sort of problem.

And being cheap, I have run the math on the cost per btu and it is always about the same, right now edging slightly in propane's favor. Propane is .0025/btu while oil is .0026/btu at what it would cost me right now.

And the last I knew, we had Canadian Forces fighting beside us over seas, and not flying planes into our buildings; I would much rather give my money to my Canadian Maritime friends for their propane then I would people that shoot at my brother and burn our flag.
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: coalkirk On: Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:03 am

Yeah, this one is going to take some more thought. I see a lot of gas boilers in the course of my work and I don't see them all rusted unless they are in a wet environment. My basement is very dry. If I bought one, it would be a cast iron type, not a steel.

Math is not my friend. But I believe oil has the edge in btu's per $$$. But since this would be for backup and rareley used, I'm not that concerned about that. Based on some really thought provoking suggestions made here, I DID discover that my wife is apparently planning to sell this place just about the same time as I assume room temperature. :shock: So I don't need to consider her future heating needs.

I've got lots of time to think about it. My resources are limited and other demands may take them before I get to consider doing this anyway. Need a new roof on the house among other things.
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:30 am

There is 91,330 BTU's in a gallon of propane
There is 138,000 BTU's in a gallon of #2 fuel oil

You must find a common denominator in order to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges, to do that in this case, you use cost per btu.

I pay 234 cents for a gallon of propane
I would have to pay 365 cents for a gallon of oil

Math is pretty simple.

You divide how much it costs for propane by its btu content per gallon...234/91330=.0025 cents per btu
You divide how much it costs for #2 fuel oil by its btu content per gallon...365/138000=.0026 cents per btu

For me, at this given time, it is cheaper per burn propane then oil. That might not always ring true, BUT every time I do the comparison, propane is either cheaper per btu, or the same as oil and has never been higher. yes there are more btu's in a gallon of oil, but it costs more than oil too.
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: NoSmoke On: Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:38 am

There are some other factors involve that make propane attractive, part of which is how clean it burns. You can get 95% efficiency out of propane so there is very little soot build up and little maintenance. With oil you are looking at 85% efficiency at best...

And controlling the btu output is much easier as well. Because propane can be adjusted from a tiny pilot light to full burn, you have incredible adjustability. When this is coupled with PLC's and other high tech controllers, you can really control and program the output of these boilers. If you only need a few btu's to maintain the heat output, the flame can be adjusted to do that, but if you need more, it can ramp up and give you that and anywhere in between. By using only the amount of heat you need at a given moment, you can really reduce your energy consumption. You are not going to get this adjustability with oil which tends to soot up the nozzles since nozzles are jetted for certain ranges.

Then there are the installation requirements. Unless the oil units have changed recently, they require a pretty involved chimney with stove pipe and thimbles. My boiler in contrast uses PVC pipe for its intake and exhaust. The savings right there is substantial.
NoSmoke
 
Hand Fed Coal Boiler: New Yoker WC90
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Vogelzang Pot Bellied Stove
Coal Size/Type: Stove/Nut/Pea Anthracite
Other Heating: Munchkin LP Boiler (Back-up)

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: coalkirk On: Sun Dec 23, 2012 10:18 am

Those are some of the things that lead me to start considering an lp boiler. Plus as it would be only used occaisionally, there is no concern with long term storage of lp as there is with oil.

It's gonna take a few more cases of beer and some hours of thinking. As I said before, it may come down to priorites and dollars. There's no urgency to it. I'm loving my coal boiler. It's in the 20's here this am. House is warm top to bottom. Air handler just cycled a couple of minutes ago and the coal boiler is already recovered.
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After all this time I'm still amazed what a great job the coal boiler does. I love it when I come in from outside and feel that warmth knowing there's not a drop of towel head juice responsible for it. 8-)
coalkirk
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF3000
Coal Size/Type: antrhcite/rice coal

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: Rob R. On: Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:30 pm

How about a LP conversion burner for your existing boiler? My uncle put a Carlin EZ-Gas on a 68 Series Weil McLain and it runs great.
Rob R.
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: EFM DF520
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Dad's 1953 EFM Highboy

Re: Suggestions wanted for new propane boiler installation

PostBy: littlefish On: Sun Dec 23, 2012 3:21 pm

good comments by oilman and everybody... in my experience servicing both oil and gas, it comes down to what it's worth to you and whether or not you expect some sort of payback. a 25 year old 68-series w/m should have a fresh chamber installed while giving the chamber and flues a complete wire-brush cleaning - there are passages that don't get cleaned with a standard brush-from-the-top. i have taken up to 100 degrees out of the stack temp of condemned boilers by doing this. helpful to know # of sections vs sq ft (368, 468, etc) since it may be a simple matter of getting the firing rate set properly. upgrading to a riello burner can bump efficiency and dependability. hydronic upgrades can help - see heatinghelp.com fr info on why pump-away, bladder tanks, and outdoor reset controls are a good idea regardless of your fuel. also, vacuum the dust out of your baseboards. regarding modcon gas boilers - they don't always work well on baseboard systems designed for 180 degree supplies since they are most efficient when running relatively cool returns as in radiant or panel systems. sometime you need more linear footage for a modcon to get enough dissipation. so as was suggested, cast iron lp will work best, but you won't get better efficiency. most of all, find a service company who can think it through and not just tell you it's good enough, and a tech who will spend at least 2 hours on a cleaning, including proper pressurization of the hydronic system. whew.... i'm done ranting. good luck!
littlefish
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: jotul 507
Coal Size/Type: nut
Other Heating: oil/baseboard