The Wall
Forum / THE MAIN WALL / Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?
  • Post a Reply to this Thread

    Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas? (48 Posts)

  • modconwannabe modconwannabe @ 11:44 PM
    Contact this user

    Value of converting oil/steam to modcon gas?

    Would love insights and experiences.
    We're beginning an extensive home reno in a brick row house, and our plan to convert the existing oil/steam system to a gas, mod con system with indirect hot water and radiant heat on one floor. Our construction budget is going to be short and we're trying to determine which parts of the job to scratch off and the question is whether it's better to save 30-40% up front and do gas conversation with an 85% efficient steam boiler (and new chimney liner etc), or go the whole mile and go mod con etc. The latter route lets us relocate the utility room as well to reclaim space. I just don't know how to estimate or calculate monthly fuel savings and amortization for such a project. Any advice?
  • Snowmelt Snowmelt @ 12:15 AM
    Contact this user

    IMO

    Keep the steam and put an indirect off the steam boiler.
    Steam is best for the house.
    I have steam in my house and I could change it to a water boiler, but rather have steam , jest better for your lungs.
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 12:33 AM
    Contact this user

    IMO

    I would personally convert to some sort of forced hot water system, hydro air is nice do to the addition of central air conditioning...

    As far as mod con vs conventional, I would need to know your current energy costs and or the heat loss for your building... It tends to make more sense for larger homes that use more energy. If you only spend $1500 a year for heat with a ci boiler, then a mod con may not last long enough for you to pay for the difference in cost, even after current rebates and incentives, especially after you factor in annual service, costly repairs, and the units shorter life span...

    In my area a properly installed ci conventional boiler will last a long time, not need any annual service and go a long time with out a combustion related service issue {if ever}, also if installed correctly, pri/sec, delta t circs, odr, odca, ect the only savings a mod con would give you is the combustion efficiency which if you average is not as high as the rating on the brochure...

    I have seen too many customers spend $15K on a nice mod con system that saves them $250 a year over a decent ci boiler, and then have to spend $800 on a board in 8 years, throwing their savings away and going 4-8+ days without heat while waiting for the part...

    Let us know more about the building, emitter type, size, heat loss, ect and we can asnwer better...

    As far as dhw goes, I dont like mixing heat and dhw, I like 2 separate units when possible, a tankless or hybrid water heater or both {use the tankless in the winter and the hybrid in the summer, is how I do it in my own home.}....
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 5:52 PM
    Contact this user

    Especially if your budget is short

    keep the steam, and either replace the boiler or, if the existing boiler is fairly new and in good shape, install a gas conversion burner in it. There's nothing wrong with steam except to someone trying to sell you a tear-out job.

    Where are you located?
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    This post was edited by an admin on April 1, 2014 5:53 PM.
  • modconwannabe modconwannabe @ 4:47 PM
    Contact this user

    Location, house type and more details

    I'm in Brooklyn, NY. As fuel is currently oil I can't speak to previous consumption of gas but it's a 3000 sq foot house with no insulation except the roof.
    Current boiler is a beat up Peerless from ~2001 I believe, possibly earlier. Simply converting to gas isn't an option, as I'll need to reline chimney and to do that I need to bore out the cracked up terra cotta. To the tune of $4700.
    Thus my dilemma. In NY you have to get old oil tank reclaimed, permit, chimney reline, i need a larger diameter gas line and new boiler and a couple new rads. All in the cost is nearly the same as converting to a mod con hydronic with radiant flooring for one floor. I don't see a reason not to do so.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:39 PM
    Contact this user

    With no insulation

    it's still going to cost a lot to heat that house. That's where you can get the best bang for your buck.

    Add to that the service and reliability issues on mod-cons mentioned further down the thread. I've heard of a few mod-cons (using Gianonni heat exchangers) that only lasted five years. I've read that in Europe if a mod-con over five years old or so breaks down, they replace it. Where's the savings in that?
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • RobG RobG @ 11:53 AM
    Contact this user

    Steam / Hot water

    If no insulation upgrades have been done to the house, you very possibly will not be able to re-use your existing radiators. The radiators in your home were sized for steam heat which operates at a significantly higher temperature than hot water. If you were to switch to hot water you shouldn't be surprised to be cold on cold days. As well, not all steam radiators are capable of being converted to use hot water. Why not vent a new gas steam boiler through the wall?

    Rob
  • modconwannabe modconwannabe @ 9:32 PM
    Contact this user

    Rad sizing

    That's a good point. I haven't sized it and left it to heating guy to do so.

    As for venting out the wall, that's not legal in NY. Gotta go to the roof either via chimney or up the side of the building, which the cost is about the same
  • Jamie Hall Jamie Hall @ 8:37 PM
    Contact this user

    As Steamhead said

    but with a bit more.  You may, very likely depending on prices, save some money converting the existing boiler, if it is fairly recent, to gas.  If it is an older boiler, you will also save some money installing a new gas fired boiler.  What you will NOT do is save anything by taking all the steam out and going to hydronic or hydro-aire; in fact, it is unlikely that you would ever be able to save enough on the slightly higher efficiency of a mod-con to pay for the conversion, even if you are adding ducted air conditioning.

    Just the way it is.
    Jamie

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Snowmelt Snowmelt @ 10:28 PM
    Contact this user

    Heat pro

    Heat pro how could you tell anyone to replace steam.???

    For allergy reason this is the best system out there it puts water back in the air so it's not dry. K
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 7:16 AM
    Contact this user

    I don't want to ruin his thread with another steam debate...

    I know I am on the opposite side on this vs a few guys on this board, but I don't like steam heat, I don't find it too hard to understand or surprising, if everyone liked it there would be a lot more still installed, and it would still be showing up in new construction... But its not, at least around here its not.

    Now do I just rip out every steam system I come accross? Of course not, if the customer likes their steam system, or its too invasive, or not cost effective to convert, or it would de-value the home to remove it {around here there are some gorgeous steam systems that have been very well kept}, ect.. I won't even mention changing it, but IMO I prefer not to have it...

    I own and have bought and sold many houses and properties. I broker them all myself, and I can tell you what people {potential buyers} do not like to see, most of the deal breakers are mechanical.. Sure small bathrooms and kitchens, no closets, no master bath, parking all factors in their decisions, BUT people do not like to see... Oil heat, Steam heat, and old equipment... Just from my experience....
    I had a house on the market in Warwick for 9 months 90% of the people would walk in and see the radiators {which were all in good shape, the boiler was only a couple years old} and put on their scared face. I converted that house to dual hydro airs and a gb142 and a smart tank {central a/c too}, and we closed just under 3 months later for $28K over my highest previous offer {you guys know what 2 hydro airs, 2 condensers, and a gb costs}...

    That aside I personally find steam to be not "AS" uniform as other types of heat, invasive {it takes up valuable floor space and hinders some furniture placement}, more costly to run than some other types, OLD {old systems break, rads don't last forever}, noisy, ect ect ect I can go on and on, I just prefer almost anything else...

    Now in a big old house, with way too much space, huge areas to heat it can be great and look great too... And I am not trying to argue costs, since I know some guys on here love steam and make your livings with it, I have already been through this before, not interested in doing it again, all respect to guys like steam head, I am sure he can get your steam system to pure like a kitten and use half the energy of a mod con radiant system, but for me and my area, there are only a few properties I see worth saving steam..

    Last year I installed under 10 steam boilers vs at least 30 furnaces and 40+ boilers, this year I have already installed 9 steam boilers and have 2 others waiting for the weather to break, one is an HH member, we are delivering the boiler friday, 300K btu, 770ft of steam, he has a beautiful home, very large, very old, I would never think about selling him FHW or FWA, that house will always have steam....

    But anyway, I feel if steam was great and wonderful, it would still be getting installed and not disappearing... I am ripping out a steam system tomorrow, its a day care so they are doing it for safety reasons, little kids wobbling around HOT cast iron radiators can be dangerous, they are getting a 95% furnace with duct work, 2 zones simple trunk line and flex duct take offs, a day for demo and unit install and a day for metal, then its done like we were never there...

    That house is funny, I walked in and all the rads had colorful painted pipe insulation on them, they did it with the kids and painted all the foam... I wasn't even thinking about the difference in performance it would make until she said the system takes a long time to heat up, I still didn't catch on, my tech actually caught it. He walked over to the radiator and said, "did it get slower rite after you put on these bumpers?" she thought about it for a minute and said "yah, I think it did", lol, I didn't even think about that, that insulation actually made a difference, it struck me funny, that my helper with 1 year experience caught that in 5 minutes and I didn't even think about it, in my defense his head is much clearer than mine, lol....


    One more thing to touch on, steam being the best allergy system, I haven't put much thought into this, but steam heat is very dry IME, even with the steam vents venting that doesn't make up for the HUGE HOT cast iron blocks in the house... I see many many customers putting pans of water ontop of their rads to help, but its a dry heat.. Not as dry as a furnace with no humidity control, but pretty much dryer than any other system...

    I tend to tackle heat and IAQ in two different steps, since they are 2 different problems... First get heat, then figure out what to do for IAQ... I would have to look into it further but a statement like steam heat is great for asthma may not be accurate....

    I have a customer with severe breathing problems, I removed a bad furnace and water heater and I installed hydro airs with a couple 200 cfm HRV's and her doctor called me to ask me what the trick was? I was confused at first but he said her breathing conditions have improved greatly in a few months.... I don't know if it was the hrv, a/c, more moisture less moisture or what, but I know she could breath with out her oxygen tanks in her home and before she needed them almost constantly... Now I know she didnt have steam heat, that would have been perfect for this conversation and furnaces can be very dry, but I don't see steam as being much better...
    This post was edited by an admin on April 2, 2014 7:28 AM.
  • Jean-David Beyer Jean-David Beyer @ 5:48 PM
    Contact this user

    puts water back in the air so it's not dry.

    "For allergy reason this is the best system out there it puts water back in the air so it's not dry."

    I used to work in an extremely large building that was heated internally by two duct systems coming in, and a plenum for the return air. One duct had cold air (about 45F, IIRC) and the other had hot air (perhaps 90F), and each room had a pneumatic thermostat that operated a mixing box in the room. All around the outside of the building were the only windows (a "glass box" building) that had steam baseboard heating elements.

    To humidify the space in winter, they used steam from the main boilers. When the humidity was too low, they just shot steam from the boilers into some mixing boxes in the hot air line to raise the humidity. Nothing else would serve the moisture demand.

    I cannot imagine the steam that leaks from the vent valve on a steam radiator could do enough humidity recovery in any realistic situation. My grandparents had steam heat (converted to oil a little after WW-II), and every radiator had a water pot at one end and a thin chamber with a wick in it that ran between the elements of the radiators. My grandmother had to refill them every day. Their system must not have been knuckleheaded as  was silent except for a little hiss as the boiler started up. I remember when a brand new GE steam boiler was installed one summer to replace the old boiler.Theirs was one of these: http://www.heatinghelp.com/files/articles/1025/177.pdf I do not know which one, but it was a large three story house that had three fireplaces that were not much used.
  • Charlie from wmass Charlie from wmass @ 7:27 AM
    Contact this user

    Not to be rude Heat pro, but it will sound rude

    If people could fix steam, did the math out, and understand steam they would never remove steam. Your last paragraph highlights my point clearly.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.
    cell # 413-841-6726
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 7:38 AM
    Contact this user

    this is what I don't want to happen...

    I don't want to start an argument or even risk sounding rude...

    But your statement is true about almost any system, if people were good at it any system can be GREAT.... A modulating variable speed forced warm air furnace with an HRV, Nice filter system, and humidifier can be very comfortable and more uniform than anything you ever seen, do the math and returns correctly, install good equipment and it can be efficient, comfortable, ect.. everything you want in a heating system.... But people buy the cheapest furnace they can find, install water whips on them, a central return, a paper filter and call it a day...

    I have some steam systems out there that run great, don't cost a ton of money to heat {hard to gauge, they are all in old construction}, are quiet, NEVER break, and look awesome... I am not debating it can be done nice, BUT anything can be done nice, not to sound rude but if you don't know that.. where the heck are we going with this? Why don't we all run steam pipes through our basements {don't bang your head, I am 6' 5ish and have banged my head on my share of steam pipes {duct work too, actually I am always banging my head, maybe that has something to do with me not being "enlightened" with steam heat, lol I banged my head too much....

    No disrespect Charlie, I understand it can be done nice, and I would like to think I have done it rite for my career, its not that hard to get rite, I would rather design a steam system than a hrydronic air system any day, BUT, you can not argue its going away, there are better options out there and there are good reasons behind it, YOU CAN NOT JUST THINK - "If you don't like steam, you must not be smart enough to get it rite" ?????


    And like I said, I know this site is PRO STEAM, I get that, I hope I can still have an opinion, I personally would NOT install steam heat in my home... I also HAVE NOT EVER seen it installed in a new home, not in my entire life!!!! I am not old enough to have ever seen a new steam heating system, I apologize for that, but not many people ride horses to work anymore either, we don't use drum brakes in passenger vehicles, we don't use single pane glass in our windows, we don't bring muzzle loaders to war, we don't use bias ply tires, ect ect ect, a lot of things have been improved, steam heat is one of them, I know people still listen to vinyl records, and swear they sound better, if they do to them, god bless them, I can not stand the distortion...



    I have to apologize to the OP, I am sorry, I was just giving my opinion, I hope that is what you came to the site for, not to just hear one point of view but many....
    You are doing a renovation, I have done this many times, if this house is for resale? Do it to fit the buyer, not a bunch of heating contractors, lol.... the bulk of my income has come from flipping houses, buying cheap, rehabbing, and selling with profits that resemble some peoples annual income, I own an hvac company but like I said the bulk of my income has come from real estate... Build what people want to buy...

    If this is for yourself, then build what you want, weigh the options of the greater space and fuel savings to what ever the positives of steam are? There are enough guys on here to let you know what they are, I personally can't think of many besides..
    less initial cost
    aesthetics {if its a nice system} this could also be a negative if you don't like the look again its preference...

    so if the steam guys can enlighten us on all of the great positives, so far I heard IAQ as a positive I have to disagree with that I think steam is a dry heat..

    I also think comfort could be a positive except I find almost any other type to be more uniform

    Anything else?

    I look around my home, its 4300 sq feet with furniture everywhere, I could not imagine or picture where I would get away with putting all the steam rads it would take to heat it, I have 3 parlors and I with my floor plan I couldn't get radiators on more than 2 walls between all 3 parlors!!! Now if I had to sure, we could pull a couch off the wall, move some stuff around and stagger some furniture, but the rads would all be blocked, the rooms would feel smaller, ect...

    I do have a formal parlor that I almost installed a single antique radiator in when we were doing the build, I have a gorgeous radiator I saved from years ago, its like brand new, and I was going to convert it to fhw and use it in my formal parlor, but I decided against it.. It would fit wonderfully though... heres half of it http://i998.photobucket.com/albums/af107/turbobike1/IMAG0336_zps0a2477be.jpg I have new/old style furniture, and an original wurlitzer juke from the 40's in there with an old bar and some of my guitar collection... The room is over 400 sq feet with 20ft + ceilings and the reason I decided not to put the radiator was because I only had one, if I had 2 I would have done one on each side of the bay window and it would have looked great, but no such luck...
    This post was edited by an admin on April 2, 2014 8:10 AM.
  • Bob Bona Bob Bona @ 8:18 AM
    Contact this user

    major remodel

    I would scrap the steam in a heartbeat. Ability to relocate mechanicals, eliminate the chimney, flexibility in zoning, space gained with removal of steam piping, environmental improvements with asbestos abatement, a wide range of equipment and heat emitter choices , the elimination of a open heating system that is constantly corroding and clogging return piping from within itself, the reduced babysitting of not having to maintain water levels manually, blow downs on a weekly basis or more...

    Go for it.
    This post was edited by an admin on April 2, 2014 8:28 AM.
  • JStar JStar @ 8:49 AM
    Contact this user

    Steam

    Don't ask us contractors. We have our favorite systems, and our own agendas. Ask the homeowners who have converted from steam to something else. They'll tell you the real story. Higher fuel bills and less comfort. It would be foolish to remove the steam system.
    - Joe Starosielec
    732-494-4357
    j.star@thatcherhvac.com
    http://thatcherhvac
    http://facebook.com/thatcherhvac


    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.

    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
    Consultation anywhere.
    (Formerly "ecuacool")
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 9:36 AM
    Contact this user

    WOW

    I am king of the follow up, we do our first annual service for free, we offer a free energy audit, and i stay on contact with my customers, I NEVER not once had a customer complain about switching from steam... I have had them complain about the holes left in the floor {I have a sub contractor patch holes if the customer wants for the additional cost, some do some don't}, I have had them complain about the electric bill { furnaces will use more electricity} but never about comfort or fuel bills....
  • JStar JStar @ 5:55 AM
    Contact this user

    Steam

    I wonder what they would say if they were talking to somebody else; somebody who didn't install the system. If they've enjoyed your service over the years, they may not want to say anything negative about the work. A lack of complaints is not the same as an approval. Then again, they may be telling the truth. Maybe steam isn't the best system for everyone. It's just that when I hear the same opinion from every single one of my customers, it becomes easier to believe that it is. Especially the ones who want to switch BACK to steam after it was ripped out.
    - Joe Starosielec
    732-494-4357
    j.star@thatcherhvac.com
    http://thatcherhvac
    http://facebook.com/thatcherhvac


    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.

    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
    Consultation anywhere.
    (Formerly "ecuacool")
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 7:39 PM
    Contact this user

    I don't think the customer would hold their tongue

    not after they paid for the system, and it wouldn't hurt my feelings, I think and believe I do the best I can for my customers, otherwise- If I thought I could do better and didn't? then I would be scum, I sleep very well at night....

    I guess we can agree to disagree on steams future, all I can say is, if I tried to just work on steam and install steam I would be out of business in short order.. Its just not out here like it used to be...
    It scares people, whether they are mislead, "stupit", or anything else the fact of the matter is- Steam is leaving the building and in the not so near future it will be "steam has left the building"... We can all shed a tear and the crows will morn for her, but mother steam will some day be no more. The sad part is oil is following her out the door, a lot of the steam systems I remove are oil fired and in the past 3 years I have taken out more oil than I ever installed...

    Change isn't all bad, while I think we are rushing the mod/con idea and I like a ci boiler for its reliability, longevity, easy service, and parts availability, some day they will catch on and all the mod cons will come with a honeywell control and all off the shelf parts and be all that anyone installs..
    Our boilers will be mounted in the second floor laundry room or in the kitchen, service will be as easy and pushing in a sliding release control and plugging in a new one, it will text message the tech when its broken with a part number and the tech will text message the machine back with his estimated arrival time and job quote, the home owner will see the message on the boiler screen and hit "ok" with a credit card number and that will be it...
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 3:53 PM
    Contact this user

    Our business volume

    is something like 70% steam, on average. As others will attest, there is more than enough work for a steam-oriented contractor who knows what he or she is doing.

    Every so often we get someone who wants to know why we even deal with steam at all on this site. Here's one where Dan gives a real good answer. This came from the previous version of the Wall, so the postings are scrambled and some of the names didn't line up properly. The OP called himself "Legend of the Past", and unless he is now posting under a different name, I believe he only participated in this thread:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/123650/Dan-Its-Time-To-Look-To-The-Future
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 9:36 AM
    Contact this user

    its going to take me a week to read that topic

    I am not saying that we shouldn't talk about steam, and while my business is the opposite as yours something like 20% steam.. ALthough this year seems to be a lot of steam repair and new steam boilers, very odd actually, I am not sure if it has anything to do with the hard winter we had, but I have a bunch of steam scheduled...

    I install and repair steam, but for the most part I try to change it to something different when it makes sense... Some times it does sometimes it doesn't, this is where I and my customers hope I have the common sense to know the difference...
  • Bob Bona Bob Bona @ 1:03 PM
    Contact this user

    pretty much the

    Same here in SW CT. We do a ton of gut remodels, additions, tear downs, house lifts...major stuff. That's when the steam goes, if it existed.
  • modconwannabe modconwannabe @ 4:56 PM
    Contact this user

    steam?

    I thought I was! ;)
    I see your point and I really was hoping to get real world numbers and experiences, not just opinions, but I think I'm unable to give numbers enough to make the calculations.

    Much of my preference is based on ROI and I prefer to have a unit that is reliable, cost-saving per month and low maintenance. I simply have no idea what to expect in terms of monthly costs and thus can't calculate ROI.
  • KC_Jones KC_Jones @ 10:33 AM
    Contact this user

    Just a homeowner

    And even as a homeowner we have our preferences.  When I bought my house I really didn't have an opinion on this topic, I had just moved out of my parents house into my first home (still live there).  Anyway now that I have lived with steam for 12 years I would never live without some kind of hydronic heating.  I don't have any crazy obsession with steam other than the cool factor of the rads (yes I think they are super cool).  I grew up with forced hot air and the only positive I can think of is it had air conditioning.  Other than that it is horrible in my opinion.  In the area I live it's pretty much the king since the 50's or so.  Why?  because it's cheap to install.  I haven't met anybody who has any obsession with any heating system.  Here is the only question they ask, will my house be warm in winter?  That's it.  Every single person I know just wants what is cheap.  Forced air with A/C is cheap so they get it.  Homeowners don't realize or for the most part care about different levels of comfort because basically they have absolutely no idea anything can be different.  In addition to this most people don't factor in equipment life.  In the area I live (south central PA/Northern MD) heat pumps rule.  They are cheap and efficient, but they work their a$$ off in winter so equipment life is usually short.  People don't seem to care about that.  Oh that's just the way it is.  In Dan's steam heat book he says many times "oh it's just steam that's the way it is".  Well everyone I know feels the same about any heating system.  Scorched air and static shock?  Personally I would rather be warm and not electrified.  My parents have resorted to putting 2 stand alone humidifiers in their house because of that.  They tried the whole house humidifier, that lasted a month.  Now I am not blasting anybody just stating a simple opinion of a homeowner and my experiences.  I will never own a home unless it has hydronics of some kind I think it's just much better heat overall.  I am sure some of the things I said some contractors will say it doesn't have to be that way.  Well you could be right I don't know because I have never experienced it any other way.  To me the bottom line is do what you want or what you think is correct, but get ALL the facts first.  Look at cost AND ROI!  If the ROI to convert to FHW is 40-50 years is it really worth it?  Will you still be in the house?  Will the system last that long?  Don't talk to a contractor that has a favorite system even the most honest will give a slightly skewed opinion (no offense intended guys).  Talk to neighbors peers heck even a real estate agent if resale value is of concern.  Like I said just a homeowner relaying my experiences.  I will restate.  To me the bottom line is, what is going to make you happy as a homeowner?
    Just another homeowner trying to find his way through.
  • Snowmelt Snowmelt @ 11:02 AM
    Contact this user

    Kc

    I'm both a homeowner and a heating guy.
    You pretty much hit the nail of head

    Forced hot air is cheap install
    Static
    You forgot to mention when it's on it's heating 2 secounds after the fan shuts off it starts to get cool while steam or hydronic still has heat in rads or b.b that gives off heat.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 12:45 PM
    Contact this user

    I don't make the rules here

    and neither does anyone else in this thread. That's Dan's job. But for those who say they don't want to start another argument or debate, it might be better if they simply avoid posting in threads where that is likely to happen.

    Of course if this thread gets too nasty, Dan will likely just pull it like he did last time. That, again, is up to him.

    Just sayin'.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • ced48 ced48 @ 1:39 PM
    Contact this user

    Back to the Original Question-

    I just converted a small house from oil to a propane fired modcon. I am using less propane than I was oil, and thats after this colder than normal winter. So if you factor in the price of propane, $2.75 vs oil, $4-, my savings are fantastic, somewhere around 40%-I was hoping to break even, and be happy with the boiler moved out of a basement which super storm "Sandy" filed with four feet of water. Pleasant surprise-
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:16 PM
    Contact this user

    That oil boiler must have been in bad shape

    when I use this online calculator:

    http://nepacrossroads.com/fuel-comparison-calculator.php

    and plug in your costs per gallon and use 85% efficiency for the oil-fired unit and 90% for the mod-con (since there have been issues with some mod-con's ratings) the operating costs come out as $33.93 per million BTU for the oil unit and $33.46 for the mod-con.

    I'm not questioning your figures, just saying there was probably more to this story than just switching fuels.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • ced48 ced48 @ 10:09 AM
    Contact this user

    Probably Not

    running at 85% on the old boiler, closer to 80-Boiler was 85,000 BTUs net, I only need 28,000-My case is fairly typical, most in place boilers are way oversized. My savings are real, and maybe understated-Also, I'm saving huge amounts on DHW, switched to a 20 gallon tank, plenty of water, recovers 10 degrees in about 8 minutes-
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 3:42 PM
    Contact this user

    Oversizing will waste a lot of fuel

    which would explain at least another part of the savings. Also the indirect tank is one of the more efficient ways to handle DHW- if the old boiler had a tankless coil, it was wasting a lot. 
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:16 PM
    Contact this user

    double post

    how'd that happen?
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
    This post was edited by an admin on April 2, 2014 10:17 PM.
  • NAR NAR @ 8:38 PM
    Contact this user

    Just another homeowner...

    I currently have steam in my home. We are doing a major Reno, and the steam is going out, radiant floors, ceilings, walls are coming in. You cannot kill these steam systems, but the noise, the leaks, radiator valves getting finicky with no heat out of the radiators. My wife said, if we do nothing else, I want that steam gone. In the end, we will have comfort, with no noise ( I have some radiant already from a previous addition), even temps, etc.

    I will also throw in, an HH wallie on here tried to get me to stay with steam. Problem was, no follow up....in 25 years there won't be many steam heads around to fix these things as most of them are over 50 ( like me) . In the end, you need to look at one you want your house to be. It does not always have to have a payback. Other factors give 'value'. Just my 2 cents
    This post was edited by an admin on April 2, 2014 9:40 PM.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:32 PM
    Contact this user

    Was it this thread?

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/146999/Heat-for-new-Addition#p1306585

    If so, that was in September of last year. What probably happened is we actually had a real winter this time, and any heating contractor who is any good was swamped with no-heat calls, dead boilers etc. etc. etc. just like we were. If you had had a no-heat situation, you would not have been happy if you had to wait for service. Most people are like that.

    There are plenty of younger guys who know steam, several of whom are on this board. I'm sure they'll keep it going, especially when we get some efficiency improvements for these systems, beyond what we already have.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • JStar JStar @ 6:07 AM
    Contact this user

    Steam

    It's hard to reply to every thread here during the winter, as Steamhead has said. Sometimes, we can go weeks without spending much time here. Since I was in the original thread, I'm assuming that the comment was made about me.

    Feel free to call or email me any time. I'm available 24 hours a day for emergencies, and generally open to a phone call at any time of day.

    If you really want to rip the steam out, let me come by and take the radiators. They don't belong in a junkyard. We'll donate them to a proper steam system.
    - Joe Starosielec
    732-494-4357
    j.star@thatcherhvac.com
    http://thatcherhvac
    http://facebook.com/thatcherhvac


    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.

    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
    Consultation anywhere.
    (Formerly "ecuacool")
  • KC_Jones KC_Jones @ 9:47 PM
    Contact this user

    Just wanted to add

    To me it's mainly about ROI (and I won't lie I do like steam).  I have an in-law that is a plumber and I got a rough idea from him what it would cost to do a conversion to forced hot water (baseboard new piping boiler etc.).  I took the number he gave me and amortized it and realized I would never get that money back.  My fuel savings would have to exceed what I am currently paying so to me it just doesn't make sense.  Maybe some people get better deals on installs then is available in my area I honestly don't know.  I just know in my house in my area the new equipment will wear out before it pays itself back which amounts to zero return on investment.  And I might add I didn't even count maintenance, possible part failure of more complex system or any of that, just the initial cost.  Again it's all about personal choice.  If you want it do it.  There are plenty of things I spend money on that I don't need just want.  If you want something else do it, don't try and justify some miracle fuel savings or anything like that.
    Just another homeowner trying to find his way through.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 10:23 PM
    Contact this user

    Unfortunately

    we will always have people who will use alleged fuel savings to justify a lot of unnecessary work. Sure, sometimes all that work does result in savings, but there are often less complicated, less expensive ways to do the same thing.

    Here's one example, which speaks for itself:

    http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/145002/Actual-savings-over-steam-heating
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • KC_Jones KC_Jones @ 11:31 PM
    Contact this user

    I have read that one before

    I agree steamhead a majority of consumers can get bewildered by a good salesman.  I have seen plenty get sucked in by many different things.  I have a close friend who had a very expensive water treatment system installed in his house.  We are on city water.  He didn't need what they sold him, but convinced him he needed it and would have all these advantages blah blah.  I am not critical to hurt or argue with people, but I know what is right for me and I will voice that if asked.  One thing I love about this website is the free exchange of opinions and advice.  We can voice our opinions on a topic without ridicule most of the time...lol.  
    Just another homeowner trying to find his way through.
  • NAR NAR @ 9:50 AM
    Contact this user

    my thpughts...

    JStar, yes, it was your company, not you, but someone in your organization that came to my house.  I sympathize with you guys with the bear of a winter we had.  My only beef with all contractors, and I have dealt with many, is if a customer emails/calls/whatever new fangled communication they use, just get back to them.  I will respect you more if I get a response that you are busy, or even too busy to help me out.  I had no emergency, so no big deal. 
    In terms of ROI, the only way I can justify going radiant is installing the tubing etc myself, otherwise, through the stratosphere pricewise.
  • JStar JStar @ 10:51 AM
    Contact this user

    NAR

    I messaged you privately about this. My BIGGEST pet peeve is a lack of communication and response. I'm guilty of it myself sometimes, but there's no excuse for completely breaking communication like that.
    - Joe Starosielec
    732-494-4357
    j.star@thatcherhvac.com
    http://thatcherhvac
    http://facebook.com/thatcherhvac


    Guaranteed performance. Guaranteed energy savings.

    Serving all of NJ, NYC, Southern NY State, and eastern PA.
    Consultation anywhere.
    (Formerly "ecuacool")
  • ChrisJ ChrisJ @ 11:51 AM
    Contact this user

    Steam vs modern forced hot air

    I'm a homeowner not a pro but my opinion is the house has more of an effect on fuel usage than the type of system.
    I live in a 2 story 1700sqft house built sometime in the 1860s with very little insulation and almost all original windows.  My heating system is a well tuned single pipe steam system with a 82.9% WM atmospheric boiler.
    Being I feel the home is very important it would only be fair to compare a similar home with a different system.  Our next door neighbor lives in a house not only built around the same time, but I believe it was built by the same family.  Theirs is slightly smaller and has all newer windows and a recently installed forced hot air system.

    Every month consistently I spend less money on natural gas than they do with the same set temperatures.  The first time I learned this was February 2013 when we were talking and I told him I spent $290 on gas for the previous month and he said he spent $10 more.  This continues to happen only the gap is even wider due to tweaking and fine tuning I've been doing.  I use TRVs to pull heat from rooms that don't need it, things are perfectly balanced and my piping is for the most part insulated.

    Is forced hot air, or forced hot water more efficient then steam?  Not necessarily and even if it was it's not enough to matter in my book.  If you have money to burn use it tightening your home up, insulating and convert your steam over to natural gas.  That will save you money.

    Personally if we ever move, it will have to be to another house with a steam system.  I will never deal with hot water and its pain in the butt of refilling and  bleeding after doing any work to it and forget forced hot air.  I consider my steam system to be a work of art that will compete with any system out there in regards to comfort and efficiency.
    Weil-McLain EG-45 connected to 392sqft of radiation via two 2" risers into a 3" drop header and 2" equalizer. Using Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment to greatly reduce corrosion in the boiler.

    Steam system pictures updated 6/5/14.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/thetube0a3/Boiler?authkey=Gv1sRgCImUxIqv9436MQ#
  • Look at your electric bills too.......

    typical gas forced air uses about $30.00 per month for electricity to run that giant blower motor, draft fan and all the electronics.  Steam only needs to open the gas valve and maybe run a small amount of electronics.    I believe, if my numbers are correct, that forced air uses about 80 times more electricity that an typical steam boiler.  There's plenty of research data out there (Department of Energy and other independent testing) that shows the overall system efficiency of a typical new  single family home forced air system is about 55% to 65%.  Steam appears to be more in the 70 to 75% range, probably due to much lower distribution losses and dramatically lower effect on air leakage of the structure when the system is in operation.  There's many reasons forced air is almost non existent on the world wide market and this is one of them.
    Modcon gas also uses many times more electricity than steam, but probably use less gas than a typical steam boiler due to lower system losses ( smaller pipes and lower temperatures) and air leakage rates of the structure may be even lower than steam.  However, you have a whole lot more to go wrong, and if you are in a high density area, can be difficult to legally and safely vent the exhaust.  High efficiency appliance are all but illegal for installation in most areas of Chicago.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)
    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert


    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • SWEI SWEI @ 9:38 AM
    Contact this user

    High efficiency appliances

    in high density neighborhoods could certainly present challenges.  What makes them truly infeasible?
  • Sidewall venting.....

    is the problem. The general restrictions include not being closer that 10 feet to the lot line, within 7 feet of any window or other opening, no under porches, no outdoor vent piping other than the couple feet for the termination.  Once you start adding the cost of installing chase ways, which must allow inspection of the vent piping, through other owners units (condos) , the fire stops between units,etc,  The cost starts growing rapidly.  There is also the issue of fire separations between units, so ductwork can't be run in ceilings or down in the basement, unless the space is separated with fireproofing.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)
    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert


    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • Bob Bona Bob Bona @ 8:53 PM
    Contact this user

    direct vent

    Appliance terms can be within 1 foot horizontally of a window or 7 feet from lot line is how I readthe Code.
  • SWEI SWEI @ 12:26 AM
    Contact this user

    Pressure zone restrictions

    on the Giannoni HXes made this really difficult.

    I have had a lot less trouble with newer designs that allow us to intake from the sidewall and vent out the chimney/roof (even it it's 70 feet up.)
  • heatpro02920 heatpro02920 @ 1:47 AM
    Contact this user

    I have never had a property

    that I couldn't figure a way to vent.. Sure its not as easy as plugging into an existing chimney but nothing is impossible... Use your head and get er' done... I hear a lot of guys say, "how would you vent a tankless and a mod con"? Its easy, I have done it many many times, no complaints and the jobs still made money...
  • Bob Bona Bob Bona @ 7:27 AM
    Contact this user

    I have had

    0 problems with sidewall concentrics as in the flat plate style. Otherwise it's roof concentric or chimney as a chase for pp and intake on sidewall. But sidewall is first choice for access.
    This post was edited by an admin on April 8, 2014 7:29 AM.
  • gennady gennady @ 2:13 PM
    Contact this user

    Steam vs hydronic

    If you have a steam system, you can have comfort and savings comparable to mod con hydronic. It is all about contractor not an equipment. Unqualified contractor will ruin any type of system, good contractor will make any system run well.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
    www.AbsoluteMechanicalCoInc.com
  •  
Post a Reply to this Thread