advice on propane heater

Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:50 pm

I have a geothermal heating system that is great, and have for many years used n air tight wood stove for supplemental heat in extremely cold weather, or backup in case of electric or furnace failure. Due to back problems I can not cut my own wood, and can foresee in the future my not being able to handle wood so I am planning to change over to a propane back up in the next few years. I was wondering as to what any of you who used propane for a backup suggest. Some people like the ventless, and some do not. What are your thoughts/suggestions?

Re: advice on propane heater

Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:27 pm

Mr. John,

I have gas logs in our fireplace and that is basically all we ever use. We have a heat pump and it has only been on a couple of times in the last 15 years.
I have an electric oil heater in my office to keep my feet warm on the colder days.

We really like ours.

It is ventless

Re: advice on propane heater

Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:17 am

John wrote:
Some people like the ventless, and some do not. What are your thoughts/suggestions?

As a suggestion, talk to the fire department about the safety of the vent less in your house. If you have an “air tight” house the oxygen will deplete very fast and even the built in safety precautions/alarms won’t help.

Re: advice on propane heater

Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:19 am

Running ventless gas heat sources create a lot of humidity (think mold issues). That makes them good for occasional use. If planning to use it for supplemental heating, you probably want to consider using a vented gas heat source that does not require electricity to run.

Propane is a very clean burning heat source that is relatively inexpensive. Getting the propane to your location may be your bigger concern. Hauling around 100 pound propane bottles might not be very practical. Smaller bottles just don't run your heater very long when heating your house. Most propane delivery companies will not deliver small quantities (less than 200 gallons). Might want to call some propane delivery companies and see what it would take to rent or buy a propane tank (pig).

Re: advice on propane heater

Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:24 am

I too have propane ventless gas fireplace logs that supplement my corn furnace, it works very well. The corn furnace runs at a steady output and the logs will turn on & off to fine tune the temp. Of course, on a day like today (-15) the propane furnace gets into the act as well. I agree with Jack, but my house has enough air leakage that it's never been a problem. My only issue with the gas logs is that every once in a while we get an odor from them, I think it comes from impurities in the propane.

Re: advice on propane heater

Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:44 am

outdoors4evr wrote:Propane is a very clean burning heat source that is relatively inexpensive. .



Curious: What are you all paying for propane, delivered? It's very popular for a heat source but with what petroleum prices have done over the last several years, I don't think it's any more economical that electric. Our heating bill runs between $250 and $300 a month---we are in an older house with a gas pack. It's nice because when you bump the thermostat you get an instant warm-up, but a $5-600 gas bill every 50-60 days in the wintertime is tough.

John back to your original question, gas logs are real popular here for a backup heat source. Everyone that has them really likes them. That said when we get moved into our new place I never intend to give those bloodsuckers at the gas co. another dime of my money unless I'm buying gas for the grill!

Al

Re: advice on propane heater

Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:58 am

Gary Dotson wrote:....that supplement my corn furnace…

Gary, can you tell more about this. I have a friend that uses a wood pellet stove that he says it will burn corn. He’s telling me a 40# bag of pine pellets depending on the setting and stove burning all the time will burn 10-24 hrs.($3.89 per bag) The stove heats like wood.

I’m like John…thinking of the future and soon moving back to the Midwest, thinking about not being able to do things like I did before…..but I love that wood heat…nothing like it.

Re: advice on propane heater

Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:23 am

Prices vary by the region. Fuel sources also vary by the region.
Example: Fuel oil is very popular in the northeast and is cheaper than propane in that area. In other areas, coal may be cheaper.

There are lots of websites dedicated to heating fuel prices. Most people compare price per BTU (Brittish Thermal Unit). This site has some spreadsheets to help compare the costs in your area. The formulas in the spreadsheets allow you to enter the costs for your area and do some comparisons.
http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=8&t=5
There are also a lot of links for your area or state on the prices tab of the spreadsheets that show historical costs per heating fuel type.
Last edited by outdoors4evr on Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: advice on propane heater

Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:32 am

I have not checked on the price of propane lately, but considering I normally only burn around 2 ranks (not cords) of wood per year, I figure a 250 gallon tank of propane will last me around 2 years or so and I can get it filled during the summer when prices or low. Humidity is something I had not thought about, and my house is pretty tight with my wife and daughter both having mold allergies I run a dehumidifier in the basement.

Re: advice on propane heater

Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:48 am

Son heats primarily with wood and has a high efficiency propane furnace for back up. Propane furnace thermostat set on 65 degrees. System keeps the house comfortable. A fill, 400 gallons, will last 2 years. Son thinks a good portion of the propane is used by the hot water heater.

Since your house has heating and cooling duct work and a chimney for the wood stove, consider installing propane fueled furnace to supplement your ground source system. Try to retain the wood furnace.

Curious: What are you all paying for propane, delivered?
Propane is currently selling for $4- to $5- a gallon, per news sources.

Last summer I contracted and paid for my estimated winter propane usage at $1.62 a gallon. Also had the propane tank filled in summer when prices are typically lower. Some heating seasons the contract saves me money. Other heating seasons, it would have been cheaper not to contract.

Edit: 8-29-13, summer fill price was $1.52 per gallon. Tax and delivery charge included.

Another edit: $4.20 a gallon, today, central Missouri, per tank truck driver.

Re: advice on propane heater

Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:04 pm

Another thought.

You will just have to study your options. But suggest leaving in the wood furnace. Down the line someone else will own the property. The wood furnace was a very good selling point prior to son's purchase.

Re: advice on propane heater

Wed Jan 29, 2014 5:30 am

Eugene stated:Edit: 8-29-13, summer fill price was $1.52 per gallon. Tax and delivery charge included.
Another edit: $4.20 a gallon, today, central Missouri, per tank truck driver.

Super A stated:.....
those bloodsuckers at the gas co. another dime of my money.....


With that information I would say that comment is their good point.

Re: advice on propane heater

Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:42 am

Jack, a little more on the corn burner: I've been burning corn, in both my house and my shop for 7 - 8 years. I really like it, but it's not for everyone, you got to be a tinkerer. The one in my house (installed in the basement) doesn't require too much attention, I only run it at medium, or less output so I can ignore it for 12 hrs. at a time. Every 12 hrs. I remove the clinker from the fire box, which takes only a minute or so and I fill the corn hopper once a day. I buy corn from a local farmer, 100bu. gravity wagon, a couple times per season, last load was $4.02 per bushel. For the house, I average just over 1 bushel per day, a little less in my shop. Corn price is favorable for heating this year, last year was not! I almost gave up on the corn last year and the year before, but fortunately for me it came back to earth. There's a lot more to tell about corn burning, but I didn't mean to hijack John's thread doing it. More questions just ask.

Re: advice on propane heater

Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:53 pm

Eugene wrote:Another thought.

You will just have to study your options. But suggest leaving in the wood furnace. Down the line someone else will own the property. The wood furnace was a very good selling point prior to son's purchase.
Not a wood furnace, just a wood stove. and if I quit using it, I will just move it to a corner for storage.

Re: advice on propane heater

Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:59 pm

Gary Dotson wrote:Jack, a little more on the corn burner: I've been burning corn, in both my house and my shop for 7 - 8 years. I really like it, but it's not for everyone, you got to be a tinkerer. The one in my house (installed in the basement) doesn't require too much attention, I only run it at medium, or less output so I can ignore it for 12 hrs. at a time. Every 12 hrs. I remove the clinker from the fire box, which takes only a minute or so and I fill the corn hopper once a day. I buy corn from a local farmer, 100bu. gravity wagon, a couple times per season, last load was $4.02 per bushel. For the house, I average just over 1 bushel per day, a little less in my shop. Corn price is favorable for heating this year, last year was not! I almost gave up on the corn last year and the year before, but fortunately for me it came back to earth. There's a lot more to tell about corn burning, but I didn't mean to hijack John's thread doing it. More questions just ask.



Gary,
Now that we have hi-jacked this tread, tell me more about heating your shop with the corn. How big is the area and how big is the corn unit? I am not familiar with these at all, but am very curious about them. Is there any clean up or does it burn completely. Write me a novel. :lol: :lol:

Would also like to discuss it with you at DSCF if possible.