Convert Oil Furnace to Propane: 4 Reasons To Consider

a propane furnace at home installed

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Have you been wanting to convert oil furnace to propane? Using heating oil is one of the oldest methods of heating homes. That is why most old homes, especially in rural areas, are mainly powered by oil-heated furnaces. 

Unfortunately, Oil furnaces worked well in the past when users had fewer heating options than today. Nowadays, homeowners prefer modern furnaces whose benefits far outweigh what heating oil furnaces can offer. One of the most popular is the propane furnaces.

Why do users choose propane over oil furnaces? Propane-powered performs better on so many levels. So, if you are considering installing a propane furnace, you are headed in the right direction. Keep reading to learn why making that switch is one of the best decisions you can make today.

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Why Make the Switch?

Can an oil furnace be converted to propane? The short answer is yes. As earlier mentioned, the performance of propane furnaces is a cut above its peers – like natural gas or oil heat – on many factors. As such, you do not have to look far and wide to find reasons for switching from oil to propane heat. Below is a detailed discussion of four of the best benefits of converting oil furnace to propane.

Reduces Heating Costs

Propane is way cheaper than heating oil and natural gas in many ways. First, the cost is lower on a per-gallon basis. In fact, according to market research, this difference can be as much as double that of propane. 

And the icing on the cake is that you do not have to purchase the entire installation equipment in oil to propane conversion. Most propane companies offer propane tank leasing arrangements as a marketing method to boost sales and improve consumer loyalty. Considering the purchase of a propane tank to replace an oil tank can set you back thousands of dollars, it is a significant savings in the investment.

Another thing to consider regarding cost is the furnace efficiency. Propane is more efficient than heating oil. Of course, the energy output of fuel oil is higher at 138,500 BTUs per gallon than the 91452 BTU output of propane. 

However, that is only half the story. Propane furnaces are generally more efficient than oil ones. Therefore, even though propane has lower BTU output,  propane furnaces have a higher conversion rate. That means you use less fuel and reduce operation costs.

Maintenance Can Be Handled by Your Propane Provider

Another attractive thing about switching from oil to propane heat is maintenance. Maintenance is often part of the propane tank leasing contract – at least it is if you choose the right propane provider. Consequently, if you choose the route of renting the propane tank, you only need to pay the regular renting fees and leave the hassles of routine maintenance to the provider’s staff. 

This allows you peace of mind to enjoy the uninterrupted ambiance of the furnace and also gain extra time for attending to other chores. That is, in addition to avoiding the hassles and cost of looking for a certified professional to handle the maintenance.

However, when it comes to oil furnace to propane conversion, maintenance is mainly the role of the users. Oil furnaces are often inefficient setups. For this furnace type, expect to handle messy oil leakages, soots, etc. 

In addition, clogged air filters, damaged motor belts, thermostats, blowers, and nozzles require regular repairs and replacement. Ultimately, expect a higher maintenance cost, averaging almost twice that of a propane furnace.  

On the other hand, propane is a clean-burning energy. No extensive accumulation of soot that may require regular clean-up. Regarding leakages, it is true just like oil furnaces, propane furnaces can also leak. If you need more guidance on propane safety head over to our piece or learn to recognize the propane smell the very moment the leak occurs.

However, unlike the heating oil, propane dissipates faster, leaving only a smell of its leakage. That means no messy slurry to deal with. So, propane maintenance cost is hands down lower than that of fuel oil furnaces for home heating.

Reliability

In general, propane furnaces are more reliable than oil types. One reason for this is the loop-less fuel delivery mechanism that makes them most dependable.

Add this to the fact that propane gas is one of the most versatile fuels for powering homes. Once you install propane systems, you can diversify usage to appliances other than furnaces. Propane powers stoves, ovens, lawnmowers, and dryers, among others. 

In comparison, the heating oil isn’t versatile and reliable as it is mainly for heating purposes.

Related to reliability is the use of space. Oil furnaces need dedicated space for chimneys to cater to the combustion requirements of the oil. These chimneys occupy a large part of your house that requires planning. For smaller house owners, an oil furnace might not be a reliable solution to suit their heating needs.

Concerning the environment, propane is among the greenest gases recommended by most environmental, health, and energy agencies and statutes. That includes the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy. 

It burns clean, releasing less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Consequently, in taking the oil to propane conversion you rely on an environmentally safe gas to power your furnaces. 

On the contrary, heating oil is heavily laden with greenhouse gases, for example, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Both of these are top contributors to environmental pollution.

Increases Home Value

Consider two home heating applications: one with an oil furnace and another with a propane one. Which would you opt for? If you are like most people, you would go for the house with a propane furnace. The truth is the value of a home is dependent on several other factors. However, it is undeniable that the kind of energy installation in place is a critical consideration. 

The merits of propane gas as a clean, efficient fuel, and reliable fuel chalk substantial marks on the property with a propane furnace. Additionally, propane furnaces are a more modern heating system than oil furnaces. The point is a home with a newly installed furnace is likely in tip-top condition.

Conversely, the oil heating system is considered an old, inefficient technology. This increases the perception that the property with heating oil potentially also has other issues. Dilapidated piping, blowers, and other fittings could be associated with old inefficient oil furnaces.

Another crucial factor in oil furnace to propane conversion is the issue of aesthetics. When it comes to buyers’ choice of property, having a well-landscaped property is a factor in the improvement of the value of the home. 

And that is where the type of heating system can be crucial. An installed propane tank and propane heating on the property can add a curb appeal to the home.

Moreover, some homeowners paint propane boilers creatively to match their landscaping needs. It is not uncommon for users to decorate their propane tanks to look like a large watermelon, a lardy bird, or any other fancy item. And that is great as long as these are legally acceptable propane tank colors.

In a nutshell, property value is a mix of practical and psychological perceptions. Therefore, the value of propane gas systems, including the furnace and curb appeal, can move the property value needle.

How To Switch to Propane Equipment?

propane tank
Brass Valve closed on a propane tank

Embarking on a transition from traditional oil heating to the efficiency and environmental benefits of propane heating begins with a comprehensive site visit and estimation. Certified propane providers initiate this process by evaluating your current heating system, elucidating the advantages of propane, and determining the ideal furnace and hot water tank tailored to your requirements.

Upon your approval of the estimate, the transformation unfolds with the removal of the existing oil, oil tank, and outdated equipment like heat pump, or oil boilers. Professionals seamlessly manage the conversion, ensuring a swift and hassle-free experience. Although you’re the one who has to evaluate whether the process is cost-effective for your home heating.

The integration of a propane heating system involves the installation of a propane tank instead of an oil tank and putting in a gas stove, propane boiler, propane dryer, etc. Rigorous inspections guarantee a secure connection, giving you peace of mind as your furnace and appliances become ready for use. Foregoing the need for coordinating your initial tank fill, any good propane supplier handles the logistics on your behalf.

With the upgraded, energy-efficient furnace or boiler now in place, your existing ductwork and electrical system seamlessly accommodate the new equipment. Gas lines extend to propane-compatible appliances such as water heater, range, dishwasher, and laundry appliance. All necessary arrangements, including utility coordination and permits, are expertly managed by our certified partners, alleviating any additional burdens.

Is a Propane Furnace More Efficient Than an Oil Furnace?

The efficiency of home heating is one of the fundamental factors to consider in switching from oil to propane heat. Is the propane furnace better in terms of energy conversion? We will look at their AFUE rating to know which of the two types is most efficient. 

If you heard it for the first time, AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. It is the standard unit of measurement of furnaces and boilers’ efficiency in producing heat. You can view it as what miles per gallon or MPG is to the automobiles. It is shown in percentages, where the higher the rating, the more efficient the furnace is.

So, how do the AFUEs of both furnaces compare? A typical oil furnace has an AFUE rating of 60%-80%. That means you utilize only between 60%- 80% of every gallon of propane you purchase, with the balance going to waste. 

In contrast, the propane furnace AFUE rating is approximately 93-97%! Undeniably, there is a significant difference in efficiency between the two types of furnaces. 

Propane furnaces beat the oil furnaces hands down in terms of efficiency. Considering efficiency, an oil to propane conversion decision makes brilliant economic sense.

Summary

Is it worth switching from oil to propane heat? Both propane and oil furnaces have been powering furnaces for years, with heating oil playing a more significant role in the past. However, with time, propane furnaces have gained popularity over the oil types because of cost savings. 

This has resulted from the numerous benefits of propane gas and propane furnaces. As energy, propane is a clean, efficient, and versatile energy in comparison to the myriad of weaknesses in the oil.

In addition to the benefits of propane fuel, propane furnaces have their own merits. That includes cost-effectiveness, reduced maintenance needs, reliability, and a hike in home value.  
Propane furnaces are excellent appliances to heat your home. Undoubtedly, you have nothing but all to gain by converting oil furnace to propane.

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Ryan McCabe

Ryan McCabe

Ryan is a home and small business energy expert, having overseen retail propane, heating oil, and HVAC services companies. On ComparePropane, Ryan writes about things that people should know when shopping for or using propane in their homes and businesses. 

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