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Making the switch: Oil to gas: Unit and options?

Mogal

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Messages
9
Location
Canada
Model Number
None
Brand
-major brand-
Age
More than 10 years
Hello all,

My oil furnace of 19 years gave me a big scare last week, and I am now looking to replace it.
I want to get rid of oil and make the switch to gas. I can get a meter to the house no problem.

So I've been doing a little research and found two units that may fit my needs.
EL296V High-Efficiency, Two-Stage Gas Furnace
American Standard Gold ZM

My current furnace is 90,000BTUs and heats the house up quickly, but with short bursts of heat.
Its been rated at 80% efficient. (But at 19yrs old?)

I've been told that a new gas furnace that's rated at 60,000BTUs and 95% eff would easily replace the current furnace.
- Its a 2,100sqf house with poor insulation.
- Would 60,000BTU be sufficient?

What I'm looking for most, it QUIET operation, as this oil furnace is noisy.
I 'think' two stage is the way to go, but what about the newer 'variable heat capacity' furnaces such as the Lennox SLP98V?
Also a variable speed DC fan blower is a must.

Other options deal with filter options, and maybe a humidifier.
So filter options are the 1", 4-5" and electronic filters.
My current filter is a 1" filter and costs $50 for 4 of them.
the 4-5" filters are much more expensive, and $45ea. They last longer, but are they worth the cost?
Electronic filters... more maintenance, but how efficient (or effective) are they? I don't know the cost.

Humidifiers... In the winter, the house is pretty dry. I keep water on the night side table.
I have an open crawlspace, so a little more humid in the summer (I use a dehumidifier in summer)

I have been quoted $5,995.00 + tax for Rheems 'Best furnace' 96% 2 stage heating and ECM fan motor.
- Complete install with removal of old unit and tank.

I'm on Vancouver Island, BC Canada. Any idea if this is a fair price?
(I'm still waiting on more quotes)

Sorry for the long post, just trying to cover all my questions and options...

Thoughts?
Chris
 

enigma-2

Premium Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2015
Messages
15
Location
Goshen, Inidiana
My current furnace is 90,000 BTUs and heats the house up quickly, but with short bursts of heat.
Its been rated at 80% efficient. (But at 19 yrs old?)
Hey, just because were old, doesn't mean we can't rise to the occasion and get the job done. (big smile). Seriously, both my furnace and water heater is the same ones that came with the home. 38 years old July 1st.

I've been told that a new gas furnace that's rated at 60,000BTUs and 95% eff would easily replace the current furnace.
- Its a 2,100 sqf house with poor insulation.
- Would 60,000 BTU be sufficient?
I'm certain that many of the professionals reading this forum will chime in with better information, I'll offer a few of my experiences.

IMO, this is one area where you really need to have a local professional evaluate your home, as there are too many factors to be taken into account. But based on your comments about "burst of heat", in my opinion, your existing unit is probably over sized. Properly sized, a furnace should run 75% of the time when the outside temperature is 0°F. While a higher rated furnace will heat the home fine, it does so in a short burst, then is off for an extended amount of time. Then on for another short burst. The problem with this is, the air will begin to layer out, warm at the ceiling, cool at the floor, making you feel that the home itself is cold, resulting in your turning up the thermostat. A smaller furnace will take longer to heat and by running longer, keep the air mixed together longer.

It's fairly common for HVAC contractors to oversize equipment in an attempt to stop any complaints for failing to heat when it get really cold (equipment is sized to maintain a specific indoor temperature, usually 72°F, when the exterior temperature is at 97-1/2% of the design temperature for your area. For example, the Design Heating temperature at the Vancouver intl airport is -7°F, with the coldest month being January.

Other options deal with filter options, and maybe a humidifier.
So filter options are the 1", 4-5" and electronic filters.
My current filter is a 1" filter and costs $50 for 4 of them.
Price seems a little high, but I'm not familiar with costs for your area. Have you shopped price at any of the big box stores? Possibly reducing the MERV rating to a less expensive filter? Personally I buy mine at Sams Club.

the 4-5" filters are much more expensive, and $45ea. They last longer, but are they worth the cost?
My son-in-law has a 4" filter and he only changes his once a year. Never heard him complain about it.

Electronic filters... more maintenance, but how efficient (or effective) are they? I don't know the cost.
Never owned one, thought of it, have heard only good things about it. You will need a mop sink close by to clean the filter media. These are very good filters and will trap well into the micron level. If you consider going this route, ask the contractor about including a warning light on the thermostat to indicate when it's time to change the filter. (My son-in-law's 4" also has this feature, but his is in the basement, adjacent to the furnace).

Humidifiers... In the winter, the house is pretty dry. I keep water on the night side table.
I would never be without a central humidifier every again. The unit I have is an old Sears Kenmore Central 3000 that I put in back in the 80's. Still runs good.

With humidifiers, one secret is to run them on soft water. Real easy to keep clean as the buildup is based on (soft) sodium and not (rock hard) calcium.

Most humidifiers nowadays have a continuous drain on them, that is, when they are running, a small trickle of water is constantly draining off and running down the drain. It's wasteful of water, but it does have a somewhat questionable effect of helping the humidifier stay cleaner, longer. At the end of the heating season you simply throw the filter element away and buy a new one.

Never really liked the idea, had one of these as my first humidifier and it always seems never to make it through a heating season with out requiring cleaning. Plus it does waste a lot of water down the drain. Probably the reason I went to the Sears unit and kept it up all this time. (I clean it once or twice a month. Never really let it accumulate any mineral buildup. Probably why its still in excellent condition).

I have been quoted $5,995.00 + tax for Rheems 'Best furnace' 96% 2 stage heating and ECM fan motor.
- Complete install with removal of old unit and tank.
No expert, but that sounds like a fair price. Does that price include the filter housing & timed thermostat as well? Never hurts to haggle. :)

Over and above this, how much will it cost to have gas service run into the house. This could be a lot more that you think. Before you consider going to gas, check into the cost of running a natural gas connection, meter and gas line. In some areas here in the state, just connecting on is a $500 charge. Then there's the trenching to bury the line, the running the line, the meter and the hard pipe running inside.

BTW, didn't know that you had natural gas on the island. Is this something new?
 

Mogal

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Messages
9
Location
Canada
Hello, posting an update:

I ended up purchasing the EL296V High-Efficiency, Two-Stage Gas Furnace (the 44/36 kbtu unit)
I had 4 quotes come through the house, and not 1 did an energy audit (was very disappointed about that)

I did my best to calculate my own; but not sure how accurate I was... either way I decided on the smaller side,
as from what I've read/learned MOST new systems are still over sized any ways...

I still plan to do some efficiency upgrades over the years and add in a gas fireplace in place of the wood burning one.

Its been a mild winter this year here, and the furnace seems to run and keep up just fine.
Hasn't kicked into high fire very often.

I went with the larger filter 5" as I can always put in a smaller one at any time, but can't put in a larger one.
(The installation came with 2 MERV 11 filters)

I also never bothered with a humidifier, and opted for the higher end thermostat.
I also dealt with the removal of the furnace and oil tank on my own. Saved a few bucks there too.

I got my first bill, and it was nearly HALF my oil bill! so I'm happy about that!
What bites my butt though is, I only used $18 in gas, and the rest was fees.... (about $60)
I thought that was insane!
The cost of getting gas to the house was only $25!

The furnace is SO quiet! Its amazing, and literally 1/3 the size of the older furnace.
I think my electric bill has gone up a little as the furnace does run quite a bit longer than the old one.
I haven't been able to calculate the cost yet.

As for gas on the island, its been here for awhile... its just that there is too many old people holding on to the oil heritage ;)
I would think people only change out during an opportune time like my situation...
Although if I had done earlier, the system would have paid for itself already!

Oh, I also qualified for a $1000 rebate :)

Total cost of system installed: $5919.oo - $1000 rebate = $4919.oo
Saving $75 a month on heating costs = 5.5 years ROI.
 

enigma-2

Premium Member
Joined
Oct 19, 2015
Messages
15
Location
Goshen, Inidiana
Great price, better then I could get here in Northern Indiana. Glad to hear your happy with the system; gas is soooooo much better.
Sure I can't talk you into a humidifier? :big grin:
 
Last edited:

Mogal

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2015
Messages
9
Location
Canada
LOL I'm considering a DEhumidifier as the humidity in the house has been hovering around 60-62%
On the colder days there is a good amount of moisture on the windows in the morning... by mid day its gone.
 
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