Propane boilers and oil boilers are two common types of space heaters that can be used in homes and businesses. Each type has its own unique benefits, but it’s not always clear which energy source is better for you. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each type of boiler and help you determine whether to replace your current oil boiler with propane.
What is the difference in structure between oil and propane boiler?
Propane boiler vs oil boiler structure comparison
Fuel Storage: Propane boilers require a propane storage tank, which is usually located outside the building, while oil boilers require an oil storage tank, which can be located inside or outside the building.
Burner: Both propane and oil boilers have a burner that ignites the fuel and creates a flame to heat a heat exchanger.
Heat Exchanger: The heat exchanger is a critical component of the boiler that transfers the heat from the combustion process to the water that circulates through the building’s heating system. The heat exchanger in propane boilers and oil boilers is typically made of cast iron, steel, or copper.
Combustion Chamber: The combustion chamber is where the fuel is burned to produce heat. The size and shape of the combustion chamber can vary depending on the design of the boiler.
Control System: Both oil and propane boilers have control systems that monitor and regulate the temperature and pressure of the heating system, as well as the fuel flow and combustion process.
Exhaust System: Propane boilers do not require a chimney or flue because propane burns cleanly and does not produce soot or ash. However, oil boilers require a chimney or flue to vent the combustion gases, which can be a safety hazard if not properly maintained.
Circulating Pump: Both propane boilers and oil boilers have a circulating pump that moves the heated water through the pipes and radiators of the heating system.
Overall, the structure of propane boilers and oil boilers is quite similar, with the main differences being the type of fuel storage required and the need for a chimney or flue in oil boilers.
Pros of Propane Boiler.
Propane is a cleaner burning fuel than oil, producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions and less air pollution.
Propane boilers are often more efficient than oil boilers, so the cost of operating a propane boiler may be lower in the long run.
Propane is readily available in most areas.
Propane boilers do not require a chimney or flue, which can simplify installation.
Propane boilers can be used for space heating, hot water, and even for cooking and clothes drying.
Cons of Propane Boiler.
Propane is typically more expensive than heating oil per unit of energy.
Propane requires a storage tank to be installed on your property.
The price of propane can be volatile, which can lead to fluctuating heating costs.
Propane tanks may need to be refilled more often than oil tanks, depending on your usage.
Pros of Oil Boiler.
Heating oil is widely available in most areas.
Heating oil is often less expensive than propane per unit of energy.
Oil boilers are known for their durability and can last for many years.
Oil tanks can hold a large amount of fuel, reducing the frequency of refills.
There are many experienced oil technicians and installers available.
Cons of Oil Boiler.
Oil boilers are generally less efficient than propane boilers, so the cost of operating an oil boiler may be higher in the long run.
Oil boilers require an annual cleaning of the flue or chimney, which can add to maintenance costs.
Oil tanks can pose a risk of leaks or spills, which can be costly to clean up and hazardous to the environment.
Oil boilers produce more air pollution than propane boilers, contributing to climate change and poor air quality.
Is it cheaper to heat with propane or oil?
The cost of heating with propane or oil can vary depending on a variety of factors such as location, fuel prices, and the efficiency of the heating system. The following table is a rough cost of different sizes (BTU) of oil and propane boiler.
Approximate Cost (installed)
Average Annual Fuel Cost
$2,500 – $4,000
$700 – $1,200
$3,500 – $6,000
$1,000 – $1,800
$4,500 – $8,000
$1,500 – $2,500
$2,000 – $3,500
$900 – $1,200
$3,000 – $5,500
$1,500 – $2,000
$4,000 – $7,500
$2,000 – $2,500
Should I replace oil boiler with propane?
Whether or not to replace an oil boiler with a propane boiler depends on several factors, including your location, the availability and cost of propane, the age and condition of your current oil boiler, and your heating needs.
Fuel Availability and Cost: Propane may not be readily available in all areas, so it’s important to check whether propane delivery is available in your location. In addition, propane prices can fluctuate depending on supply and demand, so it’s a good idea to research propane prices in your area and compare them to the cost of heating oil.
Efficiency: Propane boilers are generally more efficient than oil boilers, which means that they can convert a higher percentage of the fuel into usable heat. This increased efficiency can translate into lower heating costs over time.
Environmental Impact: Propane burns cleaner than oil, producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions and less air pollution. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of your heating system, switching to propane may be a good option.
Age and Condition of Current Boiler: If your current oil boiler is old or in poor condition, it may be more cost-effective to replace it with a new, more efficient propane boiler rather than continuing to repair and maintain the old boiler.
Heating Needs: Propane boilers can be used for space heating, hot water, and even for cooking and clothes drying. If you’re looking for a versatile heating system that can meet all of your household heating needs, a propane boiler may be a good choice.
Ultimately, the decision to replace an oil boiler with a propane boiler depends on your individual circumstances and needs. It’s important to do your research, compare fuel costs, and consult with a heating professional to determine the best heating system for your home or building.