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Author Topic: replacing coal/log central heating  (Read 2401 times)

valmet10

  • Joined Mar 2016
replacing coal/log central heating
« on: March 06, 2018, 04:13:26 pm »
hi my parents are in ther eighties and only have a coal boiler , they're wanting something easier  any suggestions , there no mains gas ,so lpg  !

any one got a pellet boiler and what sort of cost are they to run
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Maysie

  • Joined Jan 2018
  • Herefordshire/Shropshire Border
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2018, 05:15:25 pm »
Lots of pros and cons of oil vs LPG central heating systems, but the main headline difference is that the fuel storage tank is supplied by the fuel supplier for LPG and then you are fixed into a contract (2 years), including leasing the tank, after which you can  negotiate a better deal with the same supplier or switch to a new supplier.  Oil central heating means you will have to pay for the tank, base and installation as part of the installation cost. 

Wood pellets systems generally cost more to install than LPG or oil, but are considered to be more environmentally friendly due to their more balanced CO2 footprint. 

As your parents are in their 80's and currently use coal, I would try calling the OFGEN or the Energy Saving Trust helpline to see if there is some RHI funding (or similar) available to suit their situation and improve their carbon footprint too!   

Should also have mentioned the obvious one, and that is access for fuel deliveries!.  Oil tanker vs LPG tanker, vs hand-balling bags of wood pellets, vs 'blowing/shooting' the wood pellets into a store/hopper may be a determining factor.   
« Last Edit: March 06, 2018, 05:20:37 pm by Maysie »

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2018, 06:31:08 pm »
We have a pellet boiler, but since a pellet blowing truck can't get very near the house, we have to buy the pellets in 10kg or 20kg sacks (definitely not a good option for anybody in their eighties!). Apart from once when we had blockages with 'economy' pellets which were very dusty, the boiler has been problem free so far. It is also very economical to run and creates next to no ash (i.e. one bucket full every 6 months).

The one drawback for us is the space taken up by the boiler, thermal store (a big tank of hot water) and pellet storage. Our setup takes up about the same room as a car.

THe RHI scheme is great, and pays for a big chunk of the capital. However, beware of the salesman's calculations on how much money you'll save. Each of the companies we asked for quotations gave us very misleading calculations in this regard (easy for an engineer to spot, but less so for others not in the know?). Also, the calculations they do to say how much fuel you'll get through were very wide of the mark, probably in an effort to magnify the predicted savings and also maximise the RHI benefit that could be claimed(?). In practice, we use perhaps a third of what the calculations predicted, so goodness knows what temperature you're supposed to keep the house at!? 

For your parents, the absolute worst case would be to assume that a new boiler would have the same efficiency as the old one. Then you could work out their predicted consumption just by adjusting for the % difference in calorific values between coal and pellets and at least that will give you a pesimistic estimate rather than optimistic.

The only people I know who have had problems with pellet systems are either people who bought the cheapest possible boilers, or who have very complicated installations blowing pellets over long distances etc. However, if you buy a good quality boiler (e.g. German or Austrian) and keep the installation as simple as possible, I don't think you'll regret it  :thumbsup: .

I hope that helps!
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

valmet10

  • Joined Mar 2016
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2018, 07:53:05 pm »
how often do you have to fill out of the bag also what sort of cost are the bags of pellets ,
they had an oil burner at one point but cost a small fortune in oil,
going to spend time looking in too everything

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2018, 01:32:05 pm »
I have a pellet boiler. I got it done on a grant as we have no gas. They are very expensive to fit yourself - I think ours would have been about £7,000. In winter it may need filling once a day, or once a week in summer.
I wouldn't recommend for anyone in their 80s as although they may be capable of filling it now, they aren't going to get any stronger as time goes on, so you are setting them up for not being able to cope some time in the future.   


Coal is not that cheap now anyway, so I would be looking at which is the most convenient to refuel between lpg and oil, rather than just cost. I believe the modern lpg tanks will send a message to the supplier when the tank gets low.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2018, 02:59:57 pm »
how often do you have to fill out of the bag also what sort of cost are the bags of pellets


We get through about 15kg-20kg of pellets a day during the winter (though we do often also have a wood burning stove on at weekends and evenings), and perhaps 5kg a day during summer for hot water. It all depends on your personal situation, but as I say, you can estimate your consumption easily enough if you know how much coal / oil etc you already get through.


Sacks of pellets definitely aren't suitable for anybody elderly though, as you'll want to eliminate all manual handling of pellets. Instead, you'd be looking at a fully automatic bulk system whereby a tanker comes and blows several tonnes at a time into a large hopper. That hopper then feeds the boiler automatically, so the only manual handling required is to empty the ash bucket every few months.


Pallets of pellets are just under £300 per tonne. Bulk transfers are cheaper, but you'd have to phone to get a price. My parents often save money by running their store half full and going on a volunteer list for part-loads. That means that if a lorry has a small(er) amount left after other deliveries, they'll deliver them to my parents at a reduced price, rather than take them back to the depot.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

Glencairn

  • Joined Jun 2017
  • Dumfriesshire
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2018, 07:24:12 pm »
They're saying over on the green living forum that there's a shortage of pellets at the moment.  :cold:

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2018, 08:11:59 am »
Here LPG is twice the price of oil for the same amount of energy. Modern oil boilers are now 'condensing', so they get improved efficiency from the energy of the flue gas condensing on the heat exchanger. Few drawbacks though- to get the energy savings claimed the heat exchanger has to be below 53C, so really it only works for instantaneous hot water as the radiator return flow is too hot unless a different flow system is employed- the instantaneous hot water flow rates are not great so a mixer shower may not work- as said before delivery access may be difficult, although we used to request a small tanker with a long hose for deliveries.

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2018, 08:39:49 am »
They're saying over on the green living forum that there's a shortage of pellets at the moment.  :cold:


Ah, that may explain why the price seems to have gone up when I checked just now. Because we're buying by the pallet, we tend to stock up during the summer when there is a special offer (there's always a 'special' offer in the summer  ;) ).


I don't think that's a reason not to buy a pellet boiler though, since a shortage of pellets will be short-lived as it will encourage more investment in production capacity.
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

juliem

  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2018, 11:15:32 pm »
I would say given their age....oil is the way to go.Consider having an outside boiler (they usually come in green on outside of external wall.)Get a local installer and cultivate a good relationship with them.....so any break downs they will come out immediately as your parents will be very vulnerable.Choose a boiler (Worcester ) that they can get hold of the spare parts easily.Oil has been cheap enough over the last few years....but the cost of the servicing/parts will be more than the oil.in some years. I supported my 95 year old father in his own house until recently and the heating was one of the most important factors in him being able to keep him at home.Not cheap but then nursing homes aren't either.He had no internal storage tanks at all....condensor boiler.
Consider the situation when they may need to live downstairs with walk inn shower (also offf oil).Having struggled over the years with various forms of solid fuel....he really enjoyed being able to control his heating so easily.

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2018, 07:58:52 am »
how often do you have to fill out of the bag also what sort of cost are the bags of pellets ,
they had an oil burner at one point but cost a small fortune in oil,
going to spend time looking in too everything

If the oil heating cost a fortune it is likely that the house simply needs a lot of energy to heat it and whatever fuel you use you will need a lot of it.  Finding a way to insulate the house better is nearly always the best way to reduce heating costs.

With that in mind my priorities would be in the following order;
1. What is most convenient for elderly people (probably oil or LPG).
2. Which is cheaper to install (assuming that the running costs won't be too much different)
3. Can you reduce the running costs - start with the easiest and work back (insulate the loft, modern zoned heating controls, replace drafty windows etc, investigate insulating walls etc)
4. If there is any money left over think about solar water heating.  It won't do you any good through the winter but if should mean that for the 4 months of summer you don't need any oil to heat the hot water.


They're saying over on the green living forum that there's a shortage of pellets at the moment.  :cold:


Ah, that may explain why the price seems to have gone up when I checked just now. Because we're buying by the pallet, we tend to stock up during the summer when there is a special offer (there's always a 'special' offer in the summer  ;) ).


I don't think that's a reason not to buy a pellet boiler though, since a shortage of pellets will be short-lived as it will encourage more investment in production capacity.

I think the price of pellets will roughly track the price of oil and over the last 2 years the price of oil has been slowly creeping up.

Scotsdumpy

  • Joined Jul 2012
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2018, 09:07:20 am »
I've been watching this thread with interest. We aren't the same age as your parents but, after a year of recovery from a MI, and both of us suffering the flu in the coldest winter for a while, we have installed/upgraded our oil boiler. Our heating comprised of a wood burner in the lounge which is connected to hot water and heating plus a W35 Esse (aga type stove) in the kitchen which does the cooking, hot water and heating. Whilst trying to do the 'green thing' we have managed this system for 10 plus years burning our own trees and sourcing pallets from local companies. However,  we now find that pallet wood is in short supply (farmers with the latest grant supported biomass boilers take all they can get) and chopping and processing our own timber is a time and energy consuming activity.
I agree with everyone that proper insulation is essential - have you checked for any grants/loans that may be available in your area?
I wouldn't go down the pellet system unless you have pots of money to invest - sometime in the near future the price of these pellets will rise over the cost of oil as we aren't planting replacement trees and are already importing timber from overseas.
I guess the final choice will be down to your parents and what they are able to manage.

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2018, 01:45:24 pm »

- sometime in the near future the price of these pellets will rise over the cost of oil as we aren't planting replacement trees and are already importing timber from overseas.


Pretty much all felling licenses have a replanting obligation on them so the majority of trees felled are replanted.  In addition new land is being planted (although admittedly 2017 seems to have been a particularly poor year, especially in England).  Total land planted with trees is now about 400% of what it was 100 years ago.

Pellets are a commodity and their price will follow (to an extent) global markets.  If the price of pellets climbs much above oil demand will be cut as people (or more significantly industry) will switch to the cheaper fuel.

juliem

  • Joined Aug 2014
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2018, 01:04:47 pm »
 I wouldn't recommend solar heating for elderly .A very large tank will require space and lots of building disruption..scaffolding for panels etc .The nature of these panels is that they usually have a thermostat set at 65C so on a sunny day you've got some very very hot water coming out of the tap....unless it's a mixer.
I've had solar water heating for a long time .Never been able to utilize for the shower as pressure problems and washing machine /dishwasher is coldfill so can't use the water for that.
Only any good if you like a lot of baths...and then if your mains water your'll end up paying more for your water.
I sometimes have a lot of air that gets in the pipes from the solar...a devil to get out. The copper tank won't last forever and the coldfill tank can be prone to getting stuck because it's got a ballcock.
Not saying I wouldn't have them on a new house though...technology has moved on since I had mine installed.
I would not consider a wood burner either....you need to think ahead.....will the house be sold/rented out if your parents have to move into care ? Too many chimney fires with tenants burning the wrong type of wood.
My father who at 95 passed away a year ago..had oil for everything. Wasn't cheap but he moved downstairs so only heated part of the house .Rented house out very easily .Of course the EPC regulations kick in from April..so might be a good idea to start to tackle any issues now.
He got the insulation in the loft for free with Npower...no means testing....I believe their maybe grants for oil boilers as well.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: replacing coal/log central heating
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2018, 08:35:09 am »
What about ground source? That's what we've got. Probably need to really upgraded the insulation and is probably only feasible as a retrofit if you're ding a major renovation. It's great though.

 

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