How to Best Replace Oil with Propane Home Heating: A Comprehensive Guide

Replacing your oil-based home heating system with a propane-powered one can offer numerous benefits, including improved energy efficiency, reduced environmental impact, and potentially lower long-term heating costs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the key steps and factors to consider when making the switch from oil to propane home heating.

Cost Comparison: Analyzing Fuel Prices and Savings Potential

One of the primary considerations when transitioning from oil to propane is the cost comparison between the two fuels. Propane prices can vary significantly by region, with the national average price ranging from $2.50 to $3.50 per gallon, while heating oil prices typically fall between $2.80 to $4.20 per gallon. To determine the potential cost savings, you’ll need to compare the prices per British Thermal Unit (BTU) of each fuel.

On average, propane provides 91,500 BTUs per gallon, while heating oil offers around 138,500 BTUs per gallon. This means that, at the same price per gallon, propane would be the more cost-effective option. However, it’s essential to research the current prices in your local area and factor in any potential regional variations or seasonal fluctuations.

Tank Size and Installation Considerations

how to best replace oil with propane home heating

Propane tanks are typically larger than oil tanks, with common sizes ranging from 100 to 1,000 gallons. The size of the tank you’ll need will depend on your home’s heating requirements, the climate in your region, and the size of your property. Larger homes or those in colder climates may require a 500 or 1,000-gallon tank, while smaller homes may only need a 100 or 250-gallon tank.

In addition to the tank size, you’ll also need to consider the installation requirements. Propane tanks can be installed above or below ground, with underground tanks often preferred for aesthetic and safety reasons. The installation process can add significant costs, typically ranging from $1,500 to $4,000 for an underground tank, depending on the size and site conditions.

Efficiency and Energy Savings

Propane is a highly efficient fuel, with modern propane furnaces and boilers achieving efficiency ratings of up to 98%. This compares favorably to the typical efficiency of 80-85% for older oil-fired heating systems. The increased efficiency of propane can translate to significant energy savings, with homeowners often reporting a 20-45% reduction in their heating costs when switching from oil to propane.

To maximize the energy savings, it’s essential to choose a high-efficiency propane heating system. Look for models with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating of 90% or higher, as these will provide the most significant long-term cost savings.

Safety and Environmental Considerations

Propane is generally considered a safer fuel than heating oil, as it does not pose the same risk of spills or leaks that can contaminate the soil and groundwater. Propane is also a cleaner-burning fuel, with lower carbon emissions and reduced particulate matter compared to oil. This makes propane a more environmentally friendly choice, especially in areas with stricter air quality regulations.

When it comes to safety, propane systems are designed with multiple safety features, including automatic shut-off valves and leak detection systems. Proper installation and regular maintenance are crucial to ensure the safe operation of a propane heating system.

Appliance Compatibility and Versatility

One of the advantages of switching to propane is its versatility. In addition to powering your home’s heating system, propane can be used to fuel a wide range of other household appliances, including:

  • Cooktops and ovens
  • Water heaters
  • Fireplaces and outdoor grills
  • Clothes dryers

This versatility can simplify your home’s energy infrastructure and potentially lead to additional cost savings by consolidating your fuel sources.

Maintenance and Longevity

Propane heating systems generally require less maintenance than their oil-fired counterparts. Propane burners tend to be cleaner, with fewer carbon deposits, which can extend the lifespan of the system. Additionally, propane furnaces and boilers often have a longer expected lifespan, typically ranging from 15 to 20 years, compared to 10 to 15 years for oil-fired systems.

Regular maintenance, such as annual tune-ups and inspections, is still essential to ensure the optimal performance and safety of your propane heating system. However, the reduced maintenance requirements can translate to lower long-term costs and a more hassle-free heating experience.

Converting from Oil to Propane: Step-by-Step Process

If you’ve decided to make the switch from oil to propane home heating, here’s a step-by-step guide to the conversion process:

  1. Site Visit and Estimate: Reach out to a Superior Propane Certified Partner or a qualified HVAC contractor to schedule a site visit. They will assess your current heating system, provide information on the benefits of propane, and determine the appropriate furnace, boiler, and hot water tank for your home.

  2. Oil Tank Removal: The existing oil tank and associated equipment will be carefully removed, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations and proper disposal or recycling.

  3. Propane Tank and Equipment Installation: A new, energy-efficient propane furnace or boiler will be installed, along with the necessary gas lines to connect it to your home’s propane supply. The propane tank will also be installed, either above or below ground, depending on your preferences and local regulations.

  4. Propane Tank Connection: The propane tank will be securely connected to your home’s propane line, ensuring a safe and efficient fuel supply for your heating system and other propane-powered appliances.

  5. System Commissioning: The new propane heating system will be thoroughly tested and commissioned to ensure proper operation, safety, and efficiency. The HVAC technician will also provide you with instructions on the system’s maintenance and operation.

By following these steps, you can seamlessly transition your home from oil to propane heating, taking advantage of the numerous benefits that propane has to offer.


Replacing your oil-based home heating system with a propane-powered one can be a smart and cost-effective decision, offering improved energy efficiency, reduced environmental impact, and enhanced safety and versatility. By carefully considering the factors outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can make an informed decision and ensure a successful transition to propane home heating.


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