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Central Heating - LPG, Oil or Electricity?
by kevcreuse • Thu 01 Dec 2005 10:56

Hi all,

I am looking at designing a whole new central heating system for my place which currently has nothing. I was wondering how much people are currently paying for their LPG and oil deliveries and the quantity. Also do the prices fluctuate much locally or any problems of delivery times. As either of these fuels will have to be the backbone of the system i wondered if anyone had any thoughts or comments on which way to go. I am a short journey outside Aigurande if this were to make a difference on delivery's.


Regards

Kev

kevcreuse
27
Aug 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by Dave • Thu 01 Dec 2005 12:20

Unless your place is large (more than 100m2) then I would not recommend a wet heating system at all, but instead electric.

This has many advantages:-

  • it is simpler to install.
  • it is at least a third less to install (2/3 less if it isn't a DIY job).
  • it requires almost no maintenance.
  • it doesn't need an ugly storage tank.
  • it can't freeze in the winter.
  • the fuel cost is the most stable.
  • delivery is not an issue (huge storms excepted).
  • it doesn't need a flue at all so you can have a nice wood burner in the fireplace.
  • for houses under 100m2 it is by far the cheapest to run.
  • it is the only sensible choice for part time occupancy.
Environmentally and economically speaking, under 10% of power generation in France uses fossil fuels. This means less CO2 emissions and less volatility in electricity prices over the next few years.

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Dave
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Aug 2004
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by charlie • Fri 02 Dec 2005 07:17

Kev,
I think Dave has summed up the advantages of electrical heating systems very well and I would have followed that path without hesitation if I started again. It does only fit my particular situation where we visit for a few months each year, mainly in summer.
We have an LPG heating system with gas stored in a one tonne tank in the garden. Deliveries are no problem except for the cost! Our house is very poor regarding insulation and is cold even in summer. If we were to move permanently we would consider changing to oil. Even now I try to reduce gas consumption by keeping the log burner going continuously during any cold spells.
For one week in February using the gas CH set quite high I calculated that used about €80 worth of gas. I think LPG was about €0.65 per kg.
I do like the performance of the gas system and don't feel too bad about the present costs.
Hope this helps a bit. Charlie

charlie
56
Dec 2004
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by Landa • Sun 04 Dec 2005 14:45

Hi everyone,
We were also thinking of electric for heating but were not sure how prices compared.Does anyone know if you can get cheaper electricity at night like economy 7 in GB?

Landa
28
Feb 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by kevcreuse • Mon 05 Dec 2005 05:29

Thanks for your comments. I am lucky enough to be able to carry out all the work myself on both wet and dry systems but as the property is reasonably large i think that i would be best having a good combination of the various options. The house needs updating quite a bit so the insulation will be done as part of the ongoing works.

Landa if you check your meter you may well find that you have a night rate already. HCN and HPJ next to the two readings are the night and days rates. You can also have a further off peak rate around midday. This allows you to top up any storage heating or additional time on stored water. I think Dave has referred to this on the site elsewhere.

The biggest single problem with all electric heating will be the size of your incoming supply. If you consider the units that you wish to install by adding up the kW Kilowatts it normally means you will have to upgrade the supply if you have an older property. If you have three phases this can be spread equally over the phases but 3 lots of 3.4kW heater in my place means no electric kettle! I currently have a 3phase 15 amp supply with the off peak option. The options go up in stages of 3kW but will also be detemined by the incoming supply cables. If these are not sufficient for you needs then the exterior cabling will have to be upgraded. You will have to consult with EDF about the additonal charges.

A lot of properties can be upgraded by a 10 minute visit by changing the setting on the main switch from 15amps to 30amps. The other problem with all electric heating storage heaters can be controllability. They can heat up over night but you have less control during the following day. If you are in and out of the property a lot then this loses a lot of heat in main areas and you need to consider further 24hr heating such as panel heaters to supplement or top up when the storage heater cools down too much.

Regards

Kevin

kevcreuse
27
Aug 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by Dave • Mon 05 Dec 2005 06:12

I would not recommend storage heaters. These are not popular in France. I would get radiant panels. These are much better and if used sensibly with good insulation (a must for any cost effective central heating) are not expensive to run.

Yes, you can get cheaper off peak electricity but the cheapest option is based on peak days. (see this post on Tariffs).

I don't have a problem with supply. I have a 9kW supply which is standard. I have electric radiant panels in every room except the kitchen (wood burning cooker) and the bathroom (heated electric towel rail). I also have a 250l ballon (electric heating). Even if all these are running, it comes to less than 5.2 kW. In fact these are thermostatically controlled at each radiator and additionally centrally and also with a timer, so most of the time they are not all on. My meter has never tripped.

Kev, if you have tri phase then you can easily trip out because your 9kW will be divided on the 3 phases and one single phase at over 3kW will therefore trip your supply. (My neighbour has this and it is a massive pain). The first thing I did was to ex the tri-phase supply and get EdF to install mono-phase (cost nothing 10 years ago).

In addition I have fitted a device called un délester réglé or load balancer. This monitors the load and when it is about to trip it will cut off the non priority circuits to allow the priority ones to remain on. I have heating as the lowest priority then hot water then everything else. Once the priority load is lower it switches the non priority stuff back on. Annoyingly it's never had to do anything apart from when I purposely tested it. I don't have an electric kettle ('cos the wood burner keeps the kettle ready all the time). I do have an electric oven as well though and a washing machine and dryer and most other electric stuff, so my usage is typical I reckon.

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Dave
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Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by kevcreuse • Mon 05 Dec 2005 07:01

Landa,Daves exactly right about the radiant panels they are now extremely efficient and very cheap. They are very controllable.They can blend in in any surrounding and with the small distance away from the wall are not obtrusive in any way. Many can be overpainted (with the correct paint of course to be disguised even further). They have the added advantage of being in the order of hundreds of watts instead of 2000/3000 watts or more if the supply is limited. The biggest advantage is that you dont have to throw them out of the window when it gets too hot, you could break your back!

I personally would never install a storage heater system any way but thought the comparison of heating loads would be useful. I have just completed a radiant panel installation here for a friend they bought the units from Argos for about £50.00 each. Its warm as toast but the house is well insulated and reasonably modern. I have not started looking at the french makes yet so cant offer an opinion but they have come such a long way. You just have to work out the overall heat losses of the property and select the appropriate ratings of the heaters. Another advantage is that some makes can be freestanding with a plug instead of being permanently fixed so your installation can grow until you have decided youve got the right mix.

Kev

kevcreuse
27
Aug 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by Cowpat • Mon 05 Dec 2005 16:05

Hi Kev
Have you considered a wood/solid fuel burner with an internal boiler, which would run your heating and hot water requirements, we are currently thinking about such a system, but instead of radiators, we are going for underfloor heating pipes.
Chop your own logs from fallen trees and hey presto next to nothing heating bills.
The down sides are if you are away you cant keep the heating on as it needs managing, and underfloor htg is better suited to concrete flooring applications.
There are a number of boiler manufacturers and underflooring heating costs around 15 euros per square metre to install DIY
Just thought I would complicate thing further
Tony T

Cowpat
11
Dec 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by kevcreuse • Tue 06 Dec 2005 09:07

Hi Tony,

It is a serious consideration at the moment with the abundance of this fuel available locally. I too will probably be putting in underfloor heating but not everywhere. My long term concern about the overall system is fuel choice long term. If i base a complete design around the electrical route and then cover it all up im knackered later.Although i can easily allow for extra power everywhere at this stage.

With careful consideration to having a partly wet system i can change the heat source at a later date more cheaply than bashing the house to bits again.

We install the polypipe system "polyplumb" and have been doing this for sometime as primary and secondary heat sources and have had no problems what so ever as all parts are from their standard range. The benefits from this are really nice if you have experienced this type of heat before. That part of the system can run at a much lower temperature as well so a reduction in heating costs again. Having to replace flooring gives me this option mainly downstairs but i am loathed to start ripping up lovely floorboards!

The other option even for wet systems you might want to consider are the new type of electric boilers. This can mean upgrading supply but they are now able to run underfloor heating comfortably. They start at 12kw units(upgrade mains again i know!)We have put one in a pub where no flues were allowed on the high street. This combined with a "megaflo" (hotwater mains storage container with immersion heaters as backup) and normal heating controls works a treat.

Would be interested in what you come up with on those boiler solutions for solid fuel.

regards


Kev

kevcreuse
27
Aug 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by Landa • Tue 06 Dec 2005 14:35

Thanks everyone for the info.But what is French for radiant panels? Having always had gas back in England I would not know a panel if I saw one.
Landa

Landa
28
Feb 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by Dave • Tue 06 Dec 2005 15:44

It is les panneaux rayonnant.

These at about the same size and shapes as a normal radiator. The front is usually a mesh-like grill of some sort. They are available in Brico Depot in the electrical isle next to the normal electric fan type heaters and towel rails. They stock different sizes and powers from about 500 watts to a massive 2500 watts.

I have a single 1000 watt panel in a bedroom about 3m by 5m by 2.5m. This is more than enough to heat the room even in the coldest of weather.

My advice is not to buy the cheapest ones, but to get the ones with 4 or more command settings (par fil pilote 4 ordres) via an additional wire (Siemens for example).

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Dave
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Aug 2004
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by Cowpat • Tue 06 Dec 2005 15:54

Hi Kev
Firstly the choice of fuel should be chosen carefully, electricity, gas and oil prices have risen in the region of 20% in the last few months, the ever increasing threat by suppliers that 'we are running out and have fifty years left' fans the flames of fuel increases, in short these utilities will only increase, how much depends on global consumption wars strikes and the rest of it. I wish to depend on these to a minimum and the system I have adopted is primarily a wet system fuelled by solid/wood fuel boiler,ground floor underfloor heated and first floor standard radiators, water heated by same to storage tank and via electric immersion (back up) and solar panel for sun-shine months.Mostly likely I shall probably install a couple of small electric convector's on a time clock just to keep ambient temp above 3/4 degrees to prevent freezing when not in attendance. A couple of logs burning in your lounge is a bit more appealing than conventional boilers depending if you can deal with cleaning out the ashes every day or not. Have a look at these babies.

Cowpat
11
Dec 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by arthur • Wed 07 Dec 2005 13:55

i have been reading with interest all these views on wet and dry systems for under floor heating, as i will be going through the same process next year. The question i have is there any manufacturers in france looking at the geo-thermal answer to heating, i know very little about it but i am waiting to hear from a local developer (english) who is a friend of a friend, he assures me it works very well and is very cheap to run, i am waiting for some paperwork costs and specs to look at, when i get them i will pass them on to anyone interested.
arthur

arthur
30
Sep 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by kevcreuse • Thu 08 Dec 2005 07:08

Hi Arthur,

dont know of any french systems but havent started looking. They can have enormous benefits for low running costs for low temerature systems ideally suited to underfloor heating. Although i havent had the chance to specify this sort of thing for anyone i have worked on a few. You need the space to run out all the pipework on your own land, this will be a major consideration for costing. The systems i have worked on seem to me highly complicated and very expensive at the moment and the approximate payback time on them seems still to be quite long, quite a number of years in fact and thats if they dont go wrong. You also need a little bit of space to get all the kit in. 6'by6'by3' was the space needed on the the last 2 i have seen. Also because of the complicated bits you need to have a good knowledge of them or have a local installer as anything wrong could be well expensive. I wont have the spare cash to go down this route yet but would love to know how you get with it all

regards

Kev

kevcreuse
27
Aug 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by Landa • Thu 08 Dec 2005 14:03

Hi Dave,Thanks for the translation.Been to Brico and bought some.Better get them fitted before the next cold spell.
Landa

Landa
28
Feb 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by Mikeovers • Sun 11 Dec 2005 05:24

Hi Arthur/kevcreuse,

have a look at www.sofath.com They are a French company who specialise in geothermal heating systems. I don't know how expensive a system would be, but it looks pretty complicated, and the equipment seems to be built to a very high standard, so I don't imagine this would a "bargain basement" option.
Hope this helps,
Mike

Mikeovers
44
Nov 2004
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by arthur • Sun 11 Dec 2005 14:59

Many thanks for your reply Kev, i have looked at the web site, you are right it does look exspensive, but i may e-mail for a price list, i shall keep you informed

arthur

arthur
30
Sep 2005
Re: Central Heating........LPG or Oil?
by PleineSaleing • Sat 23 Sep 2006 01:40

Geo-thermal vs Air-to-water HPs

Geo-thermal method will give greater efficiency than Air-water.
The temp of the ground does not vary by a great amount throuout the seasons, whereas the air temp can easily span a 50c range across the seasons therefore causing greater fluctuations in temperature and efficiency.

I hope this helps
Dave

PleineSaleing
9
Sep 2005
Re: Central Heating - LPG, Oil or Electricity?
by moses • Tue 13 May 2008 01:46

hi all heres some personal ramblings
i have a 7kw woodburner which in cold periods is on most the time,if we put it on at about 4 oclock its warm at about 7ish but to get front room/ bedroom warm we have to shut kitchen door(i have no upstairs and quite a small house), the house has been fitted with insulation with garage wall insulated as well.
if we want it really cosy we put on two oil filled electric rads. also wood usage is 1 wheelbarrow full a day in mildly cold weather but i have seen us use nearly 2 on really cold days when we dont go out too much. most of this is burnt in the evenings with a little wood used first thing.
the first year at the house in winter we only saw 12 degrees with log burner raging away and two electric rads on, year two we got it insulated and 18 degrees is no prob with log burner now, if kids are there in winter i have to put on electric heaters then we have seen 25 degrees.

best regards
anthony
im also fitting a rayburn this winter (i like the look of rayburns in a kitchen) we use house for holidays and wood isnt a prob at this level but i think would be expensive if you had to buy it.
get your place insulated it makes a huge difference and have you looked at standard air con units they are very very efficient at space heating.

moses
196
Aug 2006
Re: Central Heating - LPG, Oil or Electricity?
by EnglishInFrance • Mon 18 Jan 2010 18:06

As its been a while since the last post here i wondered if much had changed?
We are renovating a small medieval chateau so choosing the right (cheapest) system is important, its not massive, it will be 300sq meters when finished, at present there is just the two of us, but we will be breeding soon :) so wont be long before we have a couple of kids running around the place.

EnglishInFrance
2
Jan 2010
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