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Old 18.03.2017, 23:17
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Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

Recently I visited a few houses and noticed many of them are using Ölheizung system for floor heating and boiler. Many of them have a room in basement dedicated to a huge oil tank. The room has strong odor of oil which makes it difficult to be used for other purpose (that room has plenty of space)

One house I visited put the oil tank inside the wall so it looks better and thus I couldn't smell anything from it.

I'm wondering if that kind of oilheizung system is popular in Switzerland? Is it because it's cost effective compared to electricity? Does anyone can share some data compare it from economic perspective?

If I want to upgrade it to a modern heating system, what would it be and how much would it cost?

Thanks!
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Old 18.03.2017, 23:20
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade?

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Recently I visited a few houses and noticed many of them are using Ölheizung system for floor heating and boiler. Many of them have a room in basement dedicated to a huge oil tank. The room has strong odor of oil which makes it difficult to be used for other purpose (that room has plenty of space)

One house I visited put the oil tank inside the wall so it looks better and thus I couldn't smell anything from it.

I'm wondering if that kind of oilheizung system is popular in Switzerland? Is it because it's cost effective compared to electricity? Does anyone can share some data compare it from economic perspective?

If I want to upgrade it to a modern heating system, what would it be and how much would it cost?

Thanks!
Do you have a gas supply? If not oil is cheap & will likely get cheaper as cars go electric.
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Old 18.03.2017, 23:29
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

Strict rules about oil tanks- ours is walled in, with a door and outside vents- and we had to have it fully encased 2 years ago, by law - so that it couldn't leak out if it fissured. And it doesn't smell.

Depends where you live - as FMF says- many rural areas do not have gas supply- so oil is the only choice (electrics is way too expensive). Strangely enough, we have a massive international gas pipeline that passes quite near our house- but somehow it would be a bit dangerous to tap into it

To keep costs low, we have joined a collective here in our village- we order for about 20 households twice a year, and get a much reduced price for quantity. If you not not have one in your area- I'd adivse anyone to form one with your neighbours- makes quite a difference. We have also diversified by getting solar panels for hot water (with a double system that will use oil if not enough sunshine for several days) - and a big wood burner- in case of oil shortage or breakdown.
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Old 18.03.2017, 23:35
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

Oil was pretty cheap until a decade or two ago. That's why you see oil heating so often in older houses. Same reason why they didn't isolate the facades too, it used to be cheaper to just burn through some more oil in the past every year

The tank can be buried in the ground outside, connected via pipes to the boiler in your basement, that's what we have in a bigger house.
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Old 19.03.2017, 07:05
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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If I want to upgrade it to a modern heating system, what would it be and how much would it cost?

Thanks!
A more modern heating system would use a ground, or air sourced heat pump. There are a few threads here on that.
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Old 19.03.2017, 09:21
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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Same reason why they didn't isolate the facades too, it used to be cheaper to just burn through some more oil in the past every year.
Inlaws' place was built in the late '60s, single pane glass and 2cm of pine separating the outside from the inside.

Tom
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Old 19.03.2017, 09:47
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

Our late 80s house has oil heating (underfloor).

At current prices, oil is one of the more cost effective options. We use ca. 1000 liters per year for a 4 story small foot print 220m2 house. Small footprint, multiple stories is key - same m2 in a more spread out house would likely use a lot more oil. And, we use the heat sparingly - I like a cool house, ca 15-18 degrees, couldn't live in the 'Swiss norm' (according to the heating specialist) of 24 degrees.

Some years ago, worried about the many economic, environmental, and social issues around oil, and facing a canton-mandated furnace replacement, I looked into replacing the oil system with the other 'greener' options out there.

The cost of retrofitting a different system into our house was eye-watering. We had quotes over mid-5 figures, and we have learned that any renovation here will likely end up significantly more expensive than the original estimate. The expected energy efficiency improvement from a 'greener' system would not even come close to paying off the investment in our lifetime.

And the ultimate reason why change from oil was not feasible: Due to the Gestaltungsplan governing use of our property and the layout of our Quartier, installation of other kinds of systems (warmpumpe, solar collectors, for instance) would not be allowed - or at best would require a lot of negotiation and horse trading with neighbors. Again, a very costly effort, one unlikely to be successful. There are no gas lines in the neighborhood.

So we stayed with oil and installed a new furnace. It really was the only cost-effective option.

The new furnace burns slightly more oil than the old one (so much for improved energy efficiency) because we are unable to set it as low as we would wish, nor do we have the level of control over the timing that we did with the old mechanical unit. (Insert much repeated rant about overly complicated factory-set computerized non-improvements...) It took much wrangling to get the technician to set the damned thing as low as we have it, simply because anything outside of 'normal' made his head explode. Or would have made the furnace explode, possibly both.

Lastly - be aware that taking out an oil tank might require involvement of the hazmat guys, and alternative use of that space might be prohibited or require some kind of certification or permission. YMMV, but speak to the building department at your Gemeinde before you go too far down that road.



tl;dr: Changing heating systems in an older house is often not for the faint of heart nor shallow of pocket.

Last edited by meloncollie; 19.03.2017 at 09:58.
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Old 19.03.2017, 09:51
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

I´m currently changing from oil to gas. One reason is that the boiler is almost 30 years old and uses a lot more electricity than newer ones. Another reason is to get rid of the (rather stinking) oil tanks which are in the cellar and would have had to be replaced as well. In the end - for us - changing to gas was easier with the added benefit of getting an extra room in the cellar.
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Old 19.03.2017, 11:29
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

For many of us in rural areas- gas is simply not an option. And heat pumps are not suitable or very expensive to install on an older house (especially one from the 16C). When our oil tank had to be contained in a outer shell in case of spillage- it was also cleaned thoroughly. Will never forget seeing that small man from Cuba enter the tank via the relatively small hole at the top, and then spend a day with chemicals in there cleaning it he was totally non-plussed.
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Old 19.03.2017, 11:48
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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For many of us in rural areas- gas is simply not an option. And heat pumps are not suitable or very expensive to install on an older house (especially one from the 16C). When our oil tank had to be contained in a outer shell in case of spillage- it was also cleaned thoroughly. Will never forget seeing that small man from Cuba enter the tank via the relatively small hole at the top, and then spend a day with chemicals in there cleaning it he was totally non-plussed.
It's possible to have a gas tank outside, even buried to be out of sight.
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Old 19.03.2017, 11:52
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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For many of us in rural areas- gas is simply not an option. And heat pumps are not suitable or very expensive to install on an older house (especially one from the 16C). When our oil tank had to be contained in a outer shell in case of spillage- it was also cleaned thoroughly. Will never forget seeing that small man from Cuba enter the tank via the relatively small hole at the top, and then spend a day with chemicals in there cleaning it he was totally non-plussed.
We are lucky to have a gas connection already in the street so they only had to shoot the connection from the street to our house
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Old 19.03.2017, 11:52
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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It's possible to have a gas tank outside, even buried to be out of sight.
Depending on local regulations. An outside gas tank is not allowed here.

Putting in gas would have meant running pipes from the closest existing line, through neighboring properties - with all the negotiations, permissions, tearing up, repaving, and replanting that would ensue. The first person to install pays for whatever it would take to bring connection to the neighborhood. Hence, no one wants to make the first move. Simply not affordable, even if all the stars aligned to make it possible. (And if you've ever been to the bun fight that is a Quartier general meeting, you'll understand why proposing a group effort sends shivers down my spine.)
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Old 19.03.2017, 12:43
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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It's possible to have a gas tank outside, even buried to be out of sight.
LOL, not much point if there is no gas int he area- is there?

I think the outside gas tank is very much a UK and French thing, not Swiss (but happy to be proven wrong- as said, not an issue here as we have no gas).
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Old 19.03.2017, 12:48
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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LOL, not much point if there is no gas int he area- is there?

I think the outside gas tank is very much a UK and French thing, not Swiss (but happy to be proven wrong- as said, not an issue here as we have no gas).
You get the gas delivered by lorry, much in the same way as you get the oil delivered, unless you have your oil well in your garden.
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Old 19.03.2017, 12:52
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

Not around here you don't ! At least I do not know of anyone in the region that does.

Being part of a buying group makes oil cheap- so would be nonsense to replace the system for us. Combined with solar and wood- perfect- even for our 3000m3 (part of which is not heated lol).
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Old 19.03.2017, 13:46
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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Not around here you don't ! At least I do not know of anyone in the region that does.

Being part of a buying group makes oil cheap- so would be nonsense to replace the system for us. Combined with solar and wood- perfect- even for our 3000m3 (part of which is not heated lol).
A lot of restaurants work with bottled gas or have a gas tank installed as cooking on gas is the preferred method...
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Old 19.03.2017, 13:49
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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Depending on local regulations. An outside gas tank is not allowed here.

Putting in gas would have meant running pipes from the closest existing line, through neighboring properties - with all the negotiations, permissions, tearing up, repaving, and replanting that would ensue. The first person to install pays for whatever it would take to bring connection to the neighborhood. Hence, no one wants to make the first move. Simply not affordable, even if all the stars aligned to make it possible. (And if you've ever been to the bun fight that is a Quartier general meeting, you'll understand why proposing a group effort sends shivers down my spine.)
It's usually the Gas provider who decides to put in a pipe in the area, the cost would be prohibitive for any individual to contemplate.

The gas board then makes the pipe to pay for itself by selling gas to a lot of punters.

It would be cheaper for an individual to heat by burning Chf 100.-- notes rather that putting in a pipe line !
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Old 19.03.2017, 14:36
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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A lot of restaurants work with bottled gas or have a gas tank installed as cooking on gas is the preferred method...
Well of course, and bottled gas for cooking or BBQ is available everywhere. A very different kettle of fish to heating a whole large house
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Old 19.03.2017, 15:02
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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Well of course, and bottled gas for cooking or BBQ is available everywhere. A very different kettle of fish to heating a whole large house
Identical principle, just bigger tank.
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Old 19.03.2017, 16:38
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Re: Ölheizung upgrade? [heating with oil]

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Well of course, and bottled gas for cooking or BBQ is available everywhere. A very different kettle of fish to heating a whole large house
We are not talking about gas BBQ sized bottles or camping gaz size, but large bottles with very high pressure (meaning larger volume of gas) and a restaurant will have 6 or 8 bottles.

A lot of restaurants have this system, you may not have seen it, but most chef's worth their salt will only cook with gas !

As you say, the bottles used for a restaurant are a very different kettle of fish to your gas bottle used for your little BBQ
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