Looking to Replace Heat pump backup from Oil to Electric

Jojo_mdFebruary 3, 2012

Currently have a heat pump with oil backup heat and looking to replace backup heat from oil to electric. The house is a rental and my new tenant, whom I would very much like to keep, is not interested in having oil as a backup after getting socked with a recent $680 oil refill bill.

I am willing to switch out the oil backup from oil to electric and got this quote from a Rheem dealer in Baltimore, MD. The dealer is the same one who installed the current system.


Split level with full basement in 1,100sq. ft in Baltimore, MD.

House pretty well insulated all round, attic, and double pane windows.

Currently Installed

Honeywell Programmable Thermostat

3 ton, 13 SEER

Rheem Coil: RCFLHM3621CC

Rheem Heat Pump: R13PJL30A01

Current Quote

3 ton

Rheem Air Handler: RHSLHM3617JA

15KW Electric Backup staged, 5KW and 10KW

Total purchase and install cost $3,700

Does the quoted unit sound like a proper fit and the cost seem reasonable? A call to a Rheem dealer in Florida for the same air handler with a 15KW backup heat is $904 out the door. Would I be better of purchasing an air handler and getting a local installer to perform the work?

Any feedback would very much be appreciated.

Thank you...Jojo

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I'm just a homeowner - not a pro.

That said, I live maybe an hour from Baltimore in Rockville, MD. Last year I replaced my 1980s vintage A/C unit and my 1973 Oil Furnace in my 2100 Sq Ft Colonial home. I did a lot of research, including making a pest of myself here. :-)

I ended up getting a Heat Pump and a 80% eff Oil Furnace.

I think very few folks here would advocate installing an oil furnace in new construction if, say, gas were available. Also, staged electric backup to a heat pump in a new installation may be appealing, depending on climate.

My new heat pump is much more effective in keeping my house cool during the summer and also it is much more efficient and thus uses less electricity during those summer months.

Being a heat pump, I now have the option of using the heat pump to heat during the winter as opposed to using oil. (I use oil only when the outside temp is below 30 degrees.)

My electric usage during the winter is down a lot from previous years, and with the mild winter so far I have used less than 50 gallons of oil.

Some expenses that I would have incurred if I had changed from oil to staged electric as the heating backup include:

1) Increasing my electric service to accommodate an additional 15Kw of load.

2) Running the electric cabling needed to deliver the 15Kw.

3) Remove the basement oil tank and contents in an environmentally safe manner per local code.

I have absolutely no regrets with my decision to keep oil as a backup - either comfort wise or economics wise.

Again if I were building a new home I would hope for a heat pump with gas or electric as backup, depending on climate.

PS Gas is/was not available at my location.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 3:40PM
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How much of that $3700 is the cost of the new electrical line and also the removal of the old oil furnace and tank? You might be seeing $1000 for the new furnace and $1700 for labor of the above two items.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 5:59PM
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It seems like electric backup is going to cost a lot more than oil.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 10:55PM
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It is VERY likely that electric is going to be more, possibly considerably more $$ than oil in your area; this is generally the case, but, of course, it will depend on your electric rates. In addition you will have to pay for the cost of conversion. This is a loser for you. you need to plug your electric rates (don't forget both supply + distribution charges + taxes = total cost/KWH) and your heating oil price into a decent fuel cost calculator to determine if you will have any savings. If the fuel cost calculator determines that it is more costly to run electric; present this to your tenants and show them why heat pump with oil backup is their least costly option. With oil, you typically have a few deliveries (and bills) per year, this can make people perceive that they are paying a lot. If the sudden large bills are causing your tenants a problem, you might want to see if the oil heating company has a "budget" plan or something of that nature that would be available to your tenants - if this company doesn't, perhaps another in your area does. Check out this heating cost calculator, it's a good one: http://nepacrossroads.com/fuel-comparison-calculator.php

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Hey Guys,

Thanks for all the response.

Although I did find out that gas is available by the main road (50 feet from house), BGE want to charge an arm and leg to provide supply and new meter..not to mention all the conversion costs to gas.

Out of the $3700 quote, the furnace is right next to the fuse box, which has six free slots. Also, quote does not include removal and disposal of the old oil tank. Thanks for mentioning this..called the Rheem dealer who clarified.

Thank you very much for the link to the comparison calculator. Plugged in the numbers, total electric cost, oil cost and burner efficiency. Oil $32.58, and electric $35.17 per million btu�s.

Will definitely put everything into an excel spreadsheet and present to my tenant. All in all, not so much looking for return in investment for the conversion, but less maintenance and not having to worry if tenant lets oil tank run dry and cause all sorts of repair issues.

As the tenant still has enough backup oil to run through the rest of the winter, I think I will probably move ahead and first find the most suitable air handler for R13PJL30A01 Rheem Heat Pump and�thanks to the prior posts..look for a competent HVAC tech to perform the conversion.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:36PM
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"Out of the $3700 quote, the furnace is right next to the fuse box, which has six free slots."

That answers the least costly of the two electrical concerns I listed.

Depending on your home service, you may have to upgrade your panel and service. Now that is costly should you need it done!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:50PM
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