Different Fuel Types
#2 Home Heating Oil is the fuel people are talking about when they say heating oil. It is the basic refined product from crude that is usable in a consumer capacity before you get into kerosene and then gasoline. Before #2 in the refining process comes #6 or bunker oil and lighter #4 but these are only appropriate for industrial – sized steam plants and heated delivery systems.
Pound for pound #2 heating oil is the highest BTU content heating fuel available to the home energy consumer packing more heat and energy into its weight and volume than wood, gas, pellets or propane. Good stuff. If heating oil has a drawback it is that it requires storage above freezing. If it gets cold it gels up and if it won’t flow you can’t burn it. You cannot use it in outside tanks in New England or anywhere it snows.
In the last several years there has been a big push to reduce the environmental impact of burning #2 fuel. The government has decreed a lower threshold of sulfur content – down to 15 ppm. This is the same as ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, ULSD and as a matter of fact that is what it is called – ULSHO – Ultra Low Sulfur Heating Oil. At the same time there has been an increasing demand for Bioheat. Right now heating oil has up to a 5% bio component – everything from palm oil to soybean oil to canola, tallow, corn…you name it. They call it biodiesel. Like it or don’t a higher percentage of bio is on its way. Getting cleaner and greener is not a bad thing but those of us with outside tanks are kind of getting left out of the discussion.
Mobile Home Mix
Outside tanks have always posed a problem – that of how do you keep the fuel flowing when the winds of January howl? There are various physical methods of keeping #2 fuel warm enough to use usually involving enclosed box-type structures, insulated or warmed with heat tape or light bulbs or insulated fuel lines, two line systems to keep the fuel moving. Some of these methods are more successful than others.
The other approach was to blend heating oil with kerosene which has a much lower pour point – somewhere in the vicinity of -40 degrees! You would think that a 50/50 mix would work and for many years it did. Lots of folks even called it that. The terms 50/50, mobile home mix or blend were essentially synonymous. The problem was that as the push for cleaner fuel started all the best quality “light sweet” (low sulfur) crude was used for diesel fuel and what was left, while delivering all the BTUs one could ask for was even more susceptible to cold weather. 50/50 didn’t cut it anymore and for those who didn’t want to spend (or couldn’t afford) the big bucks for kerosene a new solution was called for. Enter better living through chemistry – fuel additives! For quite a few years now we have used HOT – Heating Oil Treatment - to reduce the pour point of heating oil and make it usable in outside tanks. For many people it has worked just fine, others not so well. It has always been something of a gamble and we have always recommended straight kerosene for outside tanks because of this. We do however understand the price argument – straight kero is expensive and so this year we have switched to a different additive that we believe will provide a more assured level of cold flow performance – SZP. This product is manufactured by the same folks who provide the additive that we are now using to provide…
Premium Heating Oil
No Virginia No Virginia – not all heating oil is the same. Not any more!
We are proud to announce the introduction of HeatDoc to our fuel. Through the use of this proprietary chemical additive we are able to provide our #2 Heating Oil and Blend clients with a premium quality fuel that burns cleaner, runs smoother, stores better and all at no extra cost. This additive is introduced to our fuel as it is delivered to our storage tanks and makes our fuel demonstrably better than what you might get from other providers. As refiners strive to meet new and ever changing environmental standards including the introduction of higher bio levels it is important that the fuel be stabilized to blend well with prior fuels, sit for extended periods of time in storage, not cause adverse reactions to heating equipment and still maintain a solid BTU value. HeatDoc does all this and now it does it for you.
Which brings us to…
The last product in the refining process before we get to gasoline and products too volatile for home heating applications is Kerosene. Kerosene was once called light oil because it was used in oil lamps and also range oil because it burned clean enough to be used in cook stoves. Over the years it has been refined to higher grades including K1 for heating and JP4 for powering aircraft. Although it has less BTUs than #2 Fuel it does in fact burn much cleaner and has the added benefit of being good to 40 below zero! If you have an outside tank this has been the stuff to get. Of course it is substantially more expensive than heating oil but the trade off is the cost of a serviceman in the middle of the coldest night of the year!! Kerosene is the recommended fuel for mobile home type warm air furnaces from Miller and Thermopride. K1 was also the go-to fuel for some of the super-efficient appliances from Monitor, Toyostove and Lazr.
We are currently conducting some experiments with the new ULSD Heating oil, our premium blend additives, an outside tank and a Monitor heater. With #2 heating oil becoming such a lighter and cleaner fuel is it the end of the line for kerosene? We will let you know…