Heating oil substitutes

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by Bob in Maine, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. Bob in Maine

    Bob in Maine New Member

    Is it true that number 2 heating oil and diesel fuel are substantially the same product?

    If not, does diesel differ in ways that would harm a typical residential oil-fired boiler?

    I'm just wondering about keeping a small supply of diesel on had for emergencies during the coming winter. Oil companies won't generally deliver quantities less that 100 gals, and there may be occasions between paychecks when a small back-up supply of fuel might be useful.

    Last year, an oil dealer suggested to me that, in a pinch, kerosene could be used in place of number 2 heating oil.

    Any thoughts on these matters?
  2. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    New Hampshire
    Diesel and #2 fuel oil have historically been the same. They add dye to the untaxed fuel oil so they can tell if they find it in the tank of your truck.

    My oil bill has been marked No.2 Fuel Oil/Dyed diesel.

    Recently there are additional requirements that diesel fuel be low-sulfur for road use. I don't know if fuel oil suppliers are selling the low sulfur product for heating oil. Idon't know how much difference it makes in cost if the low-sulfur requirement is applied to fuel oil.

    You can use diesel fuel in your heating unit, but you shouldn't be using untaxed high-sulfur fuel oil in your vehicles.
  3. Plot Device

    Plot Device New Member

    I am told that the formulation of diesel is just slightly different from home heating oil --something like a molecule or two different. And that the difference is enough that if you tried to use home heating oil in your truck, your would eventually damage your engine on some level.

    I hadn't heard this thing about their putting dye into the home heating oil to make sure that you're not trying to use it for your vehicles, but it makes sense. Ultimately, they want their taxes on the diesel, so they take a pretty dim view of people cheating the taxes by siphoning from their home heating tank into their vehicle's fuel tank. I was told that the way the government tried to keep tabs on such an abuse was by monitoring how much home heating oil people were buying every year: if they bought inordinate amounts, that meant that house was a likely suspect for diesel tax cheating. But the dye seems like a more conclusive way to determine this, although I'd be concerned about someone being ruthless enough to spike an innocent person's vehicle tank with the dye to somehow frame them for this infraction.
  4. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Wet side of Washington State
    No, there is no "one or two molecule" difference. What there may be, depending on local regulations, is a difference in the sulfur content. Most vehicle fuel is ultra low sulfur whereas heating oil may have quite a bit more sulfur content.

    On my last job before retirement we used ultra low sulfur dyed Diesel as a back-up fuel for the boiler plant. They were required to switch from natural gas to oil when the temperature got to a certain low point. I have seen the fuel consumption as high as nine gallons per minute. Pretty pricey when the oil has a cost of over $4.00 a gallon. :eek:
  5. Plot Device

    Plot Device New Member

    I stand corrected then. :)
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    And then there is recycled restaurant cooking oil used as diesel fuel.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    New England
    The state tax office will be glad to accept a check from you to cover the cost of the transportation taxes for diesel use. in fact, in NH, they don't tax it at the pump (or at least didn't), and you had to send in payments periodically and keep track of the amount used. They said it was easier for things like the schools to be able to buy it at the local station rather than their own pumps.
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Just a side note in NH you can have the school portion of your tax bill removed if you homeschool your kids.
  9. B2CHR

    B2CHR New Member

    Central NC
    One question was not touched on. What about kerosene in the heating unit?
  10. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Wet side of Washington State
    What if you never had any children?

    What do you want to know about kerosene? It's more expensive than than number two heating oil and has a lower flashpoint. It has a bit higher BTU content per pound than does number two oil but a bit less per gallon. (Which is a fancy way of saying it weighs less per gallon than #2 oil.)
  11. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    My son-in-law heats with oil, and I asked him about that while he was here at the house earlier today. He told me a delivery driver once told him the only difference is the wording of the same-truck-delivers-both-from-one-load paperwork. He also told me off-road diesel is not only the same but even less expensive than either whenever he would go pick up a load on his own.
  12. Bill Arden

    Bill Arden Computer Programmer

    MN, USA
    I used diesel fuel in my fuel oil furnace last winter last year. i only needed about 20 gallons since it is used as part of a dual-fuel program.

    kerosene would work if mixed, but by itself it would not lubricate the pump properly since most fuel oil pumps are designed for highly lubricating fuel.

    bio-diesel is also good in a furnace as long as there is not any "true rubber" parts.
  13. leejohan

    leejohan New Member

    Home Heating Oil Service

    Hart Petroleum.com the premier home heating oil and service company serving Nassau and Suffolk counties.For more than a quarter of a century, our neighbors have known us for delivering reliable products and services at fair prices.
  14. PEW

    PEW DIY Senior Member

    We use used engine oil to heat our truck shop. But, with a heater designed for it.
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