Some Quick Math on Coal Vs. Oil

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Post Wed. Jan. 06, 2010 8:23 pm

According to this chart: ... ulator.pdf
bitiminous coal has an 85% efficiency rating and throws out 30,600,000 per ton.
Wood, depending on what type and the level of seasoning only puts out roughly half that many BTU's. A gallon of fuel oil puts out roughly 138,000-150,000 btu's. No sense in mixing apples and oranges here...we need a lower form of measurement. Not quite fair to compare a gallon of oil to a TON of coal...I purchase my coal in 40 lbs. bags currently and it costs me $7.49 per bag. But I did recently find a place locally that sells anthracite for .14 cents per pound, which would save me close to $2 on 40 lbs! Anyhow...Let's run some math.

30,600,000 / 2000 (lbs) = 15,300 btus for each pound of coal (14 cents if bought at new place or 18.725 cents if bought it 40 lbs. bags)

Current cost of oil is 2.90 per gallon (for 138K-150K btu)

So, let's compare oil...2.90/.14 cents = 20.71 (lbs. of coal able to be purchase for EACH gallon of oil)

20.71 x 15,300 = 316,863 BTU's per 2.90 vs 138-150K btus running oil

Roughly DOUBLE the amount of heat for the same cost...The only issue is coal is ALWAYS ON vs. oil being an on demand type of thing. I've heard that the cost of coal is very cheap down in Pennsylvania. My in-laws actually own property in Western Pennsylvania, I wonder what the cost of coal is in those parts...might have to bring back several tons during the summer. :D now if I could just figure out how to burn this stuff!!! hahaha.

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Post Wed. Jan. 06, 2010 9:13 pm

Are you trying to burn coal? What has you stumped? Once you figure out the in's and out's you can adjust according to the weather. Start making a log book every night of all the settings on your stove, inside temo, and outside temp. That will give you better understanding of coal burning

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Post Wed. Jan. 06, 2010 9:19 pm

Well, it all looks great, it even looks greater if you take the followings into account:

Buying coal by the bag, is the most expensive way to pay for coal , no matter how little you pay for the bag.

Many current stoves allow you to have a very small burn during idle, so having coal burning as standby is really very inexpensive, it's only a bit over the cost of a regular pilot light in a gas furnace.

On the other hand, burning coal is inconvenient as far as ash removal, and reload, and at any time we need convenience, we have no choice but to pay more !

Visit Hitzer Stoves

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Post Wed. Jan. 06, 2010 9:27 pm

Just an FYI

There is a fuel comparison calculator built into this site, look at the very top line of the page to the left.

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Post Sat. Jan. 09, 2010 12:52 pm

kfriend wrote:According to this chart: ... ulator.pdf
bitiminous coal has an 85% efficiency rating and throws out 30,600,000 per ton.
I suspect you would want to look at anthracite (hard coal), not bituminous (soft coal).

Currently anthracite is only mined in Eastern PA. Western PA and most of the US is bituminous.

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