Alternate Heating Sources for Commercial Greenhouses

industrial heating system in MOAmerican Services industrial heating equipment repair in St. Louis knows that the type of fuel that is best for commercial greenhouse heating depends on many factors such as; price, convenience and availability.

Some fuel sources put out a higher heating value than others.   A good method for comparing the cost of fuel is by utilizing the million Btu basis. In other words what is the cost of one million Btu’s of heat? By definition, one Btu equals the amount of energy required to raise a pound of water 1ºF. It takes 8.3 Btu’s to raise 1 gallon of water 1ºF.

Gas Vapor Fuels

Natural gas is one of the most economical and clean fuel sources available today, although it is not always available to industrial greenhouse owners in all geographic areas of the country.  Natural gas requires no on-site expensive storage equipment as it is piped directly from transmission lines. Natural gas burns cleanly, requires little equipment maintenance, and may be used in central boilers or remote unit heaters. Some suppliers include an “interruptible clause” which allows them to interrupt the supply in time of extreme need, usually during cold spells when fuel is needed to heat homes. Locating and securing a backup fuel supply and equipment to burn it is essential under these conditions.

For larger volume users, it is best to buy “direct purchase” from one of the large suppliers. Adding the transmission cost through the pipelines will give you a total fuel cost.

Propane (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) is a clean, gaseous fuel similar to natural gas. It is derived from a byproduct of oil refinery manufacturing or by stripping natural gas. It is liquefied by a moderate pressure process at normal temperatures. Even though propane is more expensive than natural gas it can be readily obtained where natural gas in not available. Maintenance is minimal, but a storage tank, preheater, and pumping network costs must be considered.

Propane is best purchased by the transport load which requires a 30,000 gallon tank.

Fuel Oil #2 #4  #6

No. 2 oil is usually comparably priced with natural gas but may be more expensive in some locations especially where it has to be transported a long distance from the supply point. It is a relatively clean fuel that demands slightly more burner maintenance than gas. Oil requires on-site infrastructure; above ground storage tanks that must have a containment in event of a leak or spill. Oil stored in outdoor, above-ground tanks may become difficult to pump in environments where temperatures can hover near 0ºF. Insulated tanks or additives to the fuel protect against this hazard.

No. 4 and 6 oils possess a higher heating value than No. 2 but because of low sulfur emission restrictions, they are usually similar in price. These oils require a preheating and greater attention to equipment operation. They are subject to the same storage and temperature limitations as No. 2 oil