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Converting ducted gas to electricity in Canberra

By FHW 11 May 2015 27

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Has anyone out there got any experience of having a ducted gas heating system converted to an electrically powered system?

I am thinking of doing this (because of the expectation of prices increases, the divestment movement, and the fracking issue) but am hopeful that it is possible to reuse the same ducts and vents, and just replace the heating apparatus.

If you have had this done, I have a million questions, starting with…. How much did it cost? Could you reuse the old ducts and vents? What sort of system did you get?

What companies are there in Canberra that do this? Was the electrically powered heating as good as the ducted gas? Did you notice a change in the heating bill?


What’s Your opinion?


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Converting ducted gas to electricity in Canberra
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zllauh 8:50 am 29 Jun 15

Hi FHW,

As others in the thread have suggested the unit is actually the expensive bit, The vents could probably be re used but it will not be probably making a big difference in the past.

We recently got a hot water system upgraded and it was done by http://capitalgasworks.com.au/ .
Good work and did not leave any mess behind.

Would recommend giving him a call at least i believe he will be able to give you honest opinion.

My 2 cents.

Rustygear 5:28 pm 05 Jun 15

csdaly said :

… the Alternative Technology Association released an analysis in November 2014 on this very question, … There’s a page dedicated to Canberra (http://www.ata.org.au/news/are-we-still-cooking-with-gas). …

Thanks for this, very interesting. I looked at page 58 (the Canberra page) – unfortunately the authors, being familiar with their own work, forgot that other readers might not know how to interpret their cryptic phrasing and colour codes. But I guess they are saying, for example, that for a small house in Canberra, if “Switching a gas appliance, within 5 years of end of life, staying on gas network”, you would save about $4600 (per year?) on space heating, save another $1300 (per year?) on space heating, and lose $60 or so on cooking. Have I got that right? If so, that’s amazing.

csdaly 4:04 pm 05 Jun 15

On the topic of electricity versus gas, the Alternative Technology Association released an analysis in November 2014 on this very question, based on expected gas price increases and comparing water heating, space heating/cooling and cooking, and different types of households, ages of equipment and climate zones. There’s a page dedicated to Canberra (http://www.ata.org.au/news/are-we-still-cooking-with-gas). Might be of interest. Convinced me to change to reverse cycle when the gas heater gets a bit older. As I don’t have cooling, it would involve completely replacing the ducts. Cooling requires a larger duct diameter than heating.

wildturkeycanoe 11:17 pm 25 May 15

Genie said :

$12000 seems like a pretty hefty price tag. I didn’t convert but my brand new system (on a brand new property) was less than half that, surely it can’t cost as much as the product to switch everything over.

Retro-fitting is more expensive than installing a new system in a new house, as you have to remove the ole unit first which is extra labor costs. Then replacing the ducts is more difficult with a roof on and ceiling in place. On a new house access is much easier.
My uncle just had his replaced with reverse cycle ducted and they are very impressed at how much warmer the entire house feels compared to the old gas unit.

JC 3:42 pm 25 May 15

Genie said :

$12000 seems like a pretty hefty price tag. I didn’t convert but my brand new system (on a brand new property) was less than half that, surely it can’t cost as much as the product to switch everything over.

Although at first I was hesitant to have electric heating and cooling, I quite enjoy my $90 gas bills vs $1500 gas bills over winter. My electricity bill has never been more than around $300 but I did use it quite sparingly last winter. The sun heats my house up nicely during the day and I find I usually only need it on for a few hours at night.

It all depends upon what they have got. For a ducted multi zone split inverter system it would be about right. For a single zone electric furnace only a bit much.

JC 3:40 pm 25 May 15

FHW said :

An update to this: I had someone come out to quote. It seems that I’d need something close to $12,000 to convert the house. As many posters predicted, the ducts can’t be reused because they are the wrong size. After all the work I have put in to insulate under the house, I can’t face the work to redo all of that at this stage. Nor do I have a $12,000 budget.

Since there will very likely be an exodus from gas in the next few years, here’s an amazing opportunity for the companies that develop ducted electric heating systems. Can of them come up with an electric system that can reuse the old gas-compatible ducts?

But hard to change physics, because that is what the core issue is.

Btw what kind of system did you get quoted on. Pure heater or a reverse cycle ducted inverter system?

Genie 11:46 am 25 May 15

$12000 seems like a pretty hefty price tag. I didn’t convert but my brand new system (on a brand new property) was less than half that, surely it can’t cost as much as the product to switch everything over.

Although at first I was hesitant to have electric heating and cooling, I quite enjoy my $90 gas bills vs $1500 gas bills over winter. My electricity bill has never been more than around $300 but I did use it quite sparingly last winter. The sun heats my house up nicely during the day and I find I usually only need it on for a few hours at night.

FHW 10:10 am 25 May 15

An update to this: I had someone come out to quote. It seems that I’d need something close to $12,000 to convert the house. As many posters predicted, the ducts can’t be reused because they are the wrong size. After all the work I have put in to insulate under the house, I can’t face the work to redo all of that at this stage. Nor do I have a $12,000 budget.

Since there will very likely be an exodus from gas in the next few years, here’s an amazing opportunity for the companies that develop ducted electric heating systems. Can of them come up with an electric system that can reuse the old gas-compatible ducts?

JC 8:55 am 14 May 15

justsomeaussie said :

JC said :

Who told you that? If let’s say you have gas heating and evap cooling the opposite to what you have said is true.

It was true in the past but no longer.

But here are number of reasons.

1. Ducted reverse cycle is now very efficient surpassing gas for efficiency.
2. You can control the price of electricity through solar, you can’t control the price of gas.
3. Gas prices are expected to rise dramatically over the next few years with the Australian gas market being floated and thus held to international prices.

References:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/reserve-our-gas-campaign-launched-to-fight-for-lower-gas-prices-20140929-10ned9.html

http://theconversation.com/dont-get-burnt-by-gas-price-rises-tips-for-homes-and-industry-28198

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-29/concerns-lng-exports-could-see-spike-in-domestic-gas-prices/5927400

http://aglblog.com.au/2015/04/aemo-forecasts-show-impact-of-rising-gas-prices-on-manufacturing-sector/

Quotable quotes:

“At the same time because prices are so much higher overseas, gas prices will approximately triple within Australia. They’ve already gone up quite a bit from about $3 per kilojoule to an expected level of $9 per kilojoule in the future, so about three times.”

“Gas prices are on the rise, starting tomorrow with a 17.8% increase this year in New South Wales, with other parts of eastern Australia expected to follow in coming years.”

“A BIS Shrapnel report found a rise could see one in five manufacturers shut down over the next half-decade. It also showed households gas bills could rise by 26 per cent over three years from 2015.”

“Australia’s eastern gas markets are currently undergoing unprecedented change, with the development of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export projects in Queensland causing a tripling of demand for natural gas between 2013 and 2016, leading to an incredibly tight supply/demand market dynamic and resulting in price increases. Unfortunately, AEMO is forecasting that higher prices will lead to a substantial decline in gas-intensive manufacturing;”

I can run my heating and cooling during the day for free via solar, once the house is at temp and the sun goes down i’ll be able to turn it off or have it running minimally.

You do the sums.

My question was in relation to where you claim ducts should be located.

When it comes to economics, I said above that reverse cycle now days is the cheaper and better option.

justsomeaussie 6:25 pm 12 May 15

JC said :

Who told you that? If let’s say you have gas heating and evap cooling the opposite to what you have said is true.

It was true in the past but no longer.

But here are number of reasons.

1. Ducted reverse cycle is now very efficient surpassing gas for efficiency.
2. You can control the price of electricity through solar, you can’t control the price of gas.
3. Gas prices are expected to rise dramatically over the next few years with the Australian gas market being floated and thus held to international prices.

References:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/reserve-our-gas-campaign-launched-to-fight-for-lower-gas-prices-20140929-10ned9.html

http://theconversation.com/dont-get-burnt-by-gas-price-rises-tips-for-homes-and-industry-28198

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-29/concerns-lng-exports-could-see-spike-in-domestic-gas-prices/5927400

http://aglblog.com.au/2015/04/aemo-forecasts-show-impact-of-rising-gas-prices-on-manufacturing-sector/

Quotable quotes:

“At the same time because prices are so much higher overseas, gas prices will approximately triple within Australia. They’ve already gone up quite a bit from about $3 per kilojoule to an expected level of $9 per kilojoule in the future, so about three times.”

“Gas prices are on the rise, starting tomorrow with a 17.8% increase this year in New South Wales, with other parts of eastern Australia expected to follow in coming years.”

“A BIS Shrapnel report found a rise could see one in five manufacturers shut down over the next half-decade. It also showed households gas bills could rise by 26 per cent over three years from 2015.”

“Australia’s eastern gas markets are currently undergoing unprecedented change, with the development of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export projects in Queensland causing a tripling of demand for natural gas between 2013 and 2016, leading to an incredibly tight supply/demand market dynamic and resulting in price increases. Unfortunately, AEMO is forecasting that higher prices will lead to a substantial decline in gas-intensive manufacturing;”

I can run my heating and cooling during the day for free via solar, once the house is at temp and the sun goes down i’ll be able to turn it off or have it running minimally.

You do the sums.

Maya123 5:48 pm 12 May 15

justsomeaussie said :

Largely the thinking with ducted a/c is that you have two ducts in the ceiling. The heating duct you have near the entrance to the room because you want the warm air to create a barrier for colder ear. The cold duct you want on the opposite side of the entry as to push the hot air out the entry.

Since yours are in the floor not much you can do.

On another note, I’m building a house at the end of the year and am not even having gas fitted to the block because of the same conclusions as you. An all electric house + solar is definitely the way to go.

Congratulations going solar. I have a solar house and don’t need either gas or electric heating, and so have none installed. That would have been a wasted, unnecessary expense. I have a wood fired heated for the very rare nights I want extra heat. If you don’t want this, an instant electric heater is all that is needed for those colder occasions. With good insulation, etc a small heater can heat a large space. I have never needed to heat during the day, and it’s only the occasional winter evening I light the fire. I usually use it to cook on as well those rare evenings I light it, to save turning on the electric stove. I do however need to boost the solar hot water one month a year. If I were to add extra tubes I would probably reduce this need. I don’t have gas connected, as it’s not worth paying an extra basic fee (whether I use any gas or not), just for cooking and the one month a year I boost the hot water system.

rosscoact 4:29 pm 12 May 15

Oh, and it re-used everything except you get another controller/thermostat

rosscoact 4:28 pm 12 May 15

I did it a couple of years ago and it cost a tad under $6k IIRC. Climate Master, I think. Totally happy with it although I might consider reverse cycle if I had it done again.

You cannot run both gas and electricity at the same time but it would be good to be able to choose which heating fuel you use depending on the cost.

JC 2:05 pm 12 May 15

justsomeaussie said :

Largely the thinking with ducted a/c is that you have two ducts in the ceiling. The heating duct you have near the entrance to the room because you want the warm air to create a barrier for colder ear. The cold duct you want on the opposite side of the entry as to push the hot air out the entry.

Since yours are in the floor not much you can do.

On another note, I’m building a house at the end of the year and am not even having gas fitted to the block because of the same conclusions as you. An all electric house + solar is definitely the way to go.

Who told you that? If let’s say you have gas heating and evap cooling the opposite to what you have said is true.

The heating goes to the outside of the room and cooling inside. The theory is the heating gets draw in towards the return air and the evap cooling you want the flow out the window. So heating is outside normally near the window.

With ducted reverse cycle it is the same as gas heating as you want your air drawing through the room towards the air return.

justsomeaussie 1:47 pm 12 May 15

Largely the thinking with ducted a/c is that you have two ducts in the ceiling. The heating duct you have near the entrance to the room because you want the warm air to create a barrier for colder ear. The cold duct you want on the opposite side of the entry as to push the hot air out the entry.

Since yours are in the floor not much you can do.

On another note, I’m building a house at the end of the year and am not even having gas fitted to the block because of the same conclusions as you. An all electric house + solar is definitely the way to go.

FHW 9:44 am 12 May 15

Thanks for all the comments. The people at the suggested link are coming out to do a quote, but as some others have said, they think the old ducts will not be suitable to reuse.

My main worry with the reuse wasn’t so much the waste of the materials or the cost of installing the ducts, but the fact that I have insulated under the floorboards by myself, and it took me many weekends over a couple of years to get it done. Thinking about ripping that out and starting again is exhausting me!

drewbytes 3:58 am 12 May 15

FHW, we went from ducted evap/wall mounted heaters to ducted reverse cycle. The existing outlets were too big, in the wrong locations and ducting wasn’t able to be reused either. I imagine it would be the same for gas. I love the ducted reverse cycle and wish I’d done it sooner.

dazzab 9:01 pm 11 May 15

I haven’t done a conversion but I did have a ducted gas heating system replaced with a ducted reverse cycle system which of course runs on electricity. Now I have heat and cooling in summer which is nice. I did it at the same time I put in solar panels so the all up running cost is much lower. I think it cost about $5k to make the change. And I got a $1,200 BBQ free from Fujitsu as part of the deal. I’ve never even unpacked the BBQ if anyone is interested in a deal. I’d sell it for half price.

    Krishna Kondagunturi 12:44 pm 03 Nov 18

    Hey mate, how did you go with your experiment with Electric heating with Solar? Am a late starter but am curious if this experiementnreally helped ?
    How much did it make as difference to your electricity bill and/or gas bill?

HiddenDragon 6:13 pm 11 May 15

pajs said :

vintage123 said :

I think the ACT government will introduce a subsidy for gas if the supply price of gas increases too much.

These guys may be able to help with a solution if you are fixed on swapping.

http://www.mrairconditioningcanberra.com.au/index.php/products/ducted-gas-heating

Why on earth would the ACT Government subsidise the price of gas?

It would be yet another cost for an already way over-stretched ACT budget. The only argument I could think of might be for people who were pushed in the direction of gas water heating (and for whom solar was not practicable). As the proportion of public renewable in the overall electricity supply increases, the case for zealotry against electric water heaters should be reduced (assuming, of course, that a degree of common sense was to apply).

Maya123 5:53 pm 11 May 15

JC said :

arescarti42 said :

Whether or not you can do this will probably depend on site factors, i.e. are the ducts located in the ceiling or floor, where is the ducted heating unit located, is there adequate access to power in the vicinity, etc.

Theoretically I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t do this. What you essentially want is a ducted reverse cycle air conditioning system. Even if you can use the existing ducts, this won’t be a cheap system however.

A simple electric ducted system if they make them would probably be cheaper to buy than reverse cycle airconditioning, but would use maybe 3-4x more electricity.

Modern split inverter systems use no where near that much power and for the most part are now cheaper than gas. This is the reason why in new build homes these have now become the norm vs ducted gas and seperate Evap cooling for example.

To the op there may be issues with duct size and placement. Also with a ducted electric of the type I am talking about the indoor unit generally contains the return air and gets mounted in the ceiling somewhere central which may be different from where the old gas furnace was. So again effects ducts.

Bottom line the cost of duct and outlets is minor in the cost of a new system so wouldn’t be too worried about trying to reuse them.

Ps retail cost of a ducted inverter system is about the same as a ducted gas and Evap system combined. So around $76-10k depending upon system size. Plus fitting and sundries.

“Modern split inverter systems use no where near that much power and for the most part are now cheaper than gas. This is the reason why in new build homes these have now become the norm vs ducted gas and seperate Evap cooling for example.”

What a shame new homes are not built properly, so that they need neither.

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