Waste Oil Heaters Can Drastically Cut Costly Shop Heating Bills - Engine Builder Magazine

Waste Oil Heaters Can Drastically Cut Costly Shop Heating Bills

When we looked at the numbers, it only made sense to invest in these heaters as a way to cut down on our heating costs, which can be sizeable here in the Chicago area.

The first time I was introduced to a waste oil heater was more than 20 years ago while I was working for Toyota. The heater burned the waste oil that accumulated from oil changes and transmission flushes to produce heat for the shop. It was a great way of getting around the high costs of natural gas used in conventional heaters, plus it got rid of all the used oil that the shop produced.

So, if your engine/performance shop creates waste oil from oil changes or other ­repairs, and you don’t already own a waste oil burner, better think twice.

I’ve turned off our natural gas supply and saved thousands of dollars since ­installing two burners, one for each end of my 6,000-square-foot shop, two years ago.Waste Oil Heater

When we looked at the numbers, it only made sense to invest in these heaters as a way to cut down on our heating costs, which can be sizeable here in the Chicago area.

The heat is clean and smells fine, and the burner burns the oil at such a high temperature that there are very little pollutants going out the exhaust stack.

The one down side of these burners, though, is having tanks to store the waste oil all summer to burn in the winter.

My shop has four 200-gallon tanks outside behind my building that we fill all summer long, and then transfer that oil to our oil burner tank in the winter when we’re ready to burn it.

The cost of those used tanks for storage was $125 apiece and the cost of an oil transfer pump was $450, including the hose that we installed to go through the wall for ease of oil transfer.

Oil Reserves
Between the stored oil and the oil we collected during the summer, we had enough to run the burners all winter, and being near Chicago I don’t need to tell you what a relief that was with the nasty winters we get here.

The burners themselves can be a ­little temperamental and I’ve found through experience that you can keep them running well and your costs down by having only one or two main guys who are familiar with how they work to repair them.

Make sure if you’re purchasing a new waste oil heater to ask if tech support is available. I have an 800 number from the company I purchased my heater from, and the tech support ­people are on the ball and know how to help you get things running when it’s down.

When they don’t work, your engine techs will start complaining quickly. So I keep a torpedo heater around with kerosene, just in case of a breakdown.

So far, we haven’t had to turn our natural gas supply back on at all. Knock on wood; waste oil burners still get a big “thumbs up” from Stephens ­Automotive.


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