Running a Shop Tools and Equipment Shop Floor

The Return: Clean Burn Waste Oil Furnace

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Clean Burn Waste Oil Furnace
A Nevada shop owner reviews a system that converts oil into heat.

STATS: Arrow Automotive Transmission Specialists Location: Reno, Nev. Website: Cost: Pricing varies, contact a local distributor for best estimate. For a medium-sized (CB-2500) and  large (CB-3500), it cost roughtly $17,000 for installation in 2009. Uses: Takes excess fuel and converts to heat Training Required: With the installation, over-the-phone instructions on how to use were provided

The Reviewer:

Monte Craig, co-owner of Arrow Automotive, began his career when he was 14 years old at Budget Rent a Car. When he left the company at 19, he was one of the youngest area reps the company had ever seen. During his time as an area representative, he met his future business partner, and in 1986, the two started Arrow Automotive. A few years into the partnership, Craig bought his partner out and has been the sole owner for the past 25 years.


The Shop:

Since Monte Craig opened up his shop in 1986, the shop has grown from a one-bay transmission shop into an 18,000-square-foot facility that now performs general repairs. Through multiple location changes, Craig learned what worked and what didn’t work when it came to how a shop was setup.

In 2009, when the opportunity came to build a shop from the ground up, Craig knew he wanted to make the shop eco-friendly and run it as efficiently as possible—that’s where the Clean Burn system came in.

“The building that we were in before wasn’t very efficient,” Craig says. “It was set up like a typical mechanical repair shop with thin walls that came with a high heating bill each month.”

Craig had heard about Clean Burn, a company that produces furnaces that take all of a shop’s excess oil and converts it to heat. He made the decision to install two furnaces in his shop.


How it Works:

The system operates like a regular furnace. Craig had his installed by his HVAC guy when he was mounting his regular gas heaters. Clean Burn sent detailed instructions on how to perform the installation.

The Clean Burn system is made up of three sections: oil storage tank, oil pump assembly and the furnace unit.  

The waste oil, which is held in an oil storage tank (a shop can use its existing one or can purchase one from Clean Burn), is sent to the oil pump assembly, then to the furnace. At Craig’s shop, this is about 15 feet up from the ground. The oil is drawn into the burner, where it is converted to warm air and exits through the vents to create warm air to heat up the shop.


The Review:

“I just like that we’re able to keep ourselves warm and not have to worry about it,” Craig says.   

Reno varies in temperature, so it’s essential that the shop is heated, and Craig wants to make sure his staff is comfortable.

“I’ve seen it in other shops—techs are freezing because the shop owner is trying not to spend money on heat,” Craig says. “The Clean Burn system gives us the freedom not to have to worry about that.”

When Craig first purchased the system, he bought a medium size and a large unit because he was worried that the burn rate would be too high if he purchased two large units. The burn rate is the amount of fuel the heaters use per hour. If two large heaters burned too much oil, he says the shop would consume more waste oil and not have enough to keep both heaters active. With the larger new shop, he did not know exactly how much used oil from the customers vehicles we would capture. Looking back, he wishes he would have purchased the two large units.

One of the drawbacks? The noise. Although it’s not terrible, Craig says he would prefer no noise at all.

Clean Burn also has a system that heats from the ground up. Not being in a typically “colder” region, Craig couldn’t find a contractor that knew how to install a heated floor unit.


The ROI:

Craig says the $17,000 investment was recouped in roughly three-and-a-half years. This was done by cutting down on his heating bill drastically. His new location, which is four times larger than his previous location, costs him less to heat thanks to Clean Burn.

Clean Burn’s website ( has a savings calculator that shows how much a shop considering purchasing the system will save. For example, a shop that wastes 1,000 gallons of oil per year and is electrically heated can expect to save $24,300 in five years.  

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