Hydronic systems typically cost between $7,000 and $13,000 for materials alone for a 1,500-square-foot home.
‘For Distribution Systems Only (no controls & no heat source), costs seem to generally range as follows:
For Underfloor (excluding insulation, which is highly variable), $2 to $5/sq ft, depending on plate type and joist on center.
For Overfloor, $2.50 to $6.00, sandwich* up to high-end (and high-performance) prefab panels**. That does include plywood at .87/sq ft for sandwich.
Per Square Foot numbers typically don't have any bearing on controls or boilers. And again, these are ballpark ranges, highly susceptible to brand selection, on center variance, local pricing, etc. Also remember most systems are not one installation method all the way through.’
* Sandwich is a DIY solution. You cut strips of plywood infill, screw them to the sub floor, then staple lightweight plates (or screw heavy gauge plates) down so the aluminum is on top of the infill, and then snap in the tubing from above (using a PEX-AL-PEX product to combat expansion). It's a lot of labor, but also a lot of savings over prefab over-the-floor panels.
** Prefab Panels refer to any one of a number of products out there; Raupanel, QuikTrak or Warmboard provide a similar assembly all in one piece (that is, aluminum, tubing groove, and some kind of infill, together). Generally, those products are "contractor" solutions, because the material cost is much higher, however they are generally easier to put in. Contractor installed, they are roughly on par with sandwich due to the time savings.Source: www.NRTradiant.com
An advantage of hydronic systems is the flexibility of the fuel source. You can use gas, oil, electricity and even solar energy. Plus, you can change fuels for the price of a new boiler. With electric cables, you'll save the cost of a boiler, but you can't change fuel sources. Special heating or off-peak rates available in some areas can make electricity equivalent to, or even less expensive than, fossil fuels.
Typically, hydronic radiant heating systems save 20 to 40% on operating costs compared to other heating sources.