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How Much Does a Radiator Heating System Cost?

Author: Brian Eckert

Hydronic Heating Systems Prices

Radiator heating systems—also known as hydronic heating systems—often bring to mind a vision of big, clunky cast-iron radiators common in older homes. While some people still prefer these, it is more common these days to use small, sleek, efficient hydronic baseboard heater units. Continue reading to learn more about home radiator heating, including how much it costs to install.

Hydronic Heating System Components

The major parts of a radiator heating system are described below:

  • Boiler: A boiler is where the hot water is heated before it is distributed throughout the rest of the home. It is typically powered by heating oil, natural gas, or propane. Some radiators are an all-in-one package that provide not only heat, but hot water. In other cases, a hot water heater is installed separately.
  • Piping: Once the water has been sufficiently heated by the boiler, it is moved by a circulating pump through hot water piping.
  • Radiators: Hot water is piped to radiators, where the water is transferred into radiant heat (which is why radiator heating systems are also known as radiant heating systems). Modern radiators are low-profile flat-panel units that are available in a huge range of shapes, designs, and colors. They often have thermostatic radiator valves to allow for zoned heating.

The Benefits of a Hydronic Heating System

Radiant heating offers a number of advantages over forced-hot-air, including the following:

  • Reliability: Hyrdonic heating systems, because they have few moving parts, typically last longer and require less maintenance than a traditional forced air system.
  • Indoor Air Quality: The absence of air movement in a radiant heating system means that dust, pollen, and other irritants aren’t blown around. In addition, this type of heating won’t dry out your breathing passages.
  • Energy Savings: By replacing your outdated boiler with a new, high-efficiency unit, you can save up to 30 percent in heating costs and reduce your annual carbon footprint by 2 tons or more.

Radiator Heating System Average Costs

The actual cost of a hot water heating system depends on a number of factors, including the size of your home, the type and quality of the components installed, your location, the difficulty of the installation, and more.

Note that hot water heating systems are not commonly installed in new homes. Rather, older homes already fitted with steam heating components are updated to be quieter, more comfortable, and more efficient.

  • A new boiler might cost $2,500 to $10,000 installed.
  • Hydronic baseboard radiators come in standard sizes such as 3, 5, 6 and 8 foot. Depending on the unit’s size and output you can spend expect to pay $100 to $500 or more apiece.
  • A new hot water heater costs $1,000 to $4,000 installed.
  • If new piping is needed, expect to pay $1.25 to $2.50 per linear foot and up (if using copper piping, market prices can fluctuate).
  • Actual labor costs depend on the amount of work to be done and how much is charged by the plumbing and heating contractor (the national average is $50 to $70 per hour).
  • This Old House describes the installation of a new radiator the installation of a new radiator heating system in a historical home.

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