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Heated Driveways: Who, What, Where, When, Why & How

Radiant Heated Driveway Automatically Melts Snow and Ice from your Driveway.What are Heated Driveways? 

The obvious answer is "a driveway that is heated." But what actually heats the driveway? The best heated driveway systems are electric radiant heating systems, similar to indoor floor heating systems. There are primarily two methods for heating driveways (and floors): electric and hydronic. Electric systems use heat cable, while hydronic systems generate hot water, then pump it through plastic PEX tubing. The heating elements are embedded under the surface and use radiant heating to heat the surrounding area.

Most heated driveway systems incorporate an automatic sensor that detects inclement weather to activate the system. Electric radiant heated driveway systems tend to be more efficient, require less maintenance, and heat surfaces quicker. Hydronic systems are usually slightly more expensive to purchase and install, but the operational costs can be lower, depending on the local fuel rates. Both systems have their advantages; however, the electric systems are gaining popularity due to their price, ease of installation, and the uncertain future of fossil fuel costs.

Why Install a Driveway Heating System?

Some of the obvious benefits of a radiant driveway heating system are, of course, not having to shovel your driveway again, avoiding injury due to slippery surfaces, and having the confidence that your driveway will be cleared, regardless of the weather conditions. Other notable benefits include adding value to your home, preserving the life of your driveway, and avoiding damage to the bordering landscape from harmful salts and chemicals.

Heated driveways eliminate the need for manual snow removal.Where and when can you Install a Radiant Heated Snowmelt System?

A radiant heated driveway or snowmelt system can be installed in almost any medium (including concrete, asphalt, under pavers, etc.), in just about location, and nearly at anytime of the year (depending on the medium). The most popular and ideal time to install a system is during new construction. However, with weather permitting, there are no limitations as to when a snowmelt system can be installed, and a variety of custom options. Additionally, asphalt driveways can be easily retrofitted with a radiant heat system.

How do Heated Driveway Systems Work?

Driveway snow melting systems are composed of three main items: the heating element, the controller, and the activation device. The heating element can be either an electric resistance cable or PEX hot water tubing (for hydronic systems). These heating elements can be installed in almost any medium. The simplest application for installation is under brick or stone pavers and in new pour concrete. Asphalt can also be used, but the installation methods call for more care and labor to avoid injurious contact to the cable because of the asphalt's temperature and abrasive nature during the paving process. Warmzone ClearZone heat cable is the premier snow melting cable, and the only heat cable capable of withstanding the extreme temperatures of fresh asphalt installation.

Heated driveway systems are controlled by either a wall-mounted control box for electric systems or a small mechanical room to house a boiler, pump, manifold, etc., for hydronic systems. Both types of systems use manual and/or automatic activation devices. Available automatic sensors include aerial-mounted or pavement-mounted snow switches. These sensors activate the system when there is moisture present and the temperature is below approximately 38 degrees. Most systems also include a manual timer to preheat an area before a large storm to curb snow and ice accumulation.

Who Installs Radiant Heated Driveways and Who Sells Them? 

Electric snowmelt systems are fairly easy to install, and any experienced "do-it-yourselfer", contractor, or electrician would be a candidate for installing a system. There are several vendors of driveway heating systems; however, Warmzone is an established, dedicated source for matching your project to the best valued solution. Warmzone is the consumer and contractor advocate without bias towards any one system. They will point out the obvious benefits and challenges to any project and recommend a system that makes sense. Warmzone has extensive experience with both residential heated driveway and roof deicing systems as well as large commercial projects. 

For more information on driveway heating, an excellent series of articles covering heated driveway installation can be found on www.drivewayheating.com.

Warmzone has a growing network of contacts to contractors across the country who are ready and willing to help, wherever possible. To contact us, Click Here, or call us toll free at 1-888-488-WARM.


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