Radiant Heated Driveways and Snow Melting Systems
What You Need to Know About Radiant Driveway Heating Systems
What, are heated driveways? How do they work? What are the costs and maintenance issues involved? And just how is the driveway heated? These are all questions that can be easily answered by the technology of radiant heat. Heated driveways efficiently utilize radiant heat to warm the driveway, sidewalk or other snowmelt application. The best heated driveway systems are maintenance-free electric radiant heating systems. These snow melting systems operate similar to the radiant heat systems used for heating floors.
Heated driveways utilize either electric or hydronic radiant heat technology for snow melting. Electric snowmelt systems such as ClearZone use durable heat cable, while hydronic snow melting systems utilize flexible polymer (Pex) tubing. The heating elements of both systems are embedded under the driveway's surface and generate heat that radiates throughout the surrounding area to warm the driveway and eliminate any snow accumulation. Installing the heat cable for electric snow melting systems is fairly simple compared to the process of installing a hydronic radiant heat system. Hydronic radiant heat systems utilize a mixture of hot water and propylene glycol (anti-freeze) that is pumped through the closed-loop Pex tubing installed in the pavement. The hot liquid is circulated from a centrally located water heater/boiler.
Warmzone heated driveway systems are fully automated. The system utilizes an automatic sensor that detects temperatures and precipitation and activates the system when conditions warrant. ClearZone electric radiant heated driveway systems are maintenance free, energy-efficient, and heat surfaces quicker than hydronic heated driveways. Hydronic radiant heat systems are usually more expensive to purchase and install; however, depending on the local fuel rates, the operational costs can be lower. For this reason, hydronic systems are often used for large snow melting projects. Be sure to consult with a radiant heat expert to determine which system is best for you (888.488.9276). Both electric and hydronic driveway heating systems have their advantages, but electric heated driveways are gaining popularity among homeowners due to their price, no need for maintenance, ease of installation and the uncertain future of fossil fuel costs.
Reasons for Installing a Driveway Heating System
Of course, one of the most obvious benefits of a heated driveway system is the elimination of shoveling or plowing snow from your driveway. Automated radiant snow melting systems also enhance safety by reducing the potential for injuries due to slippery surfaces. Peace of mind is also a factor, knowing that your driveway will be automatically cleared, regardless of the weather conditions. Installing a heated driveway can also add significant value to your home, help preserve the life of your driveway, and avoid damage to the bordering landscape by eliminating the use of harmful salts and snowmelt chemicals.
How, Where and When to Install a Radiant Heated Snowmelt System
Radiant heated driveways and snowmelt systems can be installed in most mediums, 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 snow melting system is during new construction. However, with weather permitting, there are no limitations as to when a snowmelt system can be installed. In addition to the many custom options available, you can also install a radiant snow melting system in an existing driveway. Asphalt driveways are particularly easy to retrofit with a radiant heat system.
How do Heated Driveways Work?
What is the technology behind a heated driveway? Automated driveway heating 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). Both the electric and hydronic heating elements can be installed in just about any type of medium. The simplest application for installation is under brick or stone pavers and in new 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 a set point (usually 39 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?
Much of the initial installation work of an electric snowmelt system can be done by any ambitious homeowner. The systems are fairly easy to install, so any "do-it-yourself" type or contractor would be a candidate for installing a system. However, it is important that a qualified electrician wire the system. For your convenience, Warmzone may be able to provide a list of experienced installers in your area. Call one of our representatives (888.488.9276) to learn more or to get additional installation information.
Who Sells Heated Driveways and Snow Melting Products?
There are several vendors of driveway heating systems; however, Warmzone differentiates itself by offering a wide variety of radiant heat solutions from several different manufactures - so you are sure to find the system that is the optimum solution for your specific needs. Because Warmzone is not limited to offering one brand or type of driveway heating solution, you can be certain that you'll receive unbiased information and a radiant system that is truly best for your particular situation.
Warmzone also includes detailed engineering and layouts for every system sold. As an established, dedicated source for matching your project to the best valued solution, Warmzone is the number one consumer and contractor advocate without bias towards any one system. Warmzone has earned its reputation as a trusted resource for radiant heat solutions, and will point out all the benefits and challenges for your project before recommending a system that makes the most sense. Warmzone has extensive experience with both custom residential heated driveway and roof deicing systems as well as large commercial projects.
Warmzone has a growing network of contractors across the country who have experience installing heated driveways (and floors) and are ready and willing to help with your radiant heat project.
To contact Warmzone, click here, or call us toll free at 1-888-488-WARM (9276).
For more information on snow melting systems and driveway heating, an excellent series of radiant heat articles covering all aspects of heated driveway systems can be found in the Warmzone Pressroom or on www.drivewayheating.com. For example, check out the links below to read some informative radiant heat articles or download product manuals, technical guides, illustrations, and other informative resources.
Heated Driveway and Snow Melting System Articles and Information
Radiant Snowmelt Solutions (Part I and II)
Installing a Heated Driveway Snowmelt System (Part I and II)
Heated Driveways and Radiant Snow Melting (Part I and II)