Heated Driveways can be a Reality for Most Homeowners

Explore the Many Options for Heating Your Driveway

For some homeowners who are considering the installation of a heated driveway, discovering the initial price of a snow melting system can be like getting hit in the face by an errant snowball. The immediate response is to retreat to the garage and embrace the snow shovel with renewed, yet reluctant affection and appreciation. Unaware of the many custom – and affordable – driveway heating options that can accommodate a vast range of budgets and layouts, many consumers unknowingly close the door of possibility and relegate themselves (and their families) to a future of manual snow removal.

A heated driveway system in concrete operating during a snowstorm.
A heated driveway system in concrete operating during a snowstorm.

In truth, no two heated driveways are alike, as every system is customized according to the specific demands of the homeowner. Each system is not only designed for the specific layout of each driveway, but other factors are considered as well. In addition to the budget, driveway heating systems are also designed according to ASHRAE standards.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is an organization committed to advancing the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.

Snow melting system requirements vary, depending on the specifics of the project. ASHRAE standards were established to address variances such as the location’s altitude, average snowfall and temperature, etc., to allow designers to optimize each system’s performance for that particular location. Basically, if you want the best snow melting system, it’s a good idea to choose a radiant heat solutions provider that adheres to ASHRAE Standards.

To ensure the best snow melting system for your needs, it’s vital that your radiant heat provider design a custom system in accordance with ASHRAE Standards. This ensures that every system best meets the specific needs of each customer. Adhering to these standards means breaking down the design of the system regionally. This entails careful research of the weather for the region, including the general climate, average snowfall, storm duration, temperatures, and other important factors to ensure that the system’s components and design is going to be best suited to perform ideally in that particular location.

While the price of a heated driveway can often be rationalized by the added convenience and time-saving features – or money saved from paying for manual snow removal – perhaps the real benefit of a heated driveway is added safety.

“It’s a classic example of how you can’t put a price tag on peace of mind,” says Alex Geier, of Hinsdale, Illinois (quoted by the Calgary Herald). Safety is likely the single greatest benefit of a heated driveway system.

Asphalt driveway with heated tire tracks

You also don’t have to heat the entire driveway. Many choose to only heat an 8-foot wide strip up the middle of a driveway, or two 24-inch tire tracks. The options and custom layouts are endless, and so many things can be done to accommodate the budget – without affecting performance.

Snow melting systems can be further customized to accommodate the available power. And don’t worry. You don’t need to be solely responsible for determining the available power of your home. Ultimately it is the electrician who determines this. However, there are some helpful guidelines that may assist you as you work with radiant heat professionals to determine the best snow melting solution.

One 30-amp breaker supplies enough power to heat a 170-square foot area. To heat a driveway of 350-square feet, two 30-amp breakers (or one 60-amp breaker) is needed. You can check your home’s main breaker panel to see the power coming into the house. (Most residences feature either two 100-amp panels or two 200-amp breakers. These are located at the top of the main breaker box, above the main breaker panel.)

If you have limited power there are still options that would allow you to install a heated driveway. Customers with minimal power have installed heated driveways that rely on zoning. This means that only one section of the driveway heats up at a time. For example, if there are three zones, then zone one will first activate. After it clears the area, zone two will then power up, followed by zone three. Certainly this is not as ideal as heating a driveway all at once, but for those with power constraints, this is a viable option. Regardless of your situation and budget, chances are that there is a custom driveway heating solution that will fit your needs.

Call Warmzone for more information (888.488.9276), or visit us online at www.warmzone.com.

Automated, Maintenance-free Snow Melting Systems

Custom Heated Driveways, Sidewalks and more

Warmzone has been designing snow melting systems for a wide variety of applications for almost two decades. From commercial parking structures and residential driveways to sidewalks, steps and even runaway truck ramps, we’ve provided a radiant heat solution for just about every application imaginable.

Warmzone customers choose to install snow melting systems for several reasons. Some are for commercial applications and are installed to eliminate the need for manual snow removal as well as to enhance safety for patrons. Being fully automated, radiant snow melting systems provide reliable snow removal, regardless of the hour. This way, customers are assured of having clear walkways to and from the business.

Some clients are unable to manually shovel the snow due to physical/medical limitations. Others need to heat their driveway because it is on a steep incline. Doctors and emergency response personnel need to be able to exit driveways quickly, regardless of the weather, and radiant heat has proven to be ideal under those circumstances. And of course, there are some projects that fall into the “luxury” category.

Regardless of the customer’s need, each Warmzone snow melting system is customized specifically to best meet the needs of the customer. We do not take a “one size fits all” approach. Every Warmzone system is designed to ASHRAE standards to ensure that customers receive the most effective and efficient snow melting solution for their location, layout, and snow melting needs.

Warmzone provides industry leading system design services. Our detailed AutoCAD drawings not only show the layout of the cable and components, but include all the necessary electrical information, such as the proper load calculations, breaker sizes, number of breakers, etc.

Fully Automated

Warmzone snow melting systems feature the industry’s top controls. Most driveway heating systems utilize the WS-2C aerial-mount snow sensor (activation device). The unit features an interleaved grid “moisture” sensor at the top and the brass cylinder protruding from the bottom of the unit is the temperature sensor. When the controller detects precipitation and the temperature is below the designated set point, the unit signals the contactor panel and power is sent to the heating cable. The UL listed panels are available with or without GFEP included. (This is an excellent cost – and time – savings option for electricians.) The resistance cable then warms the driveway surface.

Aerial mount snow sensor
A WS-2C aerial mount snow sensor for automated snow melting systems.

The advanced snow sensor is mounted out in the open where it has a clear view of the sky and is exposed to the weather. To ensure that the sensor is able to make accurate temperature readings, make sure it is not mounted near furnace vents, dryer vents or any other source of heat.

Maintenance Free Snow Melting System

Because the system has no moving parts it requires no routine maintenance; however, it is recommended that the sensor be powered down and the small sensor grid be wiped clean with clear water once every 4 months.

Radiant heated driveways and snow melting systems can be easily customized to accommodate the homeowner’s layout, snowmelt needs, and budget. While every snow melting system can be tailored for each unique installation, some common layout options include:

Heat the most trafficked areas – Rather than heating the entire driveway, some owners choose to heat only the areas that receive the most traffic. An 8-foot strip in the middle of the driveway or a 2-foot strip down the middle of a sidewalk may be all that the customer needs/wants. This still allows clear access for vehicles and/or pedestrian traffic, but brings down the installation cost as well as operational costs.

Heated tire tracks – Another affordable option (that also requires considerably less power) is to heat two 24-inch wide tire tracks. This is a popular solution for customers with limited power or a limited budget. Not only does this make the installation more affordable, but the layout also demands less power, making it more affordable to run.

Heated driveway on incline with heated tire tracks

Heat Specific Areas – Some areas are prone to ice buildup or are on a steep incline. Radiant heat can be installed to keep the incline (or shaded areas) clear of snow and ice to enhance safety as well as convenience. This is especially beneficial for those with driveways that run downhill and into a busy road.

Because Warmzone radiant snow melting systems are fully automated, business owners can be assured that parking areas and walkways are kept clear at all times during snowy days. There’s no need to have employees arrive early to shovel or go outside periodically to clear and salt the walks. When a snowstorm hits, the radiant heat system will activate and keep the walks clear. Once the storm abates, the system remains on for a short time to dry the area (to prevent ice buildup) and then shuts off. Because this “after run” feature provides dry, safe walking areas for customers, it greatly reduces the chances of business owners being hit with dreaded personal injury lawsuits.

Industry Leading Support Services

Don’t forget, Warmzone is the innovative leader when it comes to customer service. Installers not only receive a detailed layout with all the technical information, but can talk with a radiant heat expert any time and receive technical support whenever they have a question during the installation. (See Warmzone’s December Newsletter below for more information about Warmzone’s system design services.) Warmzone also hosts a library of helpful installation videos on its website. Check out Warmzone’s Installation Videos here.

Warmzone also provides free installation training. Installers receive personal training and can complete the installation course at their own pace. Electrical and design experts are on hand to assist you during the training and/or the installation. Warmzone stands by its customers to ensure that the system is installed correctly and the customer is satisfied.

For more information, or a free quote, contact Warmzone today at 888.488.9276.