Tag Archives: Electric and hydronic snow melting systems

Electric and Hydronic Snow Melting Systems

Spring is here and now is a great time to install a radiant heated snow melting system to prepare for the winter ahead. By installing a system now, rather than during the fall rush, you may receive some added discounts.

There are two types of snow melting systems, and it helps to understand the two technologies. Both electric and hydronic systems provide clean, efficient radiant heat, but one is likely to be more ideal than another for your specific needs.

Heated paver driveway
An electric ClearZone snow melting system installed under pavers for a heated driveway.

Hydronic radiant heat works by heating specialized liquid that consists of water and propylene glycol (anti-freeze). This liquid is circulated though a closed loop of special PEX tubing installed underneath the surface. The PEX tubing is flexible, and can be installed in common applications, including concrete, pavers, and asphalt. The tubing is designed to resist chemicals and corrosion, making it extremely durable and long lasting.

The liquid is heated by a traditional water heater or boiler. Because a boiler can operate on natural gas, hydronic systems have the potential for lower operating costs than electric systems, especially if you are heating a large commercial area. Like electric heated driveways, hydronic systems are triggered by an aerial or in-ground sensor that activates the system when it detects the temperature is at or below the set-point (usually 39°F), and precipitation is present, allowing for automated snow melting to keep driveways and sidewalks clear of snow and ice. When considering a hydronic snow melting system, it’s important to consider that the system requires its own dedicated mechanical room. Hydronic radiant heat systems are considerably more complex than their electric counterparts, and as such, these systems also have a much higher installation cost.

If you’re looking for a hassle-free system for heating a residential driveway, steps, or sidewalk, an electric ClearZone snow melting system may be the right fit for you. Electric snow melting systems have become the most popular choice for homeowners and businesses in recent years. In fact, some contractors estimate that over 90 percent of homeowners choose an electric snow melting system for their needs.

ClearZone electric snowmelt systems heat the driveway or sidewalk with a rugged line-voltage cable that is available in individual lengths or pre-spaced in mats. Depending on the system layout, the heat cable is generally spaced 3 or 4 inches apart. The cable is connected to a power source as well as the aerial or in-ground sensor that triggers the system.

ClearZone heat cable can be installed under any medium, including asphalt, pavers, and concrete. (A special asphalt heating cable is available for installation in hot asphalt applications.) Warmzone ClearZone systems are relatively easy to install. Because of the simple design of the system, and the single-point connection cable, it can be installed quickly and easily.  ClearZone snow melting systems also have one of the fastest response times on the market, and produce 35-50 watts per square foot (depending on your system). Any sidewalk, driveway, or walkway with a ClearZone system will remain clear as soon the snow falls.

Another great advantage of an electric snow melting system is that they require no maintenance. While other radiant heat systems may have moving parts and require maintenance, a Warmzone ClearZone system has no moving parts, making it extremely reliable as well as maintenance free. Electric systems do not require a separate mechanical room like hydronic, making them a good choice for those who may not have extra room. Electric systems also have a lower initial cost than hydronic systems.

Whatever system you choose, an electric or hydronic snow melting system from Warmzone will be carefully designed to meet your specific layout and snow melting needs. Both hydronic and electric radiant heat systems are fully automated, so they only operate when needed. This adds to the efficiency of the systems. A snow melting system can also add value to your home or business and protect you and your driveway from any costly damage – while greatly enhancing safety. Using chemicals and salt can cause damage to your driveways and walkways, as well as surrounding landscapes. A snow melting system is a long term investment in safety and and convenience.

When working with Warmzone, you’ll receive top notch customer service. Every snow melting system from Warmzone is custom designed for you by a design professional, and can be configured in any way. If you would rather heat only high traffic areas, tire tracks, or certain steps or walkways, a Warmzone professional will assure that the system is designed for optimum performance and efficiency.

Free installation training is provided as well as expert technical support if you need. If you’re ready for a snow melting system, or would like assistance in making an informed decision on which system is best for your home, contact a Warmzone professional today at 888-488-9276.

Reviewing Electric and Hydronic Radiant Snow Melting Systems – Part I

What are the Best Options for Keeping Your Driveway Clear of Snow and Ice?

Every year it comes, and every year we fight it. I’m talking about snow . . . lots and lots of snow. Sure, it’s pretty and helps to put us in a festive, holiday mood, but the truth is that snow can drain our wallets, sap our strength and even impose on our sleep or leisure time.

Most folks who live in cold climates have become somewhat accustomed to getting up a little earlier or staying up a little later in order to shovel snow from their driveways or clear their roofs and gutters. Usually the shoveling of snow is followed by the disbursement of salt or other snow melting chemicals. Some homeowners – and businesses especially – opt to pay someone else to manually remove the snow. But is manual snow removal really the best way to rid our sidewalks and driveways of snow and ice? There is, in fact, another option – radiant heat.

Radiant heat snow melting systems are fully automated, so once they are installed, there’s no need to worry about snow removal ever again. Electric snow melting systems consist of three components: The heat cable, a snow sensor (activation device), and controller. (Hydronic systems also include a boiler and pump.)

Heated driveway in concrete

The heat cable features a thick wire that is surrounded by layers of insulation, copper grounding braid and a protective outer layer of PVC or polyolefin to form a flexible cable about ⅛ to ¼ inch in diameter. Cable is available on spools as well as in mats. These mats have the heat cable that is pre-spaced and attached to a mesh backing, and can be customized (cut) to suit virtually any type of layout, including driveways, ramps, common walkways and sidewalks, etc.

The activation device for the snow melting system activation device can be either an aerial-mounted or pavement-mounted snow sensor. 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 or to eliminate snow drifts.

When the snow sensor detects the right conditions, it signals the control unit which then sends power through the heat cable. The system warms the surface quickly so that the first snowflakes melt immediately as they land on your heated driveway.

Electric and Hydronic Radiant Snow Melting Systems

What are the Pros and Cons of each Method of Radiant Heating?

First of all, it is important to clarify that one method of radiant heat cannot claim universal superiority over the other. Both types of radiant heat are popular. That being said, each system does possess distinct attributes and advantages.

Electric Radiant Snow Melting Systems

Electric snowmelt systems utilize rugged heat cable that distributes heat evenly across the surface of the driveway or sidewalk. The heating cable is durable enough that it can be installed in new concrete pours, under pavers and even in harsh, high-temperature new asphalt construction projects. It is secured to the remesh and generally spaced at 6 inches while being embedded within about 2 inches of the surface.

The Top Advantages of Electric Radiant Snow Melting Systems

Ease of Installation – Electric radiant heat systems are fairly easy to install. (Handy do-it-yourselfers can do most of the installation. It is important, however, for a qualified electrician to install the wiring.)

Energy Efficient – Electric radiant systems boast a rapid response time, heating the area quickly and efficiently (99% of all energy goes to snow melting, so there is virtually no wasted energy).

Lower Installation Costs – Because electric systems can be installed quickly and easily, the installation costs are minimal.

Maintenance Free – Electric radiant heat systems do not use any moving mechanical parts, so the system is virtually maintenance free.

No Mechanical Room is Required – Electric systems consist of three main components: the heat cable, a snow sensor (activation device), and the controller. So, unlike hydronic systems that utilize a boiler and pump, there is no need for a mechanical room.

SUMMARY: For small to medium sized snow melting applications, electric radiant heat is generally the best choice.

Continued: Read Part II