Heated Driveways: Who, What, Where, When Why and How
by Troy Butcher of
What are heated driveways?
The obvious answer is, “a driveway that is heated,” but what actually
heats the driveway? The best driveway heating systems are radiant heating
systems, similar to indoor floor heating systems. There are both electric
and hydronic radiant heating systems that can be used to heat outdoor
surfaces. Electric systems use an electric cable, and hydronic systems pump
hot water through plastic tubing. The heating elements are compacted in the
surface and use resistant heating to heat the surrounding surface. Most
systems use automatic sensors to turn on the systems when it begins to snow.
Electric 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 are usually lower. However,
unless you're heating extremely large areas, the advantages of electric
systems tend to out weight those of hydronic systems.
Why install a driveway heating system?
Some of the obvious benefits are of course, not having to shovel your
driveway again, prevention from slipping on icy surfaces, and no longer
getting stuck in your driveway. Some other benefits include increasing the
value of your home, prolonging the life of your driveway, and not harming
the environment with harmful chemicals.
Where and When can you install a system?
Driveway heating systems can be installed in almost any location,
in almost any medium (including concrete, asphalt, under pavers, etc.), and
at almost anytime of the year (depending on the medium). The most popular
and ideal time to install a system, is during new construction, and during
the summer. However, as long as the conditions are fair enough to install
the driveway, there are no limitations when installing the system.
How do the systems work?
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 heating cable, or PEX tubing for hot water. These
heating elements usually be installed in almost any medium. Installing the
system under pavers, and in new concrete makes for the easiest installation,
but asphalt is still an option. The controller is either a wall-mounted
control box for electric systems, or a boiler for hydronic systems. Hydronic
systems also require other parts like pumps and manifolds for the system to
operate. Both types of systems use manual and automatic activation devices.
Available automatic sensors include aerial mounted and pavement mounted snow
switches. These sensors activate the system when there is moisture present
and the temperature is below approximately 38°. Most system come
equipped with a back-up, manual 4 hour timer.
Who installs them and who sell them?
Electric snow melting systems are fairly easy to install, and any
experienced “do-it-yourselfer”, contractor, or electricians would be a
candidate for installing a system. There are several vendors of driveway
heating systems, however, Warmzone, Inc., is a great source for any snow
melting solutions. Warmzone, Inc. is the customers advocate, and helps
select the best product for individual projects, both residential and
commercial. They have a growing network of experienced installers, and are
ready and willing to help where ever possible.
About the author: Warmzone,
Inc. is one company who carries various types of radiant systems and is
dedicated to specifying the product that makes the most sense for each
individual job. Without a bias towards one system they have become a consumer
advocate in the radiant industry and will save you time and money. Warmzone
has already done the research and has selected to only work with the best
products on the market. Because they are a large nation-wide wholesaler, they
can offer you the best pricing by selling to you direct. You can receive a
free estimate for your project by submitting a request at www.warmzone.com or calling them at
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