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 degrees. Most system come equipped with a back-up, manual 4 hour timer.
If you are interested in more, please check out our Annual Preventative Maintenance Program and you won’t have to worry about at thing.