Heated Driveway Systems - Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How
What are heated driveways? The obvious answer is "a driveway that is heated," but exactly, how is the driveway heated? The best heated driveway systems are radiant heating systems, similar to indoor floor heating systems. There are primarily two methods for heating driveways: electric and hydronic. Electric systems use a line-voltage cable, while hydronic systems generate hot water, then pump it through plastic PEX tubing. The heating elements are embedded in the driveway and use resistant heating to "radiate" and heat the surrounding area. Most heated driveway systems incorporate an automatic sensor that detects inclement weather and activates the heating system when needed. 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 costs can be lower, depending on the local fuel rates. Both systems have their advantages; however, the electric systems are gaining popularity due to their price, ease of installation, and the ever-increasing costs of fossil fuels.
Why Install a Radiant Driveway Heating System? Some of the obvious benefits are increased safety and the elimination of having to manually remove snow, and the assurance of knowing that your driveway will always remain clear, regardless of Mother Nature's cold winter hands. While not having to shovel the driveway again is a key "selling point" to many, other important long term benefits include adding value to your home, preserving the life of your driveway, and avoiding damage to bordering landscape from the use of harmful salts and chemicals.
Where and When can you Install a System. A radiant heated driveway system can be installed in almost any location and type of driveway. Radiant snow melting systems are installed in virtually all types of mediums, include concrete, asphalt, under pavers, etc.). The snowmelt systems can also be installed nearly anytime of the year, but this also depends on the medium. The most popular and ideal time to install a radiant heated driveway is during new construction; however, driveways can also be retrofitted with radiant heat. With weather permitting, heated driveway systems can be installed any time of the year.
How do Radiant Heated Driveway Systems Work? Radiant heat snow melting systems are composed of three main components: 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 heating systems). These heating elements can be installed in almost any medium. The simplest application for installation is under brick or stone pavers and in new-pour concrete. Asphalt can also be used, but the installation methods call for more care and labor to avoid injurious contact to the heating cable because of the asphalt's temperature and abrasive nature during the paving process. Electric snow and ice melting systems are controlled by a wall-mounted control box, while hydronic systems require a small room which houses the mechanics necessary for the system, including a boiler, pump, manifold, etc. Both types of systems use manual and/or automatic activation devices. Available automatic sensors include aerial-mounted or pavement-mounted snow sensor switches. These sensors activate the heated driveway system when there is moisture present and the temperature is below 38 degrees (approximately). Most systems also include a manual timer to preheat an area before a large storm to curb snow and ice accumulation.
Who Installs Heated Driveways and who Sells Them? Electric radiant snowmelt systems are fairly easy to install. Just about any experienced "do-it-yourself" handyman, contractor, or electrician would be a candidate for installing a radiant heating system. There are several vendors of driveway heating systems. Warmzone is an industry leader, offering high quality products, excellent pricing and service, and is a dedicated source for matching your radiant heating project to the best valued solution. Warmzone is a consumer and contractor advocate, without bias. Radiant heat specialists at Warmzone will provide free quotes as well as point out the benefits and challenges of any project. Warmzone will offer you a radiant solution that makes the best sense for your project while remaining within your budget. The experts as Warmzone have extensive experience with both residential and commercial radiant heating projects.
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