The Basics and Benefits of a Heated Driveway
A heated driveway sounds like a luxurious addition to your home. In the real sense it is not, especially during the snowy days when the driveway requires endless shoveling. While the idea of watching the snow melt at the flip of a button is very enticing, there are several things you need to know about driveway heating systems before you install one for your home.
WHAT IS DRIVEWAY HEATING AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Driveway heating is very similar to house floor heating. It is basically the same radiant heating application but this time used in an exterior environment. So instead of heated floors you will be dealing with heated asphalt, concrete, paving stones or other surfaces available for driveways. The heating systems are beneath the paving and the power source or boiler are placed either in the garage or your house. Depending on your needs and the brand you are buying from, your snow melting systems will come with additional features. These include applications like sensors for precipitation and temperature, landscape lighting as well as timers.
Heating systems for the driveway come in two major forms: hydronic powered systems and the electric powered ones. These two have quite a difference in terms of cost and maintenance as well as installation and their designs.
ELECTRIC POWERED HEATING SYSTEMS
Electric powered heating systems have resistance cables located beneath or inside the surface. An electric system connected to conventional power quickly heats up the surface. The activation ranges from switches to sensors and even timers. These are located on the control box usually mounted on the wall.
The hydronic powered systems come in the form of a hydronic system that is connected to a boiler system with plastic tubing embedded beneath the surface of the driveway. Heated water and antifreeze is pumped through the piping to warm the surface.
Electrical systems have a lower installation cost and are much easier to install and operate. They also require little maintenance and take up little space for installation. Besides, they also work much faster. The major disadvantage is the cost of running given the rising electricity costs. For hydronic powered systems, the challenge is the initial cost and maintenance. However, they are cheaper in the long run and offer better performance even in heavy snow weather. They require space for the boiler, pump and manifold.
RADIANT HEATING SYSTEM
There are several advantages of using a radiant heating system for your driveway. First you get to have less winter maintenance requirements and reduce risks of accidents or injury. You also get to increase property value of your home which helps when you are thinking of future selling. It also preserves the state of your driveway preventing the harm caused by snow. You also do not have to harm the environment by using salty water and other methods to clear the snow.
You can install the system beneath an already existing driveway surface. However, you may need to upgrade the driveway in case it is aged and due for replacement in five years’ time. This saves the long term costs though weighting up the budgets will guide your decision.