Wouldn’t it be great to avoid the need for shoveling snow off the driveway? Oh sure, maybe you live in Miami or San Diego and just laugh at those of us who have to deal with it. For the rest of us, though, melting the snow away with a heated driveway seems too good to be true.
Driveways, sidewalks, and even patios can benefit from a system that will warm them up and get rid of snow and ice that forms on the surface. But how do they work? And are they right for you?
How A Heated Driveway Works
We’ll include walkways and patios in the phrase “heated driveway” because they all work the same way and have the same pros and cons.
There are two main types of heated driveway. Both work with radiant heat to warm the surface from underneath.
The first type works with heated water. Pipes are installed under the driveway and a boiler inside the house pumps the water through them.
The other type uses electric elements rather than water. The elements heat up to provide enough heat to keep snow and ice from accumulating.
Water-based systems tend to cost more for installation but are cheaper to run over time.
For best results, the system should be fired up before the snow starts so that it will melt off immediately. If you already have more than a couple of inches of snow on the ground, turning the system on might make things worse. But automation can help make sure the system starts on time if you forget to turn it on!
Advantages Of A Heated Driveway
The advantages of a heated driveway are obvious. So even though there’s not a lot to say, we don’t want to undervalue the time and effort you can save.
Not having to worry about digging your car out or slipping as you navigate the icy ground is a huge advantage. It can mean the difference between getting to work on time or not. It can even spare you from throwing out your back, or worse.
Of course, a heated sidewalk in front of your house can also help you avoid fines and lawsuits. By promptly melting the snow, it means you’ll be in compliance with local laws and won’t have to worry about a passerby falling.
Modern heated driveways can also be automated. You can set them to turn on at a certain temperature. With the Internet of Things, some heated driveways will be able to detect snowfall in your area. That lets them make a better decision about when to fire up the system!
Automation also means that, if you were out when the snow fell, you can arrive home to a clear driveway!
Of course, if you have a heated driveway you won’t have to worry about buying salt or ice melt – or the damage it causes.
A heated driveway system should last twenty years or longer, so it’s not something you’ll have to worry much about.
Disadvantages of a Heated Driveway
There are a few drawbacks of heated driveways, too. But that’s not to say that heated driveways are a bad idea! Most of the negatives have to do with cost.
First, you have to replace your entire driveway to install the heating system. Since the system runs under the surface, it’s not possible to add it under an existing area. Of course, that’s an added expense.
You’ll likely also need to have a secondary boiler installed in your house to heat the warm for the system. Most home water heaters don’t have the additional capacity for this. If you go for an electric system, you may have to have electrical upgrades to your circuit box.
There is a cost to running the systems, too. But if you were paying someone to remove snow for you, you’ll likely come out ahead over time.
In short, the biggest problem with heated driveways is the expense. For an average home, a heated driveway can cost $15,000 – $20,000, including the cost of a new driveway and all the other work.
If you can afford it, a heated driveway is a great investment for your home. The initial investment is large. But it will save money, time, and backache over the years. It also helps reduce the damage to your car, driveway, and home from ice melt. It’s definitely worth considering if you can afford it!