Installing Heated Driveway System
Installing heated driveway systems has become very common among homeowners. These are installed for different reasons, and their sole purpose is to melt the ice. The heated driveway system allows an effective snow melting system. It prevents slip-and-fall accidents on your hard sidewalks, walkways, and steps.
You can benefit from this system round the clock and keep away from strenuous jobs like shoveling and plowing during the winter season. The system offers more options than before. It allows everyone to benefit from the snow-melting system. In this article, we cover the idea of installing a heated driveway system.
Why Install Heated Driveway system?
Before we head to our key issue – installing a heated driveway system, we need to check its purpose. Also, while checking the reasons for installing a heated driveway system, we will check the factors like the size of snow you want to handle with the snow melting system. Understanding its purpose will help you in your complete installation process. If you intend to get away from shoveling tasks completely, the only solution you have is to heat the entire surface.
If you have a steep driveway, it becomes difficult to get down during the storm. For this, you would need a pair of heated tire tracks as it proves effective. Also, you have to consider the surface to be heated. You can install a heating system over a newly poured concrete or asphalt surface.
The installation and surface you have targeted will have its impact. For instance, some products are suitable for pressure and heat when the asphalt is used. Now, we will check the benefits involved in installing the heated driveway system.
Benefits of Installing Heated Driveway System
The following are the advantages of installing heated driveway systems within your property:
- You do not need to shovel the driveway, thus keeping you away from strenuous jobs.
- You save money in the long run
- It prevents the repeated use of rock salt and ice-melt chemicals, which can hamper your driveway surfaces. Also, the nearby plants remain in the right shape.
- The heating effect of the driveway system comes without risking your landscape.
- It keeps your driveway surface in the right shape, thus allowing it to last long.
- Concrete is porous, and it absorbs water that becomes ice. A heated driveway system prevents issues like surface spalling.
- You enjoy good peace of mind after installing the heated driveway system as you don’t have to worry about snow clearing duties.
- Installing a driveway heating system helps boost the value of your property.
Deciding the suitable system to use
The heated driveway systems use either of the two technologies – hydronic systems or electric systems. The former uses a boiler to add heat to the fluid that is pumped inside the tubes installed over your driveway. In the latter system, several electric cables are used to offer the required heat over the driveway.
The benefit of using electric cables is getting 100 percent efficiency with the system. It easily offers a good amount of heat across the cable. Also, it has no wear and tear since there is no moving part attached. They have an on and off switch and thus never remain idle. You can find a wide range of snow melting cables in the market. Choosing the robust one can give additional security.
Also, you need to decide how you want to activate the electrical system. The electronic snow melting system is activated differently, and it has different components that range from manual switches to any automated snow sensor.
Once you choose the right system, ensure that you have sufficient power to heat the targeted space. Usually, heating a small portion of a driveway can suffice your requirements. It will give the desired outcome with the help of accommodating the power limitations.
Prepare for Installation
As an electrically heated snow system has several benefits, you can plan to install it. You have both the options open. However, before we start the installation process, some specific preparations are to be made. You can install the cable in asphalt, retrofit, under pavers and saw cuts. The following are the critical points under installation.
Before you start, you need to get rid of all the existing concrete surfaces to prepare the site for installation. These include getting rid of the concrete pours. There are locations for control units that can be defined clearly. Your electrician can do the needful. You can plan to bring the cold leads from the location connecting the non-heating cables. It will bring power to the heating element. It connects to the targeted area, which is to be heated. Make sure that the ground is brought in a proper condition, and then pour the required concrete allowing the system to perform optimally.
Plan the placement of the cables with sufficient space in them well in advance. Also, you should check the spacing to ensure adequate heat output. However, this will vary as per the use of cables. It is always advisable to stick to the American Society of Heating, Ref and AC engineers (ASHRAE) recommendations to set up the amount of heat you need as per your location.
Once you plan the layout of the cables, you can always limit the frequency of adding heat to the target location. Also, check the cable passing through the crack control joints. Lastly, make sure you plan to use a joint jumper for prospecting the cable where you see it passing through the joints.
Installing Electric Driveway Heating Systems
The installation of electric driveway heating systems starts with laying out the heating cables in your desired location where you want the heat. You have to place these cables over the bedding layer of the driveway. These remain compatible with permeable or interlocking pavers. These radiant heat mats quickly melt the current snow developed on your driveway.
You have to attach the cable to the electric power source, which at times can be the main power box of your home. Electric systems offer several benefits over hydronic systems. They are easy to install and are inexpensive. They can efficiently work in any pre-existing concrete base driveways and thus offer long-lasting performance compared to their hydronic counterparts.
The cost of installing electric driveway systems is on the lower side in the longer run. The next significant benefit you can enjoy with an electric system is the kind of response time you get with it. Now, you have a faster cable for re-meshing reinforcement with the help of plastic tie-wraps, cable strapping or zip ties.
The fastening of the cable is essential as it can prevent getting pushed down due to a weight or because of some heavy concrete pour. You may need a thick surface depending upon the application and pour. However, it is always good to use mesh-ups to get the heating cable position right for newly-constructed concrete pours.
While installing the cable and power lead, make sure you do not rush or remain under any stress. Avoid cutting the heating cable. It is a good idea to cut the mat tape with the scissors allowing your heating cable to get the right shape. Avoid committing trivial mistakes as they can lead to malfunctions. If you feel it is not a DIY venture, it is always a good idea to seek professional help.
Installing a Hydronic Driveway Heating System
It is always advisable to install the hydronic or heated driveway system way before the winter starts. Once you lay down the pipes, tubing, cables or wire systems, you should lay paving material over the top of the entire space. This is a time-consuming exercise as it takes time for the paving material to set and dry.
You have to give almost one month of time to your driveway to dry down completely before you start the task. You should start this task when you have a moderate climate at your location. Generally, summer is the best time to install the heated driveway, or you can even try during the spring season.
You can opt for it as your DIY venture; however, considering the expertise you need in this task, seeking professional help is always a good idea. They deal in both the electric and hydronic systems. If you are looking for a hydronic-based installation system, it is always good to consider the manufacturer that makes the design suits your requirements.
Also, you have to decide whether you want to work with your existing system or consider installing a new boiler for the heating system. Decide to use timers or sensors for your system to alert you. After determining these options, the driveway foundation is laid off.
You have to insulate the ground and then lay the radiant insulation and vapor barrier. You should install radiant insulation and vapor barrier on this foundation and then lay the grid that adds strength to the concrete. Once you are done with insulation, you can think of laying down the heating tubes or pipes. But make sure you lay it down for at least 2 inches, and then add it with special tape.
Controlling the Heating Schedule
The next factor to check before installing the heating system is to choose between a manual or automatic control system. Opting for an automated heating system consumes more electricity than manual control. It runs nonstop, while this is not the case with a manual system. However, you enjoy convenience with the automatic system.
Hence, it is advisable to balance the automated system as it works on sensors and takes time to sense. Thus, this increases the operating cost. On the other hand, a manual system helps the homeowner save electricity and operational cost. You can run it only when it is needed.
While carrying out the installation process, it is always good to follow the old thumb rule – prevention is better than cure. Following these precautions can avoid any mishap; check the following:
- Avoid putting extra tension or strain over the cable or mat.
- Avoid crossing the heating cable with an expansion joint.
- Keep the mats or cables separate where you find the two.
- Complete the heating cable with a valid warranty and make sure you connect the heating cable seeking the help of any competent and licensed electrician.
Seeking professional help is always a good idea; take time to find out the best service provider.
How Much Does a Heated Driveway Cost?
Several factors play an important role in deciding upon the cost of a heated driveway system at your place. Landscape contractors consider the following variables:
- The labor cost (if you consider professional help)
- The cost of materials like pavers, asphalt or cement
- The cost of snow melting system
The cost will vary as per the size of the project. We can find both the labor and material cost going up significantly. However, the average installation cost for a driveway can cost you around 2511 USD to 6983 USD. Similarly, the electric driveway heating systems cost you somewhere 10 USD to 25 USD per square foot, while for controls, you have to invest between 1000 USD to 3000 USD.
This may be a lot of money for some lawn owners; however, the amount of comfort they will enjoy offers good value for money. Also, most contractors in this industry provide a 10-year warranty, an additional feature to enjoy, thus reducing the cost in the longer run.
How much is the operational cost after installing a heated driveway system?
To determine the operational cost of installing a heated driveway system, you must first check the total energy consumed. Your system’s total energy wattage is calculated by multiplying the square footage of the area to be heated by 50 watts. You then have to divide the total consumption by 1000 to get the result in kilowattage. Further, you can multiply this amount by the average kW per hour in your location. Find out your latest energy bill to check the specific kWh rate. The average rate in the US is 0.14 USD per kWh. The formula for the operational cost goes the following way:
Total wattage = 50 watts x Square footage of the heated area
Total kilowattage = Total wattage ÷ 1,000
Hourly operating cost = kWh rate x Total kilowattage
In conclusion, we can see how a heated driveway can be a boon during the winter season. Installing a heated driveway system is always a beneficial investment in the long run. You can always consider this venture during any free weekend. However, seeking professional help is always a good idea.
From selecting the right seasonal plants to installing an outdoor kitchen, our landscaping services can do it all for you. Contact us today for a stunning landscape!