Radiant heating slabs have been growing in popularity in areas that are prone to heavy snowfall, but are they a wise investment? Our home experts weigh in.
If you live in an area with harsh winters, you’re used to frigid temperatures and frequent snowstorms. In these places, it’s a necessity to have a snow plowing service or snow blower to combat those snowstorms that pour inches of snow onto your driveway and walkways. On average, it costs about $40 each time to have a professional plowing service clear your driveway, according to Consumer Reports. If you go the snow blower route, a new model costs around $875, $10 a year for gas, and $100 a year for maintenance. However, many homeowners don’t realize there is another viable option that may offer a higher return on their investment depending on where they live
The Two Types of Heated Driveways
Electric coil heated driveways involve installing electrically heated metal rods under your pavement, which can be controlled as to temperature, timing, and duration of heating. The power output of the cables varies, ranging from 6 to 50 Watts per linear foot, and reaching temperatures as high as 220° F (93.33° C). This means you can melt snow/ice at rates of inches per hour, depending on your specific system and on how high you turn up the heat.
Hydronic heated driveways consist of PVC tubing that zigzags underneath your pavement. A heated water-antifreeze mixture is circulated through the tubing, warming concrete/asphalt and freeing your pavement of snow and ice. Hydronic systems cost more to install than electric coil, but the latter cost more to operate.
How Much Does a Heated Driveway Cost?
While heated driveways will help you save on snow removal and damage often caused by salt and ice melting products, they are pricey to install.
Expect to pay $16,000 or more to install a heating system for an average-size driveway if the existing driveway needs to be removed to install the system. If the system is installed during new construction, it will cost less.
You’ll also want to factor in that you’ll pay more in utilities because the systems use gas or electricity to operate.
However, if installed correctly, you’ll get about 20 years of use from a heated driveway before it needs replacement. That’s a lot of shoveling and snow blowing you won’t have to do!
Benefits of a Heated Driveway
The major benefits of a heated driveway that have made them fashionable many householders within the northern U.S. include the following:
No got to shovel: Eliminating snow shoveling also eliminates the risks of slip-and-fall accidents, frost bite, and hypothermia. And there’s no got to hire someone to shovel or plow your drive, which saves you money. Finally, there’s no risk of scraping or chipping your pavement with shovels and ice picks.
No need for deicing: The heated portions of your driveway won’t require any halite or other deicer. As salt has damaging effects on pavements and adjacent vegetation, it’s good to attenuate its use. Additionally, the hazard contact or ingestion of deicers poses to pets and youngsters is eliminated, as is that the expense of shopping for them.
No-maintenance service: Typically, once you put in a heated driveway, there’s nothing more you would like do but operate it for several years. As long because the heating elements are evenly spaced and enormous , sharp stones weren’t used when the driveway was poured, there should be little if any maintenance costs.
Drawbacks of Heated Driveways
Some of the main “cons” to think about when weighing whether or to not install a heated driveway include:
The installation expense: Normally, you’ve got to put in a replacement driveway so as to integrate the sub-pavement heating plant , and this will cost thousands of dollars. The systems themselves also will cost a minimum of a few thousand dollars. A $5,000 to $10,000 (approximately $6,720 to $13,440 CAD) bill isn’t uncommon.
Operating expenses: what proportion it costs to run a heated driveway will vary greatly supported square footage heated, differential between outdoor and target temperatures, and the way prone the region is to snow/ice accumulation. However, $125 to $250 (approximately $168 to $336 CAD) per season to run a hydronic system and $275 (approximately $369 CAD) or more for an electrical coil system are reasonable estimates.
Repair expense: Though properly installed heated driveways normally need no maintenance, once they do, it’s going to require tearing up the entire driveway to form the repair. If an electrical wire burns out or a PVC tube is punctured, it’ll cost hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars to correct.
A Heated Driveway Alternative
Heated driveway snow-melting mats are almost like other snow-melting mats designed for walkways and entry areas but strong enough to endure the load of vehicles rather than just pedestrian traffic .
The mats are laid down straight to make a snow-free tire lane. they’re capable of melting around two inches (5 cm) of snow per hour, and therefore the melt-off won’t refreeze while they’re on. They escape ordinary outlets and may be used as required to scale back expenses.
Heated driveways have many important benefits, though they’re also expensive to put in and repair. Driveway snow-melting mats can accomplish much an equivalent thing as heated driveways, while costing less.