Is a Radiant Heating System Right for Your Driveway?

Written by Jake Rabe of Rabe Hardware
Updated January 8, 2014
installing heated driveway coils
A contractor installs the coils during a heated driveway installation. (Photo courtesy of Angi member Tom S. of Commerce Township, Mich.)

If you live in a cold region that requires snow removal, you may want to consider installing a hydronic radiant snowmelt system under your home's driveway.

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When thinking of winter, many of us have joyful memories filled with snow forts, sledding and neighborhood snowball fights. However, winter isn’t always fluff and fantasy. 

The dark side of winter is cold and miserable, filled with backbreaking chores like snow shoveling. The mere thought of bundling up and risking life and limb on slippery surfaces is enough to send most people running for their long underwear and a cozy spot next to the fireplace. 

Thanks to advances in the HVAC industry, there are innovative solutions for homeowners who are looking to spend their winter months worry-free.

If you live in a cold region that requires snow removal, you may want to consider installing an environmentally friendly, hydronic radiant snowmelt system. Installing a radiant heating system under your driveway and sidewalks is a safe and convenient way to remove snow. 

These systems automatically clear your driveway from ice and snow, regardless of the weather conditions. Radiant snowmelt applications not only add value to homes and businesses but they’ll also help preserve the life of your driveway and avoid damage to the bordering landscape by eliminating the use of harmful salts and snowmelt chemicals.

Hydronic radiant snowmelt systems pump and circulate a mixture of hot water and propylene glycol (anti-freeze) through closed-loop tubing that is installed in the pavement or under pavers. The embedded heating elements of the system will generate enough heat to warm the driveway or sidewalk and eliminate any snow accumulation. 

Many installers will also recommend automating the system with a snowmelt control and sensor that uses optics rather than the typical metal on/off components. This allows the system to sense the presence of snow or ice and adjust accordingly.

In recent years, the HVAC industry has seen radiant snowmelt systems increase in popularity because of affordability, greater effectiveness and efficiency. In general, hydronic radiant snowmelt systems are more affordable to operate than electric radiant systems. 

The heated liquid that circulates through the hydronic system will maintain its heat for longer periods of time after the boiler shuts down, thus improving the system's efficiency. The cost to install a system is unique to each installation and is based on factors like soil composition, square footage and the type of material being heated. 

It’s finally time to embrace those childhood memories and once again delight in the joys of the season. With a hydronic radiant snowmelt system, snow removal has never looked better.

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About this Angi Expert: Jake Rabe is the owner of Rabe Hardware, providing heating and air conditioning services in Blairstown, Iowa. Since 1979, Rabe Hardware has specialized in full service geothermal systems, HVAC, plumbing, electrical services and more. You can follow this #ALExperts contributor on Google Plus.

As of August 14, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angi. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angi for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angi.

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