Shoveling snow is no fun. Neither is falling on an icy driveway. One way to avoid these problems is a heated driveway. Heated driveways keep the pavement warm enough to melt falling snow when it hits the ground. Here are the benefits:
- Safety. Heated driveways prevent ice accumulation and the risk of serious injuries (and potential liability issues) that arise when someone slips on the ice in your driveway.
- No snow shoveling. Since the snow melts when it hits your heated driveway, you won’t need to clear the driveway on those cold days. Not only is it a time saver, but you don’t run the risk of pulling a muscle or worse when you are shoveling. It also spares you the frustration of your snow plow service not showing up.
- Driveway preservation. A heated driveway eliminates the need to use salt or other deicers that can cause cracks in the driveway, as well as burning nearby grass, plants and flowers. It also eliminates the need for snowplows and trucks to scrape and damage your driveway, as well as driving over your lawn.
- Car preservation. Salt also can corrode your car’s undercarriage. No salt, no corrosion.
- Easy operation. Most systems can be operated with a simple switch. You can also purchase a system with sensors that will automatically turn the system on when it begins to snow, although that feature will add expense.
- Little maintenance. Once installed, there is little maintenance required.
There are two types of heated driveways. Both use radiant floor heating systems (like you may have in your bathroom):
- Electric current heating systems use a mat of wires that are embedded beneath the driveway. Electric current is used to produce heat across the mat.
- Hot water systems use a network of tubes and pumps to move hot water beneath the driveway.
The biggest drawback to heated driveways is cost. They can cost thousands of dollars – more if you need to rip up your driveway. That pays for several years of a professional plowing service (but again, consider the benefits before making a decision).
There are also operational costs. Water-based systems are more expensive initially, but electrical systems will use more energy during operation.
There are also a few ways to cut down on cost.
- If you have a concrete driveway, it can be retrofitted and converted to a heated driveway. This is done by cutting into the concrete and adding a snow melting system into it.
- You can bust up the old pavement and haul it away yourself, if you are so inclined.
- Finally, instead of installing a heated driveway, purchase heated mats. They can be placed over your driveway and sidewalks and even entrances. Prices vary, but big ones are about $1,000.