Heated driveway information?

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My husband and I are thinking about having a heated driveway installed, but before we start calling contractors, we're trying to gather as much information as possible about the different types of systems, the cost (of installing and operating), and general information about heated driveways. We live in Pittsburgh, Pa. (where it's hilly and snowy) and have a short, steep, concrete driveway that my husband is tired of shoveling every winter. (We're especially interested in systems that can be installed in an existing driveway). I was hoping someone here might be able to provide some information about heated driveways or point me to other sites, and share their experiences with heated driveways (good or bad).
Thanks for any advice you can provide.
Suzanne
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Suzanne Couturiaux wrote:

Are you really ready for the cost of heating it? It is really going it hit your utility bills.
I can't imagine of any good way of adding it to an existing driveway.
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Joseph Meehan

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For a concrete drive, I would think that one could cut grooves with a saw, insert heating wires, and seal up with sealer. This would be like how they put sensor wires in for traffic lights.
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veway.

I'm sure it can be done, but it would also be like trying to heat the entire planet as the heat will go down as well as up. I can't imagine the cost.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Many (well at least some) expensive homes use heating loops in driveways...since the loop is nearer the top surface than the bottom, it has less trouble getting to the top surface. I knew a few houses that had/have them in TN, but I'm sure the cost wasn't a factor for the homeowners..."if you have to ask about gas mileage, you can't afford it..." :)
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Yeah. I'm thinking of doing a ramp to replace the steps to the back door, and that I would have to do something like that for it to be usable in the winter.
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40 years ago the people across from us put in a heated driveway. When they saw what it did to their utility bill they stopped using it. Unless there has been one heck of an improvement, it must be even worse today.
Good luck.
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- Suzanne Couturiaux -

- Nehmo - I've been studying it myself. See the thread, Roads, Heated Needed http://snipurl.com/c351 .
There are several systems, but none lend themselves easily to a retrofit. Electric cost is less than what you would expect. One estimate has an average at US$ .80/square meter per snowstorm. My own figures conservatively come to 4 cents per linear lane foot per hour of use. You'll need about 50 watts per square foot. Also, of course, you'll have the initial capital cost.
If you insist on a retrofit, a possible less-elegant solution is a deicing spray system.
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I wonder how long it would take to get the surface from say, 5 degrees to 33 degrees.
If the numbers work: Take a driveway that is 10' x 50'. That is 500 square feet times 50 watts per sq.ft. = 25,000 watts. 25,000 watts = 25 kW * .12 per kW hour comes to $3 per hour. In a modest snowfall, it would run about 12 hours or $36. In a larger storm it could easily run 24 to 36 hours here. I'd also have to add at least a 200A service to handle it.
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- Edwin Pawlowski -

- Nehmo - You only need to get the surface of the pavement above freezing while there is freezing precipation. You would have a control system. The heat wouldn't simply be left on at max for the night of a snowfall - unless that were required.
Snowfree electrically conductive asphalt http://217.172.161.215/ktml2/images/uploads/news/FAATALKFINAL.pdf "The up heat time required to reach operating temperature is approximately 2.5 hours based on a power input of 45 watts/f^2 and a starting temperature of 25F."
- Edwin Pawlowski -

- Nehmo - We pay .081 US$/KWH here in Kansas City. 9 feet can accomodate any car. And your using unlikely on times. But your estimated operating cost would be acceptable to many - particularly if the road were critical.
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Nehmo Sergheyev wrote:

From a practical point of view, you need to turn on the heat enough ahead of the time you want the drive cleared, to allow time to heat the concrete and melt any snow or ice. That can be a long time indeed. Since many people want to be able to get out of their drive in the morning, they have the choice of saying up all night or guessing.
Frankly if it were cheap and easy to melt snow this way and if the hardware had a long life (if often does not) then you would see it used a lot more than it is. Even in high density commercial areas, you don't see a lot of it being used. Heck if it were cheap, the airports would use it, they can afford it more than most home owners.
The fact is it is just not a practical tool for removing snow most places.
The exceptions may be sloped drives where someone must be able to inter or exit and they are not physically able to remove the snow using conventionally and can afford both the original expense and operational expense.
Failing to warn someone who is considering this choice, is I believe a disservice to them and if done by the salesman it is a dishonest act.

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Excellent points, especially about the airports. FWIW, the technology may have improved since, but in the late 70's I worked at a place (central Ohio) that had a very steep drive at a 90 degree angle right off a busy 4 lane highway. They had an electric driveway heater which never worked in the 2 winters I was there. It was a real bitch getting up that drive after a snowfall, especially in the rear wheel drive vehicles of the day.
Dan
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Dan wrote:

I live in Hilliard Oh and worked in Columbus. The only two systems that worked most of the time that I know about in Columbus was the State House Parking Garage and the walk in front of the Rhodes Tower (State Office Tower).

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I would think the majority of snow country would benefit from oil or gas to hydro rather than electric heat from a financial perspective.
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What method do you use to heat your home?
Are you going to replace the entire driveway or retro fit the old slab for heat. It would be more cost effective to replace the drive if its short, and pour the concrete to at least 6" thick.
If you are using a boiler to heat your home, and are going to replace the driveway a manifold type control to limit the amount of warm water that would be circulated thru the driveway seems the way to go, it does not have to be heated to 70degs, once warmed the concrete should hold the heat.I would think 35 degs would be sufficient.
I think you could shut the manifold valve off when the weather is not calling for snow and not heat the slab.
Electric heat would be too expensive, what about just hiring some one to shovel for you?
Tom

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I have heard of home heating schemes which gather a bit of "free" heat using a long length of pipe run back & forth through the ground below frost level to raise water pumped through it to 50 some degrees. I wonder if this might then be circulated through the driveway, perhaps with a bit of supplemental heating. Seems like if you ran it prior to a possible snow, you could warm the drive enough to prevent frozen accumulation, easier than melting it once it's there.
Dan
twfsa wrote:

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That's not too far off from how a typical system works. They like to circulate 80F water through a loop to keep the driveway just above freezing. The idea is that they must be turned on hours before a snow is predicted to get the driveway surface above freezing. Then the snow just melts on contact.
Also, with regards to heating the ground, this is a concern. Heat goes to cold. It doesn't just rise as most people think. To help control this, insulation must be put under the heating tubes or elements. If this cannot be done, don't bother with the project.

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If you use the boiler, you'd have to go to a glycol system or drain the lines when not in use. I don't think that would be the most practical system.
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wrote in message

I used to go to a church that priced a liquid (glycol?) driveway system when they were going to replace their boiler, as the electrical driveway system was too far over the church budget to ever operate. They decided that, even with members (a cement contractor) removing and replacing the asphalt at the steepest part and replacing with concrete and tubing at cost (no labor) the added expense to the boiler project was just too high.
I do not know specifics (and we left that church over the right wing nutballs moving in, so I can't ask)... but I remember very well the discussion surrounding the special unit that would be attached also taking up some of the space of a storage closet right next to the boiler. Considering how much smaller that stuff is today I thought that was notable, but as I said... I really do not know the specifics... just that there is such a critter available somewhere out there but pricey.
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They're quite common.
Using a glycol mix also allows you to run a higher boiler temp for your house if you have the need.
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