Removing Snow From Driveway - Best Long Term Solution?

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We have a gravel driveway, roughly 150 feet long. It's about 12 feet wide, except for a 20x30 area in front of the garage where we park and turn around. It has a few curves, and slopes up towards the county road. The county keeps the main road plowed, but just getting out of our own driveway can be a real adventure.
I've traditionally gone out and shoveled the driveway clear when we've had snow storms. It wasn't bad when I was younger, but as I get older I realize I won't always be able to shovel snow for hours just to run to town. So, I'm investigating other solutions that will be easier for "an old guy" to manage. :) Unfortunately, staying home till the snow passes won't be an option for many years to come.
The first option seems to be a snow thrower, but I don't really like the thought of one more piece of equipment to maintain. We can have a few really mild winters, followed by one or two really wild ones. So, a gas snow blower could potentially sit unused for a couple of years, just taking up lots of space. Fighting to start a small gas engine in the cold doesn't sound much better than shoveling snow. And the $700 and up price tag seems high considering how often we might use it.
Considering the erratic nature of our storms, an electric model like the Toro 1800 seems nice. No gas, no oil, no routine maintenance. I already have 100' long heavy duty 12 gauge extension cords, and a couple of electrical outlets along the drive. But, I hear they don't work so well on gravel drives, or with wet deep snow. Still, the $300 price tag is easier to manage, and it wouldn't take up so much space in the shed when we weren't using it.
I'm also considering some sort of snow melt system. I'm hoping to install pavers and a drainage system in front of the garage this summer anyway, so it seems like a good time to install a melt system if I'm going to. But again, the costs for materials seems like it would be rather expensive. Electric seems like it would be a lot less maintenance (and we have low electric rates) than hydronic. But, both systems seem to need some type of paved covering (concrete, asphalt, pavers), which would further increase costs.
So, I'd like to hear how others deal with snow that falls erratically, but can be a big problem when it does?
Thanks,
Anthony
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pex tubing heated by a gas or propane tankless. electric will cost far more.
remember all you need is a few degrees above freezing to melt snow and ice.
it will be costly up front, but great at home resale time.
i have a old friend who had a half mile long driveway up a big hill.
the parents sold the home the new owners went with heated asphalt, and thinks its great.
imagine flip one switch and no shoveling
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The problem with hydronic is all the moving parts (heater, pump, etc.) and dealing with changing the anti-freeze semi-annually.
Consider we may only get a few snow storms each year and then nothing for a few years, electric seems like a "less hassle" option. Out of sight until needed, no maintenance.
Still, any snow melting option has got to cost more than even the best snow blower.
Anthony
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Cost will definitely be high. Not just the installation, running it also even with low electric rates. It takes a lot of BTU to turn a pound of snow into water and it is not a fast project.
My condition is about the same as yours. Drive 100' by 30' wide. Most years I only need to clear the drive a couple times and then it isn't very deep but comes the occasional winter and there is no getting out without clearing it. This is one such. Last snow was last Thursday, area is still digging out.
I went with a snowblower. My old one died in this storm and I bought (internet) a Poulan $1500 one for $900 via Amazon (still on AFAIK). It has electric start so there shouldn't be any problem with struggling to start it.
Harry K
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Why would you have to change the antifreeze twice a year?

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this is like saying must go to moon, on the cheap.
the two are mutually exclusive.
paying for plowing is likely the cheapest since it requires no up front purchase
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also consider a plow on a atv......... or old truck.
sit in warm and dry while you clear snow,
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Yep, thought of those, but I don't own an ATV or a truck. So, it would be a bigger outlay.
Not to mention, I don't really have anywhere to "push" the snow to.
Anthony
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HerHusband wrote:

So instead of investing in and having to maintain equipment hire someone to do it. Lots of folks do it especially in areas such as you describe where you only deal with a few storms/year.

Part of the equation for snow country is to have an "anywhere". Maybe you can tinker with the landscaping. It doesn't take much.
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HerHusband wrote:

Get a 4WD or AWD vehicle with decent ground clearance and be done with it. Just drive back and forth a couple times every 6" of snow fall so it doesn't get too deep between packings. Vehicle doesn't have to be a big truck or SUV either, most any Subaru also fits the specs and works fine. Worst you have to do is toss a little sand on the tracks now and then.
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Pete C. wrote:

That wouldn't work where I am located because it would create layers of jagged ice that would have to be dealth with for months.
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George wrote:

What's your point? The vehicles mentioned handle the ice pack just fine. Indeed, on the gravel driveway the OP indicated the ice pack will have plenty of texture for traction. The only time it starts to get slippery is towards spring when you get some melting that starts to level the surface, at which point you sprinkle some sand on it. If you need to walk the driveway, say to the mailbox, you walk in the unpacked areas to the side of or between the tire tracks. Decades of experience in the northeast prove this works just fine, the only thing you need to clear is what the town plow piles at the front of the driveway.
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Pete C. wrote:

Maybe the 4wd vehicles can handle it but people need to be able to get from the vehicles to the house and vice versa. It can be a real challenge to do that once you have lots of icy built up ruts especially as you get older as the OP described was part of his situation. Plus it is nice to have some consideration for visitors including those who are driving cars.
The vehicles mentioned handle the ice pack just fine.

I have lived in the northeast all of my life in many different places and I have to say it is pretty unusual for people not to clear their driveways as you describe.
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George wrote:

Do you recall the commercial, shot at ground level, of a VW bug rolling slowly through the snow, stopping, and these feet enclosed with boots step out? The camera follows the boots to a big garage where you hear the sound of something like a goddamn locomotive start up, and the world's largest snow blower comes rumbling out of the garage, ready to move mountains of snow off the Donner Pass.
Then a voice comes on and says: "Did you ever wonder how the guy who drives the snow plow GETS to the snow plow?"
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That works great until one day, it doesn't.
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The best an only acceptable solution from my point of vew is to MOVE SOUTH and leave the snow behind.
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When damnyankee snow does come to the Pomised lLnd o of North Carolina, it is gone in a day or two. Too bad the damnyankees don't go with it.
However, rather than agreeing that you emigrate to the better side of life, I suggest you replace you driveway with concrete or asphalt and buy the snow blower.
Dick
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You leave out the important part. how much snow do you get at a time? 6-8inches? 2 feet? an inch at a time?
-snip-

Read the reviews of the 1800 on Amazon- And search google for my comments on them over the years. [I'm a *big* fan- and though i have a 7hp, 2 stage I still find the little toro quicker/easier for a 4-5inch snowfall.]

Mine hangs on a peg in the garage- the cord takes up more space.

-snip-
Cost of operation on that would vary quite a bit from, say Tennessee, to say, Maine. In upstate NY I've only seen a few in my lifetime- but boy they sure look pretty in a snowstorm.<g>
Jim
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It really varies. The last several years, we haven't had more than a few light dustings, except maybe for one storm leaving 4" or so.
Then again, we go through periods like this year where we've had snow on the ground for two months, with at least two storms piling up to more than 14" each.
That's why I hate to invest in a huge snow snowblower or some other expensive solution. It just may not get used that often, and maintaining it might be more work than shoveling snow. But when we need it, we really need it.

Thanks for the info. I appreciate the first hand experience. It does sound like it would be a good match for the majority of our snowfalls.
Our gravel drive concerns me more than anything. Can these be adjusted somehow to stay an inch or so above the ground?
Anthony
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Yes. A friend of mine has a gravel driveway, and has her snow blower adjusted so that it never gets involved with the rocks at all. Hers in an Aryens. Check whatever model you buy to make sure it can be adjusted enough.
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