Are Heated Driveways Worth the Cost?

Leave a Comment - 77



Subject: Propane torch?

Has anyone ever tried using a large propane torch (used to get rid of weeds) to melt snow from small driveways or walkways?

Morgan M. Audetat

Subject: Propane Torch snow melting

If you can hold the torch long enough and have enough tanks. Heating concrete above 150°F can lead to spalling. Not good.

Most radiant snow melting systems operating at an average water temperature closer to body temperature. Easy on the concrete and the checkbook.


Subject: Heated Driveway

Just wondering if a driveway heating system can be installed under a gravel driveway?
Anyone have experience with this?


Subject: Heated driveways

Does a paver driveway eliminate the need for a drainage system at the end of the driveway, since the water produced seeps through the cracks? Does the heating system melt the wall of snow created by the city street plows at the end of the driveway?
We religiously shovel our driveway, only to have snow from the edges melt on warmer days and turn to glare ice. We then put salt down, which melts that ice, which re-freezes later on, and people fall. A heated driveway would save my friends, family and service workers from potentially devastating injury. Well worth the cost.

Morgan M. Audetat

Subject: Snow/Ice SIM melting snow and drainage.

Yes, generally speaking pavers will not need extra drainage. In fact, most concrete slabs don't need special drains. It is all about the site. If the drive is steep and ends in front of the garage door, like Wray's Uncle's, then a trench drain would be in order.

Most of my steep driveways, including my own, drain to the gutter and from there to the city storm. Some winters I have to throw a few pounds of salt under the mail box to keep the mail-lady happy but most winters it is not an issue.

I too get the after-plow-blues but design the BadgerEdge to foil those depressing plow waves with more concrete, pipe and enhanced output.

Wray Breen

Subject: DIY Heated Driveway

During the late 50's my Uncle owned a Toronto (Canada) home with a steep driveway that accessed his garage under the house.
(Parking at basement level, about 10 ft. below grade level.)
The driveway was about 20 ft. wide and about 30 ft. from the city sidewalk to his garage door.

The driveway was always a challenge to shovel since snow was removed from in front of the garage door and then had to be shovelled up hill due to retaining walls which flanked each side of the driveway.

He dealt with the shoveling nightmare for many years until one night he arrived home and parked his massive 50's Ford station-wagon on the down graded driveway and the as he got out of the vehicle it slid down the driveway on a thin glazing of ice and plowed through his garage door.

Uncle worked in the heating industry so he designed and built a heated driveway to solve his dilemma.

The heart of the system was a used electric hot water heater. It was separate from the heater used to provide hot water to the home. He piped a circuit of 1/2" copper pipe back and forth across the width of the driveway with each run spaced one foot apart. A circulating pump installed after the water heater in the garage kept the water flowing in a continuous circuit under the asphalt driveway and back to the heater for re-heating..

The price of copper is no longer 18 cents a pound so PEX suitable for hot water would be today's choice. Embedding the piping into compressed limestone topped with interlocking pavers would provide a better driveway surface than asphalt today and pavers have the ability to be unzipped if service of the piping system was required at some point. Pavers will also continue to hold the heat for a period of time after the system is switched off. The temperature of the pavers only have to rise above 0 C or 32 deg. F to keep the snow melting or the surface free from ice glazing.

Installation of a drain at the bottom of the driveway in front of the garage door was also necessary to handle the melt water.

Uncle had no control system, but he or my Aunt would just flip the switch and hour before the snow was scheduled to begin.

Uncle loved to have his morning coffee while sitting on his front porch as his jet black driveway steamed condensate into the air and he watched his neighbours breaking their backs with shovels.

Morgan M. Audetat

Subject: Heating Driveway with Pavers

Your uncle was a smart guy. We use PEX as use suggest, driven by gas-fired, condensing boilers.

Pavers are great, and can more naturally drain the runoff from any rain or snow event but special care must be taken to properly design and install a paver covered drive or sidewalk.

Generally, pavers will require higher operating costs than a monolithic concrete slab.

Most of our systems are fully automated for better safety and lower operating cost. Some are operated by a manual timer.

John Rathbun

Subject: My Personal Situation

About a decade ago, my wife and I lucked into a comfortable home with a great view in western NC. Biggest problem is the driveway in winter. It's something like 500' of asphalt with some of the steepest grades I've ever seen and a sharp corner in the middle overlooking a ravine... with no guardrail, of course. Weather here is generally mild but once a year, on average, we get snowed in for a week or so. Daytime temps are usually above freezing and there's often sun, but until I at least shovel a path down the middle, the sun reflects instead of warming the asphalt.

I'm getting to an age where shoveling that much drive is too difficult. It can also be dangerous. Snow blowers are not such an attractive option on the steep slopes, and there's also a storage problem. And good help seems very hard to get these days.

Considering these factors, I'm not keen to rip up the entire drive, so I've been wondering if it would make sense to run a heating wire down the center of the drive, under the asphalt, that I could turn on occasionally in the morning when it looks like a day when natural solar heating is not going to work fast enough.

Obviously finding a local contractor is key, but I'm interested in hearing about feasibility of the concept.

Morgan M. Audetat

Subject: Heating Long Driveways

In areas where deep snow accumulation--more than a foot--is rare, the tire track area may be melted exclusively. Even so, this area must be excavated, PEX tubing installed and run back to a gas boiler in the garage.

On rare occasion it may pay to use electric cable if the electric rate is lower than gas--rare--or the electric service is already big enough--more rare--and the weather mild.

John Culp

Subject: Western NC

John, I hope you get an answer! We are in a similar situation. Western North Carolina, steep paved driveway, only 1500 feet instead of 500 feet (two other homes use the same access). We are retiring there in a year and a half and would love to find a solution that avoids the snowplow and is under our control. I really like some of the comments about solar panels, because we are planning to go that route as well. Look forward to following this blog!


Subject: Cost

Incomplete info. Under the 'cost of heated driveway' they only give the cost for driveways that have to be torn up

morgan h

Subject: electric heating wire running into a sump

someone suggested laying conduit in the concrete then running the electrical wire through the conduit so if a problem it could be replaced. Would not the conduit (either metal or PVC) reduce the amount of heat to the concrete? I thought to just zip tie the wire to the re-bar before pouring the concrete.

Also I just want to remove the snow that comes from the overhead roof onto the driveway about 10' in front of the garage doors. It builds up there after several storms and freezes preventing us from driving into the garage unless I engage a backhoe to remove it (which is no longer available). This is at our cabin at an elevation of about 7600' we use in the winter and my thought was to heat a 6' wide strip of the concrete across the driveway centered on the drip line from the roof. I would slope the 6' section from both sides to its center and to the downward edge of the driveway to remove any run off should there be any. Since the underground water table is about 4' below the surface it was suggested we dig a 3' diameter hole next to the edge of the driveway down to where the water table is moist year round, Fill the hole with leach rock and wind the electrical cable coming out of the the edge of concrete down into the leach rock. This would allow any run off water to go into the leach rock and the underground water table and not freeze.

Any thoughts or suggestions anyone has would be appreciated


Subject: Consider a heated roofline.

In Ski resort communities such as Aspen, Vail, Avon Colorado, you much more often see a huge me heat the least three feet of the roof and the gutter, thus allowing the snow to melt before it hits the driveway. This is done mostly for safety, so the snow does not slide off and hit someone. The cost, I think you will find, would be more cost effective. Further this install would likely be far easier than replacing portions of the drive way.


Subject: clueless Kevin

dear Kevin, I live in buffalo NY. We have thousands of heated driveways. We are blessed with receiving over 100-150 inches of snow per season. Now try to comprehend this.
We are heating a surface to a temperature that is a few degrees above 32 degrees because that is what will melt a snow flake. We are not grilling a steak from October to April! We only have to do this while it is snowing. The average time snow falls even in the times we may receive a blizzard is less then 4 hours. The energy used comes from solar panels on the roof and energy is stored in batteries. The melted snow turns to water and through the storm water system the water returns to lake Eire.
Where the cold air that flows over the lake from the west pulls the water once more out of the lake to make what we call a cloud. The cloud flows over Buffalo and then it snows. You see Kevin it is the perfect circle. The other reason we love heated our driveways is our Hugh gas guzzling 4 wheel drive Tahoe's look really cool with no snow around them when we pull out of your 4 car garage.


Subject: You have the system I want.

You have the system I want. I am building a house in Pittsburgh in the city and have a driveway that will be 20x80. I hate shoveling but don't want that huge electric bill. I was thinking about hooking my solar to the grid and then turning on the heating system on a need be bases. I hear there are sensors that can detect snow fall and then turn on the system. Do you have anyone I could get in touch with that could set this up for me or any advice.



Subject: ground heat system

I could swear that more than 20 years ago I read, maybe popular science, about a passive driveway heating system. It embedded tubing under the driveway and then the pipes went down below the frost line and circulated antifreeze by convection alone. Would this work? Does such a system exist?


Subject: Ground Heat

Ikea in Denver has a geothermal heat pump installation. They have pipes that go down 500 feet and cycle antifreeze to heat and cool the building.
Take into account materials and their reactivity to adjacent materials. You do not want to install a system that will corrode or need replacement or repair soon.


Subject: Hydronic heating new driveway

Sounds like there are a few professional installers who visit this site/ leave comments. I have a 600' driveway which is currently tar and chip. It is steep and the tar and chip is not holding up to the plowing. I am considering having the driveway paved next year. Due to the length of the driveway I am planning on running the pex only where the tires of the vehicles run.
My questions:
Does that work? Planning on two pex lines per tire track,
I have an outdoor woodburner which generates 200,000 BTU to heat our home, would I be able to heat the driveway with that?
Can you install the pex on top of the base macadam and then spread the finish macadam over it? I was thinking about cutting groves into the base macadam to put the pex into prior to having the finish macadam put down.
Any advice would be helpful. I live in North Central PA.

Arlo Richardson

Subject: Why I have Heat Driveway & Walkways

● Snowplows: 1)can damage landscaping, asphalt & concrete surfaces, sprinklers, mail boxes, parked cars, sidewalls, garage doors, etc; 2) use fossil fuels & man hours to operate; 3) emit VOC/Emissions; Require 'energy' to manufacture
● Salt: is damaging to concrete, personal property, pets, children & the atmosphere
● Ice: creates falls for young & old, broken hips, head injuries, hospitalization, car wrecks, damage to driveway from contraction & expansion, etc
● Snowblowers: are noisey, polluting, & dismembering
● Use of Snow Shovel: creates shoulder & back problems, surgeries, potential falls, exposure to sub-zero temps, frostbite, late for work, marital discord, labor cost, etc
● Absent Owner/no snow removal: unhappy neighbors, fine from city, potential injuries & lawsuits
● Other Reasons I have Heated Drive & Walkways: because I want to, I can afford it, and because I live in a free America.


Subject: Green Police

I consider myself an environmentalist, but the Green Police scoffing at everyone in this forum are clearly misguided.

They remind me of people in cool temperature locales like Seattle and San Francisco condescending people in Houston and St Louis for using air conditioning.

Bolstering the local economy by hiring locals to shovel your drive ??? Today, there's almost never an army or even 1-2 "shovel ready locals" and especially kids eager to shovel out your driveway during any given storm. Snow shoveling locals are like the milkman; they no longer exist.

Heated Driveway Green Benefits:

1. far lower emissions than snow blowers and/or hiring out a plow truck (Which may or may not show up when you need it)
2. most "snowbelt" electricity is already generated by natural gas, emission free nuclear and/or hydroelectric (as many Northern utilities buy their electric from hydro or nuclear dependent Canada)
(and high salinity in the watershed = kills off amphibians and fish)
4. the driveway lasts 20-30 years longer = less concrete production
(and every green devotee knows the environmental faux pas of concrete)

And then we have the medical cost benefits which far outweigh the environmental benefits on all levels.

Everyone up north knows 10-20 people who've broken hips falling on the ice OR ELSE gone into cardiac arrest while shoveling snow.

Is a $25K-$75K hospital bill PLUS $30K post discharge rehab bill "greener" than just melting away the snow several times a winter with a heated driveway ???

Wouldn't that $25K-$75K hospital bill be better spent treating dozens of poor people in need of basic preventative care ???


Subject: Pro's Con's

I'm looking at this option right now. I need to redo my driveway (25x75) and sidewalks (3 x 140) so I have to incur that cost no matter what. Having said that - I live in NJ and I have probably spent over $700 this year alone in snow blower maintenance, salt, gas, having someone clean my snow when on vacation (how was I to get back to my house) and not to mention my time. I expect that I will spend a bit less then $1000 this year (a very heavy year) - but will need a new snow blower in 4-5 yrs). If I were to have such a system installed, and the fact that I have whole house solar (on average I generate a very small amount more then I consume - including charging my Chevy Volt daily), my thoughts are that outside of my initial outlay, my operating costs from a cash flow position will be zero. The added benefit is that my chemical costs will be almost zero and with the side benefit of tis being good for the environment, my lawn borders. Furthermore, my driveway and sidewalk should probably last longer since there is no more (or very minimal) ice build up on my driveway and walkway. The real question is, how does one really calculate the ROI - it seems like its about a $20-25K investment for what I need - with a 25Yr ROI (assuming some cost of money). Am I missing something.


Subject: ROI

Your ROI is immediately recognized by the added value of your new addition to your home. I don't know how much a system like this adds to the appraisal value but someone interested in all of the green features of your home would definitely appreciate the addition. So after 20-25 years you are seeing a profit if/when you decide to sell.


Subject: Snow Melt System ROI

ROI is always an interesting issue when brought up. We install systems year round and these are some of the simple facts.
1. ROI when thought of as a product or service that decays such as the ROI on your 20 or 25 year rated solar panels is not the same as a snow melt system as the system never loses potency as a solar panel does. 2. ROI electric vs hydronic is simple, the cost to install electric is usually half the cost and is over 99.85% efficient Compared to even a 92% gas or a 88% oil systems which still wastes getting the hot water to the driveway and back, never mind getting lengths over 600 foot long driveways. Then figure in oil or gas boiler repairs, maintenance. ROI when including the maintenance of a simple electric system vs oil maintenance and repairs of an electric system is night and day.
ROI over gas boiler repairs is almost the same. Now for the real interesting ROI. When you sell the home or business that has a system nobody looks at the electrical cables in the ground compared to looking at a old boiler and says hmm I may need to replace this. An old boiler looks old gas or oil. An electric system almost always looks new. ROI vs a kid with a snow shovel is not fair either. Lastly ROI at the time of sale. Your home with a 10 year old electric snow melt system will sell quicker and for more compared tot he same type home with the same type driveway with a incline "hands down" every time. You may have a new kitchen but you chose that color, the new buyer may not like that and has to figure in a new kitchen or pool or tennis court,etc... but nobody enjoys shoveling their own driveway.
SnowMelt Inc


Subject: heated driveway

I've been installing hydroponic systems for about 15 years.since i decided to heat my sister's drive,
since she was inquiring about the possibility
I'm a contractor and civil engineer and very much tuned to the "why din't I do that then syndrome"
My recommendation to anyone considering or just thinking about heating a driveway, either during new paving or when replacing pavement is this:
1) Don't even think about electric heat, its terribly expensive to run and not very effective
2) Get a drawing made from a reputable Hydroponic heat supplier and find out from the drawing what size tubing you'll
need and what length. Most suppliers on line such as Radiantech will do this free
3) Buy your tubing probably for 50 cents per foot, install it under the proposed paving, on your sub-base, over plastic sheeting, per your drawing. Make sure your inlet and outlet pipes are exposed and capped outside the paving near the house. (it's easy) pave your driveway as planned. For an additional $1.00/SF your more than halfway to
your heated driveway... for when ever you have the money or desire to install the rest of the system!
Too many friends and customers have said to me "I wish I'd thought of it before i paved!!) Too Late!


Subject: Repair

What does the repair on something like this cost, if one of the element/component on the system breaks, do you have to dig the entire driveway to fix it?

Morgan Audetat

Subject: Heated driveway repair

In the unlikely event that something breaks through your new 5000psi driveway to damage your new PEX heating pipe you will locate the leak, cut out the damaged pipe and replace it.


Subject: A few answers

Many have posted that you would have to worry about an ice pond at the bottom of the hill. What is very hard to see in the pictures is a grate at the end where water runs in and either feeds into the storm sewer, or more likely, a french drain. Second, when coupled with a heat pump for your hot water heater, the system can be used to heat all the hot water in the house during non winter months defraying some of the cost and environmental costs. Third, the amount of energy used is less than many are probably considering compared to alternatives. remember, you are only heating the driveway to 35 degrees or so. This is about a 10 to 20 degree difference most days. On a cold day (15f) it would cost about 6 dollars to heat a 100 x 15 foot driveway and another dollar or two to melt the snow on top of the driveway.


Subject: ROI of heated driveway?

I have read points on the return on investment of a heated driveway, including; save your back, plowing costs money, saves time, etc. I am curious if a heated driveway will extend the life of the driveway. My driveway face north and has a slight hill sloping down from the road, so I get a lot of freezing and thawing which leads to cracks and erosion of the concrete. Hoping to hear that heating elements would solve that problem and extend the life of a new driveway I will need to install soon.



Once installed you want any new driveway sealed every 2-3 years max. The snow melting systems we install we explain it like this. No scraping, plows, no chemicals, no waters getting in because of these issue means your driveway will last a very very long time. once water gets in and expands over a cold night it starts a cracking cycle, opening more and lets in more water and chemicals, opening larger cracks and so on...
Snow Melt Inc.


Subject: 1000 foot Driveway?!?!?!?

Wow, from the practicality and safety of something devised in this century to help people, to the attacks of someone who feels you shouldn't have a 1,000 foot driveway???? Get real!!!!! This is a great idea for our aging parents(or our babyboomer selves) who want to remain independent, but whom we don't want getting hurt doing so. Yes, there are pro's and con's of every system and you can debate them forever. But to condemn someone because they live in the country, off the beaten path, or for that matter, live in a beautiful home with a spacious yard, is beyond me. Someone is very bitter because they haven't gotten off of the butts to live the American dream and want everyone else to be poor and miserable as them, using the environment as an excuse! I plan on building this year(and yes it will be a nice home!) and by planning on my golden years, will have one of these in my 1,000 foot driveway!!!!

Delores Cullen

Subject: long driveways

Good for you for not apologizing--I completely agree if you can afford a heated driveway by all means it is cheaper than a visit to the hospital with a broken hip. If you have ever lived in snow and ice you would understand, especially as you get older. If you choose not to do this for yourself or your parents so be it. Leave the rest of us alone that have worked hard all of our lives, paying taxes for those that have nothing better to do but pass unasked for judgement and opinion on our choices.


Subject: total cost for 100' driveway

You said the the cost to take up an existing driveway and repave is about $15k right?
My question is what if there is no existing driveway to remove, have you any idea what the cost will be?
Thank you

Morgan Audetat

Subject: Heated Driveways

Excellent article Mr. Drew;

g to We have been designing, installing and maintaining residential and commercial snow/ice melting (heated driveways) systems for over 20 years now.
As noted heated driveways come with two common heat sources, electric and gas; and are further distinguished by the method of heat delivery, generally electric cable or PEX tubing.
As we design heated driveways (snow/ice melting) for professionals and homeowners all over N. America we have some experience with the various configurations.
First, most heated driveways use natural gas as a heat source, as in most places the cost of gas is a third that of electricity.
Second, even if electricity is the fuel of choice, we prefer to install a hydronic delivery system using PEX as the conduit to the heated concrete, asphalt or paved driveway or sidewalk. The reason for this is simple; we find the PEX more reliable over the long haul with no chance for a system killing short circuit.
Third, the bulk of our systems are tied to high efficiency condensing boilers (the "Greenest" technology available in gas-fired equipment), so return on investment is fast (figure more than $1000.00/year for snow removal for a typical driveway in the Twin Cities), performance unmatched and impact on the planet minimal. Keeping in mind the typical driveway heating system will run less than 200 hours here in Minneapolis while the space heating system will operate several thousand hours.
Fourth, control systems range from manual to fully automated. The control system may have little to do with the cost of operation depending on the needs of the customer. Many of our customers have driveways that can't be plowed and require automation to assure access to their garage in the event of storm. Many travel and would have to shovel on their return from a trip; hard to do in heels and skirt.
Fifth, we are designing snow/ice melting systems for a growing number of permeable surfaces such as pavers and properly drained natural stone. These systems are better for the environment in terms of groundwater quality but still require chemical-free snow removal.
Much of the information offered here by people who actually have heated driveways is, not surprisingly, quite accurate. The cost of installation is offset by the longevity of the typical snow/ice melting systems (over 30 years) and the cost of operation (about 25 cents/sq.ft. per year).
In contrast the opinions of those who's knee-jerk reaction to such extravagance is predictable. No the ice doesn't form at the bottom of the drive. Our systems, including my own, will even burn off the furrow left by the plow in most cases. Solar panels would be great; figure 10 square feet of solar panel for every square foot of driveway and then the storage tank, etc. etc. If anyone knows of a company plow snow from a driveway and walks for $500.00/year in the Minneapolis/St.Paul please forward that information ASAP.
Maintenance is but one aspect of the cost of operating a fully automated snow/ice melting system.
I choose to save the planet by installing practical heating systems based on sound technology that people will buy. More important, that will work.
The main reason people have heated driveways is for safety. Many driveways are impossibly steep--a major part of my business. Others are afraid of the fall hazard presented by ice build-up on drives and walks. One of our clients had us install a modest heated driveway system at his home after his neighbor, also in his 80's, fell in his own driveway and died of complication associated with his broken hip. My client flew missions at the 'Battle of the Bulge' and did not want to die in his driveway!
From the ecological perspective, it is certainly questionable practice to have a large pickup with plow and salt driving from house to house scraping away driveways, landscapes and depositing all Lord knows where, while the better informed use a fully condensing boiler with a carbon footprint, even considering production, a tiny fraction of the snow plowing equipment.
What's more: is many of our snow melted driveways are heated by the same boiler that heats the house, shop and domestic hot water.
I tried to get my neighbor kids to mow and shovel...they just laugh. Have you seen a kid shoveling a walk lately? Me either.
The bottom line is still the bottom line. We have driveways, it snow, the snow has to be removed for us to get to and fro. It costs less and is safer for Man and environment to melt it with a natural gas-fired snow melting system than by any other means currently available.
The only rub is the capital investment most are not willing to consider or can ill-afford. In the end it is all about priorities.


Subject: health

Some people don't even consider the fact of health. How many times do you hear of someone having a heart attack or worse die when shoveling snow. or even those that have other health issues that would take them 5 time longer to perform snow removal then the average. A heated drive or walkway can extend and save lives. try to shovel 2000 sq. ft of 4 inches of snow. Its not fun.

Jordan Ricks

Subject: Radiant Heat - Efficient and Clean

Radiant heat is extremely energy efficient and uses renewable energy AND eliminates the need for corrosive snowmelt chemicals and salt - which damages surrounding grass and shrubs. I'm hoping to have a Warmzone radiant heat system in my driveway within the next year. (I hope, I hope . . . )


Subject: Warmzone vs. Reality

I have written most a reply as needed above, those on the site know me as level headed and reasonable. So to speak about branding of products. Yes you can buy a car on the internet, and all in all it will look the same. A new HDTV sure order it from a catalog, ok - But a heated driveway. Companies such as Warmin Zone as sales offices and they resell someone else's cable. They don't build there own. You buy, they call the factory, they have it shipped to you, they collect 40% - There must be good reasons why they recently lowered down their warranties as well. They are a reseller that's it. If your in the market YOU NEED LOCAL... this is one project you don't want to buy from 1500 miles away. No sending back parts and waiting weeks and weeks for repair or replacement when there is 2 inches of ice on the way. Not that they are not pleasant people mind you, but your paying more than if you want to but it factory direct / Us. Buy Local, Buy Accountability. Local conditions, different surface materials require custom installation methods. If you need an installer in NJ Orange, Rockland, Westchester, Long Island we are here for you, if not you send an email and we can provide you a local licensed radiant heat installer for your project in your area.. nice an easy, we can even walk your electrician through the process for even faster results. Ron

Frugal Rich Guy

Subject: Actual Experience

I've had one for 20 years. It cost about $5k, because I needed to replace the driveway anyway. I still have to use the snowblower, because I still have to dig out the big pile at the end of the driveway thrown up by the plows. So I remove the bulk of the snow all over the driveway with the snowblower and then use the heat to melt what's left down to bare pavement. Pretty much how others use salt. Costs about $10 per storm.


Subject: Just curious where the

Just curious where the melting snow would run to. Most driveways are sloped to the road and would create quite an icy situation.


Subject: my question exactly

now.. THIS is my question to the article exactly! ... the melted ice/snow from your driveway runs down into the road/gutter system... and.. freezes... making a HUGE ice pond problem.. right in front of YOUR driveway! ever tried to pull into/out of.. a driveway where there is a large build up of slick ice? .. on a busy town road? i lived in town.. housing area, but on one of the busiest streets there.. huge ice puddle? what a nightmare that would add!

Ben Bethel

Subject: Let's rationalize this for a moment...

A few things to consider:

* A gas powered snow-blower emits more pollutants in 1 hour of operation than a Honda Civic driving from Seattle to Miami.
* If an electric system could be installed for $20K, that's about $60/mo added to your mortgage payment if you're lucky to get a great rate.
* If you're in a windy climate, could you power this with a small wind turbine, like the ones available on Amazon that crank out about 5,000 watts? Or some solar panels?
* What's the difference between this and heating your house when you're not there, or heating rooms in your house that you never use, or having heat in your house to begin with?
* What does it cost in your time / energy to do this on your own?
* Concrete itself is very expensive and requires massive amounts of energy to produce, so if you're extending the life of your concrete by not salting it, aren't you saving a little bit here?
* What are the risks of doing this on your own - ie slip and fall injuries?
* Why are you living somewhere that it snows to begin with? ;-)

At first, sure this seems a little ridiculous, but then again there are heated sidewalks all over the place... and what about heated pipes all over cities that deliver heat to buildings... and even chilled water pipes going through cities like Phoenix to deliver air conditioning to their entire downtown, including an air conditioned baseball stadium that keeps the air on while the roof is open.

So, all in all, I don't think it's that big of a deal, not like it's going to be on all the time, just when it snows or your driveway is wet and may ice over.


Subject: It is great

I haves heated driveway and it is great, I work 60 plus hours a week everyweek and not having to worry about taking care of my driveway when I get home or before work is a godsend. When we had a 24" storm it cost me 12 dollars that storm.


Subject: heated driveway

Just remember, the animals are looking for a warm place too. You never know what you'll find on your driveway in the a.m.


Subject: Are you kidding me?

Is this even a serious question? This is an example of the core problem. Whether or not you can afford something is not how to make a decision. How much fuel (or other resources) you'll be consuming is what matters. A heated driveway? Are you kidding me?


Subject: Lazy approach

In a perfect world the electric version with solar panels would be the best environmental option but otherwise it's little more than a matter of convenience for the homeowner and a nice chunk of change for the installer. That being said, I would be shocked if either of the systems held up for 10 years of normal driveway use unless the driveway was very heavily reinforced; even at that, a single crack could render the whole system useless.

Morgan Audetat

Subject: heated driveways

We service both hydronic snow melting systems many of which are 20 to 30 years old. With regular maintenance the system should outlast the driveway.


Subject: heated driveways

20 years to recoup investment (not including cost to operate the system)? Will you still be in that house in 20 years?



Umm you do know that ROI includes what you get paid for the home when you sell it in say 20 years right.
Wed o 3 a year that the sale of the house is killed by the driveway. We do 3 a year of those we had to quote before they bought the house to roll the cost in. You find that right house on a hill with a 500' driveway and it has a snow melting system installed or one without/ both the same cost 1.1 mil say so one is 35k more, how about we talk about the solar, led, permeable, drilled down heat pumps and free hot water, saving that house 10k to 15k a year minimum for a 200k investment. Then we can have some real conversations.

Gary Newfield

Subject: heated driveways

The cost/benefit analysis of heated driveways totally ignored the costs of climate change. Droughts, hurricanes (Sandy, Katrina, Irene) all have cost bilions of dollars and been a result of climate change. And extremies in weather events will only become more common as the carbon dioxide continues to build up in our atmosphere. What a wasteful, extravagant use energy! Not to mention millions of Americans who are struggling in this economy to pay their heating bills......

Jody MacDonald

Subject: Heated driveway to save the planet

Wouldn't a snow melting 20x50 ft driveway actually help to save the planet vs everything but shoveling? If I run my 96% efficient natural gas fired boiler to clear my driveway vs a ~15% efficient gasoline burning snow blower with viscous people killing toxic emissions I think I'm actually cleaning up the air for everyone downwind. Additionally I'm not sending my fuel dollar out of the country and incurring military costs to protect the energy supply chain.


Subject: LIve and let live

Gary, the enviro-police finally got wise and dumped "global warming" for "climate change"; now they can never be wrong! Reporting on hurricanes and other weather events has gotten more broad and deep -- the 24 hour news beast must be fed -- so it seems like big events are happening more all the time - they're not. And recent studies have shown a trend that the climate is more stable over the last fifteen years. You comment about "millions of Americans who are struggling in this economy to pay their heating bills . . ." is a non sequitur. My putting in a heated driveway will not change their ability or inability to pay their heating bills.

Marcos Brundall

Subject: heated driveways

Agreed. Heated driveways (HD) are an environmental abomination. And it turns out that quite a few people with the money to afford one do not have a scintilla of environmental awareness. But the thing to do is not condemn, but educate. If they are clueless, give them a clue.
I joined fat tire culture in 1983, where I learned about HDs in Aspen in one of my cycling magazines. The author wrote about how he presented the consequences to homeowners, including an economic argument they could relate to. That is, how the sort of demand they were putting on the local utility requires them to build more capacity, which diverts revenue from stock dividends to internal investment. That is, your heated driveway is screwing utility stockholders. Ah, so.


Subject: "Cost"

This idea deserves 'Environmental Waste of the Year' notice!

Please consider the environmental cost of such a wasteful use of our energy. Perhaps most consumers do not yet care how much carbon they pump into the air; but you do not even provide the consumer with an estimate of what it will cost to operate each year.


Subject: Cost

About *$1.00 of KW per hour of the storm event per each 300 square feet. our average customer pays about $35 - $60 per storm better than a plow service, no being held hostage waiting on the plow, no slipping breaking a leg or hip, no chemicals, no gas burning blower, no oil boiler, no extra asphalt (oil driveways) to install. * plus utility taxes of course and it raises the value of your home.


Subject: cost

not quite kevin, what makes you think running a gas powered snow plow or snow thrower is somehow better ? ever had a 1000 ft driveway somewhere where is snows lots like new hampswhire ? well i have

drew milner

Subject: Heated driveways

If I could afford it, I would get one in a heartbeat! You leftists just don't understand, it's your money to do what you want with it.


Subject: $500 Yr to Plow it

ave $25 x 20x/ yr here in S. Wi. = $500 yr cost to Plow it
If that Heating system Last 20 yrs? = $10,000 + Indexed to Inflation, probably worth $15,000 over 20 yrs savings

So It All Depends
I would think, the Electric system is the way to go.. Less Maintenance
Just like we did to our Gutters Elec. Heating Coil system in them..

Morgan Audetat

Subject: Heated Driveways

Electric snow melting can be "cheaper" to install if you do not have to upgrade your service. But in most places, like here in Minneapolis, the cost of operating a heated driveway is triple that of the same heated driveway driven by a high efficiency natural gas burning condensing boiler.

Morgan Audetat

Subject: electric heated driveway

Electric generally costs less to install, if your electric service will handle the extra load, but often 3 times as much to operate. Fact is most snow melting systems will I only operate a couple hundred hours a year.

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I am facing just such a project and have received a number of bids (all from Angie's List reviewed contractors). The lowest bid was a bit over $5/sq ft and the highest was about $9/sq/ft for my 630 sq ft driveway in Rockford, IL. 

Generally about $1-3/SF (note - measured by SF, not SY) - $1 range is for a 1 to 1/2-2 inch overlay, $2.50-3.00 range normal for two 2" layers for a new driveway or a rebuild (remove and replace) you really want to last.

Most people pay around $2/SF for a 2-3" thickness.


If the state requires a contractor's license, then he needs to have a license in each state he intends to work in - plus state/local business licenses as applicable.


This does not mean there are not a lot of contractors who cross state lines without proper licensing - the penalties in may cases are not real severe and are just a fine, not criminal, so many take the chance.


As you say - argh  - many contractors are not really businessmen and have zero legal education, so many people get burned.