Heated Driveway Systems - Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How

A snow melting system installed to heat a paver driveway and parking area.

What are heated driveways? The obvious answer is "a driveway that is heated," but exactly, how is the driveway heated? The best heated driveway systems are electric radiant heating systems, similar to indoor floor heating systems. Two technologies are use for heating driveways: electric and hydronic. Electric systems use a line-voltage cable, while hydronic systems generate hot water, then pump it through a closed loop of plastic PEX tubing. Electric snow melting systems use heating elements (heat resistant cable) that are embedded in the driveway to "radiate" heat to the surrounding area. Most heated driveway systems incorporate an automatic sensor that detects inclement weather and activates the heating system when needed. Electric driveway heating systems tend to be more efficient, require less maintenance, and heat surfaces quicker. Hydronic systems are usually slightly more expensive to purchase and install, but the operational costs can be lower, depending on the local fuel rates. Both systems have their advantages; however, the electric systems are gaining popularity due to their price, ease of installation, and the ever-increasing costs of fossil fuels.

Why Install a Radiant Driveway Heating System? Some of the obvious benefits are increased safety and the elimination of having to manually remove snow. And it's nice knowing that your driveway will always remain clear, regardless of what Mother Nature's cold winter hands deliver. While not having to shovel the driveway is a key "selling point" to many, other important long term benefits include adding value to your home, preserving the life of your driveway, and avoiding damage to the bordering landscape from the use of harmful salts and chemicals.

Shoveling snow from a driveway after a snowstorm.

Where and When can you Install a Driveway Heating System?  A radiant heated driveway system can be installed in almost any location and type of driveway. Warmzone systems are designed according to ASHRAE standards and can be installed in virtually all types of mediums, include concrete, asphalt, under pavers, etc.). The snow melting systems can also be installed nearly anytime of the year, but this also depends on the medium. The most popular and ideal time to install a radiant heated driveway is during new construction; however, driveways can also be retrofitted with radiant heat. With weather permitting, heated driveway systems can be installed any time of the year.

How do Radiant Heated Driveway Systems Work? Radiant heat snow melting systems are composed of three main components: the heating element, the controller, and the activation device. The heating element can be either an electric resistance cable or PEX hot water tubing (for hydronic heating systems). These heating elements can be installed in almost any medium. The simplest application for installation is under brick or stone pavers and in new-pour concrete. Asphalt can also be used, but the installation methods call for more care and labor to avoid damaging the heating cable because of the asphalt's temperature and abrasive nature during the compacting process. However, Warmzone offers a specially constructed heat cable that is designed especially for hot asphalt applications.

Electric snow and ice melting systems are controlled by a wall-mounted control unit, while hydronic systems require a small mechanical room that houses the equipment necessary for the system, including a boiler, pump, manifold, etc. Both types of systems can be fully automated. Available activation devices include aerial-mount or pavement-mount snow sensor switches. These sensors activate the heated driveway system when moisture is present and the temperature is below the set point (usually 38 or 39 degrees). The systems also include a manual override capability to preheat an area before an especially large storm to curb snow and ice accumulation, or the system can be turned on to melt snow that has blown onto the driveway.

Who Installs Heated Driveways and who Sells Them? Electric radiant snowmelt systems are fairly easy to install. Just about any experienced "do-it-yourself" handyman, contractor, or electrician would be a candidate for installing a radiant heating system. There are several vendors of driveway heating systems. Warmzone is an industry leader, offering high quality products, excellent pricing and service, and is a dedicated source for matching your radiant heating project to the best valued solution. Warmzone is a consumer and contractor advocate, without bias. Radiant heat specialists at Warmzone will provide free quotes as well as point out the benefits and challenges of each project. Warmzone will offer you a radiant solution that makes the best sense for your project while remaining within your budget. The experts at Warmzone have extensive experience with both residential and commercial radiant heating projects.


In addition to providing free installation training and technical support, Warmzone may also be able recommend reputable contractors and experienced radiant heat installers in your area to assist with your project.Contact us, or call Warmzone toll free at 888.488.9276.