Snow Melting System Articles

The Cost of a Heated Driveway

February 28, 2013 00:02 AM  BY  LAURA CARTER

How Much Does a Heated Driveway Cost?

You may have heard a lot of buzz behind radiant heated driveways in recent years. What you may not know is that these systems, after the initial installation investment, can actually save consumers money, time and effort when it comes to snow removal. And, quite frankly, the convenience of a clear driveway without any physical (or mental) effort can be quite gratifying. But how much do they really cost?

Radiant heated driveway in concrete.Of course, cost is dependent upon any number of factors. First, you’ll want to consider the two types of radiant heated driveways available: hydronic and electric. Hydronic systems utilize specially treated liquid that is heated and pumped through a series of PEX tubing, while electric systems use a durable heat cable to heat the driveway surface. Both are fully-automated options. Because of the lower installation costs and ease of installation, virtually no maintenance requirements (and the uncertainty of fossil fuel costs associated with a hydronic system), electric radiant heated driveways are often a more practical choice for most homeowners – particularly for small to medium sized projects.

There are several variables associated with heated driveway installations, and costs vary accordingly. No matter which system you choose, be it hydronic or electric radiant heat, either can be easily installed under a variety of surfaces including asphalt, concrete and stone/brick pavers. But an existing driveway is equally a good candidate for a new system. Concrete driveways can be retrofitted using saw-cut technology, and asphalt driveways can be heated simply by laying out the cable and applying another layer of asphalt over it. You can also install two, 2-foot wide electric radiant heat “tracks” on your existing driveway. When it comes to heating your driveway, you have a lot of options.

Retrofitting a driveway with radiant heat by applying asphalt over heat cable.Not only do size, type and layout factor into the equation, but heated driveways are also designed to meet the specific demands in relation to climate, elevation, power needs and the like. So it’s important to partner with a supplier that provides complementary radiant heat engineering and design services from some of the most knowledgeable experts around. Unlike many suppliers that just provide the products, the top radiant heat providers will include professional system designs with each project. This way, you’ll have the exact power requirements and performance expectations before a foot of cable is installed, without having to contract out (and pay) for it.

General Costs for Installing a Heated Driveway

While it’s true that no radiant heating system provider will want to throw out installation cost numbers without knowing specifics, there are some general numbers that may be helpful when pricing out your radiant heated driveway project. Once again, keep in mind that these prices are very general. Your actual price will vary depending on the specifics associated with your project. According to Warmzone, one of the country’s top radiant heat providers (with a stellar customer service record), the cost of a heated driveway system ranges between $11-$21 per square foot.

Advice from an Industry Professional

Matt Carter, a national sales manager at Warmzone stressed the importance of consumers calling and discussing their project with an unbiased radiant heat professional before making any purchase. “It pays to shop around and compare,” Carter stated. “Don't get talked into a purchase on your first call,” he added. “Ask questions and take the time you need. The best companies will offer free consulting and be happy to take the time needed to answer your questions and explain the different options."

He concluded with this valuable advice. “It’s vital that prospective buyers consult with a provider that offers more than one brand or product line. Go online and do some checking, but make sure,” he emphasized, “that they include complete system design services and installation support with each system. Many companies claim to offer post sales support,” Carter warned, “but very few actually have a dedicated staff on hand to provide that service. Professional system design and dedicated, expert installation support should be included with your driveway heating system.”

Average Heated Driveway Cost

The average cost of a heated driveway in the U.S. ends up being between $1,300 and $7,500. Installation costs of a heated driveway vary among contractors. However, after the initial cost, when you consider the low operational costs of a maintenance-free electric radiant heated driveway over time, plus equity boost to your home, a radiant heated driveway just makes plain dollars and cents. For just pennies on the dollar, your feet will be hitting dry pavement before you have to so much as lift a shovel, spill salt, or wait on a snow service. And yearly snow service fees can be quite steep.

When to Buy a Heated Driveway System

With fully automated snow melting systems, the demand of electric output is nominal. If you want to save a few bucks when purchasing a snow melting system, try to make your purchase in early spring. This is when the demand for heated driveway systems is lowest, so you may be receive discounted or slightly lower costs. Don't be afraid to ask the supplier or manufacturer for a discount. It can't hurt to ask, and the chances are good that you will get a slight price break - especially if you purchase in the spring. 

All things considered, if you’re a savvy shopper, and you deal with a trusted, reputable supplier, you can find the perfect match for your requirements and your budget. The best heated driveway providers will not only work hard to custom design your system so that it is ideal for your needs - they will be mindful of your budget and give you different options.


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