Snow Melting for Heated Driveways.

Online educational resource on achieving indoor environmental quality with radiant based HVAC systems
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snow melting systems
Consumer Solutions
Designer Solutions
Business Solutions

Snow Melting
Manual Controls     
Idle/On Controls
System Performance
Area Free Ratio
Frequency Percentile  

Snow Melt Systems I
Snow Melt System II

Typical Snow Detector in
Concrete Pour
snow melt controls

Tube Installation in Paving Stone Applicationheated pavers

Paving Stone Operationsnow melt systems

Example of Edge Loss
heated walks


Snow Melt Systems - Introduction:
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Heated driveways - image courtesy of the National Radiant Design Center , Copyright (c) 2005, NRDC, All Rights ReservedThe safe and secure interaction between humanity and its architecture is often times challenged by mother nature. How does an ambulance navigate up or down an emergency driveway in the midst of severe winter snowstorm?  How can we ensure the handicap ramp or steps for a day care center are free of ice? How can we ensure that seniors are not forced to move out of their neighbourhoods because they no longer have the physical capabilities to shovel snow?  At the same time that we can find good and rational applications for melting snow and ice we find conflict in generating heat and power only to release it back into the environment in a negative way. For each position there must be a way to design snow melt systems which achieve the desired outcomes for least parasitic losses of heat and power.

Graphic lent to courtesy of the National Radiant Design Center , Copyright (c) 2005, NRDC, All Rights Reserved

Heated Driveways for homesOnline help discussions have revealed that not only are commercial and residential clients unsure of what a snow melt system entails they also have no appreciation as to the costs associated with meeting performance expectations. Helping them to ask the right questions is the key to making the right recommendations for snow melt controls. What they want, when they want it, and for how long it is required, are just a few key questions to ask. If they do not know, then it is up to the specifier to suggest what makes sense for the application. After all, it is the snow melt system designer’s recommendations for control strategies that will directly influence performance and operational costs.

It is unlikely the homeowner will understand that the scope of running a snow melt system is exponentially higher than running a space heating system simply because of the transient or unpredictable conditions and the magnitude of design loads required to satisfy client expectations. On the other hand, commercial clients have defined expectations based on liability, client access, safety and so on. The residential client may have similar concerns but the degree might be different. For example, the commercial client may not accept any snow build up on walks and steps simply to avoid liability exposure with pedestrian traffic while a homeowner may be willing to tolerate some snow build up during heavy snowfall as long as it melts within a reasonable period. Both applications may be exposed to the same snow load but the control strategy over fuel, power and load calculations for equipment is different.    

Click here for part I, Introduction
Click here for part II, Manual Controls     
Click here for part III, Idle/On Controls & System Performance      
Click here for part IV, Area Free Ratio and Frequency Percentile  
Click here for part V, Conclusion
Click here for part VI, Storm Data and Loads   


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