Installing an Electric Snow Melting System
Stay Clean & Safe in the Winter Months
By Rob Robillard
In the North East, winter means shoveling and salting your walkway and stairs. The problem is that salt destroys stonework, and black ice can cause bone-breaking falls. One bad fall can result in a broken bone or cause you to throw out your back.
Heating a driveway or walkway is a great way to dispense with snow melt chemicals and ensure that your footpath is always clear and thus less likely to cause a slip-and-fall injury.
I recently had the opportunity to install a WarmlyYours Radiant Heat snow melting system in a front walkway. In this article I’ll discuss what’s involved in the installation of this product as well as provide you with feedback on my experience.
Two Types of Systems
There are two systems typically used outdoors when heating walkways and driveways: electrical heating cable and hydronic heating piping.
An electric snow melting system like WarmlyYours is top-of-the-line, designed to be energy efficient and fast at melting away the snow and preventing ice from forming. This system can be installed under concrete and asphalt and in mortar underneath brick pavers.
A hydronic heating system uses copper tubing or cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) with a liquid treated with antifreeze to warm the driveway or walkway. The glycol solution is heated with a boiler, operated with either manual or automatic controls.
On this walkway project, electric heating was the only option and also the most cost-effective to install.
We chose to use the WarmlyYours Premium Snow Melting System, which was custom designed for my project and came complete with all the cable, controllers and snow sensors needed for a quality snow melting system.
Installing the System Under Bluestone Pavers
On this project the homeowners had a wooden stoop porch and a cobblestone front walkway that must have been a complete nightmare to shovel. They decided to tear out the wood stoop and cobbles to replace them with a field-stone stoop with a bluestone top and a bluestone walkway. The WarmlyYours system we chose to install was the Premium Control and Aerial Sensor option.
The WarmlyYours company designs durable, high-quality indoor and outdoor snow melt and heating products. Their heating cables are designed for concrete slab floors of new homes, outdoor driveways, walkways, stairs and patios. The product is well suited for large areas like basements, garages, additions and driveways.
A snow melting system heats the paving material, i.e. bluestone, which heats the walkway to a temperature above freezing that melts the snow, completely eliminating the need for shoveling and plowing.
Before starting my project I gave my customer service representative the exact project dimensions, and they provided me with a custom detailed installation drawing. The radiant heating experts at WarmlyYours offer a customized plan based on each customer’s unique project, and I took full advantage of their expertise.
Snow Melt System Specifications
The snow melt system was designed to be installed in asphalt, concrete or in mortar under pavers, and comes in mats or loose cable in specific lengths tailored to an individual project.
For my project I used 251 ft. of loose cable, which I looped and spaced approximately 3 in. apart. The system is CSA-certified for outdoor use in Canada and US and is offered in 120V or 240V configurations. It is rated for 3000 watts, 240 volts and 12.5 amps.
WarmlyYours sent me the following as part of the premium system:
- • 251′ of snow melt heat cable
- • Relay panel
- • Premium snow melt control panel
- • Snow sensor
- • Temperature sensor
What is Radiant Heating Cable?
The Heating Cable is comprised of a dual multi-strand heating element with a primary insulation of Fluoropolymer. The insulated core is protected with a woven metal braid and an outer jacket of PVC, EPR or a Zero Halogen Polyolefin-based compound to make it sturdier and to provide corrosion protection.
These cables are terminated with 20-ft. long standard cold leads. The cold lead is obviously not heated and is used to enter into the building and attach to the control panel. The hot and cold junction is uniquely designed to make it 100-percent foolproof.