This year we received a record number of inquires from people wanting heated driveways. It is very clear that many fellow Canadians hate shovelling snow as much as I do and dislike dealing with third party snow removal contractors. Shovelling means early morning in the cold, an extremely labour intensive process, and many just don’t have the time, or the desire. Dealing with snow removal contractors means yearly contracts, which can be paid in vain if no snow falls, and the dependence on the truck showing up. The result is the rapidly growing popularity of radiant snow melt systems. The economics are simple, as the popularity of radiant snow melt systems increase so does the affordability.
Now let’s take a step back for a second, radiant snow melt systems are still considered a luxury product, but if you compare the cost now to only 10 years ago, there is a dramatic difference. The advances in technology are also making radiant snow melt systems more obtainable. It was only as little as two years ago that if you only had a driveway/walkway that exceeded a total of approximately 700 sq. ft. you would be forced to install a Hydronic (water based) snow melt system. Hydronic systems can easily exceed three times the cost of a radiant snow melt system as a boiler and laying a network of piping is an extensive process. The main reason a homeowner would have to be directed to a Hydronic system is because their electrical panel cannot service the amperage needed to run the radiant snow melt system with out impacting the normal use of how one uses their home’s electrical capacity (Stove, Washer/Dryer, TV’s and general use). Recent advances in radiant snow melt controllers allow for multi-zonal set ups that switch between predetermined zones thus regulating amperage required for the system. Say you have a 200 Amp panel and to heat the whole driveway simultaneous required 150 Amps, that only leaves you with 50 Amps to operate all of your other electrical items in your home. If you exceed those 50 remaining Amps your breaker will trip and you will be left temporarily powerless and in the dark. What the multi-zonal controller does is break down that 150 Amps into 75 Amps required to heat one zone. Once that zone has run its course and melted the snow the second zone would turn on, also only requiring 75 Amps. This breakthrough has increased the radiant snow melt system’s flexibility and thus its suitability for large homes (driveways) with standard electrical service. The multi-zone controller also has a variety of new features, which also further increase it’s operating flexibility including total run time, zone run time, zone split time, and more. Our new favorite controller from Warmly Yours called the Pyrobox 5 also comes with a visual display that clearly allows users to easily customize how their system operates including aerial sensor sensitivity, system hold time, temperature set times, and more.
It is important to keep in mind that the multi-zonal systems work slightly different than non-zonal systems, but the reality is that both get the job done. We do our absolute best to tweak your system allowing it to be as efficient and effective as possible. Before we install any radiant snow melt system’s we always offer our clients the option to upgrade their electrical panel/service if they desire to have a non-zonal system. Unfortunately local utilities have criteria as to the maximum service allowed for each and every home. Not everyone can upgrade to 400 amp electrical service. Grand building is always here to help out with inquiring what service upgrade is possible, best fit system design, comprehensive installation, user tutorial, and post installation support. As the winter is right around the corner let us assist you with your radiant snow melt system installation and finishing material so this upcoming winter you can throw that snow shovel in the garbage, flip the switch, kick your feet up, and watch the snow on your driveway/walkway melt on its own.