49 Clear Driveways

Winter is already well under way. In spite of global warming, a number of European countries are already experiencing some serious snow and ice, and when that happens, the only thing to do is to get the snow shovel out and get ready for some sore muscles the next day.

Let’s face it, snow removal from driveways and parking spaces is essential for safety. What’s more, snow that has been driven over can quickly turn to ice, and this is not as easy to remove with your shovel.

So, bring on the de-icing salt? Not the environmentally-friendly choice, given that the salt leaches into the soil. We have a better alternative solution for you for next winter.

Outside electrical floor heating

Electrical floor heating inside the home is nothing new. However, there are also special cables and systems available that can be used to keep driveways, walkways and parking spaces snow- and ice-free during the winter. The cables are placed underneath the driveway covering. However, it is a job for summer months in the case of an existing driveway, or during the construction of the driveway in the case of a new build.

The cables

There are different types of cables. First of all, there is the singular cable. This one contains only one cord. The cord’s resistance heats up the environment in which it is placed. There are also cables with two or even three cords. One cord serves as resistance and another is the return cord to close the circuit. Often, there is also an earthing cord.

The cables are available on rolls to be put into the ground. An even easier system uses cable mats on a roll. In this case, the cables are mounted in a network at exactly the right distance from one another. The installation is easier as the mat is simply rolled onto the ground.

In order to save on installation and consumption costs, it is possible to install cables in only part of the driveway, specifically in those areas where the tires are in contact with the driveway.

Sensor and controls

Of course, a temperature sensor needs to be installed in the ground. This device will send over its measurements to a special thermostat or control unit. A series of settings on the latter can be installed. The minimum temperature at which the system needs to start working is set. With various control units, it is also possible to set time blocks. The entire system ensures that no energy is wasted.

Water outlet

During the installation of the cables, it is important to ensure proper drainage into the ground so that meltwater can flow away and not re-freeze.

Consumption

For normal installations, the output is expected to be 270 W/m². In this way, the proper balance is ensured between the speed with which the system reacts and defrosts, and the energy that is required.

Conclusion

Thawing cables make driveways, parking spaces and walkways much safer for vehicles and pedestrians alike during winter. Slipping will no longer be an issue. In addition, there will be no more salt pollution in the soil and no need to go out with the snow shovel each day.

Concrete is a popular building material for driveways. However its surface can be sensitive to ice and extreme cold, forming minute cracks and prone to having pieces crumble off. Another new job for spring or summer? Plan it now, otherwise you’ll be shoveling snow again next winter!

An icy driveway (Fotolia)
A snowy, icy driveway. It doesn't have to be this way! (Courtesy of Fotolia.)
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