Electric vs. Hydronic Floor Heating Snow Melt Systems

Guest post is provided by EZ Floor Heat, a provider of hydronic floor heating systems. Visit their website for more information.

Heated floors is a useful technology outdoors where snowfall is heavy. In areas with heavy and persistent snowfall in high altitudes or latitudes, shoveling a plowing are often necessary to keep walkways and driveways clear. Plowing is incredibly expensive, and hand shoveling takes time that most people don’t have. Both are considered potentially dangerous to health and wellbeing.

It might be a familiar story to you to hear about how workers wake up in the morning after a heavy snowfall and have to spend hours digging their car out of the snow in order to get to work on time. All of this energy and time can potentially be saved with a heated floor on your sidewalk, patio or driveway.

Underfloor heating comes in two different forms, called hydronic and electric systems. A hydronic system works off a centralized boiler that warms the area with antifreeze. The system loops below your driveway. Installing this boiler can be initially more expensive than an electric system, but works well over time if the amount of electric service offered doesn’t support an electric heating system.

If you already have a boiler, it’s easier to install a hydronic system because you are simply extending the system rather than retrofitting it. Using a hydronic system is cost effective because the tubing used is so flexible. This means that it resistant to expanding or retracting concrete in extreme weather environments are require less maintenance.

Electric Floor heating, on the other hand, thaws out snow with heated cables embedded in the driveway. It is the most cost effective option if your electric plan can support it. Connected to the building’s alternating current, it will effectively melt snow from a previous snowfall. Running an electric system is as easy as pushing a button, and unlike hydronic heating systems, it is only used when you want it to be.

The antifreeze inside of a hydronic system can become acidic while stagnant and damage the components where an electrical system doesn’t. With an electric system, you aren’t paying unless it’s doing what it is designed to do, whereas a hydronic system has to be run all year long.

So although an electric system costs more to run while its running, overall you can save more because you aren’t running it all the time. However, if you do live in an area where you would be running it frequently, using a hydronic system will give you better effectiveness.

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