Snow & Ice Melt systems are very beneficial and can provide a very easy alternative to shoveling & blowing snow from high traffic areas. As with a radiant system, design is very important. Snow & Ice Melt systems require much more energy per square foot than radiant space heating systems. As a result, system design must be carefully considered. Snowmelt systems can be employed in any number of applications and have even been used in warm climates as outdoor comfort heating (i.e.-a restaurant’s outdoor dining area).
Snow & Ice Melt systems have high energy requirements. As such, they are most often designed with larger diameter tubing than radiant space heating systems. The most typical design utilizes ¾” tubing (Inside Diameter) on 9” spacing. This allows the system to provide enough heat to melt snow and ice from the area even in heavy snowfall conditions.
Type of Fuel To Be Used
The type of fuel used by your system is completely up to you. Depending on your location and the resources available to you, you may even choose to utilize more than one fuel type, electric, propane or natural gas backup. If, however, your location and available energy make it difficult to utilize natural gas or propane, electric another possibility to consider is the installation of a solar thermal system to provide part of your heating. If a portion of your energy consumption can be offset by utilizing solar energy, a different fuel may benefit you more than if your heating unit were providing 100% of your heat.
While there are many different control configurations for snowmelt systems, they are generally automated. Typically, a sensor is installed in the surface of the heated area. This sensor monitors both temperature and moisture. This means that the system will run ONLY if the temperature of the slab is below freezing AND there is moisture present. This prevents the system from running when the weather is cold but no snow or ice is present or there is moisture but the weather is warm enough to prevent freezing. These types of controls are considered weather responsive controls that are used with on demand systems.