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snow melt

Harold Member Posts: 248
I recall seeing a system in use (in Germany, I think) that used heat pipes (sealed tubes that have a transfer fluid to move heat) buried along the highways to feed heat to the road surface. This kept them snow free using the same heat source geothermal systems use - the earth. There was no power usage for these. I don't know what the numbers are to do this with a driveway using a pumped fluid.


  • KAG
    KAG Member Posts: 82

    I was talking to a friend about installing a snow melt in thier driveway of thier new home. But with the fuel cost increases I am reluctent to do so. My question is could a solar system be designed to lower costs? I haven't installed to many snow melts and do not know much about them. The system (if installed) would be located on Cape Cod MA. Would like too know what any of you think.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 3,471
    Solar as a supplement might give you a few extra btus

    to help melt...but the sq. footage of the panels and gallonage needed to melt the snow would be prohibitively large and expensive. Then again, do you live on a farm and want to melt a small area? Mad Dog

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  • Brad White_63
    Brad White_63 Member Posts: 24
    Solar with Snow

    In order for a snow melt system to be effective you need to store the warm fluid in sufficient quantity to get you over the hump after a blizzard. That could be one huge tank of glycol...150 BTU's per SF per hour minimum and try to keep up with falling snow at night with no input...

    Bottom line is, you need some storage with solar to take the edge of, but can you charge such a system in anticipation of a storm? Don Kent was never that good.

    If you go straight solar with little or no storage (banking on those clear sunny days that follow a good nor'easter) you will be playing catch-up. And if it is a minor storm, not much to melt anyway.

    The Op-Cost for fuel driven snow-melt is not as much as you think when you figure in the hours of actual use. Besides, snow does not often coincide with design temperatures so you will have some reserve capacity if for some reason you couple it to the house boiler versus a dedicated snow-melt boiler.

    My $0.02

  • He said they're burying that crap out in the field...

    John Barba, 1998...

    Got one coming up...

  • Cosmo_3
    Cosmo_3 Member Posts: 845
    ok I love the Cape

    thats all

    Well, as far as the snowmelt goes I agree with Brad. Unfortunately unless you can figure a way to store those btus from the solar system, the time you really need it you will have no sun. Check out ME's thread on his solar storage concept on a thread titled "I need a hole". maybe you could incorporate the erth heat sink under the driveway, thereby the driveway should be a few degrees warmer just from heat loss through the insulating layer. Of course in the cape, depending where you are located, the water table is not all that deep which would never let you store the heat.

    Ahh the cape, nothing like the cheap old Hyannis Holiday motel right next to the dock. I love the smell of fishing boats in the morning! So I guess in a couple of weeks the blues will be bitin, I can't wait to try my luck at another huge striper off the beach by the hyannisport jetty some time this year. I have been chompin at the bit to take a trip up there this year, it's been 3 long years since my last visit!

    Cosmo Valavanis
  • KAG
    KAG Member Posts: 82

    Thanks for the info. Sounds like this may not be such a good idear, but would like to learn more about snow melt any good books that you can recommend. I told my friend that there is a possiblity that when we get those heavy snow falls (20"+) in a short amount of time that the snow melt probaly will not keep up, but I really don't know what to exspect. He's really interrested in the snow melt and whats an idear of operating cost. He realizes that each year will be different, but likes the idear of not plowing and destroying his driveway (coblestone). Is there any way of calculating operating costs.
  • Brad White_63
    Brad White_63 Member Posts: 24
    There is always the 6-1 method of snow removal. Never fails....

    I use the 6-1 method of snow removal almost exclusively. Simple and low-cost: Wait until June first. All gone!

  • Tony Conner_2
    Tony Conner_2 Member Posts: 443
    I Dunno...

    ... what these folks THINK about the causes for global warming, but that they're even considering installing a snowmelt system speaks volumes. Obviously, human activity has nothing to do with it :)

    "Residential snow melt - the ultimate frill..."
  • Brad White_9
    Brad White_9 Member Posts: 2,440
    Now, THAT

    is comedy!

    Good point, Tony. Good point.
  • Tony Conner_2
    Tony Conner_2 Member Posts: 443

    ... if I remember my geography, Cape Code is near the coast right? No need to worry about rising ocean levels :)

    I haven't thought about this song for a long time, but they played it on the radio yesterday:

    "The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades..."
  • tom_49
    tom_49 Member Posts: 269

    The fact that snow melting w/ fossil fuels is even LEGAL bogles the mind.

    With most houses that are built now, everyone wants high eff. appliances, eff. HVAC, better insulation, low-e glass,etc. Then they turn around and heat their driveway?

    Whats wrong w/ this picture?

  • Tony Conner_2
    Tony Conner_2 Member Posts: 443
    I Think...

    ... the fact that this string is running at the same time as 3 stings on global warming says far more than the discussions I have going with Gene ever could. He thinks global warming is the critical issue, I see energy sources as the greater concern. But apparently, not only are we BOTH wrong, we're both wrong AT THE SAME TIME :)
  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782
    I can think of instances where it's justified...

    ... helicopter landing pads and entrances at the hospital, critical ramps at convalescent homes and the like - i.e. health care facilities where the ability to get patients in and out quickly/safely is critical. In non-critical care/emergency/etc. environments, I see little to no justification other than convenience.

    To me, most snowmelt systems are a lot like 40' stinkpots I see cruising down the coast of Maine, consuming 400+ gallons of fuel, per day. I simply shake my head at the thought of blowing through that much gas. Along a similar vein, most Indians I met shook their heads when I told them that my motorcycle had more horsepower than the largest sedan then built in India.

    Coming back to the original question, the glycol alone will bankrupt most people. Given how little such systems are needed on Cape Cod, it may make sense to consider a cheap wood boiler. Stoke it up as needed, let'r rip, carbon neutral to boot.

    However, even a large snow blower is likely to be less expensive to buy and maintain.
  • CC.Rob
    CC.Rob Member Posts: 128

    A snowmelt system here on the Cape? Yeesh. I'm utterly clueless about snowmelt systems, their cost, rationale, etc., but I would guess they're intended for more consistently snowy climates than here.

    I'm guessing that for the cost of a snowmelt system, you could employ the local youth (a rapidly diminishing resource around here) for a long time. They might even use a shovel. But wait, is that a plastic shovel made using virgin petroleum or recycled from milk bottles? Or made out of aluminum from an environmentally insensitive bauxite mine that exploits their workers? And what of the handle? Aluminum? Composite? Old-growth hardwood?

    Or hire the local landscaper who has a plow on his gas-guzzling F350 for the winter. He can add his emissions to the atmosphere, thus potentially warming the climate and reducing future snowfalls. Or maybe not if the future involves shutting down the Gulf Stream and suddenly it's colder on the Cape in the winter, instead of warmer. Which future to pick???

    My $0.01.

    Some real data, however:

    Driveway: gravel, 12'Wx75'L, inner 20' is 24'W.
    One guy (me), one shovel, purchased in 1997 for $13 without regard for the environmental impact of its production and delivery to my local hardware store.

    Total time spent shoveling snow on that driveway on Cape Cod the past few years:

    2005/6: 2 hr
    2004/5: 6 hr (not including the blizzard -- hired dude with a Bobcat...)
    2003/4: 1 hr
    2002/3: 0 hr
    2001/2: 0 hr
    2000/1: 0 hr

    My interpretation of that data is that it really doesn't snow enough around here to make a snowmelt system worthwhile. Particularly when you consider it's the ultimate frill.... :)
  • KAG
    KAG Member Posts: 82
    Just Think

    Residential snow melt or 1978 pick with no emissions. Then how about all the landscape work that is needed because the plow driver was on his third 6 pack of a 12 hour shift? You talk about global warming, but do you think that the manufacture of your plasma T.V. did. No not the first one you bought but the third. How about the S.U.V. it's a hybrid right. NO snowmelt but gotta have heated seats in car with 10 CD/dvd 4 t.v.s in the head rest by the way petrolum base product with 4 wheel drive because it just started to snow in the 80's on earth truck (Ya it was a run on sentence but you get my point). What about central A/c this has NOOOOO effect on global warming rigth, can any one say freon. Before any one judges someone else look in the mirror or home or # of car/truck/boats/atv/etc..
  • Christian Egli_2
    Christian Egli_2 Member Posts: 812
    What if snow didn't melt at all

    You'd think I'd have steam tracers buried under ground the way railroad switches are, but no, my driveway is fully solar...

    First it snows. Then the sun comes on and melts all the ice in about two days. No moving parts. All free. As simple as the solar clothes dryer.

    I don't think adding solar captors with pumped fluids will enhance this performance. The scales are impractical and the captors will be just as snowed in as the driveway.

    On the other hand, a snow melt boiler and piping will cost you fuel in the winter, but, if you use the same driveway piping to heat your domestic water in the summer, you'll save yourself fuel. In other words, it is a storage system of the truest type. You don't store hot water, you don't store energy, you store dollar bills. Neat, no?

    Electric driveway melt were very popular around here in the sixties... so, as far as waste is concerned, we're making progress somehow.

  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782

    ... you have a blacktop driveway with good exposure?

    I went the other route... our driveway is just long enough to hold our two cars. With little to no driveway to shovel, I have less to worry about. Our walkways clear easily, nothing that a bit of excercise can't overcome, even if it snows a foot or two, or three.
  • SIM systems can be smartly installed.

    If you have a very BIG & dark driveway with lots of sun, an outside pool to heat and DHW, S&IM systems can make perfect sense in a residential application. If you are approaching being elderly & / or retired, all the better. Why not if you can afford to do so? Compared to industry, the enviornmental impact is VERY small. Specially if you're using a modulator/ condenser.

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  • Constantin
    Constantin Member Posts: 3,782

    ...when I'm elderly and/or retired, I hope to have the good sense to downsize into a home that requires minimal maintenance, no slowbowing, etc. I think it speaks to our hubris to have power, snow melt, etc. systems in place to allow us to get in and out w/o having to account for outside conditions. So the driveway is clear, but then there is that 2' high, 2' thick wall at the bottom to contend with after the roads have been snow-plowed. Never mind road conditions.

    Anyway, given that retirement is 30+ years away, I'm not going to worry about all that right now. However, I will add that many landscapers offer snow clearing services... and once you find a good one, that should clear most of your snow-clearing issues. The cost around here for such services is very steep, yet the human-powered snow shovel will clear the one area where a snow melt system is unlikely to wander, i.e. under the city-owned sidewalk. If you don't clear that area, you're liable for falls and fines.

    Now, as for your idea to use the blacktop in a driveway to pre-heat pool water, I think it's a really good one. I saw a pool install online somewhere where the installer had snaked lots of PEX through the pool deck, cast in concrete to keep the deck cool and the water warmer. Pre-heating DHW via a blacktop driveway, slab sensor and control system also sounds intriuging... that is if you have blacktop to play with.

    As for the environmental impact, the same "creep" can be heard from the folk who promote big heavy cars, with big heavy engines to make them go fast. It's the reason that automobile fleet-wide efficiency has stagnated while all sorts of innovative technologies that save fuel among other things were used solely to boost horse power. All the incremental inefficiencies add up.

    Look, it's a personal choice. I may disagree with the "need" for most residential snow-melt systems but it's a free country and everyone should be allowed to make their choices. If the price of fuel keeps going up, the market for such systems will dry up quite naturally, just as the market for oversize SUVs has dropped significantly.
  • Guy_6
    Guy_6 Member Posts: 450

    On the lines of economizing- How come my toilets can only use 1.6 GPF,(which may not always handle the task) yet I could install a shower that uses 15+ GPM? So much for conservation. If I wanted that kind of a shower, I could take my kid's Jeep through the carwash....
This discussion has been closed.