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Radiant Roof snow melt ??

I saw ME's response on the post about capping the unused port on a wirsbo manifold.

It got me thinking on roof ice dam melting with hot water tubing vs electric heat trace cables.

In the CO Mtns, 1 KWH of elect = 10.2 cents and 1 therm of Nat gas = 8.44 cents. am I reading that correctly, even if you assume 80% eff on the gas, its still 23 times the cost per btu for electric?????

In the mountains we have to run heat trace on the roof OR pay someone to shovel & pickaxe the ice off the roofs.

How would one use hot water in tubes to clear a path for the melt water to run off the roof & down the gutters/downspouts?

PEX is not uv stabilized & I assume would rot quickly in the high UV Colorado sun.

Onyx Tubing run in a zigzag pattern just like the electric cables ??

Seems like a way to save a ton of money, my heat trace runs me about $150.00/mo on electric.


Thank You:

Winter Park, CO & Lenexa, KS


  • SWEISWEI Posts: 7,356
    edited March 2014
    Energy costs

    Your NG might actually be $0.844 per therm?  If so, the difference is more like $31.08 per million BTU on electric versus $10.55 for 80% NG or $8.88 for a 95% mod/con. is your friend.  Don't forget to net out the fuel costs from the bottom of the bill -- those surcharges and taxes can easily add 15-20% for smaller users.
  • Tim PotterTim Potter Posts: 207
    Yea, that sounds more like it,

    But it is still 3x the cost for electric vs N gas. I did remove all the other charges, so to have a more accurate reflection of the true cost per btu of electric vs NG

    Thanks for getting me on the right track<<br />

    Winter Park, CO & Lenexa, KS
  • hot rodhot rod Posts: 6,716

    rubber hose with a UV jacket might get you 8-10 years in that climate. Look around at tractors and machinery, backhoes etc, that hydraulic hose lasts in the sun.

    It might take some clever clips to keep the snow creep from tearing it off.

    Maybe fasten the hose below the roof sheathing, you just need to warm the shingles a bit above freezing to melt. I'll bet this has been tried before.

    We did run the rubber hose down drain PVC to keep the snowmelt waters running away from some driveways that we melted.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • SWEISWEI Posts: 7,356
    Just like a dry floor system

    only upside down.  Retrofit aluminum C-plates to the sheathing from below, then install tubing and insulate.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Posts: 5,552
    Extruded plates, YES

    In tohelluride, they used extruded aluminum heat transmission plate from the bottom side of the roof. We limited the roof melt surface to 35 degrees to avoid melting the polar ice caps.

    And yes Tim, your decimal is off one place. .84/therm versus $2 for electricity. Still a big difference. Might be better off setting a NG powered electric, water cooled generator, using the electricity to power the heat tape and use the thermal energy for DHW preheat or space heating needs.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • GordyGordy Posts: 6,801
    edited March 2014
    DHW Preheat

    Reverse the operation with that setup in the summer and take advantage of the hot roof. May get more than Preheat out of it.

    Recoup some of the expended energy cost during the winter to free solar energy in the summer. Roof decks can get to 110-120* in full sun.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Posts: 5,552
    I like the way you think Gordy...

    I wish this were mandatory for ALL snowmelt surfaces. With an appropriate load, it would be possible to extract heat even from warm summer evening air, even after sunset.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • SWEISWEI Posts: 7,356
    edited March 2014
    Dawn Solar

    Used a design just like this.  Not sure if they are still out there selling "dealerships."

    As long as your emitter system is low temp, it should work pretty well most of the year.  Would also work well for black body radiation at night.

    Can't beat the lack of visual impact.
  • GordyGordy Posts: 6,801
    Thermal mass

    Of those surfaces can last quite some time after sun set in the summer. I would love to see the performance of Mad Dogs driveway when he gets it operational.
  • JackJack Posts: 922
    I once did a pool heating system

    with tubing in the concrete pool skirting. Not only heated the pool but allowed the folks to be able to walk on the concrete during the day.

    On the ice melt, I used my tankless on my home in MA. We had serious build-up and everyone was losing their downspouts, gutters and associated damage. It took 3 1/2 hrs of hot water, but the roof and gutters looked like a summer day when I was finished. The run-off melted the ice in the driveway. All Good;)
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