Heated driveways and snow melting systems utilize one of two technologies, electric or hydronic. Hydronic systems involve the cycling of fluid from a boiler through pipes or tubing. Warmquest specializes in electric snow melting systems. These systems heat the surface through a heating element embedded in the paving material.
Often called heating coils, heated driveway technology actually uses heating cables to generate heat through resistive heating. What is the difference between cables and coils? Let’s take a look.
A heating coil is a heating element typically made out of a metal like nichrome. This metal is coiled (hence heating coil) and heats up when electricity flows through it. The size of the coiled wire and the shape of the coils impacts the heat created by the heating coil.
Heating coils are found in all sorts of everyday appliances from stovetops to electric kettles. The same concepts are used in the heating element inside of your toaster or hair dryer. While they are not used in heated driveways and snow melting, the general concepts and technology are similar.
In snow melting systems and heated driveways, heating cables are used. These cables are durable, insulated, and ruggedly constructed for embedding into paving materials. Driveway heating cables come in many varieties, Warmquest uses low voltage Tuff Cable and Mineral Insulated or Self Regulating Hott-Wire. The conductor inside these cables generates heat as power passes through the cable.
Warmquest’s team of experts is able to use the flexibility of these heating cables to create the perfect snow melting solution for any project. By choosing the appropriate cable, and adjusting the length and spacing of the cables, Warmquest provides the proper amount of heat for your project. Regional climate data from ASHRAE is utilized to determine how much heat will provide both an effective and an efficient heated driveway.
Warmquest’s snow melting cables as well as our other heating products function due to resistance heating. As power passes through the heating element, the ease at which it flows is called resistance. As the resistance increases, the cable creates heat. This process makes electric radiant heating 100% efficient as all the electricity used is converted to heat.
At the end of the day, the question of cables versus coils is mostly about semantics. Technically, you would use a heating cable to heat a driveway, but resistance heating and the general concepts behind a heated driveway are quite similar to the heating coils found in your household appliances.