by Steven D. Bench
Anyone interested in snow melting, floor warming, roof de-icing and/or in-floor space heating deserves to understand the differences between the two electric technologies that compete for your business. You might say “I know the difference, one technology is low voltage and the other is a high voltage, other than that distinction, they are all the same”. But to truly appreciate the differences between these two technologies and to select the product which is best for you, I suggest that it is necessary to learn the answers to a few additional questions.
First, is the product listed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (“NRTL”), approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, such as ETL or UL? If the answer to this question is “yes”, then the manufacturer has spent a great deal of effort, time and money testing the product to the standards appropriate for its applications. Once a product has earned the right to be listed by a NRTL, quarterly monitoring and evaluation make certain that the product is designed and manufactured in a manner consistent with its listing. If on the other hand the answer is “no the product is not listed” then it is very important that you understand why. Remember, never underestimate the possibility that it may have been tested and failed to qualify, and always understand the risks that non-listed products may pose!
Second, how do the heating elements differ? The low voltage heating element has a real advantage, because it is simplistic yet durable. The fact that the heating element is made of stranded copper wire with two protective insulators makes it very easy to repair, with readily available materials, in the event it is damaged during or after the installation process. In addition, copper wire has proven its durability and longevity
Third, how long is the heating element warranted? Most companies offer 5, 7, or 10 year warranties while a couple offer up to 25 years. Generally, the longer the warranty the better, unless the warranty is prorated. The bottom line is, if you intend to enjoy the benefits of a snow melting, floor warming, in floor space heating, or roof de-icing product for years to come, only consider products with the best warranties.