What to Know Before Installing a Heated Driveway

A house surrounded by snow with a clear asphalt driveway.
  • 16-24 hours
  • Beginner
  • 900-12,000

Heated driveways are a luxury for people living in colder regions of the country. Not only do they make snow removal easier, but they also increase the longevity of your driveway, which can save you a lot of money in the long run. If you are thinking about installing a heated driveway, here is everything you need to know before getting started.

Types of Heated Driveways

There are generally two kinds of heated driveway systems on the market: radiant heat and hydronic. Radiant heat is the most common and uses metal coils to heat the surface above. These systems have sensors that automatically turn them on when the temperature hits freezing, though you can usually override them if needed. Hydronic systems pump a liquid under the pavement to melt ice and snow. While radiant heat systems plug into an electrical outlet, hydronic systems feature a boiler that heats up the water. Compared to radiant heat, hydronic systems are more expensive to install and maintain.

Installing a Heated Driveway

There are some situations in which a heated system can be installed under an existing driveway. This is especially true if you only want to heat up a small portion of the driveway instead of the entire run. But in most cases, it is best to install the heating element when pouring a new driveway. Not only is it less expensive this way, but it also ensures that the system is properly installed and working its best. The only issue is that you must install the system prior to cold weather setting in. The pavement will need around 30 days to dry and set, which means you should install it sometime in the spring or summer. You should avoid installing these systems in the winter.

Installation Costs

A radiant heating system being installed in a concrete walkway.

The price of installing a heated driveway will depend on your location, time of year, and length of the driveway. Most contractors will quote you anywhere between $12 and $21 per every square foot of asphalt. For an average size driveway, this puts the cost at close to $4,000. That does not include removing the old pavement. For that, the cost skyrockets to a little more than $7,000 on average. This may be worth it if you get a lot of wintry weather every year, but you should shop around for the best price before settling on a contractor.

Saving Money on Installation

There are ways in which you can save money when installing a heated driveway. For starters, you could do the majority of the demolition yourself. With a jackhammer, which you can rent from a local retailer, you can break up the pieces of the driveway and haul away the debris with a truck. If you want to know how much you will save, ask the contractor to quote how much they would charge for the demolition process. This should give you an idea of whether it’s worth doing yourself.

Where to Install a Heated Driveway

Construction workers installing an asphalt driveway.

Heated driveway systems can be installed in just about any area outside of the home. As a rule of thumb, you should install these systems in places where you want to avoid shoveling snow. This could be the driveway, a patio, or walkway, though the former is usually the most common. The installation process is the same wherever you choose to install the system.

Benefits to a Heated Driveway

The most obvious benefit to a heated driveway system is melting snow and ice. Not only do you skip shoveling snow, but you cut down the risk of slipping on icy surfaces in the wintertime. Heated driveways also increase the longevity of your driveway, boost the overall value of your house, and are good for the environment because you are no longer using chemicals to melt ice. The main disadvantage is an increase in electricity use unless you use a hydronic system.