Have you ever thought about extending your heat and air conditioning system outside your home? Usually, homeowners do everything they can to keep their precious treated air indoors. However, some families are using outdoor electric or hydronic heating to help keep snow and ice from accumulating on their sidewalks and driveways. This can reduce the amount of shoveling you need to perform, and more importantly, reduce your chances of suffering a slip-and-fall injury. Read on to learn more about how in-ground heating can make your life safer and easier during the winter.
The Magic of Outdoor Heat and Air Conditioning
No one likes shoveling snow, but often it’s a necessary task to get the car out of the garage or even walk to the mailbox. Fortunately, it’s possible to install heating elements under your driveway and sidewalk to reduce or eliminate the amount of shoveling you have to do. With in-ground heating, you can avoid shoveling injuries and lessen the odds of falling on the ice. You can even improve the soil in your yard or garden because you don’t have to put salt or other chemicals down to melt dangerous icy patches.
So how does it work? In-ground heating is actually quite similar to indoor radiant floor heating. A heat and air conditioning expert installs elements under the cement or asphalt that use either water or electricity to transmit enough heat to keep the ground level free from snow and ice. The systems include manual control to turn the heating elements on and off, and many also come with temperature and moisture sensors to automatically respond when there is cold-weather precipitation.
8 Benefits of Outdoor Radiant Heating
When it comes to choices in outdoor heating, there are more options to consider than even indoor heating. There’s infrared, propane, fire pits, chimineas, fire places, tabletop heaters, standalone heaters, wall-mounted heaters, etc. Among these various systems, radiant heating stands out for its unique advantages in terms of safety, convenience, and versatility. We explore these qualities in the sections below.
#1 An Energy Efficient Form of Heating
Radiant heating is recognized as a more energy-efficient option than forced air for indoor spaces. For outdoor spaces, it can still be considered an energy efficient option because of the way it directly transfers heat into the flooring rather than having it disperse into the cold air.
#2 Comes with No Risk of Burns from Fire or Hot Metal
Metal fireplaces and free-standing heating units tend to require careful adult supervision if there are children around because of how easy it can be to accidentally bump into them while playing. There are also no open flames to worry about and no hot metal that can accidentally brush up against objects and damage them.
#3 Ensures Even Heating Across the Heated Space
While the output of some wall-mounted or freestanding heaters can be quite powerful, it can be difficult to evenly heat an entire deck or patio on a cold night. Some people further away from the heating source are almost always going to be colder than those sitting closer. Radiant heating on the other hand provides a near-perfectly even heating experience because it can cover the entire floor space of an outdoor sitting area.
#4 Keeps Your Patio Free from Snow & Ice
If you want to entertain guests all year round, a radiant heating system is the easiest way to keep a deck, porch, or patio ready for use even after a storm. Shoveling and applying rock salt or ice melt to make the space safe and accessible can become a very strenuous task in the winter. A radiant heating system can save you hours of work and make using your patio a year-round reality.
#5 Involves No Irritation or Pollution from Smoke
Fire pits are a popular outdoor heating method because they require no maintenance and can be relatively inexpensive. But a main frustration that some homeowners quickly become aware of is how smoke can cause irritation on a windy night and can even find its way inside the home and bother people indoors. Creating smoke from burning wood is another issue that some homeowners want to avoid because it is not the most environmentally friendly way to heat up an outdoor space.
#6 Allows You to Enjoy the Outdoors Barefoot
One of the truly unique advantages of radiant outdoor heating is how the ground is warm and comfortable to the touch when the system is active. This means that you can run outside and grab that mug of hot cocoa you left on the table without putting on your socks and boots. It’s an added layer of convenience that most people don’t even realize they will enjoy until they have it.
#7 Provides More Space to Arrange Furniture
Having multiple, large space heaters on a patio can clutter up the space and make it harder to arrange and add the desired amount of furniture. Heaters can also block lines of sight so that people have to crane their necks to see each other. Certain heating features like stoves or fire pits can limit seating if every seat needs to be close to the heat source. With radiant heating, furniture can be spaced out across the entire porch or deck in any arrangement desired.
#8 Can Be Added to Entryway Stairs for Safety
Preventing slips on ice or snow is one of the most valuable features of outdoor radiant heating systems. They are also a versatile feature that can be put just about anywhere there’s enough space to lay the cables. This means they are a popular choice for heating entryways and stairs to homes or outdoor spaces. This ability to melt away frozen walkways is one of the most unique features of radiant heating that basically no other system shares.
How Much Will Ground Heating Cost Me?
You can get the most bang for your buck if you install in-ground heating during new construction, or when you are already planning on redoing a driveway or sidewalk. That way, you don’t have to tear out the old materials simply to gain access to the ground underneath. Retrofits are certainly possible but can end up costing many thousands of dollars.
There are also ongoing costs associated with running the in-ground heating systems – they aren’t for families who are trying to keep their heat and air conditioning bills to a minimum. In general, hydronic or water-based models are more expensive to install but cost less to run overtime, just like radiant floor heating, while electric elements are cheaper to install but more expensive to operate. The price tag may cause some homeowners to think twice, but for others, the luxury of not having to shovel snow or hire someone to perform the task might be well worth the expense.
Finding the Right In-Ground Heater for Your Home
If you are interested in installing hydronic heating in your driveway or sidewalk, get in touch with a heat and air conditioning expert today.