How Much Is a Heated Driveway? Installation Pros and Cons
Published: August 26, 2022
One of a modern home's many conveniences is a heated driveway. Now, how much is a heated driveway anyway, and is it worth it? Find out here!
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For many places, winter is inseparable from snowfall. The entire season can be defined by the bright frozen crystals falling to blanket the outside world in white. While this is an enchanting sight, the layer of snow is likely not as beloved when it’s on your driveway. Many are no stranger to cold mornings spent shoveling away to clear a path for the car. During such times, you may have wondered “how much is a heated driveway?”. Well, we have the answers for you, so keep reading!
What Is a Heated Driveway?
A heated driveway is a type of snowmelt system designed for modern pavements. The system is most often seen in a typical home, where the length of pavement leading up to the parking area is equipped with a heating element. This warms the pathway and melts any snow that happen to fall during winter, avoiding the buildup of snow on the driveway. It eliminates the need to shovel out the driveway during frigid mornings, saving you time and energy. There are a couple of types of heated driveway systems that can achieve this, as seen below.
Snow Melting Heated Mats
Snow melting mats are the easiest heated driveway systems to purchase and install. Simply roll them out over your driveway and turn them on in the evening or whenever the driveway isn’t in use. They’ll easily take care of any snow that falls on them. Unfortunately, many of these mats were not made to carry the weight of an entire car. Because of this, you may need to roll them up before exiting the driveway.
When using mats that can carry the full weight of a car, you’ll be able to lay them out along the track your tires usually follow. This will clear a path for them to roll over without problems.
Built-In Heated Driveway
Now, if you’re willing to invest a little more into your heated driveway, consider a system built into the driveway itself. For this, professionals inlay heating elements into the pavement directly. These can be either heated coils or a hydronic system consisting of a broiler and pump. A thermostat is often built into the system so it automatically turns on and off. This saves you from needing to keep an eye out on the weather all the time. You also won’t need to worry about rolling up any mats before leaving your home.
This type of integrated heated driveway is pricey, but also much more convenient.
Solar Heated Driveway
Solar-heated driveways are a subset of the other two types. Some driveway systems can now be powered through the use of solar energy. For solar powered heating mats, you can plug them directly into a solar generator. Meanwhile, if you have solar panels installed in your house, an integrated heated driveway can draw from them directly via wiring.
Why Buy a Heated Driveway?
Now that you know about the different types of heated driveways and how they work, you may be wondering why you should buy one. The two main reasons we’d cite are safety and convenience.
In terms of safety, a heated driveway will reduce the chances of you slipping and falling as you walk on it. Snow that’s melted and refrozen into ice is especially treacherous for both vehicles and people. Anyone can fall victim to a careless tumble, especially the elderly and people who are in a hurry.
The convenience factor, on the other hand, is rather obvious. Who actually likes waking up early to shovel snow off the driveway? It may only take a few minutes a day, but they add up over time. Imagine having a few more minutes in your winter mornings to enjoy your coffee or stay in bed.
Pros and Cons of a Heated Driveway
So, is a heated driveway worth the cost? As always, there are benefits and drawbacks to look at when deciding. This section aims to highlight both the good and the bad, so you can decide if you’re willing to shell out for this type of home improvement project.
As mentioned previously, heated driveways are excellent for safety and convenience. Their ability to keep the pavement free from ice and snow makes walking on it significantly safer. Also, you can save hours of accumulated time in the long run. Integrated heated driveways in particular are built to be self-regulating and are hassle-free to maintain most of the time.
In addition to the above, there’s the longevity they add to your home pavement. When the snow melts and freezes over and over again on your driveway, it can drive a bit of a wedge into the small cracks in the concrete. Tiny fissures turn into large breaks this way, leading to significant damage. A heated driveway prevents any of this from happening by melting the snow right away and letting it run off the concrete into the grass or a nearby drain.
Finally, believe it or not, heated driveways can actually save you some money in the long run. While their installation can be a bit heavy on the wallet, you won’t have to call in a plow service or a snow shoveler ever again. Also, just think of how much you’ll save on de-icers and rock salt.
The main drawback of a heated driveway still has to be the initial price. Built-in heated driveways in particular can cost a pretty penny to install, and that’s not even counting their repair fee. We break down the full cost a little later on, but the number can very easily reach the thousands.
Also, if they’re not installed properly, integrated heated driveways can be prone to breaking. This would, of course, lead to another round of tearing out the pavement and reinstallation. As you can imagine, that isn’t the best news for your wallet either. The same goes if your system grows old enough to fail in certain spots in the pavement.
Pros and Cons Summary
- Keeps driveway safe for walking by reducing ice and snow
- Adds to the longevity of your pavement
- Saves you money in the long run
- High initial cost and potentially high maintenance cost
How Much Is a Heated Driveway?
Finally, we arrive at the main question of this article. Knowing the different types available as well as their pros and cons should help you decide if a heated driveway is worth it. So, let’s take a look at the two main types and their expected maintenance fee.
How Much Are Heated Mats in Your Driveway?
Heated mats are the most affordable option, with the more budget-friendly ones going for under $200. The more premium options can reach upwards of $800 per mat. Of course, some mats may only cover a portion of your driveway, so you may need multiple. Be sure to check all your measurements and calculate accordingly.
How Much Is a Built-In Heated Driveway?
A built-in heated driveway is usually preferred, as it’s much more convenient, but this does come with a higher cost. You can expect to spend about $3,900 to install an average-sized heated driveway depending on what heating system you pick.
If you choose to go the more budget-friendly route in terms of heating systems, you can likely get a new heated driveway installed for as little as $1,300. However, keep in mind that this will likely require you to give up a few conveniences like the automatic control system. Higher-end heated driveways are known to go for around $7,500 to $14,000.
Keep in mind that these prices don’t factor in the removal of an old driveway for renovation, which can cost an extra $1 to $2 per square foot. Also, if you have a larger driveway than usual, you can expect the price to go up further.
How Much Is Heated Driveway Maintenance?
There are several factors affecting how much it costs to keep a heated driveway operational through the winter. Namely, a lot depends on the amount of snowfall, the type of system you have, the heating elements, and the price of electricity in your area. On average, you can expect $120 to $600 to be added to your bill every winter depending on these factors.
Other than the utility cost of your built-in heated driveway, you don’t need to do much maintenance. If ever a section of your driveway stops heating though, you’ll need to identify the problem or call in a professional to repair it. The tools for diagnosing your driveway problems yourself can usually be rented for upwards of about $150.
If your driveway does need to be repaired, you may need to go back to good old-fashioned shoveling for a while. It might be best to keep a few familiar tools in the garage just in case.
What Material Is Best For a Heated Driveway?
Built-in heated driveways are usually cast in asphalt or concrete. Asphalt is generally easier to repair than concrete, but it needs to be maintained more often. Concrete is the harder, more solid material, making it less prone to cracks. However, when it does break down, repairing concrete results in more obvious patches in your driveway.
A hydronic heating system is favored for concrete driveways while electric coils are the norm for asphalt ones.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Much Is a Heated Driveway?
How effective is a heated driveway?
Heated driveways in general are effective at keeping the snow and ice off your pavement. This increases your driveway’s lifespan and keeps it safe for you to walk on without the fear of slipping.
Certain systems are better at this than others, such as in the case of a built-in heated driveway vs heated driveway mats. An integrated heated driveway is much better at keeping all of the pavement clear and safe, while heating mats tend to only focus on the tire path.
Can I DIY a heated driveway?
Yes and no. Laying down most heated driveway mats is easy enough by simply positioning them along your tire path and plugging them in. However, an integrated heated driveway will require professional help. There’s a lot of wiring and system integration involved in the process after all. If you’re looking to save a little on this sort of renovation though, you can DIY your old driveway’s removal before calling them in.
What is the best way to heat a driveway?
A built-in heated driveway is the best system out there to keep your driveway clear of snow. However, they do tend to be on the pricier side. Anyone on a budget can use a set of heated driveway mats laid out along the tire path instead.
How are heated driveways powered?
Integrated heated driveways are usually hooked into your house’s electricity. Whatever energy your house uses, whether solar, turbine, or fossil fuel, is what powers your heated driveway. In the case of some heated driveway mats, you may be able to hook them into an independent solar generator instead of a house socket.
Can you drive on heated driveway mats?
If the heated mats you’re using are specifically labeled as driveway mats, they should be safe to drive on. Other heated mats like roof and sidewalk heated mats will need to be rolled up and removed before driving out. Either way, it’s best to check the maximum weight capacity of the mat if available.
For anyone living with regular or seasonal snowfall, the heated driveway is a modern convenience worth a good look. While its initial cost may raise some eyebrows, what you save in terms of time, effort, and peace of mind may just be worth it. Whether or not you plan to have one installed and what type you get, will ultimately depend on your budget and needs. In the end, how much is a heated driveway worth to you?