A powerful asset for your business
Ice melting systems are specialized versions of radiant heat systems, designed to clear areas of ice and snow reliably. A heat source heats a fluid – normally a glycol and water mixture – which circulates through flexible piping embedded in a surface such as a driveway or walkway and melts the snow and ice.
Improvements in the quality and durability of flexible piping has made it possible to install ice melting systems in many more locations in the last two decades.
Previously, they were limited to critical areas such as hospital emergency ramps, but today they are used to clear ice from commercial shopping malls, car washes, handicap access ramps and even football fields.
Traditional polyethylene pipes were not durable enough for radiant heating systems, so pipe manufacturers developed cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) pipe. It withstands high temperatures and dramatic pressure changes easily.
A seamless barrier of ethylene-vinyl-alcohol copolymer (EVOH) on the pipe blocks oxygen from entering the fluid and corroding heat source components. PEX pipe is also strong enough to handle the weight and compressive forces when embedded in concrete or asphalt.
Ice melting systems can be designed to melt varying amounts of snow and ice as quickly as required. The key is the amount of heat energy the heat source produces and sends through the pipe.
A Class One system handles residential and light commercial requirements, at a range of 75 to 125 BTU/sq. ft., and will allow some accumulation of snow until it all melts away.
A Class Two system delivers 125 to 175 BTU/sq. ft. and is ideal for store and office sidewalks, loading docks and hospital steps.
Class Three systems are designed to melt ice and snow immediately and are used at highway toll plazas, bridge decks, fire stations, stadium exits, airport taxiways and hospital emergency entrances. At 175 to 200 BTU/sq. ft., the system delivers immediate results but is more expensive to run than lower rated systems.
There are several factors to consider when designing a system for a specific application. It is wasteful to provide more heat energy than required to do the job, but the system will not operate properly with less heat than required.