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According to the National Safety Council, in the US alone slips and falls account for nearly 9 million emergency room visits during winter. While it’s unsure how many of these occur on job sites and industrial facilities, the risks certainly increase during icy months.

Thankfully, electric heat tracing and surface snow melting systems can keep facilities clear of ice and snow, avoiding the need for keeping costly machinery and labor in standby to manually remove snow and ice.

What are Electric Snow Melting Systems?

Electric snow melting systems are designed to keep walkways, airport runways, garages, loading ramps, stairways and other surfaces free from snow and ice.

With a simple design, these systems are fully integrated and work with:

  • Heat tracing cables: Different heating cable solutions can be designed specifically for concrete surfaces and pavers. Approved for hazardous locations, mineral insulated series resistance cables provide a constant output and are suited to larger areas due to its high power output, while self-regulating cables reduce heat output automatically as the surface warms or cools, and are suitable for smaller areas.
  • Components: Mineral Insulated cables are supplied factory terminated ready to install. Self-regulating component kits for power connections and end seals are field installed. Junction boxes, caution signs and fixing strip complete the cable installation.
  • Advanced control systems: devices like sensing thermostats and controllers that monitor and control the heat trace cables and maintain surface temperature above freezing point.
  • Power distribution systems: including cabling, cable trays, and electric panels for single-phase or three-phase heating circuits.

What are the Benefits of Surface Snow Melt Systems?

A good electrical snow melt system increases the safety, reliability and efficiency of your facility and commercial activities.

Additionally, both systems offer:

  • Simple design: There are few components in electric snow melting systems, and they can be installed in most outdoor areas. This simplified design often means there are lower installation costs and maintenance costs.
  • Environmental benefits: Unlike hydronic systems that use a glycol-water mix to melt snow, electrical system have no risk of leaking. This means there are little to no environmental hazards associated with the systems.
  • Advanced controls: Regardless of design requirements, nVent RAYCHEM advanced control systems and provide enhanced zone control to ensure surface snow melting systems are working properly. Our systems can control multiple heat-tracing circuits in one user interface.
  • Safety and cost savings: facility owners don’t need to invest in snow removal technology that requires regular maintenance. It also eliminates the need to keep labor in standby in order to keep operations running in the event of an emergency. Heat tracing technology also eliminates potential safety hazards of personnel working in extreme environments.

Understanding Surface Snow Melting Technology

There are two electrical options for surface snow melting applications.

  1. Mineral-insulated (MI) Technology: Mineral-insulated cables provide a constant heat source for concrete, asphalt and pavers. These cables are composed of a single or dual conductor heating element, magnesium oxide insulation, a metal sheath and a low smoke, zero halogen jacket. These can also be custom engineered for projects, and are well suited to larger areas requiring longer cable lengths, 3 phase design and increased voltage up to 600V.
  2. Self-Regulating Technology: This technology automatically adjusts power output to make up for changes in temperature. As temperatures fluctuate, the number of electrical paths in the polymer core increases and decreases to produce more or less heat. These cables can be cut to length on site and work for all direct buried snow melting and anti-icing applications.

Keeping your surfaces clear of ice and snow should be a priority this winter. For more information on nVent RAYCHEM surface heating solutions, click here.