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Ice and snow-covered sidewalks ramps and driveways can pose a major threat to business operations and safety. An electric snow melting system is an environmentally friendly way to keep a variety of surfaces clear of snow and ice, which can often cause slipping hazards. Summer is the perfect time to get ready for next winter. Let’s look at the different types of electric surface snow melting systems. And how they can be used at your home or business.

What Are Surface Snow Melting Heat Trace Systems?

Snow melting cables provide snow melting and anti-icing solutions for surfaces, including:

  • Walkways
  • Parking garages
  • Loading ramps
  • Stairways
  • Driveways
  • And more

A surface snow melting system uses heating cables powered by electricity from potentially renewable sources to melt away snow and ice. As opposed to a hydronic piping system that requires a boiler that typically is powered by burning fossil fuels and circulates a working fluid, like glycol that has potential environmental and safety issues in the event of leaks.

A complete RAYCHEM system consists of a heating cable, connection kits and controllers.  There are two types of cables: self-regulating and mineral insulated (MI).  Both have unique features to do the job.  Self-regulating technology, like the nVent RAYCHEM ElectroMelt, automatically adjusts power output in relation to temperature changes. As an electric current passes through the conductive polymer core, heat is generated. When temperatures begin to drop, the electrical paths in the core increase, producing even more heat. The alternative is also true; as temperatures begin to rise, the cables will produce less heat.

These cables can be cut to length, spliced or repaired on site—saving time for installation. They are encased in a robust tinned copper braid and a thick polyolefin jacket, ensuring they are rugged enough to be buried. These cables are ideal for small to moderate-sized concrete and paved areas.

Alternatively, the nVent RAYCHEM Mineral-Insulated (MI) technology is a constant wattage cable that can provide high power output and a consistent heat source. nVent RAYCHEM MI is made of magnesium oxide insulation, a solid metal sheath, and a Low Smoke Zero Halogen (LSZH) jacketed cable. These cables are ideal for large concrete, paver, and asphalt areas.

Why Are Heat Trace Systems a Better Option?

While there are other options to melt snow and ice on surfaces at your home and business, heat trace cables have a wide range of unique benefits. Including:

  • Sustainability and Environmental Benefits: Uses Electricity, potentially from renewable sources instead of burning fossil fuels. In addition, self-regulating technology reduces heat output automatically, it often results in lower energy use and eliminates the possibility of overheating altogether.
  • Rugged: The tinned-copper braid on cable combined with the polyolefin outer jacket means there will be no corrosion on exposed metal parts, no cold leads to failure and no burnout due to overlap.
  • Flexible: Mineral-insulated cables are pre-terminated, making them easy to install at the job site.

Hydronic systems require a boiler to heat the glycol-water and are prone to leaking–which means the glycol-water mix is exposed to the environment and can be considered a hazard. This risk is non-existent with heating cables. Heat trace systems are also easy to design and easy to install, which can significantly reduce both installation and maintenance costs.

If you have unique surfaces like suspension-mounted areas, there are electric snow-melting solutions for you.

The nVent RAYCHEM Suspension Mounted Heating System is a complete snow-melting solution that can be installed under suspended metal surfaces such as stairs, walkways and catwalks. Utilizing high-wattage self-regulating cable installed in an engineered, insulated aluminum tray assembly, these systems offer efficient, high-performance snow melting that keeps suspended surfaces free of snow and ice.

Please visit us to learn more about how our advanced and environmentally friendly electric surface snow-melting technology can work for you.