Table of Contents for this Page
- New Heated Driveway Cost
- Installed Cost of Heated Driveways
- Average Total Costs
- Overview of Heated Driveways
- Heated Driveway Cost Factors
- Installation Supplies Cost Details
- Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time
- Related Projects
- DIY or Hire a Pro for this Project?
- Comparison Costs from Leading Resources
- Common Questions and Answers about Heated Driveways
Installed Cost of a Heated Driveway
The average cost to install a heated driveway system with a new asphalt or concrete driveway is about $16.60 per square foot. A 40-foot driveway, 18 feet wide with a full-width parking pad in front of the garage comes to about $22,500. This includes the cost of the new driveway.
Cost is significantly higher with pavers simply because a paver driveway costs more than an asphalt or concrete driveway. Retrofitting an existing driveway can save money and might be worth considering if the drive is in good condition.
Overview of Heated Driveways
Two types of driveway snow melt system are common – electric and hydronic.
An electric heating system is constructed with mats that connect to one another and ultimately to a junction box where they get power. The mats heat with 35 to 50 watts per square foot. In some cases, cabling is used to construct the grid. Material cost is lower, but installation time and cost are higher.
Hydronic heated driveways consist of loops or a serpentine pattern of tubing beneath the drive through which a mixture of heated water and antifreeze flow. Most require a dedicated boiler to supply sufficient water for the system. The Concrete Network has a good chart that compares the pros and cons of the two system types.
While full-width heated driveways are most common, a cost-saving option is to place the heating equipment only where car tires will typically ride. Two lanes, about 2 feet wide each, are created. It’s worth considering where snowfall isn’t extremely heavy.
What’s better? Electric systems cost less to install. But hydronic systems heated by a gas water heater or boiler cost less to operate. The life expectancy for both systems is 25-40 years. Electric systems also heat up more quickly.
New Installation: Most heated driveway systems are installed as part of the construction of a new driveway or when an old drive is torn out and replaced.
Concrete vs asphalt: For concrete, the driveway heating equipment is installed immediately below the concrete, on top of the base materials and a layer of rigid foam insulation to keep heat from escaping into the ground.
When the driveway is asphalt, the first layer of asphalt is put down, usually at a depth of about 2 inches. Then, the heating equipment is installed before a top layer of 2-3 inches of asphalt is added. The mats or tubing become embedded in the top layer of material.
This is the process whether the driveway is brand new or is a replacement drive, an old one having been torn out.
For paver driveways, the heating tubing or electric mat grid is placed on top of the base materials and foam insulation. The equipment might be covered by a layer of sand to form a stable base before the pavers are installed.
Retrofitting: When a concrete or asphalt driveway is in good condition and has 15+ years left before needing to be replaced, retrofitting can be a cost-effective option.
In retrofitting, an industrial saw is used to cut grooves into the material. Then, the hydronic tubing or electrical cable are placed in the grooves before the grooves are sealed.
A retrofit heated driveway costs $8 to $12 per square foot, and that’s without getting a new driveway in the process.
Heated Driveway Cost Factors
Narrow your heated driveway price by considering these factors.
- New vs Retrofit – The majority of heated drives are installed as part of a new or replacement project. But you can save money in the short-run with a retrofit. If the driveway is replaced in less than 10 years, your savings will be wasted. Electric systems are preferred for retrofit snow melt systems because the cabling is narrower than hydronic tubing.
- Hydronic vs Electric Snow Melt Systems – Hydronic driveway heating costs are 15% to 25% higher, so they are toward the upper end of the cost spectrum. But as noted, operating costs are lower because the system is powered by natural gas rather than electricity.
- Automatic vs Manual – An automatic system uses above-ground sensors to detect temperature and precipitation to activate the system. Sensors can also turn off the system when the driveway surface is dry. Manual systems must be turned on and off by the homeowner. Most systems are automatic, but the extra equipment can add 5% to 10% to the cost. We recommend automatic systems for convenience, and also for security – nothing says “nobody is home” like a snow-covered driveway days after the last snowfall.
- Full-width vs Tire Tracks – Hydronic systems are typically the full width of the driveway. But if you choose electric, you can cut cost by only installing mats beneath normal tire track areas.
- New Electrical Panel – An electric snow melting system for a large driveway will probably require an upgrade to your existing panel and quite possibly a new 100-amp to 400-amp panel. That will raise cost significantly and might make a hydronic system a better value choice.
- Including Walkways – Many homeowners pay extra to include sidewalks leading to entry doors in this outdoor project to completely eliminate the need for snow shoveling.
- Drainage – If your area receives regular snow events of 6 inches or more, your contractor might suggest adding drainage alongside the driveway to get rid of water from melted snow, so that it doesn’t pool and freeze.
- Driveway Size – Large driveways cost more to heat, of course, but cost per square foot goes down some as driveway size increases because fixed costs like a new panel or boiler are spread out over more square feet.
- Climate Factors – The colder and snowier your climate, the more powerful the system will need to be to handle the demand. For example, if hydronic, tubing will be more narrowly spaced. If electric, cable gauge will be greater to supply more watts per square foot.
Cost of Supplies, Heating System and Extras
Most homeowners get turnkey estimates for heated driveway price. But here’s a cost breakdown of the major components and phases of the work.
- $1.00 – $2.00 per square foot | Asphalt driveway removal
- $3.50 – $5.00 per square foot| Concrete driveway removal
- $4.00 – $6.00 per square foot | Electric heating system materials and equipment including mats or cabling, junction box, electrical panel.
- $6.00 – $7.50 per square foot | Hydronic heating system materials and equipment including tubing, water heater or boiler, manifold and circulating pump.
- $7.00 – $12.00 per square foot | A new or replacement asphalt driveway as part of the entire project.
- $7.00 – $10.00 per square foot | A new or replacement concrete driveway as part of the project (standard – no stamping or staining).
Permits, Inspection, and Labor Costs
Permits and Inspection
- $150 – $400 | You’ll need a permit for either an electric or hydronic system. Replacement driveways often don’t require a permit, but with the addition of the snow melt system, anticipate needing a driveway permit too.
Concrete Driveway Installation Labor Cost
- $6.00 – $12.00 per Square Foot | Installation for both system types is labor-intensive, especially a hydronic system. A paver driveway takes much more time to install than concrete or asphalt. So, the labor portion of the estimate will depend on which system and driveway type you choose.
Expect your driveway to be torn up for at least a week, and it could be much longer if there are weather delays. Home Guide estimates 5 days to 3 weeks, and that is certainly possible, especially on larger driveways or if there are delays. Another source of delay is difficulty in scheduling an inspection or the contractors – plumbing, electrical, system installers, driveway installers – so that the work flows as quickly as possible.
For the driveway discussed above – A 40-foot driveway, 16 feet wide with a full-width parking pad in front of the garage – here is a best-case scenario.
- 1-2 Days | Remove the old driveway, if needed, or excavate a new driveway and install the base layers.
- Up to 1 Day | Make necessary improvements to the bed when an old driveway has been removed.
- 1-3 Days | Installation, testing and inspection of the heated driveway system
- 1 Day | Install a concrete or asphalt driveway – if it is pavers, this will take up to a week based on crew size
- Up to 1 Day | Removing forms, cleanup, final inspection
The schedule is a little different for asphalt compared with concrete and paver driveways because the first layer of asphalt is put down before the driveway snow melting system is installed on top of it. And then the drive is finished with the top layer of asphalt.
Here are several other common projects related to having a heated driveway installed at your home.
Are You a Pro Driveway Installer?
If so, head over to our Costimates Pro’s page, and help us make this page better and more accurate for both our visitors and your future customers.
DIY or Hire a Pro
A driveway replacement along with the installation of a heated driveway system is almost always a job for pros. Few homeowners have the know-how or equipment to install a system and build their own driveway. If you wish to see the process, go to the WarmlyYours website, and watch the video of a heated driveway installation.
However, there’s a cheap, relatively speaking, DIY option you might be interested in: Heating mats you can lay on top of your driveway. Most include 2 mats that are 2’ wide and 20’ or 30’ long. They require 240V power and their own circuit breaker, which are extra expenses.
The mats are tough enough to drive on all winter – or you can lay them out only when snow or ice is expected. And they are rolled up and stored the rest of the year.
Systems cost $2,000 to $3,500 based on length and whether they have aerial sensors for temperature and precipitation. Here’s a popular system available from the Home Depot.
Compare Costs from Leading Resources
- HomeGuide: $12 - $28, Per square foot, concrete or asphalt driveway heaters
- HomeServe: $12 - $21, Per square foot installed
- HomeAdvisor: $12 - $21, Per Square Foot
- ThermoSoft: $12 - $25, Per square foot (DIY mats, versus installed)
- Thumbtack: $14 - $24, Per Square Foot, Installed
- Heavenly Heat: $7 - $34, Per square foot
Common Questions and Answers
Do Heated Driveways Work Well?
While not perfect in extreme conditions, heated driveways are great at keeping heavy snow and ice from accumulating on your driveway or sidewalks.
How Do Heated Driveways Work?
A series of mats or hydronic pipes are embedded beneath the surface of the driveway. During snowfall or icy periods, they can turn on automatically, or be turned on manually to help melt away snow and ice. There are also surface mounted mats that can be put down in the tire tracks of vehicles and onto sidewalks. These can be pulled up in the warmer months when not needed.
Are Heated Driveways Expensive to Run?
They definitely can be if you use electricity versus gas heated hydronic systems. It's estimated to cost around $150-$250 per season for an electric driveway heater system, and $100-$200 for a gas boiler heated system.
Can you heat a gravel driveway?
No - gravel is not a good material for containing heat and melting snow and ice. There is some debate about this, so talk to a heated driveway installer about the heat system they plan to install and whether it works well with gravel. Also consider upgrading to an asphalt driveway for $2-$4 more per square foot.
How much does it cost to run a heated driveway?
Based on the national average of about 14 cents per kWh (kilowatt hour), cost will be around $2.00 to $2.75 per hour based on the system type and size you have.
Is hydronic or electric heated driveway better?
Electric systems heat faster and get rid of snow and ice more quickly. Hydronic systems are slightly less costly to operate.