Exterior Driveways & Walkways

How Much Does a Heated Driveway Cost?

Heated driveways may seem like a luxury option, but they can save time, headaches, and even money once winter rolls around. Heated driveway cost ranges from $3,000 to $25,000, with the national average at about $12,900.
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Visual 1 - HomeAdvisor - Heated Driveway Cost - Cost Range + Average - September 2023
Photo: bobvila.com

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Highlights

  • The typical cost to install a heated driveway is between $3,000 and $25,000, with a national average of $12,900.
  • Cost factors for heated driveway installation can include driveway size, driveway material, type of heating system, labor, installation, and materials.
  • Some of the biggest benefits of installing a heated driveway are reduced shoveling, increased safety, driveway damage protection from shoveling, lack of maintenance requirements, and added home value.
  • Installing a heated driveway is a job for a qualified professional as it requires advanced equipment as well as experience with plumbing, electrical work, and paving.
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For homeowners who deal with snow every year, the idea of eliminating winter shoveling is an attractive one—and a heated driveway can make that idea a reality. Functioning like radiant heat flooring, these snow-melting driveways can save homeowners from a dreaded (and often dangerous) chore, and they can be a practical advantage for older residents or people who struggle to clear snow on their own. With a heated driveway, homeowners can flip a switch and watch the snow melt on the driveway from the comfort of their living room, as opposed to donning heavy clothing and boots to remove snow manually.

According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, the cost of a heated driveway can start as low as $3,000 and will typically top out at $25,000, while the national average heated driveway cost is $12,900. Although costs rarely dip below the bottom of the typical range, they can certainly go higher for longer or oddly shaped driveways. In general, homeowners can expect to pay between $15 and $30 per square foot for heated driveways, including materials and installation. Installing a heated driveway will often cost two to three times as much as a regular driveway.

Factors in Calculating Heated Driveway Cost

When budgeting for the cost of a heated driveway, simply considering the national average of $12,900 may not be enough. There could be regional disparities in pricing due to the cost of labor, access, or the home’s location, especially if it’s remote. There will certainly be variances in the cost that correlate to the size of the driveway, but other factors can impact the cost of a heated driveway.

Driveway Size

Without heating elements, the cost to pave a driveway is around $2 to $15 per square foot on average. Driveway heating systems can increase that cost to $15 to $30 per square foot, including materials and installation. Longer, wider driveways with greater square footage will cost more than smaller, one-car driveways. Driveways with curves or irregular shapes will also cost more than straight driveways.

Driveway Material

The type of driveway can determine the price of heating it. Most heated driveways are made of asphalt, concrete, or pavers. Asphalt driveways cost more than concrete driveways cost without snow-melting systems, so it makes sense that an asphalt heated driveway would also be more expensive. The cost to install a heated concrete driveway averages $13 to $28 per square foot, while a heated asphalt driveway ranges from $12 to $27 per square foot. Heated paver driveways have the highest cost per square foot at $19 to $50.

Visual 2 - Heated Driveway Cost - Cost by Material - September 2023
Photo: bobvila.com

Heating System Type

Those who are unfamiliar with heated driveway systems may wonder “How does a heated driveway work?” An electric system relies on electricity to heat coils beneath the driveway surface to melt snow. This system costs between $3,200 and $5,800. If the home does not currently have the electrical capacity to support this kind of system, installing an upgraded panel could increase the price significantly. A hydronic system uses boiling water flowing through embedded pipes to heat the driveway. This system costs $4,200 to $8,700 and may also require the installation of a new boiler unit or water heater at an additional cost. While hydronic systems cost more up front, they can be a more cost-effective option over time because they are less expensive to operate. The cheapest heating system for driveways is a portable mat that costs around $1,600 on average and can be placed on the driveway before inclement weather.

Labor, Installation, and Materials 

Materials and installation costs can also affect the overall cost of a heated driveway. Large-scale extenuating events like labor shortages or shipping delays could impact the price, but homeowners will want to keep in mind that geographic location will also affect how much the project costs. Metropolitan areas typically have higher installation rates because of the higher cost of living, but some remote areas may add a surcharge for the distance traveled by the crew. If the installation includes demolition of the existing driveway, the total operation will be more expensive. Installation costs will also increase if the electrical connection is far away from the embedded cabling or tubing. Materials can also range in cost based on the location. For example, a blacktop driveway costs more in California than it does in Florida due to differences in demand and the availability of materials.

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Additional Costs and Considerations

Homeowners who wonder “How much does a heated driveway cost?” will want to consider their specific situation as well as the options that are available to them. Does the heating system require removing the old driveway and installing a brand-new one? If so, that will add to the cost. If the system has automatic controls, there will likely be a higher cost than there would be for a system with manual controls. Certain design elements can also jack up the price. Consulting a heated driveway cost calculator can help homeowners determine how certain design elements might impact the price

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New Driveway vs. Retrofit 

Including heating elements if a driveway doesn’t yet exist is a fairly straightforward installation process. If there is already a driveway, one option is to remove it and install a new one with heating elements, but it’s not always necessary. It may be possible to retrofit a system into an existing driveway. (Homeowners will want to note that it’s easier to retrofit an asphalt driveway vs. a concrete one.) It involves making several saw cuts along the driveway into which the heating elements are placed. After the heating elements are connected to the system controls, the contractor will seal the slots, cover them in asphalt, and add hardscaping to conceal the cables. This job typically costs between $7 and $17 per square foot and is more easily done with electric systems than hydronic ones since the cables are thinner.

Existing Driveway Removal

If retrofitting the driveway is not possible, or the existing driveway is old or damaged, it may be necessary to remove the driveway and have a new one installed. Driveway removal costs an additional $1 to $2 per square foot on top of the project cost.

Manual vs. Automated Controls

Manual heated driveway systems are self-explanatory: Homeowners turn the system on when they want to melt snow or ice. An automated system senses when it needs to turn on, which can benefit people who have to leave early in the morning for work. An automatic system can also make getting into the driveway easier if it snows when nobody is home. Automated systems cost more to purchase and install—about $500 to $3,500 more than manual systems—and incur higher energy bills, especially when they’re installed in asphalt. This is because greater care must be taken due to the heat of the asphalt pour and the abrasive application process.

Drainage

As the snow on the driveway melts, it needs to be channeled somewhere to prevent refreeze as hazardous black ice, defeating the purpose of the entire snow-melting system. The driveway needs to slope away from the house, but if there’s not adequate draining, it may be necessary to dig a trench to allow for runoff or even install a drainage system at an additional cost of $30 to $100 per linear foot. It may also be necessary to heat the pipes and gutters used for drainage to prevent ice blockages.

Heated Sidewalk Installation

Installing heating elements in a sidewalk can reduce time spent shoveling and provide more safety to the walkways surrounding a home. The average cost for heated sidewalk installation is $12 to $32 per square foot. For most projects, the larger the total square footage, the lower the cost per square foot. This is why the cost per square foot for heated sidewalks is higher than it is for driveways. Homeowners can also opt for heated sidewalk mats, which have a lower cost range of $10 to $15 per square foot.

Design Elements

Some homes have driveways with design elements such as stamped or stained concrete. Adding one of these to a heated driveway could cost an extra $4 to $8 per square foot. A border of stone or brick pavers can cost an additional $10 to $17 per square foot.

Operating Expenses

One-time costs like purchase price and installation go away, but operating expenses go on forever. Depending on electrical costs and the amount of snowfall in a season, it can cost $120 to $600 per winter season to heat a 1,000-square-foot driveway. The national average is $0.14 per kilowatt per hour. Some radiant heat systems are more energy efficient than others, so it’s worth doing some research prior to installation.

Maintenance

If the driveway heating system was installed correctly, there’s very little ongoing maintenance for the system itself. Electric systems, in particular, have a reputation for being maintenance-free. However, the homeowner may need to have an electrician replace the electrical control board down the road at a cost of around $40 to $100 per hour. For a hydronic system, it’s a good idea to have the boiler inspected annually. If the tubing ruptures and starts to leak, the relevant section of the driveway will have to be dug out in order to repair or replace it. It’s important for homeowners to note that while a heating system can protect the driveway to an extent, the surface of the driveway itself will still need regular maintenance. Homeowners will want to continue to budget for driveway sealing costs and occasional repairs.

Heated Driveway Cost
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Heated Driveway Cost by Type of Heating System

There are three types of heated driveway systems: electric, hydronic, and portable. Electric and hydronic systems rely on heating elements underneath the driveway, and both can be automated with sensors that detect temperature and precipitation. Portable mats are the cheapest option and can be installed as a DIY project.

Heating System TypeAverage Cost (Materials Only)
Electric$3,200 to $5,800
Hydronic$4,200 to $8,700
Portable mats$1,600

Electric 

An electric system features a grid of electric cables installed below the driveway surface that, when turned on, use radiant heat to melt snow. They are typically easier and less expensive to install and run (depending on local utility rates) and can be retrofitted in an existing driveway. Electric systems also heat up quickly. However, if a winter storm knocks out the power grid or some other interruption to the electrical supply line, the system won’t work. The system may also require an upgrade to the home’s electric panel, which can add costs. Electric coil systems operate silently and are customizable. They can be configured in a variety of forms and patterns to suit curved driveways. Most homeowners pay between $3,200 and $5,800 before excavation for electric heated driveways.

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Hydronic

A hydronic system utilizes a dedicated boiler system to pump heated water and antifreeze through a closed-loop PEX tubing grid embedded in or inserted beneath the driveway to melt snow. Hydronic radiant heat systems are more powerful than electric ones, but because they require an indoor mechanical room to house the components, they are usually more expensive than electric systems. Operating costs can be lower because the system can run on multiple forms of fuel, such as propane, natural gas, electricity, wood, or oil. However, a hydronic system typically costs 30 to 50 percent more than an electric system ($4,200 to $8,700 in total before excavation) and may require installing a new boiler unit or water heater for an added cost.

Portable Mats

Portable mats are the least costly heated driveway option as they do not require professional installation. Rather than being located underneath the surface of the driveway, they can simply be rolled out on top of the driveway when poor weather conditions are expected. Not only does this keep costs low, but this system also works equally well with any driveway material. The downside is the lack of convenience—homeowners must both be aware that a storm is expected and available to roll out the mat in order for it to be useful. On average, portable driveway mats cost around $1,600 or $5 to $10 per square foot.

Heated Driveway Cost
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Benefits of Installing a Heated Driveway

There are multiple reasons a homeowner might benefit from a heated driveway. Possibly the most obvious is never having to shovel snow again. Or, for those who pay for a snow removal service, compare how much the service costs over several years to the one-time cost of a heated driveway. Snowy or icy driveways can be a safety hazard, especially to those who struggle with mobility. Heated driveways can also help elongate a driveway’s life.

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Reduced Shoveling 

If a driveway clears itself through the use of a radiant heat system, there’s no need for a homeowner to shovel snow. This saves time as well as physical effort. It’s also comforting for homeowners to know that it won’t be necessary to shovel snow in the dark, either before leaving for work or after returning home late at night. Particularly for older homeowners or those with mobility issues, not having to shovel snow offers peace of mind and safety. Homeowners who pay for a snow removal service will also be saving money in the long run because a heated driveway will last for years to come with few maintenance costs.

Increased Safety

By melting snow and ice on the driveway and sidewalks, heated driveway systems ensure a measure of insurance against slip-and-fall injuries. Vehicles won’t slide off icy driveways or struggle to gain traction in heavy snow, making driving safer and easier. By removing the need to shovel, homeowners avoid the physical risks from overexertion, such as sprains, muscle strain, lacerations, and even heart attack.

Damage Protection

Rock salt and other deicing chemicals can damage concrete, landscaping, and even vehicles over time. A snow-melting system replaces the use of these products. And, because it can keep the entire driveway (as opposed to just the section that would be shoveled) clear of ice and snow, it can help protect both concrete and asphalt from damage due to freeze-thaw cycles, including cracking, chipping, potholes, and crumbling. Over the years, this can save homeowners a significant amount on driveway repair costs.

Little to No Maintenance

When a system is installed correctly, there’s virtually no routine maintenance necessary. Although they tend to be a bit more expensive to operate, electric systems have a reputation for being maintenance-free. With a hydronic system, it’s probably a good idea for a homeowner to have the boiler inspected annually. As long as heavy equipment isn’t parked on the driveway, maintenance is not likely to be a major factor.

Added Home Value 

In areas where snowfall is heavy, heated driveways may increase a home’s appeal to potential buyers. They can also add to the fair market value of the home, depending on the home’s location and the age of the system, since the average life of a driveway heating system is up to 20 years.

Reduced Salt Needs

Not only is salting driveways and walkways when snow and ice are in the forecast inconvenient, but lifting bags or jugs of salt can also be physically challenging. It also requires homeowners to monitor the forecast in order to know when they need to spread salt. A heated driveway can reduce, or even eliminate, the need to use salt or other chemicals at all.

Heated Driveway Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

Installation of a heated driveway system is a complicated project. Experience and knowledge of plumbing, electrical, and paving are necessary to do a good job. When dealing with electrical projects, it’s always wise for homeowners to hire an electrician—and, in fact, depending on the system, it may be necessary to have a certified electrician install it for the warranty to be valid.

Some installations require the existing driveway to be torn out first, which requires heavy-duty equipment and time. Pouring a new concrete or asphalt driveway may also be beyond the average homeowner’s capabilities. Using a resurfacing technique to install a radiant heating system over an existing driveway might also void the warranty.

The best driveway paving companies and heated driveway installers have the tools, know-how, and experience to do the job more quickly and efficiently—and often for a better price than it would cost the homeowner to DIY. The pros can save time and avoid costly mistakes. It’s also probably safer in the long run, and there is peace of mind for the homeowner in knowing that the job is done right the first time.

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Heated Driveway Cost
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How to Save Money on Heated Driveway Cost

There are several ways to save money on heated driveway costs. One is to invest in heating mats instead of installing a radiant heating system. Mats can be placed on the driveway where they are needed for targeted snow melting. Although they are cheaper, they are not as powerful or as reliable as a radiant heat system, and they don’t cover as much area. For those who are committed to investing in a radiant heat system for their driveways, there are still a few ways to save money.

  • Do the demo yourself. If you’re planning on ripping out your driveway and starting from scratch, you may be able to do the first part of the project yourself. If you have time on your hands and feel comfortable using a jackhammer, you can save some money on labor. Keep in mind that you’ll have to haul away the material.
  • Skip the sidewalks. Most homeowners don’t have long sidewalks or walkways, so they’re easy to shovel without a lot of time or effort.
  • Heat only one lane. If you have a wide driveway but you only use one part of it regularly, you can opt to heat only the part that receives the most traffic.
  • Just heat tire grooves. If you don’t see regular heavy snowfall but still want to get your car in and out easily when there is snow, consider heating placed right under where your tires would rest when the vehicle is parked.
  • Consider financing options. Since heated driveways can cost up to $25,000 (or more), you may want to consider researching the best home improvement loans or the best home equity loans (consider U.S. Bank or Flagstar) to help you pay for the project over time.

Questions to Ask About Heated Driveway Installation

When considering having a heated driveway system installed, it’s natural for homeowners to have questions about the cost, the process, the results, and the heated driveway installers themselves. In order to feel confident about the pro they hire, the homeowners may want to ask some of the following questions when getting estimates.

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • What type of system do you recommend for my home?
  • Do you install automatic systems?
  • Does the estimate include materials and labor, or are there additional fees?
  • What is your payment schedule?
  • Could there be any additional costs?
  • Does this project require permits, and if so, who is responsible for obtaining them?
  • Do you have references?
  • How long will the project take?
  • How many people will work on the project? Do you use subcontractors?
  • Do I need to be home while you’re working?
  • Do you offer a warranty on the work or the system?

FAQs

Heated driveway systems are becoming more prevalent in colder climates; no longer are they reserved for high-end neighborhoods. They can save countless hours of shoveling snow or the hassle and cost of hiring someone else to do it. Before homeowners commit to this project, they may want to consider the answers to some lingering questions.

Q. How long does a heated driveway last?

When installed correctly, a heated driveway system can last up to 20 years. Over time, it may need some repairs, such as replacing the electrical control board or boiler, depending on which type of system the driveway has.

Q. Can I heat my existing driveway?

In some cases, it’s possible to retrofit an existing concrete or asphalt driveway to add a radiant heating system. The installer would make a series of saw cuts, into which the cables are inserted, and then cover it with whichever material the driveway consists of. It’s typically easier to retrofit a driveway with electric cables than a hydronic system. Retrofitting can cost more to run due to the lack of insulation underneath.

Q. How much snow can a heated driveway handle?

Heated driveways can melt up to 2 inches of snow per hour. The melt-off will not refreeze as long as the system is on, keeping snow and black ice off the driveway.

Q. How much does it cost to run a heated driveway?

The average operating cost to run a heated driveway is $120 to $600 annually, but that depends on the type of system you have and energy prices in your area. Electric systems cost about $0.14 per kilowatt hour to run.

Sources: HomeAdvisor, Angi, HomeGuide