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Old 08.07.2009, 10:31
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Can I use (purely) solar to melt snow on my drive?

During depths of winter, may I / could I use (purely) solar to power external underground heating under the drive to melt / keep snow free?

I can understand powering from grid would be forbidden, but from solar?
In winter it's often quite sunny and using just the sun's energy would be greener than using a petrol snowblower, not use any mains power, not need any manual effort, not have slippy patches etc.

Anyone know if it would work technically / practically? Would I need water pipes heated by a water based panel or use electric solar panel/cables? Obviously the panels themselves would need keeping free of snow...

If not solar could I heat using wood?

In Oslo they have such warming cables/pipes (can't remember) under the pedestrian areas in the city centre to keep snow / ice free in winter. There's also a road bridge near Bern where the heat is collected in summer to melt ice in winter...

I live in Hirzel and while not in the mountains (only 720m) gets significantly more snow than say areas around lake Zürich, and having a snow / ice free drive would be great.

Last edited by Glendyn; 08.07.2009 at 11:37. Reason: edited title to be more clear
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Old 08.07.2009, 12:44
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Re: Can I use (purely) solar to melt snow on my drive?

It's could be possible to heat an outdoor area with solar power and thermal collectors would offer better efficiency. However with sub-zero temperatures outside I'm not sure how easy it would be to minimise frost damage risks and during winter there's less sun obviously... I fear a shovel is the most environment and wallet friendly way but if you post some parameters in the Ask a Scientist thread I'm sure somebody would make a rough estimate how much snow you can melt.
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