The first snowflakes hit the ground in Park City, Utah, in late October, before a single peanut butter cup hit the bottom of the Halloween bag. The first snow of the 2022 season dumped 10 inches of fresh powder on the town on Oct. 23, giving skiers and winter sports enthusiasts an early start to their activities.
For those who need to navigate up and down slick and steep driveways, however, snow can make for treacherous travel. One homeowner solved his snow-covered driveway issues with an elaborate snow-melt system that covers 530 square feet, including two sections that cover walkways and paths to the front door. In snowy Park City, where the annual snowfall average is between 300 and 400 inches, snow-melt systems are commonplace.
“It’s pretty much a necessity,’’ said Rod Hyatt, who specializes in hydronic heating for Peterson Plumbing Supply of Utah. “With all the snow, hills and driveways that wind to their homes, most homeowners need a snow-melt system to keep everything clear.”
The snow-melt system the homeowner needed includes three distinct areas. The longest section covers 300 feet on a steep and narrow driveway. A 120-foot section leads to the front of the house, and a 110-foot section keeps snow off a driveway section on the side of the home. That allows the homeowner to maneuver the vehicles in and out of the garage on clear surfaces.
“It’s an automated system and is responding very well,’’ Hyatt said. “It’s a fairly light load, but it’s also extremely efficient. The system trickles along and keeps the driveway clear.”
The heart of the system includes two condensing boilers by Ariston. The HTP Elite Ultra Duo (ELUD) has an industry leading 20:1 turndown ratio, which limits short cycling and provides more efficient energy consumption.
Each unit includes dual heat exchangers that provide built-in operational capacity. Up to four units can cascade, providing a turndown ratio of 80:1. The Park City system includes two units, allowing for a 40:1 turndown ratio. The ELUD-399 boilers in the application generate a minimum of 19,900 and a maximum of 399,000 Btu. Ariston also makes units with maximum firing rates of 285,000 and 301,000.
Stainless steel heat exchanger
The HTP Elite Ultra Duo also features stainless steel heat exchangers. The high-grade stainless steel ensures maximum quality at the heart of the boiler. The higher-grade stainless-steel resists corrosion and guarantees reliability. The ELUD comes with a five year warranty out of the box which can be extended to 10 years through online registration.
Corrosion is one of the concerns that can cause premature failure of the boiler. A frequent problem, it occurs when the boiler water alkalinity is low or when the metal is exposed to oxygen-bearing water either during operation or idle periods. High temperatures and stresses in the boiler metal can also hasten corrosion.
The higher turndown ratio can also help limit corrosion in boilers, besides saving energy costs. Lower turndown ratios lead to short cycling, which wastes fuel and harms system components. A boiler that runs on low fire for a long time, rather than switching on and off at high fire, reduces stress on the boiler and extends service life.
The Elite Ultra Duo also includes heat exchanger surfaces that are 400% larger than conventional designs, which increases water flow and creates more internal turbulence. The turbulence acts as a scrub on the internal walls, reducing heat exchanger deposits that lead to corrosion and ensuring a longer lifetime for the boiler.
While the snow-melt system design was fairly standard, one of the challenges came when different contractors tried to establish their materials in the lower level of the home. Electrical and plumbing teams also needed to install their products.
“We had limited capability of getting anything big in the basement,’’ Hyatt said. “They didn’t want to use the walls to put up a lot of plumbing and we were pushing the limits on codes.”
The Elite Ultra Duo boilers are 41 inches high and 30 inches in width, but also include adjustable casters that make them easy to maneuver.
“They’re light, easy and flexible, which made them very easy to put into the space,’’ Hyatt said. “That was a huge concern for us. If we had tried to put an 800,000 Btu boiler in there, it would have been a tight squeeze and miserable to install. This made it a lot easier.”
Kowtowing to customers
Most residents of Park City enjoy the snow. That’s why they’ve purchased homes there, to take advantage of the outdoor lifestyle and frolic on the slopes that make the city famous.
What they do not enjoy, however, is snow on their driveways when they return home. Hyatt hears it when the snow melt systems don’t work as well as the homeowners expect. “If there’s any snow on the driveway, they have heart failure,” he said. “You have to be dead on.”
One of the advantages of the HTP ELUD boiler is that it includes a link that allows the homeowner and the installer to check the status. Homeowners can remotely view boiler parameters and status, alert service personnel of possible issues and access the boiler and troubleshoot issues without having to be onsite.
Interestingly, the home also includes two additional HTP products in the house. Two 119-gallon SuperStor Ultra Max (MSSU) water heaters, which also have high-grade stainless-steel tanks and heat exchangers, provide heat for the home. An efficient heating system is also mandatory in Park City, where the average temperatures from November through March hover below freezing.
“We install a lot of systems, and we always strive to make them as efficient as we possibly can,’’ Hyatt said. “Customers today are very demanding. We have to make sure the system meets their needs.”