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About Radiant Roof Heating

How Automated Roof Heating Systems Work

Automated roof heating systems feature an activation device (snow sensor), a main controller or contactor panel, and the heating element. When the snow sensor detects moisture and the temperature is below 39°F, it signals the master control unit, which then sends power to the heat cable, warming the roof. These automated systems are very effective in preventing ice dams and protecting roofs and gutters from snow, ice and water damage. Roof heating systems are installed in residential as well as large commercial applications.


Roof Heating Element

The electric roof heating systems consist of either self-regulating heat cable or the thin, RoofHeat STEP heating element. The self-regulating heat cable can be installed in gutters and downspouts as well as in attractive aluminum panels to melt snow and ice from the roof edge. The panels are available in a variety of colors and feature a powder coating to provide a durable, attractive finish that is designed to complement the look of the home.


The low-voltage RoofHeat STEP system features a thin, flexible polyethylene heating element that is also self-regulating. (This means it will monitor itself and adjust power up or down as the temperature changes.) It can be nailed or stapled through and is installed directly under the shingles or roofing material. This makes installation much easier than other common roof heating solutions and therefore helps to minimize installation costs. The popular system can also be safely used to heat metal roofs. Snow sensor for automated roof heating system.


Roof Deicing System Activation Device

Aerial-mount activation devices (snow sensors) are typically used for roof deicing systems. Perhaps the most proven and trusted sensor for roof heating is the WS-8C. This activation device features a remote sensor that can be easily mounted in the roof gutter to enhance efficient, automated system operation. It is important to mount these sensors above the roof line where there are no obstructions so that the sensor will be able to detect the first snowfall. In addition to detecting precipitation, the advanced device also detects temperatures. When precipitation is present and the temperature is below the set point (usually 39°F), the sensor signals the contactor panel to send power to the heat cable.


While the unit provides fully automated snow melting function, the sensor also features manual override capability. This allows users to melt icicles or ice in the gutters that may have formed from runoff that refroze at night.


The actual number and placement of the sensors depends on the size and nature of the particular roof heating installation. Most residential roof heating systems require only one activation device. (In addition to aerial-mount snow sensors, pavement-mount sensors are also available; however, these are more commonly used for commercial heated driveway snow melting systems.)


The snow sensor / activation device is the key to the automated system. When specific weather conditions are present, it automatically activates the system so it operates only when needed and then shuts off afterwards. The weatherproof thermostat provides temperature control for large and small areas.


Roof Deicing System Contactor Panel

The controls include line and load terminal blocks and operating contactors. Heat cable is routed to the contactor panel, and when signaled by the snow sensor, it sends power to the heat cable to warm the roof and prevent any snow and ice buildup. The advanced unit can be purchased with or without ground fault equipment protection (GFEP).


Read more information about roof deicing system components.