Its been a very cold winter in Colorado. In a normal winter we expect to see a few unusually warm days when all of the snow pack and ice melts on the north side of our Denver home. This year we didn’t get the warm days, I’ve had to resort to salt to melt the ice and that has produced a fair amount of spalling on our concrete.
I spent some time searching and decided to try using a PowerBlanket to melt the ice. Basically a PowerBlanket is a waterproof electric blanket. It doesn’t get truly hot but it raises the temperature of the surface above the melting point. The PowerBlanket that I tried is a EH0202NH. It is approximately 2′ by 2′ and retails for $165. It runs on 120 volt power. They also make small blankets that run on 12V for powering off a cigarette lighter.
The first test was defrosting the back stoop, its about 3’x3′ so I expected to move it around a few times to melt the ice. The outside temperature was about 25 degrees and the stoop was covered in about .5 inches of packed snow and ice.I stuck the instant read thermometer under it and picked it up to look every 10 minutes intially.
At 10 minutes the temperature below it was 41 degrees and the ice was starting to look wet.
At 20 minutes the temperature below it was 39 degrees and the ice was about 40% wet.
At 30 minutes the temperature below it was 34 degrees and the ice was about 75% wet.
At 60 minutes the ice had completely meted below.
The next test was actually an accident. When I had finished melting the entire stoop I had left the PowerBlanket plugged in on the top of the stoop and we received about 2″ of snow overnight. It kept the entire stoop and step warm enough that no snow accumulated on it, while 2″ of snow accumulated at the bottom of the steps.
The final test was melting the hard ice that had accumulated on the north side of our garage. It is as much as 3″ thick in spots and extends for about 10′ from the back of the garage. It took about 6 hours to melt through the 3″ of ice and by moving it around I was able to cut a path through the ice in about 2 days.
After the two days we had a set of days that broke 45 degrees consistently and I was able to move it around to the thickest places and clean up the entire 10’x20′ area in about three days.
My main reaction is that I need a larger blanket for melting ice. If I had a north facing house, I’d definitely buy a 4’x9′ or a 4’x5′. For small areas the blanket I have is perfect and I put it out on the back stoop every time before it snows. If you have needs for melting ice and snow, I’d highly recommend the PowerBlanket line.