Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Does Anyone Make One of These?

The TrailBlazer's 4WD has failed with a very useful icon: a wrench next to a simplified drivetrain.  In the meantime I am looking for a better solution to my aspirational glacier.  We get a fair amount of sun when it isn't actually snowing, and even enough when lightly snowing to produce photovoltaic output.  My thought is a small solar panel and a small storage battery feeding a resistance heating unit abutting the edge of the asphalt.  It doesn't have to heat up all the asphalt; once one section is clear, the asphalt absorbs infrared and soon, the rest of the asphalt engages in sympathetic magic, and melts the snow.  Of course, a thermostat shuts off the coil above freezing.  Put a few of those along a silly long driveway like mine, and in mild snow conditions, you have a clear road.  In severe conditions, with a day or so of full sunlight, it clears.


  1. Well, there is always this: http://ceramics.org/ceramic-tech-today/its-electric-conductive-concrete-cost-effectively-heats-up-to-melt-away-snow-and-ice

  2. I suspect that the energy required to initiate snow melting would be a bit expensive. I think it would require a quite large panel/battery system. You have to overcome the heat sink effect of the pavement to reach melting conditions. That means speed heating to offset those losses.

    Consider this problem to be a good excuse to buy one of those high-tech flame throwers!

  3. The most common failure in 4x4 systems is the electronic/electrical system that switches between 2H, 4H, 4L.

    (not brand or model specific)

    Fuses/Circuit Breakers/fusible links
    Dash switch
    Wiring at the transfer case
    Switching motor
    Position sensors
    computer module for trans

    Mechanical issues:
    motor gearing
    shift fork/linkage
    Lubrication (lack of)
    motor mounting loose
    chain drive
    axle broken
    differential broken

  4. Will: $647 to replace the motor that does the switching.

    LCB: My experience with trying to get a patent confirmed what a patent attorney I met at a Second Amendment conference told me: if it isn't worth at least $4 million, there's no point. The patent office has to usually be sued into issuance. They certainly do not follow federal law, regulations, or their internal rules.

  5. If there were enough energy in the sunlight to produce enough electricity to melt the snow, why not just put something black on the snow and ignore the middleman?

    I tend to agree with Will - not enough energy to do this with photovoltaics. But, one could do some not-too-difficult physics and calculate it.

  6. StormCchaser: Just tried. No success.