Here is what I learned based on my last year experience. The mat works slowly, so it is best to turn it on before the storm prior to any snow fall. I normally keep the mat unplugged and plug in only when the storm is predicted. I am using it on a wood deck. The mat did not cause discoloration under the mat. I see no signs that the wood stain under the mat has aged faster compared to other parts of the deck. The mat never felt hot to touch, only somewhat warm. Note that it only gets warm when the temperature is cold, keep that in mind if you are trying to test in the fall when it is not cold enough. The mat is less than 1/2" thick but has a thicker bump where the cord is connected to the mat.
The size of the map is 24" x 36" and feels quite heavy. It does not get lifted even by heavy winds. The "carpeted" side should face up, the smooth side should face down.
I also used the mat to melt icy patches on the deck. It took a long time to do the entire deck by moving the mat from spot to spot, but it was easier and caused less damage to the deck compared to trying to chip the ice off. I am using a 30 foot cord outdoor power cord and water-tight cord lock from Farm Innovators to protect the connection between the extension cord and the mat cord. Follow this link to find the cord lock I purchased. I like the green version because its size can be adjusted for different size plugs.
I wish it was a bit larger and a bit cheaper, but overall satisfied with how it worked last winter.
You can find it on Amazon by following this link.
Ali Julia review ★★★★☆