The product may not be called heat tape. While everyone uses those two words to describe the product they are looking for. The real name seems to be heat cable or some form of the term heat in their name. No matter what it is called, these products do the same job and keep your pipes from freezing.
To find heat tape or cable, all you have to do is go to Amazon, Walmart or Home Depot, or other big box stores and see what they have on sale. Don’t be surprised to find an odd assortment of heat pads, and other heating elements listed when you use the search term heat tape.
To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can find the right heating cable for your camping or storage time. There are a lot of options and some products look the same even with a different brand name attached to them.
This is one question you need to answer as not all RV owners camp in the late Spring to late Fall months. Nor do they always camp in the lowlands where the temperature is warmer than the mountains.
If you like camping in the mountains having some heat tape on hand is a great way to thaw out your pipes and water hoses. You never know when the night temperatures will drop to very low levels and you may be stuck with frozen water hoses or pipes.
Then, if you camp in the winter months, wrapping your water hose and pipes with heat tape is essential. This preventive measure will prevent your pipes from freezing and possibly cracking due to expansion.
Cold weather camping makes using heat tape or heat cable a must. This tape is very easy to install and it is a few minutes of work that will save you hours of anger when you have to replace your hoses or pipes.
There are two types of heat tape you can buy. After reading about both types, you should pick the style that fits your RV lifestyle the best.
1. Non-regulating heat tape
This is the easiest option to install. You can buy it by the foot or the roll and it simply wraps around your hoses and pipes with ease. What makes them a little difficult to use is that they will not change their temperature levels without your help.
They stay at the temperature level you set them at no matter if the ambient temperature rises to above freezing or goes a lot colder. The drawback to this option is that they can start a fire if you are not careful and monitoring them.
The name says it all. The heat tape in this category does the adjustment to the ambient temperature for you. If the outside temperature warms up, the tape will cool down. If the outside temperature cools off, then the tape will make itself warmer.
You can wire either option to a plug or hard wire it to your RV’s electrical system. When you go to install the heat tape or cable, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The risk of fire is always present no matter which type you use. That is due to how you wire the element.
There are not that many options for 12-volt heat tape. Many lists include different products including 120-volt options. We will include the 120-volt in this list to give you a better choice.
1. Camco Heated Drinking Water Hose
This water hose is designed to work in temperatures up to - 20 degrees F. It comes in a 50-foot roll and includes an energy-saving thermostat. The hose is made from NSF-61 and is safe to use with drinking water.
At Amazon, it collected a 4 1/2 star rating after 12,700 reviews. This product seems to be a winner for everyone. Plus, it only costs $138 at the moment. A double exterior jacket protects the hose and element from any damage.
2. HEATIT JHSF1-CT Self Regulating Pre-assembled Pipe Heating Cable
This top heating tape also works to -20 degrees F or -28 degrees C and you can buy it in rolls measuring 6 feet in length or up[ to 150 feet in length. Once installed, it does a very good job of keeping your water hose and pipes free from ice.
The 6-foot length costs $33 and it goes up to $219 for 150 feet. This heat tape is ETL approved and works on both plastic and metal pipes. Also, this tape is self-regulating so you can leave it on and go out with some peace of mind.
It is a 120-volt heat tape but it comes with its own plug and uses about 5 watts.
3. Frost King HC12 Automatic Electric Heat Kit Heating Cables
Also, a 120-volt product, and it comes in sizes between 9 and 13 feet. The cost for this smaller version is only $34 approx at this time. The good news is that it works on both plastic and metal pipes.
Plus, it can keep the water flowing when the temperatures outside reach -40 degrees F. When turned on it draws 0.7 amps at 120 volts. The tape is made of plastic and is UL listed.
4. EasyHeat 2102 Freeze Free Heating Cable
This product comes in 100-foot rolls but it can be cut to size to meet all of your cold-weather needs. Its main claim to fame is that it works well and is self-regulating. It only heats when the weather gets cold enough.
The drawback to this option is that you may have to buy your own plugs to finish the installation. It wraps neatly around hoses and pipes and may work with 12-volt or not.
To buy this product it will cost you roughly $136 at Amazon.
5. KEPOHK 12V Self-regulating Heating Cable
It is possible to customize the length of the cable and power cord over the 1.5-meter and 0.4-meter advertised lengths. That is good as your PEX or vinyl pipes may be longer than that. This product does work on both pipe construction styles
Unfortunately, this is not a self-regulating heat cable and you should monitor it while it is turned on. The wires are designed to be cut so if you need shorter lengths you can cut to size if you want.
6. KEPOHK 12V 24V 110V 220 Volts Water Pipe Anti-Freeze Frost Protection Heating Cable
This product will work with different voltages as you can see. It is sold in a roll and comes with a PE exterior for protection of the tinned copper wire inside. Insulation is also added in to make sure nothing happens to the wire.
The drawbacks include getting very hot, very fast, and can melt batteries if you are not careful. It is a non-regulating heat cable and its inability to shut off means you have to watch it or unplug it before you go out.
It is very difficult to find any 12-volt designed heat tape. We checked this one store but it is more overkill than anything else as it does not seem to make any heat tape for RVs, and none of the products were 12-volt. We include it here to give you another option to check out.
The best we could find was 120-volt options and here are 3 of them:
1. BriskHeat HSTAT101004 XtremeFLEX Heating Tape with Adjustable Thermostat Control
This product will set you back $117 at the moment but its thermostat makes it worth the cost. You can buy it in 4 to 10-foot lengths and they heat up to 425 degrees F.
The one-inch wide tape is very flexible and durable, able to handle the pipes you wrap it around. It comes with a 6-foot power cord giving you room to plug it in without losing any heating tape length.
2. RADIANT SOLUTIONS Intelligent Heat Tape for Water Pipe Freeze Protection
This product starts out at 3 feet in length and then goes up to 175 feet. Each length will be priced accordingly and the 40-foot length costs $95 approx. The thermostat turns on at 37 degrees F and turns off at 50 degrees F.
A 3-foot power cord is attached and not included in the length of the heat tape. This American-made product is also easy to install and works on all types of pipe and hose materials.
3. 9milelake Cold Weather Pipe and Valve Heating Cable with Built-in Thermostat
This heat tape product comes in 3, 9, and 40-foot lengths with the last length costing $44. That is the most economical option as the 9-foot length will cost you $22 approx.
It is made with PVC insulation, includes a ground plug, and is weather-resistant. This option works best for hard plastic and metal pipes.
There do not seem to be any instructions to do this project. But if you are skilled in electricity, this should not be a hard task to do. If you are not that skilled in electricity, we advise that you talk to someone who is so you do not put yourself, your family, and your RV at risk.
What we have seen in our research is that people will buy the 12-volt heat tape and connect it to batteries. But if you connect it to the wrong ones, the batteries could melt.
That is all there is to it as you will have to buy the heating element and make sure it can work with 12 volts then hook it up to a good battery. But like we said, confirm that with someone who knows electricity.
We did find some other 12-volt heat tape options but they were very expensive and sold by the foot. Here is a link to one more option you can consider. We do not think it is the best of the bunch which is why it did not make the list.
Besides price and brand name, there are a few criteria you should follow to get the right heat tape for your RV situation. Here are 3 more things to look at when shopping:
1. Self-regulating is best- this is the ideal option as you just plug it in and forget about it. You can go out without worry as the heat tape will lower and raise the heat level as needed.
2. Length- you need to figure out how much of this tape you will need, and then buy a little bit more than you need. You do that because mistakes happen and if you run short, you have to go out again, etc.
There is nothing wrong with having some extra tape left over. You may find a section that isn’t working and needs to be replaced. Having some extra on hand saves you time and trouble.
3. Low minimum temperature- some tapes do not work when the ambient temperatures drop below 0. You want a heat tape that will work with the lowest temperature possible.
Some work to -20 and others go to - 40 but judge your winter conditions to get the right lower temperature minimum for your camping area.
Buying and using heat tape is essential if you are going to camp in colder weather. You do not want your hoses or pipes to freeze as the ice expands and can crack or break them.
Keeping everything warm and running smoothly makes sure your winter or mountain camping time remains fun and relaxing. There are more heat tape brands out there so pick and choose the one that works with your situation the best.