Over winter, I often stay in my RV and have parked in some pretty chilly conditions over the years. However, one thing that is sure to spoil your RV experience is a frozen water hose.
The good news is that this can be easily avoided if, like me, you invest in heat tape. Heat tape will prevent your water hose from freezing over and ensures you will have access to water even in sub-zero temperatures.
In this guide, I will show you the best heat tape for RV water hose solutions that I have used to stop my RV pipes from freezing.
Bottom Line Up Front: I recommend using the EATIT JHSF1-CT Self Regulating Pre-assembled Pipe Heating Cable to help prevent your RV water hose from freezing during winter. I like the self-regulating design and that this heat tape will work at temperatures of -20°F(-29°C). I have used this heat tape successfully during extended winter trips in my RV, and my water hose hasn’t frozen once.
At a Glance: 5 of the Best Heat Tapes for RV Water Hoses
|HEATIT JHSF1-CT Self Regulating Pre-assembled Pipe Heating Cable
|Best overall heat tape for your RV
|6 feet to 150 feet
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|Heating Cable for Pipe Freeze Protection
|Best budget heat tape
|6 feet to 12 feet
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|HEATIT PLSR2 18-feet 240V Self Regulating Heating Cable
|Best for different length options
|6 feet – 100 feet
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|VEVOR Pipe Heating Cable
|Best for rapid heating
|3 feet – 30 feet
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|Md Pipe Heating Cable with Thermostat
|Best for extreme temperatures
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Why Do You Need Heat Tape for an RV Water Hose?
RVing during the colder winter months can pose several problems, not least of all for your plumbing. In my early days of owning an RV, I learned the hard way of dealing with frozen pipes in my motorhome, and it isn’t something I fancy experiencing again.
There are several reasons why using heat tape or heat cables is essential during the winter when temperatures can get below freezing pretty quickly.
Heat tape will help prevent your RV water hose from freezing, even if the temperatures dip to low levels. By ensuring that you keep your water hose insulated, you can avail of water on-demand, which is a lot better than trying to unfreeze your pipes in the frost and snow.
Things to Consider before Buying Heat Tape
Before diving in and buying heat tape for your RV water pipes, I have a few things I need to tell you. Ensuring that your water pipes are sufficiently insulated is vital to prevent them from freezing, and it is an essential part of maintaining your RV. So, here are some things I always think about before I buy heat tape.
Self-regulating vs Non-regulating
The biggest thing that confused me when I first started looking at buying heat tape many years ago was whether it is self-regulating or non-regulating.
Self-regulating heat tape is the best version to buy, in my opinion. This means that the tape will respond to temperature changes and adjust its own heat accordingly. This is ideal as it modifies itself to cope with temperature increases and falls and saves on power consumption.
Non-regulating heat tape doesn’t adjust its temperature, so you must keep an eye on it. I’m not a big fan of this heat tape because it requires more manual work to ensure it doesn’t overheat. However, non-regulating heat tape does tend to be cheaper.
The length is something else that you need to think about. I have been caught out with this before, as I bought heat tape that was too short to cover the hose pipes for my RV properly.
Most heat tape will have a minimum length of six feet (although you can find some models that start from three feet). I recommend that you measure the length of the hose that you need to wrap the heat tape around because it will save a lot of hassle down the line.
Another thing to let you know, the more length you buy, the more expensive the heat tape will be.
Temperatures can fluctuate a lot depending on where you are spending time in your RV over winter.
The minimum temperature heat tape that will work properly will vary by the model. I have found specific models better than others. In some cases, I have bought heat tape, which isn’t able to cope with temperatures below -10°C (14°F), and they don’t generate enough heat to prevent my hose pipes from freezing.
So, when buying heat tape, I advise paying close attention to the minimum temperature it can handle. You should also base this on where you will be traveling in your RV over the winter months, as some places get a lot colder than others.
Other Items You Need
You will need some other items to use heat tape effectively to prevent your RV water hose from freezing. I didn’t realize this the first time I tried it years ago, so I’m letting you know to ensure you don’t make the same mistake.
You won’t need a ton of extra items, but it will add some money to the overall cost. I have found that, in addition to the heat tape, you will need:
- Aluminum foil
- Duct tape
- Foam insulated tubes
I have found the best method to wrap the hose in aluminum foil, put the water hose and heat tape inside the foam-insulated tubes, and seal the seams with duct tape. You can find some basic guides online that will go through this step-by-step, but it shouldn’t be a complicated process.
I take great pride in my RV, and I always make sure that I only purchase the best products, no matter how big or small. This is why I apply some strict criteria to the items I review. For the best heat tape to help prevent your RV water hose from freezing, I ensured that all my picks were:
- Self-regulating – I think self-regulating heat tape is the best type to use, as it automatically adjusts the temperature in line with how hot or cold the environment is. So, I have only included self-regulating heat tape on my list.
- Length – I have made sure to list heat tape with several length options. This means you can find the size that will suit your RV water hose.
- Low minimum temperature –Some types of heat tape can’t cope with particularly low temperatures. However, the heat tape on my list can all work well in temperatures that are well below freezing, which is required to keep your RV hose pipe in working order.
5 Best Heat Tapes for an RV Water Hose
HEATIT JHSF1-CT Self Regulating Pre-assembled Pipe Heating Cable – Best overall heat tape for your RV
My number one choice to keep your RB water hose in working condition during the colder winter months is the Best overall heat tape for your RV is the EATIT JHSF1-CT Self Regulating Pre-assembled Pipe Heating Cable.
I have used this heat tape successfully to prevent the water hose in my RV from freezing, and I’ve also used this heat tape at home. I think it does an excellent job of ensuring pipes and hoses don’t freeze over in sub-zero temperatures.
This heat tape will work effectively if the temperature drops to -20°F (-29°C). Even though I stay in my RV in some pretty cold locations, thankfully, it hasn’t gotten to this temperature before, but I think it is good to know that this heat tape will still work. Also, the different lengths ranging from six feet to 150 feet are good options to have.
I don’t have much negative to say about this heat tape. I have used it on my RV for a few winter seasons now, and my water pipe has frozen once, even when the temperature has dipped well below freezing.
- Effective heat tape that I have used to prevent my water hose from freezing.
- I like that it works in very low temperatures down to -20°F (-29°C).
- Available in different lengths and can be used for your RV or at home.
- I don’t have any negatives about this heat tape.
Heating Cable for Pipe Freeze Protection – Best budget heat tape
I’ve often found a lot of RV gear to be quite expensive. Even though heat tape is one of the cheaper and most practical items, you may be on a tight budget, and this is why I have included the Heating Cable for Pipe Freeze Protection.
While this heat tape is a bit cheaper than the other options on my list, I have found it performs pretty well. I don’t think this heating cable works as well in seriously cold weather as the first choice on my list, but for milder conditions where there is a risk of your RV water hose freezing, it will do the job.
If you want to save some money on heat tape but still have a product that will prevent your water hose from freezing in cold conditions, I think this heat tape will work well.
- Good option if you want to save some money.
- Works best in milder winter conditions.
- It will prevent your water hose from freezing.
- I don’t think this heat tape will work in particularly cold temperatures.
HEATIT PLSR2 18-feet 240V Self Regulating Heating Cable – Best for different length options
I haven’t found the need to use extra long heat tape myself; however, depending on the setup of your RV, you may want a variety of length options.
The HEATIT PLSR2 18-feet 240V Self Regulating Heating Cable is my pick if you want different lengths. This heat tape is available in:
- 6 feet
- 12 feet
- 18 feet
- 24 feet
- 50 feet
- 75 feet
- 100 feet
So, you get a good variety of choices.
Aside from the length, this heat tape performs admirably too. It will work in sub-zero temperatures, although I’m not sure if it will work as well as the HEATIT JHSF1-CT if the temperature drops to -20°F (-29°C).
Overall, I don’t have many complaints about this heat tape, and I like the different lengths that you can choose. While this heating cable doesn’t have a built-in thermostat, I still think it is a good option to prevent your water hose from freezing.
- Available in various lengths, which I think is a bonus.
- I’ve found this heat tape will work in freezing temperatures.
- This heat cable doesn’t have a built-in thermostat
VEVOR Pipe Heating Cable – Best for rapid heating
Sometimes you need to heat a water hose quickly, especially if it has unexpectedly frozen overnight.
The VEVOR Pipe Heating Cable is the best for rapid heating as I have found this heat tape reaches a reasonable temperature in as little as two minutes. If you already have a frozen water hose connected to your RV, this heating cable will thaw it out quickly.
Some other features I think are good with the VEVOR Pipe Heating Cable include the built-in thermostat, which comes in various lengths ranging from three feet to 30 feet. It doesn’t quite have a range of the HEATIT PLSR2, but you should still find a size that will suit your motorhome.
I don’t think overall this heat tape performs as well as some other models, but I like that it heats up really quickly and is ideal if you need a water hose thawed out.
- This heat cable will heat up in around two minutes.
- I like its quickness and the built-in thermostat.
- I’ve found it useful for thawing out a frozen hose or pipe.
- I don’t think it performs as well as the HEATIT JHSF1-CT.
Md Pipe Heating Cable with Thermostat – Best for extreme temperatures
Many of my RV travel destinations take me to some chilly spots, especially in the middle of winter.
I regularly travel and sleep in places that are experiencing sub-zero temperatures, and the Md Pipe Heating Cable with Thermostat is an ideal choice for particularly cold weather. This heat cable can work in temperatures that reach -50°F, which is quite impressive.
While I haven’t been in conditions anywhere this level (and I probably wouldn’t be in an RV if I was!), I think it demonstrates that this is a solid heat cable if you intend on staying in a location that is going to suffer very low temperatures.
This heat tape has six lengths, so I think it should suit most people as there is a good variety on offer. This heat tape isn’t weatherproof, although I always recommend wrapping the cable in insulation foam anyway if you are heating an RV water hose.
- I think this heat tape is ideal for really cold weather.
- Available in different lengths.
- I don’t like that this heat tape isn’t weatherproof.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Why do you need heat tape for an RV water hose?
Answer: Heat tape is an essential item if you RV in winter. Your water hose can freeze pretty quickly in cold temperatures, leaving you without water access in your RV. Heat tape will prevent this from happening.
Question: What other items do I need to use heat tape on my RV water hose?
Answer: You will need to purchase some additional items for heat tape to work effectively to prevent your water hose from freezing. I recommend buying aluminum foil for wrapping your hose in, foam-insulated tubes, and duct tape to cover up the seams.
Question: Is heat tape expensive to buy?
Answer: Not really. You can find expensive and budget heat tape; however, I strongly recommend that you do invest in this item to prevent pipes from freezing in winter. Compared to some other equipment that you need for RV living, heat tape is one of the cheaper items to buy.
Question: Do I definitely need heat tape for my RV?
Answer: While I would recommend having heat tape if you travel and stay in your RV over winter, you might not need it if you travel in warmer weather or don’t use your RV in the colder months. Heat tape is still a good thing to have even if you are unlikely to stay in your RV in freezing condition.
My Verdict: What Is the Best Heat Tape for an RV Water Hose?
The EATIT JHSF1-CT Self Regulating Pre-assembled Pipe Heating Cable is my top choice to prevent your water hose from freezing if you are RVing over winter.
This heat tape works effectively at temperatures of -20°F(-29°C), and I think you can even use it below this temperature if you use insulation foam. Anytime I have used this tape, it has worked as expected, and I haven’t experienced any frozen hose pipes, even when parking up in some chilly conditions.