Safely turns on and off based on pipe temperature. LED light indicates when cable is in use. Cable is strong, but remains easy to work with. Can be easily attached to pipe with electrical tape or ties. Will keep water flowing even at temperatures of -40 degrees.
The non-heated section of the cable is short. You may need an additional extension cord.
Heated cable works on either metal water pipes or plastic water pipes. Operates off of a regular 120-volt outlet and uses 7 watts per foot of cable. Has a built-in thermostat that automatically turns the cable on and off, and the plug lights up to indicate power is on.
A few users noted that this heating cable didn’t quite handle -40 degrees as stated.
Cable is strong and sturdy while remaining flexible enough for easy installation. Auto on and off thermostat works safely and effectively at the designated temperatures. Available in 3 to 18-foot lengths. Installation instructions are clear and simple to follow.
Cable will overheat if its overlapped, so must be installed in a straight line.
Available in a wide range of lengths. Built-in thermostat turns the cable on once the temperature drops below 38 degrees. Rated to protect pipes down to -50 degrees. At just 2 watts per foot, this is one of the most economical options you can purchase.
Rarely, a user noted that the thermostat failed, which allowed the pipes to freeze.
Easy to install. The built-in thermostat automatically turns the cable on below 37 degrees and shuts it off above 50 degrees. The power-indicator light ensures safer operation. Consumes 7 watts of power per foot and operates off a 120-volt outlet.
While the total length of this cable is 12 feet, be aware that only 6 of those feet are heated.
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Frozen pipes are not fun. In the best-case scenario, you may find yourself spending days trying to heat your pipes to the point where the water flows again. If your pipes burst, you could be facing thousands of dollars in repair and cleanup costs.
The best strategy is to prevent pipes from freezing in the first place, and a pipe heating cable is an excellent way to do this. A pipe heating cable can automatically regulate the temperature of a pipe, providing assurance as you go into a cold snap that you won’t wake up to a frozen disaster.
Factors to consider when choosing pipe heating cables include size, cable housings, thermostats, price, and whether you want your cables to have built-in LED lights. Depending on where your pipes are located, installation can be tricky.
From cold and moisture to dirt and debris, a pipe heating cable can hang out in some pretty rough conditions. As such, it should be durable enough to survive the terrain and last for years without maintenance or breakage. (Based solely on pipe locations, installation for these cables can be a bit of work; this is not a task you would want to repeat every year!) A feature like rugged PVC coating can help to extend a cable’s longevity by providing flexibility and durability.
The length of cable you buy is a primary consideration. You want a cable that is neither too short nor too long for your pipe. Luckily, pipe heating cables come in a variety of lengths to accommodate a range of pipe sizes. Cables can range from 3 feet to over 100 feet, and manufacturers often sell a variety of cable lengths within this range.
In addition to cable length, the diameter for which a pipe cable is rated is important. Some pipe heating cables can be used with a variety of pipe diameters; others are only effective for thin pipes of 2 inches in diameter or less. If you buy a cable that is not rated for your pipe diameter, it may not be up to the task of keeping the pipe warm enough to avoid freezing.
Measure your pipe diameter and carefully, and read the cable listing (or check with the manufacturer) before buying a pipe heating cable.
For optimum safety, only select a pipe heating cable that has been UL approved and CSA certified. These benchmarks assure that a pipe heating cable meets quality standards and operates the way the manufacturer claims it does.
As mentioned, installation for a pipe heating cable can be tricky. It is not so much the mechanics of installation that pose a problem; rather, it is the location of the pipes you want to cover. Add to this the fact that you may need to provide your own tape or ties — some cables ship with them, some don’t — and you may be in for an interesting installation adventure.
Before you begin the installation, there are a few steps you should take. First, check the packaging to see if you will need to make a trip to the hardware store for tape, ties, or other items. Then, read the instructions carefully: they should be detailed, clear, and preferably illustrated. It is also recommended that you test the cable before installing it. To do this, plug it into a socket. After several minutes, the cable should be noticeably warm, indicating that it is working and ready for installation.
The majority of pipe heating cables are designed to only be used with full plastic or metal pipes. Check with the manufacturer before using a pipe heating cable on an empty pipe.
The cable of a pipe heating cable is actually made up of two parts: a longer heated section and a smaller section that includes the plug and other elements.
All cables should be durable and flexible, which can help with installation.
A pipe heating cable typically includes a built-in thermostat to keep the pipe temperature within a certain range. The thermostat will turn the pipe heating cable on when the temperature reaches a predetermined low (38°F is common) and turn it off when it reaches a predetermined high (usually around 50°F). This way, the cable keeps your pipe from freezing but does not become so hot that it poses a fire hazard.
Some pipe heating cables include an LED light so you can tell at a glance if the cable is doing its job.
Inexpensive: Pipe heating cables under $20 tend to be shorter in length, often 10 feet or less, and may have a lower build quality and fewer features.
Mid-range: As you move up in price, length and quality improve. Pipe heating cable lengths in the $20 to $40 range are typically between 15 and 30 feet long. LED indicator lights are common.
Expensive: Pipe heating cables at higher price points tend to offer the greatest durability and length, with some reaching 80 to 100 feet. Plan to spend between $50 and $120 for a cable in this higher tier.
Pipe heating cables that install straight are easier to install and provide longer coverage than wrap-around cables.
A. You can use a variety of fastening types including electrical tape, ties, and even lengths of wire to attach a pipe heating cable to a pipe. One of the best solutions is to use cable application tape, which holds up better in varying temperatures than other types of tape.
Some pipe heating cable manufacturers include tape or ties with purchase while others do not. If you need to purchase your own tape/ties or wish to use a different type of securing system than the one included with your cable, note the added cost when budgeting for a pipe heating cable.
A. This varies from cable to cable. Some pipe heating cables wrap directly around a pipe. While these can be more of a chore to install, you will use fewer fasteners to secure the cable. However, the majority of cables install straight down a pipe without wrapping around it. These cables are easier to install, and you will require less cable than a wrap-around to protect the pipe.
Always read the instructions carefully to verify the manufacturer’s preferred installation method.
A. This depends largely on the severity of your winters. If you have relatively mild winters with few freezes, pipe insulation should be all you need to protect your pipes. For areas of extended cold and wet weather, a pipe heating cable is a better option. If you’re still not sure which you need, it may be best to err on the side of caution and go with a cable.