How I installed heat tape on my 17B - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 11-21-2017, 02:34 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Fremont, California
Trailer: 2017 Escape 17B
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How I installed heat tape on my 17B

Since ETI doesn't offer heat tape installation as an option anymore on the sewer lines, I decided to do it myself on my 2017 17B. I wanted something that would use as little energy as possible, so I bought a solid-state thermostat. The idea is that it will come on at 35F and off at 45F to keep things liquid without constantly using 35 watts (7' X 5watts).

This ended up taking me about 12 hours and cost about $250 in parts. It wasn't trivial but there was nothing that was particularly difficult about it except the planning.

First, the parts list

From OEM Heaters(oemheaters.com)
7' 12V DC Heat Cable, 5 watts/foot-Self- Limiting Heat Cable, 12 Volt DC, 5 watts/ft. Tinned copper braid and thermoplastic elastomer outer jacket SKU K650016
Low Voltage Heating Cable Termination Kit SKU K651001
SoliStat™ 2-10 Thermostat for DC: Max. 10 Amps, 24V
Setpoint code (set below): 2-10.O.H.P35F.P45F SKU K54####

From Grainger
Fiberglass Pipe Insulation, ID 3", Wall Thick 1", Item #4LFD7 (3')
Fiberglass Pipe Insulation, ID 2", Wall Thick 2", Item #4LFD5 (3')

From Fry's Electronics or stuff I already had
1 12V rocker switch on/off
1 25' spool of 14AWG red wire
3 14AWG one-hole lug compression connectors (terminator)
1 7.5A 12V auto fuse
15' of small wire loom
1 pack of zip ties
1 5.6Kohm 1/4 watt resistor
1 10mA 12v red led
Various shrink wrap sizes
Solder
Small amount of 14AWG black wire

From Home Depot
2" x 50' 20mil pipe wrap tape
3M Super 77 Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive
Great Stuff big gap filler

Step 1: Scrape off all the spray foam insulation using a putty knife. I left it on the curved section where the 3" line enters the trailer and hollowed out a channel for the heat tape, but other than that it was completely removed. (photo 1)

Step 2: I installed the rocker switch just below the surge protector control panel. I ran the 12V positive red 14awg wire to the 12V panel and fused it with the 7.5A automotive fuse. The red wire was then run down through the place where 12V power comes in through the bottom of the trailer from the batteries. The hole is just big enough to pass the wire through there without drilling a new hole. It was then run back along the frame back to about where the dump valves are, wrapped inside the split loom, and secured with zip ties. (photos 2, 3, and 4)
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Old 11-21-2017, 02:38 AM   #2
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Part 2

Step 3: The heat tape termination kit was installed on both ends of the tape. The tape was tested by hooking it up to the new circuit directly without the thermostat inline. It got warm, so all good there. (photo 1)

Step 4: I wanted the end of the tape to end on the left (upper) side of the 3" black water line in the slot I carved out of the spray foam, so I started next to the gray water tank and wrapped the 2" line first and taped that end with duct tape so it stayed secure. This took a lot of experimentation but eventually I got a good wrap from the 2" line, over and around the valves, and then several wraps around the 3" line until the end of the 7' tape went right to the end of the slot I had carved out. (photos 3 and 4)
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Old 11-21-2017, 02:41 AM   #3
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Part 3

Step 5: The thermostat was taped to the underside of the 3" black pipe about in the middle of the span. (photo 3)

Step 6: Wiring. Ug. This was the hardest part. Working underneath the trailer with a soldering iron, shrink wrap, and a drill wasn't fun. The heat tape has an insulating wire jacket that is supposed to be grounded so I terminated that with a lug terminator that came with the kit and secured it to the frame with a screw after drilling a small hole. The same was done with the negative of the thermostat input. The thermostat output is wired to the other 2 wires on the heat tape. (photo 4)
Attached Images
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Old 11-21-2017, 02:44 AM   #4
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Part 4

Step 7: The small red LED will tell me when it is on, so I wired that to the thermostat output with the resistor inline on the positive side. Test this first! LED's have a positive and negative so you need to get that right.

Step 8: Wrap it all up with the fiberglass pipe insulation. It's a really tight fit getting it between the pipe and the frame, but it will fit with a little persuasion. It has an adhesive strip and self-seals, but I had to give it some help with the pipe wrap tape. I wanted it protected completely so water doesn't get in there. Wrapping it with the tape wasn't possible in one piece. I ended up cutting a lot of small pieces and doing it 2" at a time. (photos 1, 2, 3, 4)
Attached Images
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Old 11-21-2017, 02:54 AM   #5
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Part 5

Step 9: Any gaps were filled with Great Stuff spray foam, including the channel for the end of the tape on the section of spray foam I left intact. I didn't really need much of that, but I did spray it on part between the valves as well, which didn't have spray foam on it originally. Since that was wrapped with heat tape I thought it made sense to insulate it. (photos 1-3)

Step 10: Spray the pipe wrap tape with Super 77 to keep it on there in the very wet conditions under the trailer. If I had been able to do a complete continuous wrap of tape this wouldn't have been necessary, but with so many smaller pieces I felt it was necessary to keep it from unwrapping over time.

Step 11: The LED was secured on the end of the gate valve where I could see it easily. (photo 4)

Note that the recommendation from the manufacturer of the heat tape would have been to only have the tape follow the pipe and not wrap it at all with the r-value of the insulation I'm using and the expected coldest temp of 0F, which would have been only 4' of tape. I went with more to provide the ability to actually thaw a frozen pipe, with the understanding that it won't be on that often with the thermostat on there.

Now I just need some cold temps to test it. It doesn't really get cold enough here in the SF Bay Area to ever come on, so it will have to wait until at least December when we go on our first winter trip for skiing for testing. I'll report back on how it works.
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:09 AM   #6
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That is a lot of work and you did a good job. I had the heat pads on my other Escape and realized you needed hookups due to their high draw. In addition finding a cg with water available in the winter was hard, even using a heated supply water hose. Then there is the dump, most cg's do not plow their dump area and using your own hose in below freezing temperatures is problematic, not that it can not be done. In the end, we use the cg's restrooms which are normally heated as well as their showers and just flush with antifreeze if the toilet is ever used inside the camper after winterization.
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:13 AM   #7
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Nice job! Now go ski
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:49 AM   #8
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Skyfree
Do you also have tank heaters?

Graham
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Old 11-21-2017, 11:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyuill View Post
Skyfree
Do you also have tank heaters?

Graham
In one of the photos you can see it listed on the electrical panel.

I'm surprised you didn't need to have the heat tape closer together around the pipe. When ETI did it for us, they went through most of the 50' that they requested I supply. I assumed they wrapped it closer together than you did.

You may not need it very often, but it gives you peace of mind for those times you will need it.
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Old 11-21-2017, 11:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gyuill View Post
Skyfree
Do you also have tank heaters?

Graham
Yes, but as Jim said I'm not sure how useful they will be. Our tentative plan for late February in interior BC (Red Mtn, Whitewater, Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, Panorama, Kimberley, Fernie) is to alternate between full hookup RV parks when available, dry camping, and a couple of hotel nights. We will only use the heat pads at night when plugged in, but that should be adequate to at least keep things liquid. Our other trip is to Washington right after Christmas (Baker, Stevens Pass, White Pass) so it will probably barely be cold enough to trigger the heat tape if we are lucky.
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