A heating cable or tape is a device that is designed to save pipes freezing in cold winters with the help of electric current.
By converting electric current into heat, they prevent the formation of ice plugs and thus ensure a constant supply of water in conditions of low sub-zero temperatures.
In order not to make a mistake with the choice, let’s look at the types of heating cables in detail.
Types and characteristics of the heating cable
Resistive Heating Tape
It consists of an outer and inner sheath and a braid, inside of which there is a conductor covered with insulation.
This view is further divided into two types:
The difference between linear and zonal is that it generates heat when current passes through the heating core. There may be two or more of these.
The advantage of this type is the simplicity of design, cheap price and at the same time high power, while, however, there is one serious disadvantage: in the event of a breakdown in some place, you cannot cut the wire, you will have to change the entire heating section.
The main feature of the device is a self-regulating conductive matrix that runs between the cores and the inner sheath. Conductors react to temperature changes in this way:
- as the temperature drops, the resistance of the conductor also drops,
- the current increases, due to which the cable generates heat.
A good feature of this type is that in different sections of the pipe, heating occurs according to the temperature in this particular place, this saves electricity. Also, during installation, this cable can be divided into parts of any length. Also, such cables are more resistant to power surges.
Such tapes serve for about 20 years due to the wear of the semiconductor matrix, but they do not overheat and, in general, are reliable.
You should choose based on how often you use the cottage, if you come from time to time, then an unregulated simple guide will do, in the case of permanent residence, it is better to choose the second option.
Installation and connection
Please note before installation:
- All work must be carried out at a temperature of at least ‑15 C.
- Plastic pipes must be insulated with aluminum foil or tape before installation.
- The cord should not run along sharp edges where it can fray or be pulled.
- The bending radius of the cord is equal to 6 of its diameters.
- It is necessary to ring the conductor for resistance at the end of the work.
It is used for pipes of small diameter, less than half a centimeter in the absence of access to the pipe itself, for example, when the pipe is already buried. The length of the pipe is measured and a wire of the same length is pushed inward.
- We prepare pipes, we clean them from rust.
- We mount the heating wire in one of the following ways:
- One or more parallel threads. To do this, you need to calculate how much heat is needed for heating and, based on this, select the number of threads.
- Spiral styling. Suitable for small diameter pipes and due to the fact that in this case more length is required, this installation option is not as economical as the previous one.
- We fix the wire on the bottom of the pipe with tape so that it is as far as possible from the elements of the pipe that can leak. This will prevent you from getting water on the working parts of the wire.
- Mineral wool or polystyrene is laid so that the “cold” end of the cable does not get inside.
- Electricity is connected from a socket or shield.
Resistive conductors must not be overlapped, overheating will occur. Regulated ones do not self-ignite, so this rule is canceled for them.
When heating the drain and the roof, it is better to use a self-regulating type of conductor; it does not require the installation of a temperature sensor. Burning of the drain implies the use of a control panel, which includes:
- Input three-phase device of automatic shutdown of electricity.
- Four-pole contactor
- Single-pole automatic disconnect devices per phase
- Thermostat circuit breaker
- signal lamp
In addition, the following components are used:
- Power and signal cables
- Mounting boxes
- Couplings for a tight connection
- Cable terminations
If the drain pipe is made of polymeric materials, the specific power of the device must be less than seventeen watts per meter, if this condition is not met, the pipe will begin to melt from heating.
You also need a temperature controller for roof anti-icing systems (for example, RT-200) or a weather station. It is more convenient to use the weather station, since it does not require manual shutdown of the entire system in the absence of precipitation, but it is more expensive.
The cable in the gutter is attached to a special mounting tape, which is glued in small strips across the cord. The thicker the tape, the longer it will last. Strips of tape should be repeated in increments of a quarter meter for the resistive type and half a meter for the self-adjusting. Strips of tape are further fixed with rivets and treated with sealant.
In downpipes, the heating conductor is fixed with a heat-shrinkable tube or tape, as in the gutter. If the pipes are higher than six meters in height, an additional cable should be laid and a cable should be fixed on it to transfer the load.
- The cord is fixed to the roof with mounting tape.
- Mounting boxes are installed.
- Thermostat sensors, signal and power cables are installed.
- The control panel is mounted, the resistance is measured and the RCD is tested.
- The thermostat is set and it starts up.
It is undesirable to drill the roof when installing the mount, because of this, leaks may occur.
We make a heating cable with our own hands
To save money, you can make a cable with your own hands, but it will not have a self-regulating function. To do this, you need to buy a power telephone cable that is designed to work in humid conditions.
When installing such a cable, it must be untwisted into two wires, then bend one wire in half and twist them back. Both ends of the wire must be well protected from moisture, ingress of the slightest amount of water threatens to break.
If the laying is carried out from the outside, the wire does not need to be divided. The wire attached to the pipe must be wrapped with foil, tape, and then with mineral wool for insulation.
Such a conductor is designed for a current strength of 9A.
Popular models and prices
You can purchase models of different brands in the respective stores. Here are some of the most famous manufacturers on the market with approximate minimum prices per linear meter:
- Handy Heat (Denmark) from 320 rubles.
- Lavita (South Korea) from 170 rubles.
- Nelson (USA) from 7 dollars.
- Nexans (Norway) from 8 dollars.
- Heatline (Europe) about 12$.
The price depends on what design was used in the manufacture.
- More reliable designs with two layers of protective sheath are more expensive than cords with a single layer of protection.
- Cables can use a different number of cores, the more, the better, this increases the service life and reliability.
Also, the price is affected by the presence of a shielding braid, the quality of all materials used, power density, cross-sectional size and, of course, length.
Self-regulating type is more expensive than its counterpart.
“Every winter my pipe burst, every winter I repaired it, because there was nowhere else to get water from. The plumbing was recently laid, there were no plans to redo it. One friend told me that there is a cable that can heat pipes. Then I called him, he helped me to do everything. This year, the first winter did not repair anything, I am immensely happy. A good thing.”
“Before, the roof was constantly freezing. After a while it started to leak. I started looking for a solution to the problem. On the Internet, they advised me to buy a cord for heating. At first I wanted to put a simple one, but then I forked out for a self-regulating one. I installed it quickly, for the second year there has been no ice on the roof, everything works fine.”
Dmitry, of the world
Instead of a conclusion
Before purchasing or manufacturing such products on your own, as well as immediately before installing the heating system, you need to think about the next steps and act very carefully. It will pay off for you more than once with pipes that survived the most terrible frosts, nerves and saved money.